7 Classic Gin Cocktails to Try This Holiday Season

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The holiday season is coming up, which means you’ll be spending more time at social gatherings with friends and family. It also means your alcohol consumption probably will see a slight uptick. Instead of having the same light beer as usual, why not try something more seasonal? Try these seven classic gin cocktails to get yourself in the holiday spirit.

Why Choose Gin?

Gin is the go-to liquor for mixed drinks during the holidays. What makes it so fitting for this time of year? The primary flavor is pine, which is closely associated with Christmas. The noticeable pine flavor comes from the juniper berry that many distillers use as the main ingredient. Gin also contains different herbal and spicy notes that we often see in November and December:

  • Cinnamon 
  • Vanilla
  • Oranges
  • Licorice
  • Hazelnut
  • Mint
  • Sage

Gin has the most holiday-themed flavors compared to other liquors. Certain rums and bourbons also contain some of these flavors, but white liquors are always more versatile than brown liquors when it comes to making mixed drinks. So let’s take a look at seven classic gin cocktails!

1. South Side

The South Side originated in Chicago during the prohibition era, and it’s still arguably the most popular gin cocktail today. We added a bit of a holiday twist. Here are the ingredients and instructions:

  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • 2 oz gin
  • 1 oz simple syrup
  • 5 mint leaves
  • Two fresh cranberries and mint sprig for garnish

Pour all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake well, then strain it into a martini glass. Add the cranberries and mint spring on top. You can also coat the cranberries in sugar if you want the drink to be a little sweeter.

2. Cranberry and Pine

Cranberry juice is one of the best holiday cocktail mixers. It gives the drink a festive red coloring and provides just the right amount of sweetness to contrast with the gin. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1.5 oz cranberry juice
  • .25 oz lemon juice
  • 1.5 oz gin
  • 1 oz honey syrup
  • Dash of orange bitters
  • Lemon slices and cranberries for garnish

Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake well. Strain into an ice-filled rocks glass and add the garnishes on top.

3. Holiday Gin Moscow Mule

The Moscow Mule is a classic cocktail that usually contains vodka, but we added a holiday twist to the recipe and swapped out vodka for gin. The gin’s pine flavor complements the potent lime and ginger beer just a little better than vodka. Put together the following ingredients:

  • 1 oz cranberry juice
  • .25 oz lime juice
  • .5 oz ginger beer
  • 1.5 oz gin
  • 1 oz rosemary simple syrup
  • Lime wedge, rosemary sprig and/or cranberries for garnish

Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake well. Strain into a highball glass on the rocks and add the garnishes of your choice.

5. Mandarin Gimlet

Oranges, clementines and other similar fruits become surprisingly popular during the holidays. This classic gin cocktail uses mandarin juice as the main complementary ingredient, and it packs quite the punch.

  • 1.5 oz gin
  • 1 oz mandarin juice
  • .5 oz lime juice
  • .75 oz simple syrup
  • Mandarin orange slice for garnish

Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake well. Strain into a tulip or coupe glass, then add the garnish on top. The end result should look something like a mimosa, but the taste is noticeably different.

5. Vesper

The Vesper cocktail first appeared in the 1953 James Bond novel “Casino Royale,” and it has been a staple for gin, vodka and wine lovers ever since. These ingredients combine to create arguably the strongest cocktail on the list:

  • 3 oz gin
  • 1 oz vodka
  • .5 oz Lillet blanc wine
  • Orange twist garnish

Pour the ingredients into a mixing glass, add ice and stir until chilled. Then strain it into a pre-chilled cocktail glass and add the orange twist on top. If the drink is too potent, add some club soda or tonic water to balance it out.

6. Pomegranate Gin Punch

If you’re hosting a large holiday party, the pomegranate gin punch is a great cocktail to make in batches. Here’s what you need to make a dozen servings:

  • 1qt pomegranate juice
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 2 cups limeade
  • 2 cups gin
  • 1 champagne bottle
  • 1 cup of pomegranate seeds, several orange and lime slices for garnish

Pour the ingredients into a punch bowl, add some ice and let the garnishes float on top. Mix well, then set some highball glasses on the side for guests. 

7. Christmas Tree Martini

We end the list with the ultimate holiday cocktail: the Christmas tree martini. It’s a festive interpretation of the traditional martini, with hints of sweet and spice mixed in. Here’s what you will need:

  • 1.5 oz gin
  • 1 oz dry vermouth
  • .5 oz simple syrup
  • Dash of Angostura bitters
  • Rosemary stalk for garnish

Combine the ingredients in a mixing glass, then strain them into a chilled martini glass. One trick that bartenders use to give this cocktail more flavor is to rub the rosemary stalk between their palms before adding it to the drink.

Spice Up Your Drinks for the Holidays

The holiday season only makes up a small portion of the year. Why spend it drinking the same old light beers and vodka sodas? Spice up your drinks for the holidays and improve your mixology skills with these classic gin cocktails. One of them might just become your favorite!


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