What We’re Drinking This Holiday Season

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From bitter to bubbly, boozy to N/A, these recipes offer something for everyone.

Unlike wine, where a single magnum bottle can nearly be one-size-fits-all, when it comes to cocktails, everyone’s looking for something a little different. Case in point: This year, the Punch team will be celebrating with everything from N/A Negronis to crowd-pleasing, comforting classics to an overlooked dive bar staple. If you’re unsure what to bring to the holiday table, consider this your cheat sheet for the best recipes—low-proof to spirit-forward—to get you through the season.

I’ve had enough experience watching my carefully batched cocktail sit untouched (by anyone other than myself) for being too obscure, too bitter or otherwise intimidating. That’s why this year I’ll be bottling something a little more classic—a winning Manhattan recipe made with rye, Torino-style sweet vermouth and Angostura bitters in perfect proportion, aptly described by one bartender as “a salve.” Who can say no to that? NB: This works well as a large-format freezer cocktail; just add half an ounce of filtered water per serving. —Chloe Frechette, deputy editor

Best Manhattan Cocktail Recipe

This holiday season, I am bringing nonalcoholic Negronis to the table. This take on the classic aperitivo is easy to make, yet still delivers a complex and layered drink. The best part is, our cocktail hour can start as early as we’d like it to. —Irina Groushevaia, senior social media manager

NA Negroni Faux Groni Cocktail Recipe

The holiday season generally has me leaning fizzy and, this year, toward this riff on a Death in the Afternoon from Oakland bar Friends and Family. Spritzed with absinthe, flavored with Angostura and Peychaud’s bitters and topped with a dry sparkling white, this version is named after the 1930s Parisian lesbian nightclub Le Monocle. It’s sparkling wine with a side of history: This drink will be the perfect way to pregame a December Moulin Rouge show or welcome guests to a freewheeling and festive holiday party. —Jess Mayhugh, managing editor

Death in the Afternoon Cocktail Recipe

Need I say more than “fluffy amaro”? The Shakerato is just one ingredient (plus a little bit of elbow grease), but amaro’s complexity—further opened up by aeration from hard-shaking and dry-shaking—is a cocktail unto itself. The technique works best with (seasonally appropriate) alpine-style amari, like Braulio, but it can unlock new layers of flavor in everything from Branca Menta to pineapple amaro, too. It’s a nightcap and a post-dinner party trick that requires no prep other than bringing over a bottle. —Mary Anne Porto, associate editor

Amaro Shakerato

Since I was young, coquito has always been a holiday staple in my household because I come from a Dominican/Puerto Rican family and you can’t celebrate the holidays without it. I love this take on the recipe because it includes reposado tequila and this nutty oloroso sherry in place of rum, which elevates the drink to a whole new level of deliciousness. —Keila Gonzalez, designer

Since I moved back to my hometown a few years ago, cooking holiday dinners for a dozen or more family and friends has been my (mostly) joyful responsibility. A long day sequestered in a hot kitchen calls for a refreshing, low-proof drink, and this light highball delivers. I’ll pre-batch the vermouth and sherry base, then add herbal tonic and bitters to each serving, since bitters can be overpowering when scaled. Bonus: Batching makes it super quick to pour a drink for anyone who volunteers to wash dishes. —Catherine Sweet, copy editor

If you’re anything like me, by the time you finally find yourself in the midst of the holiday season, you’re burnt out from shopping, schlepping and travel. Give yourself the gift of the lowest-lift cocktail possible: Christine Wiseman’s dead simple, two-ingredient Godfather. Made with ingredients found in every suburban liquor store, this dive-bar staple delivers maximal festive, fireplace vibes for minimal, build-in-glass-and-stir-twice effort. —Allison Hamlin, director of network development

Underrated Classic Cocktail Godfather

I am a sucker for a drink that can finesse being right at home both pre- and post-meal. Dan Greenbaum’s Second Serve, a loose play on the Rome With a View, combines fino sherry and Amaro Montenegro with lime juice, a bit of simple and tops it all off with soda. It’s salty, bitter, light on its feet and while it’s at its finest when you can shake to order, you can also batch the base to keep the party moving. —Talia Baiocchi, editor-in-chief

Amaro Cocktail Recipe

When making drinks at home, especially during the holidays, I like to keep them simple and, more often than not, stirred. This year, I’m opting for Kapri Robinson’s three-ingredient take on the Adonis, a classic aperitif and companion of sorts to the Bamboo. Made with equal parts amontillado sherry and sweet vermouth, plus three dashes of orange bitters, it’s the kind of no-brainer, crowd-pleasing drink that I’ll keep on deck from now until New Year’s. —Lizzie Munro, art director

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