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Four festive cocktails for holiday entertaining

Entertaining is easy with these four festive drinks--with alcohol or without.
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With alcohol or without, these festive drinks are sure to be a hit this holiday season. Photo: Alison Phillips

With the Christmas season nearly upon us, it’s looking a little different from last year’s lock down situation. I’m noticing earlier preparations and decorations going up with flair, likely because we’ll be able to gather a bit more with friends and family. While it’s always nice to serve traditional drinks and cocktails, it’s also a good time to try new spins on old favourites. All these recipes can be made with or without alcohol.

Santa Clausmopolitain the Crantini


Lime wedge, for rim

white sanding sugar

8 oz. vodka

12 oz. cranberry juice

2 oz. triple sec

2 oz. fresh lime juice

1 ¾ oz. fresh cranberries


Run a lime wedge around each glass then dip in sanding sugar. (Choose the festive red and green sugar and a martini style glass!)

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice then add vodka, cranberry juice, triple sec, and lime juice. Shake until the cocktail shaker is cold. Divide drinks between rimmed glasses and add cranberries for garnish. Leave out the vodka and replace triple sec with simple syrup for non-alcoholic version. Makes four drinks.


Move over Apple Cider! Hot Pear Cider

8 medium, assorted pears (D’Anjou, red Anjou, Bosc, or Bartlett), quartered

1 medium orange, peeled and pith discarded, and flesh quartered

5 cinnamon sticks

1 (2 1/2-inch) piece fresh ginger, sliced

5 whole allspice berries

2 star anise pods

2 tsp. whole cloves

1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract

1/3 cup pure maple syrup


Place pears, orange, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, star anise, cloves, and vanilla in a 6 1/2-quart slow cooker. Add up to 7 cups water, leaving 1 inch of space. (Pears will not be fully submerged.) Cover and cook on low 8 to 9 hours, mashing pears with a potato masher 30 minutes to 1 hour before end of cooking. Strain into a pitcher. Stir in maple syrup. Serve warm or chilled. Serve over an ounce of Bourbon to really warm things up!


Classic Eggnog – in 5 Minutes!

This light and creamy homemade eggnog is easy to make. I love having eggnog (without the alcohol!) in my coffee instead of cream at the holidays.


4 large eggs

3/4 cup granulated sugar (or superfine sugar)

1/2 tsp dried nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

3 oz cognac (about 1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp) *

3 oz bourbon (about 1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp) *

1 1/2 cups whole milk

1 cup heavy cream


Add whole eggs to blender and blend on MED or LOW speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar and blend another 20 seconds.

Add nutmeg, cinnamon, cognac, bourbon, milk and heavy cream and blend until combined, about 10-15 seconds. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for a day or so to allow flavours to combine and mellow.


Eggnog may have settled in the refrigerator, so either give it a good shake or two, or pour into a mixing bowl and give it a whisk to get everything combined.

Serve with some additional grated nutmeg on top, and an optional cinnamon stick.

*The alcohol acts like a preservative allowing the mixture to “age in the fridge” for a few days. If you prefer, you can use whisky, rum or any other favourite alcohol- it’s your choice.


Festive Sparklers

Sparkling wines and Champagne are always good to have on hand during the holidays. You can dress them up with your favourite juices or liqueurs. Choose your prettiest glasses, add an ounce of cranberry, orange, peach, mango juice or Elderflower, Cassis, Limoncello liqueur (for example) top up with sparkling wine and decorate with fruit or a sprig of rosemary or both. Use club soda instead of sparkling wine for non-alcoholic versions.

However you choose to celebrate the holiday season, stay well and be safe! Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!