5 Mid Century Modern co*cktail Recipes for the Holidays (2024)

Fa-la-la-la-fun! We’re serving up 5 recipes for Mid Century Modern co*cktails that add a festive twist to your holiday gathering: Manhattan, Stinger, Gimlet, Grasshopper and White Russian.

When I was a kid growing up in the 1970s, co*cktails meant that Gramma and Grandpa had come for Christmas. Everything had just a little more sparkle and a little more fun.

My twenty-something parents drank Busch Bavarian beer and an occasional bourbon and water. But my grandparents–who’d come of age during Prohibition–mixed concoctions that involved tasty sweets for me on the side. Maraschino cherries, baby!

The recipes for many classic co*cktails date back to Prohibition, according to The Oxford Companion to Spirits and co*cktails. Mixology made dubious bootleg spirits more palatable. Today, mixology livens up not-quite-top-shelf liquor–a great option to have when you’re serving a group of holiday revelers.

To usher in the holiday season, we’ve rounded up five co*cktails that have been popular since mid century or longer. Recipes and historical lore come from The Oxford Companion.

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Manhattan co*cktail

Bartenders began to concoct this granddaddy of whiskey co*cktails sometime during the 1870s in, well, Manhattan. We include this co*cktail in our list because it’s a standard that’s never gone out of style. It’s says “special occasion” without being too sickly sweet, and it was one of my grandmother’s favorites.

You can serve a Manhattan co*cktail in a coupe glass without ice, but some folks like their Manhattans on the rocks. We like to use one giant ice cube that doesn’t dilute the drink.

Manhattan Recipe

2 oz. rye whiskey or bourbon

1 oz. Italian red vermouth

2-3 dashes of Angostura bitters

Mix together in a shaker filled with crushed ice and strain into a co*cktail glass.

Garnish with a lemon twist and, if you wish, a Maraschino cherry. To make a lemon twist, peel a bit of lemon skin with a vegetable peeler. Twist it into a corkscrew to release the tasty essential oils, drag it around the rim of the glass, and float it into the co*cktail.

Libation variation: Replace the rye whiskey or bourbon in the recipe with scotch and you have a Rob Roy. Just don’t use top-notch scotch. Please.

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Stinger co*cktail

When I was in middle school, High Society, a 1956 musical remake of The Philadelphia Story (1940) aired on public television one New Year’s Eve. It’s one of those movies you wish you could see for the first time again. This was Grace Kelly’s last movie before she became a princess.

Musician C. K. Dexter Haven (Bing Crosby) shows up to play the Newport Jazz Festival, just in time to throw a wrench into his ex-wife’s high society wedding. Drinks, hijinks, and the kinds of bad decisions that can rekindle a romance ensue. “It’s a Stinger, because it removes the sting,” Bing quips.

I’d never tasted a Stinger, but this article seems like a good opportunity to try one. The jury is out among my panel of taste testers. Some of us think we might just prefer straight brandy, but we may need to imbibe a few more before we decide for sure.

“Tracy,” Bing’s character tells Grace’s, “You’d be a wonderful woman if you’d just let your tiara slip a little.” A Stinger or two will have your tiara slipping too.

Stinger co*cktail Recipe

2 oz. cognac or brandy

¾ oz. white crème de menthe

Fill a shaker with ice, mix your spirits, and shake. Strain into a chilled coupe or over crushed ice if you’re looking for a festive frappé.

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Gimlet co*cktail

“A real gimlet is half gin and half Rose’s Lime Juice and nothing else. It beats martinis hollow,” opines one character in Raymond Chandler’s noir novel The Long Goodbye (1954).

Fresh lime juice is an option if you want something a little less sweet than Rose’s or other lime cordials–especially if you’re going to indulge in the sugar bombs that are our next two concoctions. And we think that both gin gimlets and vodka gimlets taste just smashing.

Gimlet co*cktail Recipe

2 oz. gin

.75 lime cordial

Mix in a shaker with ice, and stain into a chilled co*cktail glass. Top with 1 ounce of chilled sparkling water if you’d like something a little lighter. Garnish with a notched lime wheel.

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Grasshopper co*cktail

Like many co*cktails, the Grasshopper’s origins are muddled. The Oxford Companion says they most like originated in the Midwest just after World War II. That makes sense to me. My co*cktail shaking grandparents were from Michigan and my grandpa even made Grasshopper Pie every Christmas. (My mom continues this venerable tradition.)

Grasshopper co*cktails were very popular during the 1950s, but by the 1960s, they were less so. “A drink like the Grasshopper … catches on for a while and then fades out,” a New York Times article announced in 1961.

But my family missed that article, because they were drinking grasshoppers all through the 1970s. I’m using the leftovers from this photoshoot to mix up a big pitcher of Grasshoppers for a 1970s-themed holiday party this weekend.

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Grasshopper co*cktail Recipe

1 oz. green crème de menthe

1 oz. crème de menthe

1 oz. heavy cream

Combine in a co*cktail shaker filled with crushed ice and shake vigorously until the mixture is very cold. Strain into a chilled coupe glass. Line the rim with fine white sugar or garnish with a sprig of mint if desired.

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White Russian co*cktail

Bartenders began brewing up this co*cktail’s precursors around the 1930s. But the White Russian made a decisive debut when Southern Comfort Used the drink to promote its ‘Coffee Southern’ spinoff in 1965.

The drink became a cultural icon in the late 1990s, during an overall co*cktail revival and with the movie The Big Lebowski (1998). Jeff Daniels’ character, The Dude, drinks White Russians throughout the movie. Like The Dude himself, the White Russian is que será, será, joie de vivre, and unashamed slovenliness, all mixed into one glass. Imbibe and abide!

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White Russian co*cktail Recipe

1 ½ oz. vodka

¾ oz. coffee liqueur such as Kahlúa

3 oz. heavy cream or half and half

Pour into a shaker filled with chipped ice. Shake, and strain into an Old-Fashioned glass.

Libation variation: Shake the vodka and coffee liqueur only in a shaker filled with chipped ice. Strain into an Old-Fashioned glass and layer the cream over the top.

For more mid century modern co*cktail inspiration, check out co*cktail Hour for mid century bar items to go along with the recipes! And of course, don’t forget to follow us onInstagram,FacebookandPinterestfor more Atomic Ranch articles and ideas!

5 Mid Century Modern co*cktail Recipes for the Holidays (2024)


What is a popular Christmas drink? ›

Eggnog. Of all the holiday co*cktails you can mix up, few are as fitting as a glass of homemade eggnog. It's a luscious, creamy drink that many crave when December rolls around and it often brings back fond memories. Eggnog is not difficult to make from scratch and it's tastier than most store-bought options.

What to drink on holiday? ›

Sit back, relax and read on to discover a list of some of our favourite drinks for you to try on your next vacation!
  • Pina Colada. ...
  • Daiquiri. ...
  • Gin and Tonic. ...
  • Margarita. ...
  • Long Island Iced Tea. ...
  • Shandy. ...
  • Sex on the Beach. ...
  • Mojito.

What do you drink at a Christmas party? ›

Top 20 Festive Holiday Drinks!
  • Christmas Margarita. One of our favorite ideas for Christmas is a delicious Christmas margarita, which breathes new life into this classic drink! ...
  • Classic Eggnog. ...
  • Cranberry Sangria. ...
  • Gingerbread Hot Chocolate. ...
  • Mulled Wine. ...
  • Espresso Martini. ...
  • Coquito. ...
  • Holiday Punch.
Nov 2, 2023

What are the six classic co*cktails? ›

Embury's six basic drinks are the Daiquiri, the Jack Rose, the Manhattan, the Martini, the Old Fashioned, and the Sidecar.

What is a traditional Christmas co*cktail? ›

Scroll through this list for timeless holiday classics like Eggnog and Hot Buttered Rum; boozy versions of hot chocolate; and new riffs on classics like our Cranberry Ginger Mimosa and a Negroni that tastes like a Christmas tree.

What is the most consumed drink at Christmas? ›

Top ten Christmas drinks
  • Beer. ...
  • co*cktails. ...
  • Eggnog. ...
  • Gin. ...
  • Mulled wine. ...
  • Rum. ...
  • Hot chocolate. ...
  • Whisky. Rich, warming, and high on the list of festive favourites, whisky is enjoyed all year round, but it really comes into its own at Christmas.
Nov 13, 2023

What is the most popular alcohol during the holidays? ›

Wine and champagne are also the most popular type of liquor to give during the holidays. 31% of respondents say they gift bottles to other people, followed by bottles of hard alcohol (19%) and alcohol gift sets (17%). 14% of respondents also said they don't give alcohol as a gift during the holidays.

What is the number one drinking holiday? ›

The list of booziest holidays has Mardi Gras in first place and Thanksgiving in last. That is not to say, however, that Thanksgiving is not a boozy holiday. The average person still has 2.7 drinks on Thanksgiving – more than twice the average number of drinks on a nonholiday.

What is the best Christmas party liquor? ›

What to Drink at Your Office Christmas Party
  • Champagne. Nothing says celebration like a glass of bubbly. ...
  • Wine. Whether it's red, white, rose or sparkling, there is a glass of wine for every type of celebration. ...
  • Beer. ...
  • Drinks Mixed with Tonic or Soda Water. ...
  • Sweet co*cktails. ...
  • Sour co*cktails. ...
  • Bitter co*cktails. ...
  • Whiskey.

What alcohol goes with Christmas dinner? ›

Turkey and trimmings

Go for crowd-pleasing styles that won't fight with the food – a good rule of thumb is to go for whites with some richness but not too much oak, and medium-bodied reds that aren't too tannic. Rhône wines are hard to resist at Christmas as their peppery spice is great with wintery food.

What is the Big 4 co*cktail? ›

The international recipe calls for 1/3 rye whiskey, for the U.S.; 1/3 scotch whiskey, for Great Britain; 1/6 Noilly Prat, for France; 1/6 vodka, for the Soviet Union; and a dash of cherry brandy to sweeten everything. Get this image in a variety of framing options at Photos.com.

What is the king of all co*cktails? ›

Martini. The gin martini is the king of co*cktails.

Is it OK to drink everyday on holiday? ›

If you're continuing the holiday booze-mode once you're back home, it could seriously damage your health. Ideally, people should not be drinking alcohol every day and should definitely not be binge drinking.

What is the best drink to celebrate? ›

Celebration co*cktails
  • Rum. Intermediate. Mojito. ...
  • Whisky. Beginner. Mint Julep. ...
  • Peach Schnapps. Beginner. Peach Schnapps & Lemonade. ...
  • Peach Schnapps. Beginner. Peach Schnapps & Pineapple Juice. ...
  • Gin. Intermediate. Aviation. ...
  • Whisky. Intermediate. Angus Collins. ...
  • Baileys. Beginner. Baileys Chocolat Luxe. ...
  • No-Alcohol. Intermediate. Mango Fizz.

What drink do people leave out for Santa? ›

Families believe Santa needs some sherry to warm up on Christmas night. It's also tradition to pair the sherry with a mince pie.

What drinks to buy for Christmas? ›

Christmas 2022: 46 drinks that make perfect Christmas gifts – from natural wines to delicious sober spirits
  • Champagne Laurent-Perrier Bamboo Cuvée Rose. ...
  • Bacardi Carta Oro. ...
  • Grey Goose vodka. ...
  • Angel's Envy. ...
  • Cîroc passion vodka. ...
  • Courvoisier Rouge Luxe. ...
  • Patrón Mexican heritage tin. ...
  • Don Q Gold rum.

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