15 Winter Cocktails and Mocktails to Make the Season Bright

Because everyone should get a choice

by Stephanie Kaloi


Oh ho ho, it’s that time of the year again! If you’re thinking, “Oh yes! Hanukkah! Christmas! Kwanzaa!” let me tell you guys, no, that’s not what I’m talking about here. It’s time for holiday-themed boozy winter cocktails, like the alcoholic hot chocolate recipe below that I immediately forwarded to my mother-in-law. Because what says, “Hey family, let’s hang!” like sitting together and getting toasted? Or not—there are also five non-alcoholic winter cocktails on this list.

These drinks will equally slay at in your home around the fire (be it in a fireplace or on your computer screen, like we roll) or at your frosty-but-delightful winter wedding. They’ll keep you happy, warm, and may keep some of those post-election anger feels at bay (for a bit, anyway).

10 boozy winter cocktails

a glass of christmas sangria

Christmas Sangria

Don’t let the name fool you:  you can totally drink this sangria any time in December, whether or not Christmas is your bag. It’s also pretty easy to make (there are seven ingredients involved, but it’s manageable!) and heavy on the white wine and cranberries.

winter bourbon smash cocktail

Winter Bourbon Smash

I’m not usually a bourbon person, but this drink looks so tasty that I might ask my father-in-law to make it anyway. Plus it’s not red and green, but it is still entirely on the holiday train.

vanilla and cherry mimosa for winter

Vanilla and Cranberry Mimosa

Here I want to give a little shout out to everyone who makes mimosas and keeps contributing to mimosa diversity, because as someone who relishes any and all chances to drink champagne, I appreciate you. I have not yet tried a vanilla and anything mimosa, but I’m giving this vanilla and cranberry concoction a shot.

cranberry and rosemary sangria

Cranberry & Rosemary Sangria

Sangria, sangria, sangriiaaaaa. Why don’t they make up holiday songs just about you? I think there’s no sangria like a seasonal sangria, and this cranberry and rosemary mixture is right up my alley.

winter cosmo cocktail

Winter Wonderland Cosmopolitan

The first time I met my mother-in-law, she told me I was pretty and handed me a cosmopolitan. It was also my first time ever drinking a cosmo, and since then I’m an on-again, off-again fan. I’m intrigued by this drink, though, and its elderflower liqueur.

jack frost winter cocktail

Jack Frost Cocktail

This drink can be made with vodka or a light rum, and also is heavy on pineapple and coconut—which means it’s very helpful if all you want to do is close your eyes and pretend that you’re somewhere warm.

the blizzard winter cocktail

The Blizzard

I was immediately drawn to this cocktail because, if we’re being real, it reminded me of the Misty Palms Oasis. Don’t know what I’m talking about? It’s okay, because it’s pretty nerdy.

cinnamon white russian winter cocktail

Cinnamon White Russian

OH HELLO gorgeous, don’t you look nice? I’m of the opinion that cinnamon makes everything better, and this winter cocktail fully supports that idea.

alcoholic frozen hot chocolate

Boozy Frozen Hot Chocolate

Like I said above, I immediately sent a link to my mother-in-law with a holiday request attached. Ice cream! Hot cocoa! Irish Cream! Yes, please.

plum and thyme prosecco smash winter cocktail

Plum and Thyme Prosecco Smash

I’m not sure it would ever occur to me to add plum to Prosecco, but I’m glad it occurred to someone.

5 non-alcoholic winter cocktails

non alcoholic winter sangria

Non-alcoholic Winter Sangria

You know what’s excellent about this drink? Since it’s non-alcoholic, it’s spot on for anyone who doesn’t drink (obviously) and for anyone who is looking for a delicious alcohol-esque beverage on a random Thursday afternoon but who wants to, you know, not get drunk.

non alcoholic festive sparkling cider

Non-alcoholic Festive Sparkling Cider

What’s yellow and orange and utterly delicious? This totally booze-free sparkling cider!

mandarin mint winter lemonade

Winter Mandarin Mint Lemonade

My kid loves mandarin oranges, but I’m not sure I ever would have thought to put them into a drink. There’s also something super appealing about the idea of a “winter lemonade,” you know? Even if it’s really just super fancy orange juice.


White Chocolate Peppermint Mocktini

This festive pepperminty concoction will put you in wintery spirit from the second it meets your mouth, promise.

hot vanilla milk drink

Warm Vanilla Milk

Technically speaking, the real name of this drink is “Olaf’s Warm Hug Hot Vanilla Milk,” but since not everyone digs on Olaf, I left that part out. You can serve this to adults, kids, and everyone in between.

Stephanie Kaloi

Stephanie is a photographer, writer, and Ravenclaw living in California with her family. She is super into reading, road trips, and adopting animals on a whim. Forewarning: all correspondence will probably include a lot of punctuation and emoji (!!! ? ? ?).

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  • Jessica

    Thanks for including N/A beverages! If I host a party I always like to include fancy alcohol-free drinks, but sometimes am at a loss beyond cider and sparkling lemonade from Trader Joe’s.

    • Danielle

      I personally love a good spritzer! (Seltzer + any juice, my preference is cranberry or pomegranate. Add some ice cubes and a splash of lime/lemon or a mint leaf, and I feel so fancy!)

      This year I’ve been hankering for some mulled cider; the spices make the house smell SO good. Might need to make some soon…

      • Jane

        Floating frozen berries in those spritzers also makes them seem fancier and less like a non-alcoholic afterthought.

        Sometimes I’ll make really fancy non-alcoholic punch and leave a well-paired alcohol out for people to make their drinks alcoholic if they want. It can be helpful because sometimes punch tastes amazing and you don’t realize how strong it is. If you’re adding the shot to your own drink, you’ll know. Obviously that plan doesn’t work as well for pinches where the main alcohol is wine not liquor.

        • Danielle

          I really like frozen raspberries for that. They look so pretty.

        • idkmybffjill

          Yes! We do this alot as we have a friend group with a fair amount of non-drinkers. Always a hit!

  • Sara

    My mother and I drink cranberry mimosas all Christmas morning but we’ve always called them ‘Poinsettias’. I don’t know if that’s a name we gave them or we heard that from someone, but it makes us feel Christmasy :)

    • Jane

      That is an awesome name for it!

    • I have made a “pointsettia punch” that is basically sparkling wine, vodka, cranberry juice and floating cranberries. So totally a thing!

  • Amy March

    I’m doing punch this year- vodka, Grand Marnier, champagne, and pomegranate juice.

    • MrsRalphWaldo

      That sounds delicious! What are the proportions?

      • Amy March

        As much of each as I have in the cupboard?

    • Lawyerette510

      That sounds like a delightful combo!

      I love making punch for parties. We’re on our 8th year of an annual party in our house in December and the years when we have punch are always the most fun. I use one of the classic ratios as my (loose) guide: 1 part sour, 2 part sweet, 3 part strong, 4 part OR 2 parts booze, 2 parts wine, 2 parts juice, 1 part sweet/ sour (depending on your wine and juice).

  • K.

    As a newly pregnant person, I am now a firm believer in always offering some fancy alcohol-free drinks…if only because drinking water and clearly turning down the alcoholic offerings all night is apparently the fastest way to get people whispering and even just baldly asking you if you’re pregnant, well before you’re ready to actually tell people! (Side note: Let’s just reiterate the moratorium on ever asking women if they’re pregnant, shall we? If they are and want you to know, they’ll f’ing TELL YOU.)

    But if there’s N/A options, people either think you’re trying something yummy or their brains fill in that you’re drinking as usual. Works out nicely!

  • CMT

    Yes! Winter-y and Christmas-y cocktails are exactly what I want right now. Or 7 hours from now when I get off work, really.

  • rg223

    The annual “APW Winter Cocktail” post is one of my favs! I am totally having a Cinnamon White Russian and watching “A Very Murray Christmas” this year.

    • Eenie

      I drank the rosemary simple syrup and prosecco drink from a previous round up for 3 or 4 years every NYE!!

  • MrsRalphWaldo

    OMG!! Thank you so much for this. This will make my holiday party planning so much more fun!

  • Jane

    Having girlfriends over to watch all the new Gilmore Girls this weekend (we had too much family stuff to do it over Thanksgiving). Maybe I’ll try one of those lovely sangrias!

  • CMT

    Oh, I also really like this cocktail recipe from Smitten Kitchen: https://smittenkitchen.com/2014/12/fairytale-of-new-york/

    • Jenny

      LOVE that one!

  • I would really like someone to bring me a cocktail now. I’m just saying.

  • Tea is the secret to any good non-alcoholic sangria. The tannin just gives it a much more complex flavour; it tastes a lot more adult than pomegranate and orange juice alone. I’m a bit surprised by how many of these have added sugar when a lot of the flavoured spirits and mixers are so sweet already. Cranberry juice is so lovely and dry compared with most berry juices. Love it for what it is!