From toasted nuts and baking spices to creamy coffee flavors, liqueurs offer the ideal base for festive cocktails. But while their taste profiles make them an obvious choice, you may need guidance using them beyond spiking punch or drinking neat. Not to worry, we’ve tapped a range of top bartenders for their professional insight. If you find yourself in a festive mood with no drink in hand, give these five cocktails a try.

Hazelnut Liqueur

Traditional nut liqueur, such as Frangelico, embodies festive flavors like toasted hazelnuts, vanilla, and cocoa, making it a great addition to Christmas cocktails. In this Mai Tai riff, Frangelico mixes with rum and a pumpkin-spiced orgeat to form a cocktail that is rich and exotic.


Developed by Ian Alexander, bar director, and Mario Firmani, head bartender of NYC’s bar The Dead Rabbit

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The Mistle Tai is one of the five best festive liqueur-based cocktails to make this holiday season.


  • 1 ½ ounces Bacardi Ocho
  • ¼ ounce Curaçao
  • ½ ounce Frangelico
  • 1 ounce pumpkin-spice-infused orgeat (recipe below)
  • ¾ ounce lime juice


  1. Add all ingredients to a shaker and shake with pebble ice.
  2. Pour into a festive mug and garnish with whipped cream and a dusting of pumpkin spice mix.

Pumpkin Spiced Infused Orgeat Recipe


  • 4 ounces orgeat
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin spice mix


  1. Toast pumpkin spice mix in a dry pan until fragrant.
  2. Add mix and orgeat to a saucepan and gently heat for 10 minutes.
  3. Take off the heat and strain out any remaining pumpkin spice granules.

Crème de Cassis

Made from blackcurrants and botanicals, crème de cassis is most commonly served as an apéritif. But its decadent flavor and vibrant color are ideal for seasonal spritzes and holiday cocktails, such as the Lustau 75.

Developed by Hart’s wine and service director, Taylor Ward, this take on the French 75 blends brandy with cassis for a unique but commemorative beverage. “Early incarnations of the French 75 featured Calvados, which we’ve swapped for brandy for a uniquely Iberian take on the classic,” says Ward.

Lustau 75

Developed by Taylor Ward, wine and service director, Hart’s

The Lustau 75 is one of the five best festive liqueur-based cocktails to make this holiday season.


  • 2 ounces Lustau Brandy de Jerez
  • 1/2 ounce C. Cassis
  • ½ ounce simple syrup
  • ½ ounce lemon juice
  • 3 dashes of Peychuad’s bitters
  • Sparkling wine of your choosing


  1. Add all ingredients to a highball glass filled with ice and stir.
  2. Top with sparkling wine.

Chile Liqueur

A chile liqueur may not be the first thing you think of when the holidays roll around, but the spicy beverage is an excellent accompaniment to flavors like cocoa and baking spices. This spiked version of hot chocolate combines the liqueur with reposado tequila for a boozy twist on the seasonal beverage.

Santa’s Forbidden Milk

Developed by Su Flores, head bartender of Neighborhood Projects

Santa's Forbidden Milk is one of the five best festive liqueur-based cocktails to make this holiday season.


  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons sweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 ounces reposado tequila
  • 1/4 ounce Ancho Reyes Chile Liqueur
  • 1 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (shaven)
  • Marshmallows, chocolate shavings, and sea salt for garnish


  1. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the milk, cocoa powder, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and chili powder.
  2. Whisk in the bittersweet chocolate shavings and heat until the chocolate has completely melted and the mixture is hot but not boiling.
  3. Divide hot chocolate into two mugs.
  4. Stir in tequila and Ancho Reyes Chile Liqueur.
  5. Garnish with marshmallows, extra chocolate shavings, and some sea salt.

Coffee Liqueur

A good coffee liqueur is essential to any bar cart and a staple for cocktails such as the White Russian and everyone’s favorite, the Espresso Martini. For a festive update on the iconic cocktail, this recipe incorporates traditional baking flavors like vanilla bean, dark chocolate, and Demerara simple syrup.

Vanilla and Chocolate Espresso Martini

Developed by Liz Ramirez, bar manager, The Crossroads Hotel

The Vanilla and Chocolate Espresso Martini is one of the five best festive liqueur-based cocktails to make this holiday season.


  • 1 ounce vodka
  • 1 ounce Mr. Black Coffee Liqueur
  • 1/2 ounce Averna
  • ½ ounce Giffard Vanille de Madagascar
  • ½ ounce Demerara syrup
  • 2 dashes Fee Brothers Aztec Chocolate Bitters
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters


  1. Combine all ingredients in a shaker tin with ice and shake.
  2. Strain into another shaker, discard ice, and dry shake.
  3. Serve in a chilled coupe glass.

Irish Cream Liqueur

Is there anything more festive than Baileys? The velvety smooth Irish cream liqueur is a longstanding holiday staple for many and pop culture icon. If you’re one who prefers a liquid dessert, you’ll enjoy this chocolaty cocktail garnished with toasted marshmallows. A boozy blend of Baileys S’mores and vodka, this is the perfect cocktail to sip fireside.

Chocolate Bonfire Baileys Cocktail

The Chocolate Bonfire Baileys Cocktail is one of the five best festive liqueur-based cocktails to make this holiday season.


  • 1 ounce Ketel One vodka
  • 2 ounces Baileys S’mores
  • 2 ounces coffee liqueur
  • 1 toasted marshmallow garnish


  1. Add Baileys S’mores, Ketel One vodka, and coffee liqueur to a mixing glass with ice.
  2. Stir all ingredients and strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice.
  3. Cut a small slice in a marshmallow and place on the side of the glass to garnish.
  4. Use a blow torch or match to toast the top of the marshmallow.