Host Your Holiday Party In Style With These Essential Bottles Of Liquor


Hosting a holiday party encompasses a lot of moving parts. There are out of control guests to consider, tasty appetizers to prep, games to be played, and then there are the drinks. We’ve got you covered on — well… most of these issues — but especially that last one.

Stocking a bar or prepping cocktails for a party should be a blend of easy-to-execute drinks or pre-made classics people can serve themselves. You don’t want to be building ten-part cocktails all night when you should be making merry with your crew. To help you in the party planning process, we’ve put together a list of six essential bottles of booze you’re gonna want on hand.

The six bottles below serve as great bases for seasonal cocktails and are also great on their own. If someone wants a rum or whiskey on the rocks or a nice nip of brandy, you’re covered. A couple of these recipes are already scaled up to serve a dozen or more people. Also, don’t be afraid to scale up the cocktail recipes yourself to serve more than one at a time — or have a mixing station in the kitchen and make shaking up cocktails part of the party. That sounds like the right type of chaos.

Appleton Estate Signature Blend Rum

Jamaica’s Appleton Estate is great dark rum to have on hand any time of year. It’s an easy-drinking rum that’ll do the trick served on the rocks or as a base in pretty much any rum-based cocktail or highball. The blend of orange zest, dried fruit, and Christmas cake spiciness and sweetness make it the perfect pick for holiday-infused rum-based drinks.

Expect to pay around $28.99 per bottle.

Your Go-To Holiday Recipe: Hot Buttered Rum

  • 2 ounces rum
  • 1 large tablespoon hot buttered rum batter
  • 4 ounces boiling water
  • Nutmeg
  • Cinnamon

For the batter: Weigh out eight ounces each unsalted quality butter, brown sugar, and powdered sugar. You’ll need one teaspoon each ground cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg and one pint of quality vanilla ice cream. Blend the butter, sugar, and spices in a stand mixer until combined. Fold in the ice cream (let it soften up a bit first). Once it’s well-blended, put into a sealable container and freeze overnight. There should be enough to serve 12 or more people.

Build the drink in the mug. Add the batter and rum to the bottom of the mug. Pour the boiling water over the drink while stirring. Garnish with ground nutmeg and a cinnamon stick. Serve.

Plymouth Gin

You should always have a bottle of Plymouth Gin on hand. This is a very well balanced botanical sip that shines. The juniper feels more like a blossoming tree than a hardwood botanical here, giving this gin serious nuance. Once you start mixing up your martinis with Plymouth, you’ll never go back.

A bottle will set you back $31.99.

Your Go-To Holiday Recipe: Dry Martini

  • 3 ounces gin
  • 1-ounce dry vermouth
  • Lemon or olives

Build this one in a cocktail jug. Add the gin and vermouth to the bottom of the stirring jug. Top with ice and stir until mug is ice cold to touch — about 20 to 30 seconds.

Strain the drink into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with olives or lemon twist (make sure to spritz the lemon oils in the latter’s case). Serve.

Sonoma-Cutrer Grand Cuvée

Since you’ve already snagged a great bottle of gin, you may as well double up on the cocktails you can make with a little bubbly. Sonoma-Cutrer Grand Cuvée is everything you want from a bottle of bubbly. There’s a medium level of fizziness that accents the oak and light fruitiness of the wine, making it perfect for mixing up a cocktail.

This is the best $43.00 you’ll spend on alcohol this year.

Your Go-To Holiday Recipe: French 75

  • 1-ounce gin
  • 0.5-ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • One bar spoon of powdered sugar
  • 4 ounces sparkling wine
  • Lemon
  • Amarena cherry

Build this one in a cocktail shaker. Add gin, sugar, and lemon into the bottom of the shaker and top up with ice. Shake vigorously until shaker is ice cold to touch — at least 20 seconds. The sugar has to be completely dissolved.

Strain the mix into a chilled champagne flute. Top the drink with ice cold sparkling wine. Peel a lemon rind and spritz the drink with the oils before dropping in the rind. Add a cherry. Serve.

Jameson Irish Whiskey Caskmates Stout Edition

Jameson is another great bottle to have on hand year round. For a holiday party, it’s a crowd pleaser. The Caskmates line adds a nice level of craft beer nuance to the aging process with the Stout Edition adding a nice, wintery depth.

Snag a bottle for $34.99 at the liquor store and start mixing up those drinks.

Your Go-To Holiday Recipe: Hot Toddy

  • 2 ounces whiskey
  • 1-ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 bar spoon of local honey
  • 4 ounces hot water
  • Dash of Angostura bitters
  • Lemon
  • Cloves

Build this one in the mug. Add the honey and lemon juice to the bottom of the mug and stir or muddle until blended. Stir in whiskey and top with hot water. Dash with bitters and stir until well-blended.

Slice lemon into half-disks and plug two or three cloves into the wedge. Drop into the mug. Serve.

Olmeca Altos Tequila Reposado

There are a lot of tequilas to choose from out there. Altos Reposado is a killer bottle that brings a slightly sweet agave roasted essence to every sip. Add in the echoes of bark spices and you’ve got a great wintery base for any cocktail.

You can grab a bottle for $29.99.

Your Go-To Holiday Recipe: Paloma

  • 2 ounces tequila
  • 2 ounces freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
  • 1-ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 0.5-ounce agave syrup (or simple syrup)
  • Coarse salt
  • Grapefruit
  • Lime

Wet the rim of a chilled glass with a lime wedge. Salt the rim of the glass with the coarse salt.

You build this one in the glass. Add the lime juice and syrup to the glass and muddle or stir until blended. Add the tequila, ice, and grapefruit juice then give another good stir. Add a grapefruit slice as a garnish. Serve.

Cardenal Mendoza Brandy

There are few things better in life than Spanish brandy. Each sip transports a bit of that Spanish sun straight to your lips. There’s a delicate play of oak, grape, and spice here that works perfectly with heavy-hitting winter cocktails like Brandy Alexanders or eggnogs.

This bottle will set you back $59.99 but is worth every cent.

Your Go-To Holiday Recipe: Eggnog

  • 8 egg yolks
  • 8 egg whites
  • 16 ounces heavy cream
  • 16 ounces whole milk
  • 16 ounces brandy
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • Bar spoon of hazelnut extract
  • Nutmeg

Use a standup mixer or a whisk to cream the egg yolks and 3/4 of the sugar. Add in the cream, milk, brandy, hazelnut, and at least two bar spoons full of freshly ground nutmeg. (Please use super fresh eggs)

In another bowl, beat the egg whites until peaks are formed then gently whisk in the remaining sugar until the whites are firm. Slowly fold the egg whites into the eggnog base until well blended.

Chill and serve with freshly ground nutmeg as a garnish. Serves 12.