The holidays are all about getting together with family whether it is to trim the tree, sing Christmas carols, exchange gifts or huddle around the TV for a whole month’s worthof holiday specials. A big part of being the host with the most or the hostess with the mostest is having just the perfect beverage to accompany whatever you are engaging in, but the big question is what to serve. For all those of you who have been toiling over just what luscious liquid is really going to bowl your guests over read on: the Nation has compiled the ultimate drink guide to make spreading that holiday “cheer” that much easier.

Getting into the mood…

The holidays are a nostalgic time for many and nothing can trigger a flash from the past faster than what is under our noses. The aroma of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, vanilla, dried citrus, cranberries or peppermint are reminiscent of Christmases past, present and future. If you are seeking a little nip to put you in the spirit, perhaps before or after an arduous shopping trip why not go for the ultimate holiday indulgencewith some homemade eggnog. With or without alcohol this thick, creamy treat is the beverage most associated with Christmas.

This recipe yields 25 servings and is ideal punch bowl filler for your holiday party. It can be prepared up to 24 hours in advance and then perked up with a whirl of a hand blender. The alcohol can be added to taste depending on how boozy one wants it or the alcohol can also be swapped for a tablespoon or two of rum extract for a treat the whole family can enjoy. Should you go it sans-booze, add an extra cup or two of milk if the concoction is too thick. (Caution: this is not a beverage for pregnant women as it requires raw eggs.)

Traditional Eggnog

12 eggs

3 1/4 c icing sugar 1/2 tea spoon of salt 1/8 cup vanilla 10 cup milk

Brandy, rum, scotch or rye (or a combo of any of the four, totalling no more than 4 cups for a very boozy version)


1) Beat eggs in large bowl until light and yellowish

2) Slowly beat in sugar, salt and vanilla.

3) Stir in milk. Add liquor or extra milk to your liking

4) Garnish with some freshly grated nutmeg or ground nutmeg

To store for a few days, keep covered in fridge.

“Here we come a-wassailing, among the leaves so green”

Though our leaves might not be so green as the song implies, this holiday punch dates back to Western Europe where it has been a holiday delight for centuries. Traditionallythis warm mulled spice beverage was made with alcohol however this non-alcoholic version is a great winter warm up that the whole family can enjoy. Of course, should you want to give it a kick, one cup of dark rum, brandy or vodka (for a lighter tasting version) at room temperature can be added for the grown ups.

2 1/4 cups white sugar 4 cups water 2 cinnamon sticks

1 slice fresh ginger root 4 cups orange juice

2 cups lemon juice 8 cups apple juice

8 whole allspice berries 1 tablespoon whole cloves

1) In a large saucepan, combine sugar and water. Boil for 5 minutes.

2) Remove from heat, and add cinnamon sticks, allspice berries, cloves, and ginger.

3) Cover and let stand in warm place for 1 hour.

Strain the concoction into a large cooking pot. Just before serving, add juices and cider and quickly bring to boil. Remove from heat (add optional alcohol) and serve.

Candy canes anyone?
If nothing says Christmas to you like this sweet, striped treat, the following two very different beverages are just the thing to kick off your Christmas season.

White Christmas Hot Chocolate

1.5 cups of milk

1 1/4 ounces of finely chopped white chocolate I ounce of crushed candy canes (approximately 2 regular size) Pinch of salt/ whipped cream

1) Pour the milk into a saucepan and bring it to a simmer over medium heat.

2) Reduce heat to medium-low.

3) Add the chocolate, half of the crushed candy canes, and a pinch of salt.

4) Whisk until smooth and creamy, then pour into a coffee mug.

Top with whipped cream and the remaining crushed candy canes.

Adults-only Candy Cane Martini

1 1/2 oz. Vodka 1 tsp. Peppermint schnapps 1 oz. Club Soda

1) Mix your ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice

2) Strain into a chilled martini glass

This festive beverage can either be topped with a mini candy cane or for those who are really feeling festive, rim martini glass with crushed candy canes

Mulled delights!For some it just wouldn’t be Christmas without mulled wine and if you’ve a warm fireplace to sip it by, all the better. As little the ones can feel left out when the grown-ups are having something special to drink, we have provided both an authentic version for the big people and a mock version for little ones or those who would prefer to keep their wits about them.

Mulled Grape Juice

2 litres of real red, no sugar added, grape juice 2 cups water

1 cup sugar

24 whole cloves

2 cinnamon sticks I orange peel

1 lemon peel

1 crushed nutmeg

2-3 cups of hot lemon/lime juice

Heat the water and add sugar, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and peel.

Boil the mixture for 5 minutes and leave to simmer for 5 more. Strain the syrupy remainder into a large pot and add the citrus juice and heat until it’s gently bubbling.

Add the grape juice and keep it on a low heat, serve

Traditional Mulled Wine

2 lemons 2 oranges

1 bottle red wine Nutmeg and cloves (to taste)2 ounces brandy

1 cup sugar (optional)1) Slice the lemons and oranges.

2) Heat the wine in a saucepan: do not boil.

3) Add the fruit, brandy, nutmeg and cloves to the wine. If using sugar, add when the wine is hot.

Pour into mugs and garnish with cinnamon sticks

Champagne Cocktails

Champagne is the ultimate celebration beverage and at a minimum of $50 a bottle for the real deal, it’s earned a place in the hierarchy of drinks. Champagne cocktails like mimosas or poinsettias are a wonderful complement to a holiday brunch and are also a wonderful accompaniment to a romantic Christmas morning by the tree for a couple of lovebirds. Any dry sparkling white wine can be substituted for wines from the “Champagne region” and the difference is virtually unnoticeable due to the juice dilution.


1 oz orange juice 3 oz champagne

Pour orange juice into a champagne flute Slowly top with champagne

Drink but do not stir this beverage, as you will lose your bubbles.


1/4 shot triple sec A splash of cranberry juice Champagne

Pour Triple Sec and cranberry juice into a champagne flute.

Add in champagne to fill.

Once again this beverage should not be mixed so just pour and serve.

Regardless as to your plans for the holidays, the best recipe for a good tidings and cheer is to drink responsibly and never, ever get behind the wheel if you’ve had the heavier versions of these drinks.