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mulled wine two drinking glasses on table with pinecones and christmas tree greens in front of roaring wood burning fire

Craft Cocktails for Ohio's Holiday Season

Making spirits bright with these festive drink recipes!

Mulled wine made from recipe for Heinen's Grocery Store in Cleveland

Craft Cocktails for Ohio's Holiday Season

By Meg Berno

Posted On: Dec 13, 2020

Nothing quite feels like the holidays than sipping a seasonal drink in front of a fire (whether that's an IRL or virtual one). And Ohio restaurants and mixologists have crafted some pretty festive holiday-inspired drinks for the season. So whether you're picking up cocktails to-go or mixing your own at home, check out these recipes and spots that are sure to get you into the holiday spirit. 

NOTE: Stay up to date on all health mandates and safety precautions. Learn more about the guidelines surrounding COVID-19.

The Hot Toddy cocktail floral china cup and saucer Watershed Distillery Columbus Ohio
Photo courtesy of Watershed Distillery 

Hot Toddy 

There's nothing like a warm cup of tea to warm you up and chase away the winter shivers. Watershed Distillery in Columbus has two toasty recipes for making that perfect cup (along with a splash of bourbon - or apple brandy). 

The Hot Toddy 

2oz Watershed Bourbon or Apple Brandy
½ oz Fresh Lemon Juice
½ oz Local Honey
4oz Hot Water


  • Mix all ingredients into a mug or a glass made for hot drinks
  • Gently stir to combine and garnish with a lemon wheel

*For a subtle change, add grapefruit juice in place of the lemon for a softer, slightly bitter taste.

Earl's Toddy 

2oz Watershed Bourbon Barrel Four Peel Gin
½ oz Fresh Lemon Juice
½ oz Sage Maple Syrup* (optional)
4oz Earl Grey Tea


  • Mix all ingredients in a mug
  • Gently stir to combine, and garnish with a lemon peel squeezed over top

*To make sage maple, simply add a few sprigs of fresh sage leaves to a cup of maple syrup and let rest on a countertop overnight. Remove sage, and refrigerate.

Bonus: looking for more recipes from Watershed Distillery? Check out past holiday drinks like the "Bread and Jam for Frances" or try crafting a cocktail with their famous Nocino - a rare black walnut liqueur that's referred to as "Christmas in a Glass."  There's a reason why The New York Times designated it the "official drink of the Nutcracker."

mulled spiced hot cider drinking glasses garnished with cinnamon and oranges on a holiday decorated serving tray

Spiced Cider 

Mulled cider is the perfect holiday drink. Not only does it taste good, but the aroma fills your house with seasonal scents of gloves and cinnamon. There are several different ways (and names - like Wassail) to make spiced (or mulled) cider, but this recipe from Edible Cleveland is straight-to-the-delicious-point.

Mulled Local Cider

½ gallon local apple cider (like from Laurenville Fruit Farm)
3 strips orange peel
4 cloves
1 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
1 slice 1/16 inch fresh ginger


  • Put cider, orange peel and spices into a 3 quart sauce pot
  • Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low
  • Simmer for 30 minutes
  • When ready, serve hot and enjoy 

*If you'd like to add something extra to your cider, spike it with bourbon. You can also add rye whiskey or rum (like from Echo Spirits in Columbus) instead. 

West End Cider House in Athens

If you prefer your cider (cocktails) to-go, then check out the offerings from Athens' West End Cider House. They feature delicious farmhouse-style ciders, meads and more. Try the "Apple Toddy Mix" or the "Chai Honey Toddy Mix" for some seasonal-inspired creations. 

Mulled wine two glass drinking jars
Photo credit: Heinen's, Facebook

Mulled Wine 

Feel regale and festive when you make mulled wine at home this year. Another easy recipe that can also be made with a slow cooker, check out the featured recipe on Heinen's Grocery Store page for the best way to make your own. 

Holiday Mulled Wine

1 bottle of red wine* 
1/4 cup brandy
1 orange, sliced in half
8 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
2-star anise
2-4 tablespoons sugar, honey or maple syrup to taste 

Garnishes (optional): citrus slices (like orange, lemon or lime), cinnamon sticks, star anise, rosemary sprig 


  • Combine ingredients in saucepan and heat to a simmer (note: don't boil)
  • Reduce heat to low and cover
  • Simmer for 15 min. (or up to 3 hrs)
  • Strain and serve warm (with optional garnishes)

*The "Spiced Apple" red wine from The Winery at Versailles makes for the perfect addition to any mulled wine recipe. 

Treat yourself to a go-to version of this drink from Mozart's in Columbus. Every holiday season, the café debuts their classic  Gluhwein (a citrus, sweet spiced red wine popular in Germany and Austria). Or keep the stay-at-home and be cozy vibes going and make your own version of their classic drink with the help of Ohio Magazine

peppermint hot chocolate cocoa mix with marshmallows from dorothy lane market Specialty Grocery Store Centerville Ohio
Photo credit: Dorothy Lane Market, Facebook 

Hot Chocolate 

For those with a decadent sweet tooth, nothing's better than a mug of hot chocolate. When making yours at-home this holiday season, try using hot cocoa mix from Berardi's Fresh Roast in Royalton. Or spoon out some of Centerville's Dorothy Lane Market's handmade hot cocoa mix. If you like a little kick with your treats, check out their recipe for Mexican Hot Chocolate

Mexican Hot Chocolate 

2 cups milk (or milk substitute like soy or almond milk), or water 
1 package (2 discs) Taza Chocolate Mexicano (any flavor)
Salt to taste


  • Roughly chop or grate whole package of chocolate, set aside
  • Heat two cups of milk (or water) in small saucepan, just below a simmer
  • Remove milk from heat and add a pinch of salt
  • Gently mix in the chocolate, stirring until dissolved
  • After chocolate dissolves, return mixture to stove and rewarm
  • While chocolate is warming, use a whisk (or molinillo) to froth it
  • When the chocolate is hot and frothy, remove from heat
  • Serve immediately

*If you like the boozy version of hot chocolate, add a splash of Central Ohio's Middle West Spirit's Bourbon Cream. Or combine this classic winter treat with another classic drink: red wine. Make your own Red Wine Hot Chocolate at home with this recipe, using a Merlot or a Zinfandel like the "ZinZin" from Gervasi Vineyard in Canton. 

glass bottle holiday decorated eggnog hartzler family dairy wooster ohio
Photo Credit: Hartzler Family Dairy, Facebook

Eggnog (and Coquito) 

There's no Christmas drink more iconic than eggnog. Wether you're making it scratch using this recipe from Smith's in Orrville, or just buying a carton already whipped. Maybe you need an extra jolt in your 'nog - then try adding it to cup of coffee and make yourself a Eggnog Latte (which you can learn how to make on Pomeroy's Snowville Creamery's Facebook). But it's this boozy recipe from Hartzler in Wooster and The Spotted Owl in Tremont that are bringing the holiday spirit. 

Spiked Eggnog 

2oz Watershed Apple Brandy (or Cognac) 
1oz Sweet Vermouth 
1 ½ oz Coldbrew Coffee*
4oz Hartzler's Eggnog 
1 dash Angostura Bitters 
Sprinkle of (grated) Nutmeg 


  • Combine coldbrew, sweet vermouth, brandy and eggnog 
  • Mix well 
  • Add dash of Angostura Bitters 
  • Serve (hot or cold) and garnish with nutmeg 

*Order coldbrew from a local coffee shop, or buy some concentrate from Cleveland's Scoot! Craft Cold Brew.  

Bonus: You can order variety of seasonal cocktails to-go from The Spotted Owl's new "Fireside Menu." Try everything from an Irish Coffee to a Vin Brûlé. 

Coquito, known to as Puerto Rican eggnog, is another Christmas staple that's perfect for the holidays. While there are a variations on the recipe, this one from The Kitchn, is a sure hit. 


One 15oz can sweetened condensed milk
One 13 ½ oz can light coconut milk
One 12oz can evaporated milk
1 cup rum
4 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg


  • Put all ingredients in a blender
  • Blend until frothy
  • Pour into pitcher and refrigerate
  • Serve chilled with a pinch of cinnamon

*If you prefer to make a nonalcoholic version of Coquito (or Eggnog), just leave out the rum. However, when rum is included, try using some from local distillers like the Spiced Rum from Stillwrights in Dayton, the Whiskey Barrel Aged Rum from High Bank Distillery or the Rum from Echo Spirits in Columbus. 

glass bottle maple cinnamon simple syrup next to glass of hot cider cocktail in front of fire pit
Photo credit: ROOT 23 Simple Syrups, Facebook

Mocktails (Non-Alcoholic) 

While there are a few zero-proof distilleries, Ohio has two of the best simple syrup and mixers right in Columbus. From Simple Time Mixers to ROOT 23 Simple Syrups, you can craft N/A (non-alcoholic) or spiked cocktails all season long. Although nothing is a simple - and delicious - as ROOT 23's cider mocktail recipe

Hot Cider Mocktail 

One ROOT 23 Vanilla Ginger Simple Syrup
3oz Hot Apple Cider


  • Mix ingredients 
  • Serve hot 

miracle pop up bar holiday cocktails toasting at sixth city sailors bar cleveland ohio
Photo credit: Sixth City Sailors Club, Facebook 

Cocktails To-Go 

If you don't want the hassle of making your drink from scratch at-home, then hop by one of these local bars and restaurants. Each has special holiday cocktail menus that you can order to-go (plus some festive mugs you can also purchase to bring the while experience home with you). 

Miracle® at Sixth City Sailors Club in Cleveland 

This Cleveland bar is hosting a Miracle pop-up bar with cocktail specials all month long (thru Dec. 31). Choose from drinks like the "Christmas Carol Barrel" (made with Reposado Tequila, Coffee Liqueur, Dry Curaçao and Spiced Chocolate), the "Bad Santa" (mulled wine, tawny port, Orange liqueur and Christmas spices) or the "Jingle Bells Nog" (made with cognac, cream sherry, vanilla and nutmeg). 

When you call or stop by, let them know you'd like your order to-go. And don't forget to buy one of the themed mugs

More Spots for To-Go Holiday Cocktails in Ohio:

If you're looking for an extra special addition to your cocktails at-home (or need a spirited gift idea), order the Cocktail Gift Set from local maker Splendor Revival. Each kit comes with infused ice cubes, two vintage cocktail glasses (you can use from one of three sets), two vintage bar spoons and amber stones.

For more #HolidaysInOhio spirit and inspiration, check out #OhioFindItHere on Ohio.org.

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