The holidays, scenario one: a time for feasting, enjoying the company of family and friends and exchanging gifts. That’s reason enough to clink glasses.

The holidays, scenario two: a time for stress, empty wallets and judgmental in-laws. That’s even more reason to knock back a few drinks.

Whichever circumstances best describe your impending holidays, we’ve got you covered. With booze. We like winter beers and food-friendly wines as much as the next guy, but something about the holidays requires an extra kick, usually in the form of a cocktail. There are plenty of holiday-themed drinks, but we’re tired of hot toddies, brandy alexanders and candy cane garnishes. So this year, we’re stepping up our cocktail game by rethinking some of our seasonal favorites and taking you through the steps of making them yourself.

Start a fire, cue the holiday tunes and sit back with one of these three Gear Patrol-approved drinks.

Holiday Rum Sour

The “sour” is a style of drink that involves spirit, sugar and citrus. And while whiskey sours have more name recognition, don’t sleep on rum. By adding an egg white and some Fee’s Whiskey Barrel Aged Bitters, which impart lots of pleasant cinnamon notes to this drink, you’re left with a stout, frothy potion that’s just the right amount of sweet, sour, festive and boozy.

  • 2 ounces good Jamaican rum (we like Appleton Estate Reserve)
  • 1 ounce freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 ounce simple syrup
  • 1 egg white
  • Fee’s Whiskey Barrel Aged Bitters
  • Nutmeg

Add first four ingredients to mixing tin, and shake without ice for a good 30 seconds. Seriously, shake the hell out of it to ensure the egg emulsifies. Next, add ice and shake again for 10 seconds. Strain into a cocktail glass, and once the drink settles, add a sprinkle of freshly-grated nutmeg and a few drops of bitters on top.


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Egg Nog

Everyone knows this popular holiday libation. Some use brandy, and some use rum. Some make it at home, while others merely add liquor to the contents of a store-bought carton. It’s tried and true, but it’s a little tired. The below recipe wakes up the cocktail with the potent, flavorful one-two punch of spiced rum and brandy.

  • 1 ounce brandy
  • 1 ounce spiced rum (try Chairman’s Reserve or Old New Orleans Cajun)
  • ¾ ounce fine sugar
  • 3 ½ ounces whole milk or Half and Half
  • 1 whole egg
  • Nutmeg
  • Cinnamon stick

Shake first five ingredients without ice to emulsify the egg. Once contents are well-incorporated and foamy, add ice and shake again. Strain into a mug and garnish with freshly-grated nutmeg and a cinnamon stick.


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Spiked Cider

There’s no better way to welcome guests or Christmas morning than with a vat of steaming cider. This warming drink can be made to order, but mix up a batch of the below recipe, and your cup will runneth over all day with holiday cheer. Plus, it makes the house smell great.

Note that this recipe serves six to eight people, so multiply each ingredient proportionally depending on how many imbibers you’re serving.

  • 24 ounces apple cider
  • 6 ounces gold rum
  • 6 ounces spiced rum
  • 2 ounces honey
  • 1 teaball packed with whole cloves and allspice
  • 1 whole orange peel, quartered (be sure peel contains very little pith)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks

Add all ingredients except rum to a pot, and heat on medium heat until warm. Add rum and continue heating on low until it comes to your desired temperature. Serve in a mug, and garnish with a cinnamon stick and a fresh orange peel. If you want an extra kick, top with more rum.


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Photos and arrangement by Gear Patrol