6 Festive Cocktails From Around the World

Colleen Thompson

Whether you’re decking the halls in Santiago, Kingston or Wilmington, NC this holiday season, we’ve got you covered with 6 festive cocktails from around the world. Ditch the eggnog and cider and spice up your holiday season with some exotic, yuletide cocktails from around the globe, each with their own unique history and storied past.


Cola de Mono – Chile

Cola de Mono, which translated means “monkey’s tail,” is Chiles traditional yuletide libation. Where the name comes from, no one exactly knows but legend has it linked to the 1900s and the former Chilean President, Pedro Montt. Many Chilean households have their own recipes -mostly a combination of aguardiente or pisco, coffee, milk, cloves, and vanilla bean. It’s usually sipped alongside a slice of pan de Pascua– a dense Chilean fruit cake – to welcome in the Christmas season.

Serves 6-8

½ cup water
4 cups whole milk
1 cup granulated sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
2 whole cloves
1 ½ cups freshly brewed strong coffee, cold
1 ½ cups Aguardiente or Chilean pisco
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Combine water, milk, sugar, cinnamon sticks, and cloves in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Remove whole spices and add the coffee, Aguardiente, and vanilla, and stir well to combine. Refrigerate until chilled, a few hours or overnight.

Serve very cold paired with traditional pan de pascua (Chilean-style fruitcake).

Sorrell Punch – Jamaica

Served everywhere across the island during the festive season, this lively punch is a combination of white rum, simple syrup, fresh ginger, lime juice, cinnamon, allspice, and hibiscus flowers. Sorrell is the Jamaican word for hibiscus flowers, which grow abundantly on the island and shouldn’t be confused with the pungent green herb. The flowers originated in tropical West Africa and were introduced to the island by British colonialists in the 1700s.  While Jamaican’s make this punch with fresh flowers, it works well with dried flowers too. It is served from a pitcher full of ice and sipped alongside a slice of traditional Jamaican rum cake.

Serves 6-8

  • 6 cups water
  • 1 cup dried hibiscus flowers
  • 4 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup simple syrup
  • 1 cup Jamaican rum
  • Juice of 1 orange (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 ounce lime juice
  • 2 cups Ice
  • Orange and lime slices, for garnish

In a medium saucepan bring water to boil and pour over the hibiscus flowers, ginger, cloves and cinnamon stick and allow to steep 1-2 hours.

Strain the flower mixture into a pitcher or punch bowl, add the simple syrup, rum, lime juice and ice. Garnish with the orange and lime slices.

Ponche Navideño – Mexico

Warm, bold and spicy this punch can be found simmering on stovetops across Mexico around Las Posadas – the nine days leading up to Christmas. The all-important ingredient in this punch is tejcotes which is the fruit from the Mexican hawthorn tree. It gives the drink a particular tartness and backbone. A combination of sugar, guavas, pears, tejcotes and rum is served steaming hot in rustic clay mugs. Fresh tejocotes are impossible to find outside of Mexico but you can find frozen or jarred forms in Hispanic markets.

 Serves 6-8

  • 6 cups water
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 3 ounces tamarind paste
  • 8 ounces tejocotes
  • 6 guavas, peeled and diced
  • 2 medium red apples, peeled, cored, and diced
  • 2 pears, peeled, cored, and diced
  • 1 cup pitted prunes
  • ½ cup raisins
  • 1 stalk sugar cane, peeled and cut into 3″ sticks
  • 4 medium oranges, peeled and sliced into rounds
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups amber or dark rum
Wassail – United Kingdom

Wassailing started out as a toast (the word ‘waes hael’ means good health) and is steeped in ritual and customs dating back to Medieval times. Wassailers would walk from door-to-door singing carols, and passed around a large, carved wooden bowl of the mulled ale, curdled cream, roasted apples, eggs, cloves, ginger, nutmeg and sugar. Everyone would take a sip of the warm punch and shout “Wassail!” An essential ingredient in the wassail were roasted apples, which would quickly burst and fall apart, giving wassail its alternative name ‘lamb’s wool’. Also floating on the surface would be pieces of toast and It’s because of this, that we “raise a toast” when having drinks.

Serves 8-10

  • 4 small tart apples, cored
  • 6 cups apple cider
  • 2 cups fresh orange juice
  • 1 medium orange cut into ¼ inch rounds
  • 1 lemon sliced into ¼ inch rounds
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 tbsp ginger, grated
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg, grated
  • 6 allspice berries
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup whiskey, bourbon or rum
  • Toast (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 F. Place apples on a baking sheet and roast for 25 minutes. Combine all ingredients (except whiskey) into a large, heavy bottomed pot, stir to combine and simmer with the lid on for 30-45 minutes. Remove from heat and strain. Add the whiskey and float the roasted apples on top. Pour into a large bowl and serve in mugs garnished with a cinnamon stick and pieces of toast on top.

Ponche Crema – Venezuela

Ponche Crema has been infusing Venezuelan family gatherings with Christmas spirit since Eliodoro Gonzalez first came up with the concoction in 1900. A drink like eggnog, was made of milk, eggs, sugar and a mixture of pure grape alcohol.Eliodoro was a chemist, perfumer and tireless entrepreneur, and his Ponche Crema, which was so popular when it first came out that the president, Cipriano Castro, personally signed the patent for it on 17 March 1904. The bottled version is still available in stores, but many Venezuelan’s have their own homemade recipes of Ponche Crema that have been passed down through generations.

Serves 6-8

  • eggs
  • 1 tsp lime zest
  • 1 cup of dark aged rum (more or less depending on your taste
  • 1 can condensed milk
  • 1 tsp grated nutmeg

Whisk the eggs and lime zest in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add the condensed milk and half of the rum and whisk until combined. Whisk in the remaining rum and nutmeg. Pour into a jug and refrigerate overnight – it gets better with time. Stir the mixture before serving. Pour into ice-filled glasses and sprinkle with grated nutmeg.

Coquito – Puerto Rico

‘Tis the season for parranda(Caroling), pava(straw hats) aguinaldos(Christmas music), pasteles (similar to tamales)and the all-importantcoquito.

Coquito is a traditional Puerto Rican Christmas drink which translates as “small coconut” in Spanish and is widely thought of as the equivalent to eggnog – but usually doesn’t contain eggs. The basic recipe consists of coconut milk, condensed milk, coconut cream and spices like cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and allspice. Some people serve it with white rum others opt for the darker spirit and others reach for the higher proof stuff. Recipes are handed down through generations, and made together as a family affair. Puerto Ricans keep the festivities going long after the 25th December and rock Las Navidade well into January with the Three Kings Day on January 6th, followed by octavas (the eight days after Three Kings Day, ending January 14th) and then followed by octavitas lasting another eight days, all the while serving Coquito.

Versions of coquito are also found in Cuba where it is served with scoops of coconut ice cream; in the Caribbean it is made with coconut juice, and in Spain it is served with turrón, a confectionery dessert much like nougat, and made with honey and almonds.

Serves 6-8

  • 2 cans of coconut milk
  • 1 can condensed milk
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups rum
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon1 tablespoon ground nutmeg

Place all ingredients in a blender and mix together. Once the mixture is ready transfer to a jug and refrigerate overnight. When serving, pour into small glasses with a little grated nutmeg.