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33 Christmas cocktails to make the season merry and bright

Get into the holiday spirit — literally.
/ Source: TODAY

Add a little sparkle to the season with festive Christmas cocktails. These boozy beverages were created to warm you up from the inside out and light you up with the holiday spirit. Whether it's the fire from the bourbon, brandy, Champagne or vodka or the warmth from a hot spiked cider or mulled wine that brings on that snuggly feeling, these drinks are guaranteed to fend off winter chills. They also bring the winter whimsy with creative garnishes like sugar-coated grapes, a candy cane-covered rim, frozen cranberries, gingerbread cookies, shaved chocolate, vanilla frosting, sprinkles and more.

From family-friendly, nonalcoholic spiced ciders to versions with liberal pours of spiced rum, these merry drinks are an important part of menu planning for your Christmas gathering. While you may want to serve a juicy red wine with your holiday roast, these cocktails will start and end the party on the right note, helping guests whet their appetites and digest their meals. But they’re certainly not limited to Christmas — once the ornaments are hung and the lights are twinkling on the tree, a sip of any of these cocktails can make it feel like Christmas any day of the season.

So grab your shaker and mix up some holiday magic. That way, you can enjoy a tipple during a major gift-wrapping session or make a big batch for guests to sip on while you’re in the kitching making Christmas dinner. Every single one of these wintry cocktails are worth making — and the season is long enough to try them all!

Carson's Brandy Alexander

"For as long as I can remember my mom was blending away during the holidays, creating her famous Brandy Alexander cocktails," says Carson. "It's such a tradition that we even named our family dog after the drink, calling her 'Lexi' for short. She was an off-white fluffy thing (resembling the concoction of cream and cocoa) and had a sprinkle of brown on her face that matched the tap of nutmeg that tops the blended beauty."

Amaretti Cookie Toddy

Who needs candles? This big-batch cocktail will perfume your entire house with the smell of warm spices, sweet orange flavor and a hint of bourbon. The addition of amaretto liqueur adds a subtle almond note. Start this cocktail in the afternoon before your guests come and it will be the perfect crowd-pleaser to kick off the party.

Traditional Glogg

There's nothing better on a crisp, winter day — particularly Christmas — than a warm, cozy drink. Most people turn to ciders or hot toddies, but this is a fun and festive change from the norm that might just become a new holiday favorite!

Hot Ginger Cider Toddy

Speaking of hot toddies, the cinnamon stick gives this classic holiday libation its signature flavor and adding fresh ginger to the mix just take this warming drink to the next level.

Gingerbread Martini

'Tis the season for all things gingerbread-flavored, so we're putting a festive twist on the ever-popular espresso martini. The molasses replaces the classic simple syrup for a more intense sugar flavor. The dash of warm spices in the cocktail rounds out the full cookie flavor to really make this a glass of liquid holiday cheer.

Bourbon Sidecar

This is a very classic cocktail: It's fresh and classy, and the bourbon offers a spicy warmth that is perfect for the holiday season.

Winter Wonderland Cocktail

Have broken or leftover sugar cookies? Turn them into a delicious, infused cream and use that to make this creamy cocktail! The addition of white chocolate makes this drink taste like a treat.

This cocktail is vibrant, fresh and slightly sweet. The rosemary offers an earthy undertone and also makes it incredibly festive for the holidays — the perfect way to celebrate Christmas!

Ina Garten's Cranberry Martini

Ina Garten dresses up store-bought cranberry juice with an orange-cranberry simple syrup, plus vodka and triple sec. It’s a boozy beverage that’s perfect for sipping with loved ones next to your tree.

Festive Prosecco

This drink looks and feels super festive for the holidays with very little effort. Start with a bottle of bubbles (preferably a dry prosecco or Champagne), add cranberry juice and pomegranate juice, give it a stir and top with a sprig of rosemary and fresh cranberries. It's both beautiful to look at and delicious to drink.

Classic mulled wine is dressed up with Campari and cranberries for a warm punch that also makes a beautiful centerpiece for your holiday party buffet table.

Winter Lemonade

The zesty citrus flavor pairs well with the spice from the ginger in this bright, cold-weather cocktail. The subtle, crisp apple notes in sauvignon blanc round outs the drink beautifully.

Peppermint Martini

A traditional peppermint martini is a major sugar rush. Whip up Joy Bauer's version of this festive drink and you’ll be able to enjoy the holidays without worrying about overdoing it on the sugar.

Buenos Dias Cocktail

Together, tequila and coffee provide a vibrant pick-me-up at the end of your holiday meal. The combination is spicy and invigorating. Serve with three coffee beans for good health, wealth and love.

Off-White Christmas

The fresh ground nutmeg and cinnamon give this concoction an endless festive and delicious flavor.

Bourbon Cozy

If you're craving chocolate, this drink will satisfy your sweet tooth. It's so decadent and delicious, it can also serve as the grand finale instead of dessert.

The Grinch Cocktail

Just like its namesake, this cocktail is spicy and complex, there's nothing sweet about it. And, like the Grinch's sly grin, it is mischievously delightful.

Cranberry Gin Fizz

Who knew all the flavors of the holidays could fit into one glass? Tart cranberry, juicy orange and warm ginger come together to create the most festive sipper. To make it nonalcoholic, substitute the gin with extra ginger beer or club soda.

The Rudolph Cocktail

Rich white chocolate liqueur, vanilla vodka and cream make this cocktail sweet, cozy and perfect for a chilly Christmas night.

Drunken Gingerbread Cocktail

This easy eggnog recipe has all the sweet, creamy spiced goodness you could ever want in this traditional holiday cocktail. Adding warm gingerbread cookies to the mix makes it all the more festive and delicious.

Winter Champagne Cocktail

This versatile sparkling wine cocktail can be made with Champagne or prosecco and any kind of citrus fruit. A rosemary sprig is a pretty garnish that adds just a hint of flavor.

Bright Spirit

This is a simple and straightforward cocktail, but it tastes so bright and festive. The sweet raspberry notes and tart lime mingle perfectly on the palate.

Merry, Merry Mojitos

Cool mint, Champagne and a little rum — that's all you need! This refreshing beverage will make everyone have a happy Christmas.

Classic Negroni Cocktail

This is the perfect aperitif for Christmas dinner. Anyone (of legal drinking age) who loves Italian cuisine or culture has to try this classic cocktail. A Negroni is best known for its delicate balance of bitter, citrusy and sweet flavors. Paired with some olives, it's the ideal pre-dinner drink.

Ginger Spice Punch

Like gingerbread cookies, only smoother and with a kick of bourbon, this ginger-spiced apple cider cocktail can be made in single servings or scaled up to keep a group happy all evening. Just be sure to use one part bourbon to five parts apple cider.

Eggless Eggnog (Tawny Crème Cocktail)

An eggnog without the raw egg ends up being a bit lighter but still keeps the creamy, winter-spiced flavor everyone loves.

Sparkling Cranberry-Ginger Cocktail

Using frozen cranberries makes this cocktail seasonal, festive and super simple to put together. Feel free to double the recipe and make two pitchers because it always seems to go too fast.

Mulled Wine

This is the easiest slow-cooker mulled wine ever. 'Tis the season for mulled wine, and the best part about it — besides that it's delicious — is that it's so simple to make. With all the wintry spices and notes of citrus, it’ll warm everyone up no matter how much snow is outside.

Bubbles and Cran

Bubbles aren't just for Champagne and seltzer. This drink is inspired by the beautiful wreaths decorating the shopfronts of New York City during the holidays. It will wake up your palate with the fiery kick of ginger!

This classic, sit-down beverage is meant to be sipped, especially as a cold-weather drink. Its quintessential citrusy burst will complement all the rich food on the table.

Hot Spiced Cider

Cozy and relaxing, spiced apple cider is the ultimate cold-weather beverage to warm up the whole family.

Christmas Punch

Bright red and full of fruit juices, this punch packs a ton of festive flavor. The bubbles make it feel fun and special — perfect for the holidays.

Cranberry-Rosemary Mule

Meet one of our favorite holiday cocktails: the cranberry-rosemary mule. "Now, I almost never drink, but sometimes I create a cocktail that is so good that I even drink it!" says Anthony Contrino. "I created this for a dinner party, and I couldn't make them fast enough."