Combine two beloved holiday traditions—consuming adult beverages and enjoying classic Christmas movies—and what’s the result? Holiday-movie-inspired cocktails, now on offer at several bars that celebrate getting into the seasonal spirit with spirits. Below, we’ve rounded up a selection of drinks that give a nod to both traditional and modern holiday film and TV favorites. As ugly-holiday-sweater pub crawls wind down, drinks such as these can offer a fun but grown-up way to say cheers to the season.
It’s a Wonderful Life, Gleason’s (Peekskill, NY): with Redemption Rye, Maple Syrup, fresh cranberries and thyme
Zuzu’s Petals, Ella Dining Room and Bar (Sacramento, CA): with vodka, cranberry and holiday spices
The Grinch, Village California Bistro & Wine Bar (San Jose, CA): with Bacardi Big Apple Rum and a cranberry-juice float
Polar Express, Corny’s on 17th (Eugene, OR): Rumpleminz, Godiva vodka, hot cocoa and chocolate-powder-dusted whipped cream
Love Actually (Millhouse Restaurant & Bar, Skidby, U.K.): with premium vodka, cherry brandy, strawberry puree and a dash of grenadine, charged with Red Bull
Fra-Jee-Lay, ZACH Theatre (Austin, TX): created for the theater’s production of “A Christmas Story” (based on the 1983 movie), the drink features Jack Daniel’s, mulled apple cider, cinnamon simple syrup, ginger beer and fresh lemon juice
Buddy the Elf, Barrel House Tavern (Sausalito, CA): “holiday spice,” peppermint, maple and chocolate soda (non-alcohol)
Worth noting is that these selections don’t neglect quality ingredients in favor of pure name appeal. Several highlight key trends in on-premise drinks menus, including listing spirits brand names in menu descriptions (64% of Millennials and 55% of Gen Xers say it’s important that bars and restaurants do this, according to Technomic’s recent BarTAB report), using fresh fruits and juices and offering house-original mocktails. Certainly, not all operators are looking to seize upon pop-culture tie-ins. But for those open to the idea, these examples illustrate that a play for a little name recognition doesn’t have to mean a run-of-the-mill cocktail.