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13 Holiday Cocktail Recipes From the World’s Best Bars

Outstanding bartenders share their favorite festive drinks.

Dante, New York City; Fireside Old Fashioned Photo: courtesy Giada Paoloni

’Tis the season for shaking, stirring and sipping—or, in the case of 2020, chugging. This hasn’t been the most holly, jolly year, so we all deserve an uplifting dose of holiday cheer right about now. And we’ve found just the trick.

Whether you’re hosting a virtual celebration or having a small gathering with family, we believe keeping everyone’s spirits high coincides with keeping the spirits plentiful and exceptional with great cocktails all around. To seriously upgrade your standard drink-making repertoire (here’s looking at you, spiked eggnog and mulled wine), we tapped 13 of the world’s most outstanding watering holes to share festive signature cocktail recipes to recreate at home (and help drink away 2020…). Because you deserve to imbibe the very best this season.

Atlas Bar, Singapore

Atlas Bar, Singapore; Christmas Symphony

Photo: courtesy Benjamin Sim

Crowned the Best Bar in Asia for 2020 (and No. 4 on the World’s 50 Best Bars List), Atlas is an opulent showstopper in an outrageous 7,400-square-foot Art Deco space unlike any you’ve toasted in before. Singapore’s jazz-inspired stunner is touted for having the best spirits collection in the world, boasting a list of more than 1,300 gin labels alone. Head bartender Jesse Vida’s Christmas Symphony uses traditional flavors of the season—ginger, almond, quince, clove—to compliment the botanical spirit. This Gin Sour variation is bright and refreshing with rich spice notes, a float of bitters on top and a citrus garnish.

Christmas Symphony

  • 0.75 oz. (25 ml) fresh lemon juice
  • 0.5 oz. (15 ml) orgeat (almond syrup)
  • 0.25 oz. (5 ml) fresh ginger syrup
  • 0.5 oz. (15 ml) Whitley Neill Quince Gin
  • 1.5 oz. (40 ml) Fords Gin
  • (Can combine 2 oz. (55 ml) of any gin to substitute)
  • 10 dashes Angostura bitters

Pour lemon juice, orgeat, ginger syrup and gin into a cocktail shaker with ice; shake. Strain into a rocks glass over a big ice cube (preferred). Add 10 dashes of bitters and garnish with a large orange peel. 

Connaught Bar, London

Connaught Bar, London; Ginger Cuvèe

Photo: courtesy Connaught Bar

Crowned The World’s Best Bar and The Best Bar in Europe for 2020, Connaught Bar—a ritzy cocktail den within London’s prestigious Connaught Hotel—is known for its classic martini trolley service and drinks precisely mixed tableside. Their lovely Ginger Cuvèe combines orchard fruit notes from the whisky with warm spices and a refreshing touch of Champagne for a festive and effervescent holiday libation.

Ginger Cuvèe

Stir all ingredients over ice and strain into a flute; garnish with a crystallized ginger cube on stick. Spray with wild carrot essence (*sourced from Tuscany; alternatively you can replace with a twist and spray of an orange peel).

Dante, New York City

Dante, New York City; Fireside Old Fashioned

Photo: courtesy Giada Paoloni

Named The Best Bar in North America for 2020 (and Best Bar in the World in 2019), Dante is a century-old Greenwich Village institution for expertly crafted cocktails and reimagined classics. “The sophisticated Old Fashioned drinkers of today have experienced palates and the rich, bold flavors in our Fireside Old Fashioned match up well to this. Holidays—and the Christmas period particularly—are all about indulgence and the addition of Palo Cortado to the classic cocktail structure makes it more lavish, giving rich fruit notes. We wanted to evoke the feeling of sitting by the fire after a great meal, slowly sipping on something special,” says Chris Moore, Beverage Director at Dante.

Dante’s Fireside Old Fashioned

Pour chilled ingredients into an Old Fashioned glass; stir. Garnish with drunk raisins (see below) and nutmeg.

*Smoked Raisin Syrup

  • 3 c. (600 g) sugar
  • 1 2/3 c. (400 g) water
  • 2 c. (300 g) raisins
  • 2 cinnamon sticks

Heat first three ingredients in a saucepan on medium for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, add cinnamon sticks and leave at room temperature to cool. Strain and bottle, but keep raisins for garnish. Once strained, pour into a Cambro, then use a smoking gun to fill the container with smoke; leave to infuse.

Maybe Sammy, Sydney

Maybe Sammy, Sydney; Harlem Shake

Photo: courtesy Maybe Sammy

Crowned The Best Bar in Australia for 2020 (and ranked No. 11 in the world), Sydney’s Maybe Sammy, located in historic neighborhood The Rocks, draws inspiration from Hollywood’s golden age of the 1950s—with a menu spotlighting martinis, highballs and even specialty coffee cocktails. This spicy number is “a nod to Sammy Davis Jr. since he grew up in Harlem and is famous for his tap dancing skills on stage. So that’s why it’s named the Harlem Shake,” says Martin Hudak, co-founder of Maybe Sammy and International Bartender of the Year 2019.

Harlem Shake

Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice; shake for 15 seconds. Serve strained into rocks glass with a big ice cube. Garnish with crushed pepper.

Cure, New Orleans

Cure, New Orleans; Caldera

Photo: courtesy Randy P. Schmidt

Lauded for pioneering the cocktail revival in New Orleans, Cure has become a powerhouse in the city’s now booming bar scene. Located in a former firehouse, the stylish James Beard Award-winning cocktail haven has seen a huge interest in agave spirits and requests for spirit-forward agave cocktails, in particular. Bar star Liz Kelley created a Negroni riff featuring reposado tequila with bitter citrus, pine and notes of stone fruit. Her Caldera is “simple to make at home—with just three beautiful ingredients—but is sophisticated, nuanced and wholly unique,” says Matt Young, General Manager of Cure.

Caldera

Stir ingredients with ice in a mixing glass. Strain up into a cocktail glass. Express with a grapefruit peel (twist over the cocktail, then rub around the rim of the glass); discard peel.

El Paradiso, Barcelona

El Paradiso, Barcelona; Emotions

Photo: courtesy El Paradiso

Accessing Barcelona’s modern-day speakeasy requires entering an unassuming pastrami shop in El Born and finding the secret refrigerator door. One inside, El Paradiso’s drinks—designed by award-winning barman Giacomo Giannotti—are certainly worth all the fuss, but sipping this tasty recipe from the comfort of home may just be the next best thing. Emotions is a stout cocktail crafted with whisky and pine liqueur, which evokes traditional Christmas aromas and flavors.

Emotions

Mix all ingredients together in your glass of choice. Garnish with an orange peel and a brandied cherry, as well as a pine cone (optional) for presentation. 

Employees Only, New York City

Employees Only, New York City; Hot Take

Photo: courtesy Employees Only

Inventive cocktails (which you can sip by a fireplace in normal times) are the biggest draw at New York’s iconic Prohibition-era speakeasy. Though the West Village bar is temporarily closed due to new dining restrictions, this recipe invites you to recreate the Employees Only experience at home. “This drink was basically made to be an insanely delicious variation of a hot buttered rum. We just made it thrice as decadent,” says Keith Larry, principal bartender and bar manager. “I wanted this drink to have more depth of flavor without being too terribly sweet, which is why I made that batter. The name came from the fact that we hear all sorts of crazy thoughts and opinions working in a bar and that everyone has a ‘hot take’ on any given topic.”

Hot Take

  • 2 oz. aged rum (such as Ron Zacapa 23)
  • 1 heaping teaspoon batter (see below)
  • 3 oz. boiling hot water
  • 2 oz. heavy cream
  • 0.5 oz. simple syrup

Stir rum, batter and boiling water together (or steam if possible). Whip or shake together heavy cream and simple syrup. Pour chilled cream over a spoon on top of the hot drink. Garnish with cinnamon.

For the batter: Mix together a pound of butter, a pound of brown sugar, a pound of white sugar, two tablespoons of cinnamon, one teaspoon of ground cloves, one teaspoon of ground nutmeg and one pint of vanilla ice cream.

Trick Dog, San Fransisco

Trick Dog, San Fransisco; Like Christmas

Photo: courtesy Trick Dog

San Francisco’s high-profile cocktail bar is beloved for its fiercely innovative, regularly changing menu. During the pandemic, Trick Dog flexed their creative muscles once again, by debuting Quik Dog—a takeout-only restaurant concept by the same owners, Bon Vivants Hospitality. The award-winning Trick Dog bar team whipped up this festive cocktail that tastes like Christmas, hence the name, which is available at Quik Dog (located within the Trick Dog space).

Like Christmas

Combine all ingredients into a mixing glass; add ice and stir for 15 seconds. Serve strained into a coupe or martini glass. Garnish with cranberries. 

La Factoria, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

La Factoria, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico; Coquito

Photo: courtesy La Factoria

This legendary bar in Old San Juan (included on The World’s 50 Best Bars list for the past six years) is a beautiful celebration of Puerto Rican culture through its energy, music and flavors. “To the Puerto Rican culture, the Coquito is an iconic beverage that carries a very powerful ritual of drinking, as it symbolizes the gathering and sharing of goods, and the joy of the Christmas spirit in its flavor,” says Carlos Irizarry, head bartender at La Factoria. This creamy, coconutty and spiced concoction, which is fortified with rum, is best made in a batch to share with family and friends in celebration of the holiday season.

Coquito

  • 6 oz. Don Q Cristal
  • 4 oz. Don Q Reserva 7 Años
  • 14 oz. sweetened condensed milk
  • 12 oz. evaporated milk
  • 8.5 oz. cream of coconut
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1.5 tsp. ground nutmeg

Mix all ingredients well (using a blender is suggested). Pour into an empty bottle and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. Shake well and serve cold in a small glass. Sprinkle with ground cinnamon. 

Accomplice Bar, Los Angeles

Accomplice Bar, Los Angeles; Rebel Without a Claus

Photo: courtesy Courtney Northrop

Mar Vista’s award-winning neighborhood cocktail joint boasts a progressive seasonal beverage program that isn’t afraid to push boundaries or play with daring flavors and ingredients. Accomplice Bar has become one of Los Angeles’s most popular establishments for expertly crafted libations like this festive Rebel Without a Claus made with mulled wine syrup, gin and brandy.

Rebel Without a Claus

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass and stir with ice. Strain into a rocks glass. Garnish with a lemon twist and star anise or cinnamon stick.

*Mulled Wine Syrup

  • 1 bottle cheap dry red wine
  • 4 pieces star anise
  • 3-5 cinnamon sticks
  • 4-5 cardamom pods
  • 1 orange, juice and zest
  • 1.5 c. (300 g) demerara sugar

Make a mulled wine by combining ingredients (with the exception of the demerara) in a saucepan. Heat until the wine reaches a boil on a medium-high heat; reduce the heat and let simmer for 15 minutes. Add demerara; mix until dissolved and continue to let the wine mixture simmer until it has reduced by three quarters. Strain mixture and allow to cool. 

Note: Any mulled wine recipe will work for this syrup. If you have your own, combine 3 cups of mulled wine with 1.5 cups demerara; heat to reduce by three quarters.

Danico, Paris

Danico, Paris; Drunk Alone

Photo: courtesy Danico

Tucked behind a bustling pizzeria on a very quiet street in Paris is one of the city’s—and the world’s—most highly acclaimed cocktail dens. Danico, the original bar from Parisian born and raised bartender and beverage consultant, Nico de Soto (who also runs Mace in New York City and Kaido in Miami) showcases a hyper-focused menu of impressive artisanal cocktails and quirky concoctions. For Drunk Alone, de Soto found inspiration in two festive drinks: mulled wine and a Bellini.

Drunk Alone

  • 2 oz. (50 ml) spiced mulled wine purée*
  • 4 oz. (100 ml) Prosecco

Stir together the red wine reduction and 2 oz. Prosecco in a flute glass. Add another 2 oz. Prosecco, gently stir and serve. Note: ingredients should be chilled before making this cocktail.

*Spiced Mulled Wine Purée

  • 6 cups (1.4 L) red wine (non tannic, such as Burgundy or Bordeaux)
  • 7 oz. (0.2 L) Carpano Antica Formula Sweet Vermouth
  • 7 oz. (0.2 L) Lustau Pedro Ximénez Sherry
  • 7 oz. (0.2 L) tawny port
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 10 star anise
  • 2 tsp. (10 g) cloves
  • 2 tsp. (10 g) black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp. (5 g) coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp. (5 g) nutmeg
  • Juice of 2 oranges
  • Peel of 1 orange
  • 2.5 c. (500 g) sugar
  • 0.5 oz. (10 g) citric acid

Add all ingredients to a saucepan. Boil, then simmer until reduced by half. 

Café La Trova, Miami

Café La Trova, Miami; Don Q Manhattan

Photo: courtesy Café La Trova

World famous mixologist Julio Cabrera and James Beard Award-winning chef Michelle Bernstein teamed up to open this vibrant Cuban spot in the heart of Little Havana early last year. As the creative genius behind Café La Trova’s lauded beverage program, Cabrera (named American Bartender of the Year 2019) drew inspiration from the holiday season to reimagine one of his favorite classic cocktails: the Manhattan.

Don Q Manhattan

Combine all ingredients into a mixing glass; add ice and stir for 15 seconds. Serve strained into a 5.5 oz. coupe glass. Aromatize with an orange peel (then discard) and garnish with a cherry.

Native, Singapore

garden city cocktail native singapore

Photo: courtesy Native

Opened by Vijay Mudaliar in 2016, Singapore’s Native (ranked No. 18 on the World’s 50 Best Bars List for 2020) champions all things local and focuses on exploring the region’s diverse cultural and physical landscape through the lens of drinks. Expect uber-creative bespoke cocktails made with Asian spirits and foraged produce. “This drink was inspired by a little pocket of life in the Garden City,” says Yong Wei, Native’s head bartender. “We use some local herbs and fruit, such as calamansi (local citrus) and pandan from our rooftop garden, paired with ginger flower we get from a local farm. The result is floral, crisp and refreshing—perfect for the warm weather in Singapore.”

Garden City

  • 0.5 oz. (12 g) Roku Gin
  • 0.5 oz. (10 g) ginger flower cordial*
  • 1.5 oz. (26 g) pandan tea**
  • 2 drops lactic acid

Mix all ingredients together and serve in a rocks glass with a big ice cube.

*Ginger flower cordial

  • 0.25 oz. (6 g) of ginger flower, chopped and lightly crushed
  • 5 oz. (150 g) water
  • 0.75 c. (150 g) xylitol/sugar
  • Calamansi (halved)

Add everything to a saucepan. Bring to a boil and mash while straining. Cool strained liquid before adding to the cocktail. 

**Pandan tea

  • 0.75 oz. (20 g) fresh pandan
  • 1/3 c. (67 g) sugar
  • 4 c. (1000 g) water

If you don’t have access to fresh pandan like the Native bar team, you can purchase pandan tea online.


Note: All international ingredient quantities have been converted in the recipes. To be as specific as possible, the original measurements are listed in parenthesis.

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