Festive Seasonal Sips To Keep Your Spirits Bright
Tired of your “everyday” drinks but feeling like seasonal classics like eggnog just won’t do? Well, fret not, because there’s a whole host of spirits out there that may move you almost as much as the spirit of the holiday this season. Festive and creative flavors in limited and special editions are all the rage this winter. We’re here to guide you through some of the most unique ones — unusual finds that will make you the toast of the season!
1Rich & Creamy
One of my favorite things from Mexico is the 1921 Crema de Tequila. A thick, sweet, vanilla-scented liqueur with a whisper of cinnamon made with super premium 1921 tequila blanca. It’s delicious on its own poured over ice or as an accent to that after-dinner coffee. It can be challenging to source here as it’s the only product of its kind made in Mexico and is best purchased at duty-free.
Equally smooth, sweet, and decadent is Disaronno Velvet, which hit the market last year and thankfully remains there today. Almond — the distinctive flavor of this spirit — comes through like liquid Parisian macarons, all sugary marzipan paste and pure joy. Honestly, the name describes it all: plush, rich, and just an overall lovely experience.
And, the original cream liqueur has gotten an almond upgrade too. Baileys has changed with the times to offer a dairy-free iteration of their signature spirit. Baileys Almande embraces the nuttiness of real almond milk and vanilla, with flavors extracted from sweet almond oil and essence from crushed almonds for a new and delicious way to sip.
The new Tia Maria Matcha Cream liqueur transports tasters to another part of the world entirely, using natural real Japanese matcha extract in its recipe. There is caffeine in this because of that, so this may be better suited for earlier in the day rather than after dinner — or as a late-night restorative.
Who says you need to make your after-dinner coffee hot and Irish? Tia Maria Cold Brew coffee liqueur is proof that you don’t — 53 proof that is. This sweet liqueur is smoothly brewed with real 100% Arabica beans, medium roasted and cold brewed for less acid, more caffeine, and more flavor and fragrance. Then, it’s accented with Madagascar vanilla and spiked with Jamaican white rum distilled from sugarcane molasses, which brings out the earthiness of the coffee in contrast.
If the chocolate in coffee is too subtle for you, spirits brand Ballotin — named after the Belgian chocolate boxes — embraces it with its Ballotin Chocolate Whiskey, which blends craft chocolate with this grain spirit. It’s powerful at 60 proof, so sip those flavors of chocolate fudge, oak, and vanilla with care!
Since its launch, the line has expanded to include Caramel Turtle, Chocolate Cherry Cream, Chocolate Mocha Cream, Chocolate Mint, and Peanut Butter Chocolate, in liquor or cream form. But, for peanut butter drinks, we can’t leave out Skrewball Whiskey, an intensely nutty, smooth spirit that’s as good of a stand-in for the real thing, spiked. It truly is superb and mixes well with chocolate or berry liqueurs like Chambord, if you want to go the Reese’s or PB&J route, respectively.
Then, there are the more overtly seasonal novelties, like Rum Chata Peppermint Bark Rum Cream, where sweet dairy cream, mint, and chocolate combine for a less tooth-cracking taste of the classic winter snack. Plus, there are the many vodkas that come in dessert flavors. Veil Gingerbread Vodka, Taste the Season Gingerbread Cream, Burnett’s Vodka Sugar Cookie, and the always anticipated Bacardi Coquito channel the holidays, while brands like Pinnacle Vodka and Smirnoff Vodka are never shy about experimenting with dessert flavors, from whipped cream to birthday cake, pecan pie, cookie dough, and more. Every year, the Smirnoff Peppermint Twist hits the shelves, so keep an eye out for that.
Also, don’t forget to check ALDI for fun seasonal finds. For example, Three Mills Gingerbread Mulled Wine may still be on the shelves if you look closely enough. This brand is great for its low-alcohol, wine-based cocktail/spritzer creations at a budget price.
3Best Fruit Forward
Pomegranate has long been known as the best winter fruit, and not just for its rarity as a winter-ripening one. It’s not uncommon to find these arils in your glass as you cheers to the new year, but you can save yourself the trouble of the seeds by picking up La Pinta Pomegranate Tequila or Ciroc Limited Edition Pomegranate Vodka. However, if you want to get closer to the real deal, look for PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur, which is made of real natural pomegranate juice and adds a bit of tequila to its vodka base.
We can’t recommend Frankly Organic Vodka more highly either, if you’re looking to put your best fruit forward. It’s organic and honest, just as its name promises, even including a nutrition label with caloric breakdowns and macros listed — a bold move in an industry that’s notoriously secretive about its nutrition values. The pomegranate blend adds lemon for delightful pep, but other flavors like grapefruit, Ceylon cinnamon, apple, and ginger are also fantastic for cold weather. We adore a strawberry and lemon combination, but are happy to reserve that for summer sipping.
Another great fruit for winter is pear, and St. George Spirits’ Spiced Pear Liqueur hits the nail on the head with cinnamon pear cider, clove, allspice, and anise in its makeup. Spirits that have black currant in them are good choices too, despite their peak season being summer. In Lejay Crème de Cassis, there’s some floralness that appears, which is off-season, but the tartness of black currants and raspberry reel it back in. This and any other crème de cassis lends itself well to becoming kir, French aperitif of this liqueur and white wine, another restive pick. Make it Royale with bubbly instead and you have a holiday brunch drink as classic as a mimosa, but red, festive, and more novel.
4Herbaceous and Delicious
In this category, you can’t beat a nice gin, especially if you add ginger and rhubarb, as the Whitley Neill Rhubarb & Ginger does. Refreshing, zesty, yet beautifully smooth and lightly sweet, this gorgeous spirit may be inspired by the maker’s childhood summertime memories, but the ginger is absolutely lovely in winter.
Fernet-Branca, on the other hand, is more robust and, as a liqueur, meant to be sipped after dinner. It has 27 herbs, roots, and spices in its 175-year-old Italian recipe, including mint, ginger, rhubarb, saffron, and chamomile — an interesting way to have a digestive “tea.” Other classic herbal drinks are Drambuie, which adds heather honey to its blend of herbs and spices, and Gammel Dansk Bitter Dram, which is spiced, bitter, and loud with star anise, cinnamon, orange, gooseberries, and Danish tradition.