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Holiday parties are fantastic. At least, the first few holiday parties of the year are fantastic. After that, each one can start to feel like a blur of ugly sweaters, campy music and maybe a sea of friends and family members you only see once a year (on purpose). You know what makes any holiday party instantly fabulous, though? Big-batch holiday cocktails.
A few bottles of wine and bourbon are all it really takes to get people good and tipsy at a holiday party, but well-planned holiday cocktails can totally bring things to the next level. Since no one has time to mix individual drinks while they’re singing carols and filling up on sugar cookies, big-batch holiday cocktails are the way to go.
Make a huge batch of some festive, boozy drink before everyone arrives, then set it out with a ladle and some cups and let guests go to town. And feel free to set out some no-cook holiday appetizers while you’re at it, you hostess with the mostess, you.
The following big-batch holiday cocktail recipes range from classic eggnog to a fancy gin punch you’ve definitely never tried before. Pick one (or a few) for your upcoming holiday fête, and watch as guests bask in the revelry.
Okay, so I know this isn’t technically a big batch recipe, but all you need to do for this cocktail is get a bottle of peppermint vodka and some prosecco or champagne, set it up a few champagne flutes and let your guests go to town. No individual stirring or shaking required. Feel free to add in pink grapefruit juice as a mixer, too.
Cinnamon Apple Cider Sangria
Sangria is always a big batch crowd-pleaser thanks to its mild flavors and overall drinkability. This sangria recipe takes things up a notch introducing a crisp apple flavor and hint of cinnamon. All you’ll need is white wine, hard apple cider, apples and pears and cinnamon sticks.
Warm Spiced Gluhwein
No holiday party is complete without some mulled wine. If you’re a bit skeptical of what is essentially hot wine, let this recipe convert you to a mulled wine-lover. Spices like star anise, cloves and vanilla bean bring the flavor of this recipe to the next level.
Cranberry Citrus Paloma Punch
The big batch tequila cocktail you never knew you needed, this recipe is guaranteed to bring the party to your holiday get-together. Grab some tequila, grapefruit juice, cranberry puree, orange juice, lime juice and Squirt soda and let the good times roll.
Red Grapefruit Sparkler
This wine-and-rum red grapefruit sparkler is sweet and sour, and will look beautiful among your holiday decorations. For this recipe, you’ll need white wine, grapefruit juice, spiced rum and rosemary and grapefruit slices for garnish.
Any party isn’t complete without some variation of the iconic Moscow Mule, and this Yule Mule is the perfect addition to your holiday soiree. It has the same base ingredients as a traditional mule—vodka, ginger beer and lime—along with cranberries and cranberry juice for a seasonal update.
Blood Orange Blackberry Rum Punch
Can’t stomach another overly sweet, festive holiday drink? This blood orange blackberry rum punch is just what you need. All it takes is some rum, blackberry soda, blood orange juice, and lime juice to make the magic happen.
A classic drink with a quirky name, Rosemary, Baby! is a bourbon and grapefruit cocktail that’s guaranteed to sneak up on you. Break out your bourbon, grapefruit soda, aperol, club soda and sparkling wine to bring this drink to life.
Knockout Bourbon Punch
True to its name, this knockout bourbon punch is a real kick in the pants. The combination of bourbon and Madeira will get everybody going, and notes of cinnamon and ginger make it festive (but not over-the-top).
The folks at Food52 sure know how to throw a party. This bitter, gin-based Bowery punch will appease guests who don’t want to go the bourbon route. The ingredient list is a little longer on this recipe but the end result is totally worth the extra effort.
This sweet, spiced classic is lower in alcohol than most of the other cocktails on the list, so it’s great for a party that’ll last for hours and hours. Besides, it really isn’t the holidays until you’ve had some mulled wine.
Love it or hate it, eggnog is a time-honored holiday tradition. Skip the sickly sweet store-bought stuff and make your own (still pretty sweet) nog. Even the biggest eggnog haters will have to admit they’re into this homemade recipe.
Holiday Milk Punch
Just can’t get yourself on the eggnog bandwagon? This holiday milk punch is a lighter spin, made with brandy, rum, and a mix of milk and cream. The recipe only makes one cocktail, so scale way up and keep a pitcher in the fridge for guests.
Batch Old Fashioned Cocktails
When you want a truly stiff drink, it’s hard to beat a classic old fashioned. The problem is, no host wants to spend the whole party mixing drinks at the bar. This batch old fashioned makes 12 cocktails, so just set it in a bottle at your bar, along with some sliced oranges and cherries for garnish.
Earl Grey Gin Punch
Cranberries, citrus, rosemary and tea give this Earl Grey gin punch plenty of flavor. All you’ll need to make this recipe is gin, Earl Gray tea, lemon juice and orange bitters. You’ll definitely be making multiple batches of this cocktail before the party is over.
Blood Orange Sangria
Thought sangria was strictly a summer drink? Think again. This blood orange sangria is perfect for winter, and you can always swap out the berries for chopped apples or some pomegranate seeds.
Homemade Peppermint Vodka Hot Chocolate
No drink is as cozy as classic hot chocolate. Make yours party-appropriate by swapping candy canes for peppermint vodka, and adding it to mugs of hot chocolate for this homemade peppermint vodka hot chocolate.
A version of this story appeared in November 2018.