'Tis the Season for Holiday Cocktails

Local bartenders share their favorite recipes.

It’s that time of year again—time to give thanks and celebrate the season. Amongst the holiday rush of planning parties, giving gifts and visiting family, don’t forget to treat yourself now and again. The drink experts of Delaware and the Main Line are weighing in on their favorite holiday cocktails this year, from a cranberry orange cinnamon margarita to a fireside Scotch. Give the gift of a holiday cocktail this year with a little help from some local bartenders.


Blood Orange Manhattan

One signature holiday cocktail at Domaine Hudson in Wilmington is their Blood Orange Manhattan made with Maker’s 46 bourbon, Evan Williams Honey Reserve liqueur, red vermouth and their house-made blood orange bitters. Citrus is an unlikely holiday flavor but with the sweet honey liqueur and red color, this cocktail will be sure to brighten up any holiday party.

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Domaine Hudson
1314 N. Washington St., Wilmington


Chocolate Toasted Marshmallow

Sometimes the perfect remedy for cold weather is a little bit of chocolate. In Chadd Ford, Firebirds Wood Fired Grill serves up a Chocolate Toasted Marshmallow cocktail every holiday season. It’s a blend of Pinnacle Whipped, chocolate liqueur, and half and half with chocolate sauce to top it off, says bartender Chelsea King. Chocolate lovers—this one’s for you.

Firebirds Wood Fired Grill
91 Wilmington West Chester Pike, Chadds Ford


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Cranberry Orange Cinnamon Margarita

Who said margaritas have to be a summer drink? Santa Fe Mexican Grill takes a classic margarita to a winter wonderland with their own cranberry orange cinnamon tequila infusion, says bartender David Ramirez. The tequila takes center stage, but a blend of cranberry juice, Grand Marnier, lime juice and a cinnamon sugar rim gives it those holiday flavors everyone loves.

Santa Fe Mexican Grill
190 E Main St., Newark


Fireside Scotch

As the temperatures drop, the Scotch flows at Local Wine & Kitchen in Ardmore. Bartender Connor Brown came up with the Scotch-based cocktail called the “Balrog” a few years ago. Along with Scotch, Brown adds Aperol, orange bitters and a distinctive smokiness reminiscent of a campfire.

Local Wine & Kitchen
39 Lancaster Ave., Ardmore

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Hot Spice Cider

This holiday favorite has some spice and everything nice to warm you up on any frosty day. This cider’s home is at The Golden Fleece Tavern in the heart of Dover but it can easily be prepared at home. Warm up some apple cider in a crock-pot and “doctor it up,” as co-owner and bartender Ryan Weber says, with a variety of liquor including Goldschlager and Stroh rum. With flavors reminiscent of apple pie, take one sip and you’ll be hooked.

The Golden Fleece Tavern
132 Loockerman St., Dover


Mezcal and Kahlúa “Margarita”

There’s no tequila in bartender Christopher Hickey’s wintertime margarita, but with a mix of mezcal, Kahlúa, house-made orange simple syrup, fresh lemon juice and egg whites, this milky drink resembles that of a margarita. This unique take on a classic margarita finds its home at Avenue Kitchen in Villanova, along with dozens of other innovative holiday cocktails.

Avenue Kitchen
789 Lancaster Ave., Villanova


Salted Karamel Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Martini

As owner and head mixologist of Hooked Seafood and Martini Bar in Reboboth Beach, Tom Garvey’s go-to holiday cocktail packs a punch with some of the season’s sweetest flavors. The name may be a mouthful, but for good reason with Stoli Salted Karamel Vodka, Chocolate Godiva liqueur and Hiram Walker pumpkin spice liqueur all in one irresistible drink. Garvey tops off his masterpiece with a splash of half and half.

Hooked Seafood and Martini Bar
18585 Coastal Highway, Rehoboth Beach


When it’s time to entertain this holiday season, look for inspiration from local experts in mixology from Delaware all the way to the Main Line. 

Avenue kitchen’s Mezcal and Kahlúa “Margarita” // photo by emma way

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