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Holiday Cocktails

Holiday Cocktail

This recipe and photography was provided courtesy of local cookbook author and chef, Carla Snyder. Learn more about Carla and discover her recipes at 

We all love to raise a glass of cheer during the holidays, but it can be difficult to find a glamorous signature cocktail for a party while planning the food, décor, music and all of the extras that the holiday throws at you. So, my holiday gift to you is the five festive cocktail recipes below all based around Champagne: the happiest concoction of all!

I’m going out on a Christmas tree limb here and stating that Champagne and sparkling wine reign as the most festive of drinks. I don’t want to throw shade at regular old white wine, but bubbly Champagne christens the tallest ships and the arrival of the tiniest babies alike. It’s certainly a good choice for a holiday party cocktail, right?

To officially be Champagne, a sparkling wine has to first come from the Champagne region of France and also be made from a specif type of grape that is processed in a certain way. In other words, all Champagne is sparkling wine but not all sparkling wine is Champagne. These rules make it more expensive to produce Champagne,  but if it’s all about the delicious bubbles for you and not about a fancy label, that opens the door for less expensive sparkling wines like Italian prosecco and Spanish cava, which are comparable to Champagne for a much lower price point.  With so many sparkling wines to choose from, the only way to find a favorite is to drink a variety as often as possible, and the holidays are a great time to start.

For the drinks below look for Champagne or sparkling wine labeled “Brut.” This indicates that the wine is dry and less sweet. You may also see the term “Extra Brut” on some labels, which indicates a sweeter wine, it’s confusing, I know, but for these cocktails, it’s important to steer clear of these bottles. I’ve given you suggestions for the Champagnes and sparkling wines for each recipe but feel free to substitute with any of your favorites.

Part of the fun of these drinks are the glasses in which they are served – usually Champagne flutes or coupes. Almost everyone feels elegant holding a Champagne glass. Oh, and the garnishes matter as well. Garnishes are to drinks as ornaments are to a Christmas tree. So, don’t forget to skewer lemon, orange peel, a cherry or even drop in a sprig of rosemary when the recipe calls for it. It’s easy and makes the drink even more festive.

Holiday Punch is a great way to start a party. Most of the ingredients can be combined and chilled ahead of time and the bubbly added at the last moment. Fruity with cranberry and grapefruit juice and bubbly with ginger beer and sparkling wine with a kick from spiced rum, this concoction is the perfect holiday brew.

Holiday Punch in Glasses

The Roman Holiday is guaranteed to whisk you away to that iconic city for at least as long as it takes to drink a glass of this lemony cocktail. Flavored with rosemary, honey, lemon and the Italian liqueur Amaro, this sparkler is as sophisticated and fun as the movie of the same name.

Roman Holiday Cocktail

Pom Cherry Spritzer with Rosemary is a pink drink with tart cherry and peach flavors and an edge of herbal rosemary. Garnished with cranberries and a sprig of rosemary it’s as delightful to drink as it is to watch the cranberries float up and down on the bubbles.

Pom Cherry Spritzer

The Bulleit Champagne Cocktail is flavored with a sweet vanilla syrup blended with bourbon. It’s a lighter twist on a Manhattan with an orange peel and cherry garnish. If you like to sip both bourbon and Champagne, this drink is your new best buddy.

Bulleit Champagne Cocktail

Venetians know a thing or two about a good drink and Sgroppino is a good case in point. This age-old refresher is a mix of lemon-flavored vodka, mint and prosecco with a scoop of lemon sorbet to float on the top. As good at the beginning of the night as at the end, frothy Sgroppino is a fresh take on how cool a cocktail can be.


With all these options, you’re sure to find a few bubbly, holiday cocktail to enjoy this season. You might even discover a couple of new sparkling wines to keep around for impromptu celebrations and merry-making. Gigi said it best in the 1958 movie of the same name:

“The night they invented Champagne
It’s plain as it can be
They thought of you and me
They absolutely knew
That all we’d want to do
Is fly to the sky on Champagne
I couldn’t agree more. A toast to the Holidays!”

Christmas Cheer Punch

Fruity and bright with just enough kick from the spiced rum to make it festive, this punch is our go-to holiday libation. Make a double batch so it’s easy to refill the punch bowl when it gets low.

It’s that easy: Ice rings won’t always fit your punch bowl. Especially if using a soup tureen or irregular shape. If you have large round ice cube molds, fill them with cranberries and water and freeze them to add to the punch bowl instead.

Start-to-Finish: 10 minutes
Hand-On Time: 10 minutes
Serves 16


  • 16 oz. (2 cups) cranberry juice, chilled
  • 8 oz. (1 cup) ruby red grapefruit juice, chilled
  • 8 oz. (1 cup) spiced rum, chilled
  • 2 – 750 ml bottles A to Z Rose Bubbles sparkling wine, chilled
  • 24 oz. (4 cups) ginger beer, chilled
  • Cranberries, grapefruit slices, cinnamon sticks as garnish
  • Ice ring or large molded ice balls, optional


  1. If you’d like to make it ahead, combine the cranberry juice, grapefruit juice and rum and keep it chilled.
  2. Transfer the juice to a punch bowl and add the champagne and ginger beer just before serving.
  3. Garnish with cranberries, grapefruit slices, cinnamon sticks and an ice ring, if desired.

Christmas Cheer Punch

Click Here to Print the Recipe for Christmas Cheer Punch.

Roman Holiday

I love this lemony honey syrup with a tinge of herbal rosemary. Amaro is a bitter/sweet Italian liqueur flavored with herbs. In this recipe, it balances the sweetness of the honey and sour of the lemon making for a smooth and not-too-sweet cocktail.

It’s that easy: Make a second batch of the syrup without the Amaro and use it to flavor sparkling water for a delicious mocktail.

Start-to-Finish: 2 hours
Hand-On Time: 10 minutes
Serves 8


  • 8 oz. (1 cup) lemon juice, from about 6 juicy lemons
  • 4 oz. (1/2 cup) honey
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, plus 8 more for garnish
  • 6 oz. (3/4 cup) Amaro
  • 2 – 750 ml bottles Chandon Blanc de Noir sparkling wine, chilled
  • 8 strips of lemon peel


  1. Combine lemon juice, honey and 2 rosemary sprigs in a small pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Stir to dissolve the honey and remove from heat. Cool 5 minutes and discard rosemary.
  2. Transfer to a small bowl, stir in Amaro and refrigerate until chilled.
  3. Add 2 oz. (1/4 cup) syrup to tall skinny glasses. Top with chilled prosecco and garnish with skewered lemon peel and rosemary sprigs. Serve immediately.

Tip: If you’re using a smaller champagne flute, add only 1 oz. (2 tablespoons) of syrup to each glass.

Roman Holiday

Click Here to print the Recipe for Roman Holiday.

Pom Cherry Spritzer with Rosemary

It’s not just pretty. This pink drink is bright with the flavor of tart cherries and lemon with a peachy edge from the schnapps and an herbal edge from the rosemary. Serve this drink to your guests as they arrive and watch as the party gets rolling.

It’s that easy: It’s simple to remove the seeds from a pomegranate. Just cut it around its equator, holding one half over a bowl, cut side down, wrap it with the handle of a wooden spoon. The seeds should pop out nicely. Discard the shell and use the seeds as directed.

Start-to-Finish: 1 hour
Hand-On Time: 20 minutes
Serves 8


  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 sprigs rosemary, plus 10 more for garnish
  • 2 oz. (1/4 cup) peach schnapps
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice, from one juicy lemon
  • 8 oz. (1 cup) Cheribundi tart cherry juice (look for it on the juice aisle)
  • 1/2 pomegranate, seeded, about 1/3 cup
  • 2 – 750 ml bottles 13th Street Blanc de Blanc sparkling wine, chilled
  • Lemon flavored soda water, chilled


  1. Combine sugar with 4 oz. water (1/2 cup) and 3 sprigs rosemary in a small pan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, strain the rosemary leaves and add the schnapps, lemon juice and Cheribundi juice and refrigerate the syrup until very cold.
  2. Remove the seeds from the pomegranate (see “It’s that easy” note above) and reserve.
  3. To each champagne flute, add 2 oz. (1/4 cup) syrup mixture and top with prosecco and a splash of soda water. Add a sprinkle of pomegranate seeds and a sprig of rosemary and serve immediately.

Pom Cherry Spritzer

Click Here to Print the Recipe for Pom Cherry Spritzer with Rosemary.

Bulleit Champagne Cocktail

A touch of vanilla syrup and bourbon turns this sparkler into a Champagne Manhattan. If you love bourbon, you’ll love this lighter twist on that classic cocktail.

It’s that easy: You can use pricey vanilla beans more than once. Since you don’t scrape the vanilla beans from the pod in this recipe, (the black specks would be unattractive in the drink) there’s still lots of flavor in the bean. Just rinse and dry and place in a zip lock bag for another use.

Start-to-Finish: 1 hour
Hand-On Time: 10 minutes
Serves 8 to 10


  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1. vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 6 oz. (3/4 cup) Bulleit bourbon or another bourbon of your choice
  • 2 – 750 ml bottles Argyle Brut sparkling wine, chilled
  • 8 to 10 maraschino cherries
  • 8 to 10 strips orange peel


  1. Combine the sugar, vanilla bean and 2 oz. (1/4 cup) of water in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and stir until sugar dissolves. Transfer the pan from the heat and rest for 5 minutes. Carefully remove the vanilla bean, rinse, dry and reserve it to use again. Add bourbon to syrup and chill until very cold.
  2. Add 1 oz. (2 tablespoons) bourbon syrup to champagne flutes or coupes. Top with champagne and garnish with a skewered cherry and orange peel. Serve immediately.

Bulleit Champagne Cocktail

Click Here to Print the Recipe for Bulleit Champagne Cocktail.


Sgroppino is sure to please guests with the flavor of lemon and flecks of mint. The little ball of lemon sorbet chills and permeates the drink as you sip. What could be more charming? It’s like a taste of summer on a cold winter’s night.

It’s that easy: Use a small scoop for the sorbet. A 2 oz. scoop is perfect.

Start-to-Finish: 10 minutes
Hand-On Time: 10 minutes
Serves 10


  • 10 oz. (1 1/4 cups) lemon-flavored vodka, chilled
  • 2 tbsp. fresh mint, chopped, plus 10 sprigs for garnish
  • 2 -750 ml bottles Vin Hunter prosecco, chilled
  • 1 pint lemon sorbet


  1. Combine the vodka and mint in a measuring cup and stir to combine.
  2. Add 1 oz. (2 tablespoons) vodka mixture to champagne flutes or coupes and top with prosecco. Add a small scoop of lemon sorbet and garnish with mint sprigs. Serve immediately.

Click Here to Print the Recipe for Sgroppino.

Carla Snyder in her kitchen
By Carla Snyder
Carla has spent the past 30 years in the food world as a caterer, artisan baker, cooking school teacher, food writer and author of 6 cook books including the James Beard nominated Big Book of Appetizers. Her passion is sharing fresh, cooked-from-scratch weeknight meals that cut prep time and practically eliminate that nightly sink full of dishes.

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