Homemade cocktail ingredients and batched holiday drinks that make great gifts

Have a cocktail lover in your life and want to make them something unique? Or want a host gift for a holiday party that will stand out against the bottles of wine everyone else is bringing? Here are some cocktail ingredients you can make at home and some batched holiday drinks you can make.

  1. Homemade ingredients
    1. Ginger Liqueur
    2. Allspice Dram
    3. Pineapple Rum
    4. Orgeat
  2. Specific drinks you can batch
    1. Clyde Common’s Tequila Sherry Eggnog
    2. Irish cream
    3. Black Christmas

Homemade ingredients

Ginger Liqueur

I made some last week and it turned out great. Similar to a Domaine de Canton.

The recipe called for brandy as a base, but I used Mount Gay Eclipse rum, as I plan on using this primarily in rum-based tiki drinks anyway.

Get the source recipe at Serious Eats.

Allspice Dram

Sure, you could buy the St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram, but making it is easy and you can customize it to your liking.

I used this Alton Brown recipe as the base, then modified it by making a brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla syrup to mix with it instead of the regular sugar. Cloves might be a good addition, too!

Pineapple Rum

Pineapple rum is used in a lot of tiki drinks, but the options that are easy to find at the store mostly suck.

I’m infusing some right now, but instead of white rum, I’m using Smith & Cross, a navy proof lightly aged Jamaican rum that has some nice funk.

You can also speed up the infusion using a sous vide.


Most of the commercial syrups are filled with preservatives and have mediocre flavor. I like the Smuggler’s Cove recipe, which includes a bit of rose water and orange blossom water. You can find it at Punch alongside their Mai Tai recipe, also recommended.

Specific drinks you can batch

Clyde Common’s Tequila Sherry Eggnog

Listen, I know it sounds weird. Tequila and sherry? With milk and eggs? But it is delicious. It has a delightful nutty flavor. It will replace that classic eggnog recipe you’ve been using.

Irish cream

Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen is the queen of delicious food blogging. If you prefer bourbon to Irish whisky, you can use bourbon in this. A vanilla-forward bourbon like Buffalo Trace might be nice.

Black Christmas

Use that allspice dram you made above and combine it with Averna, rye, and orange bitters to make this. Let it rest in the fridge for a while if you can.

Need some glassware to give these away in? The Bormioli Rocco glass flasks are great. They come in 8.5oz and 17oz versions.

Kulhay Christmas Foods

After Christmas dinner at Grandma’s house this year, I had my Grandma and Aunt Margie explain some of the traditional Christmas foods that come from their side of the family, the Kulhays. Like many of the early 20th century immigrants in the Cleveland area, the Kulhays are from Hungary.

I picked four Christmas staples: Székelygulyás, Sauerkraut Balls, Töltöttkáposzta, and Christmas Jello. After the videos, Grandma and Aunt Margie graciously opened their cookbooks and shared their recipes. Grandma’s cookbook is a treasure:


A gulyás is a stew. This one contains sauerkraut and pork. Grandma said that this is traditionally a New Year’s dish, but she makes it at Christmas since that is when we are all home. Grandma eats it by itself, but most of us grandkids prefer eating it over dumplings.

Here is the recipe:

Sauerkraut Balls

Aunt Margie said that this recipe originally came from McGarvey’s restaurant in Vermilion, OH, where one of her aunts worked. The recipe sounds like a clever chef devised it as a way to use up the weekend’s leftovers. It stuck throughout the years because it is delicious. Here is a McGarvey’s logo from the late 60s:

Here is the recipe:


Töltött means stuffed and káposzta means cabbage. My family makes these in batches of 50 or 100 during the holidays and for big parties like graduations. I have lots of early memories of 4 people at a time standing at the counter rolling meat in cabbage leaves. I even rolled a few myself!

Here are the recipes for 100 and 25:

Christmas Jello

Every year, the first dessert we eat after dinner is Grandma’s Christmas Jello. It is an 8-layer jello cake that takes Grandma all day to make. The colorful layers are the normal jello flavors and the white layers are made out of scalded milk and sour cream set with gelatin. You have to let each layer set before pouring on the next layer.

Next year we’ll go over the baked goods!