15 Delicious Holiday Food & Cocktail Pairings to Serve this Year

December 13, 2023 by Anna-Bet Stemmet

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Get ready to jingle your taste buds and deck the halls with truly impressive snacks and sips, friend! In this festive guide, we’ll sleigh the art of cocktail and food pairings for Christmas, unwrapping a symphony of flavours to make your holiday celebrations merry, tasty, and bright. It’s time to toast, taste, and be cheekily cheerful with these yuletide pairings. 

What to consider when pairing cocktails & festive food

Side view of a group of friends clinking together festive Christmas cocktails over a table filled with holiday foods

Pairing cocktails with festive food is an art that involves considering flavours, textures, and the overall dining experience. Here are some key things to consider when jotting down cocktail party menu ideas for the holidays:  

Complementary or contrasting? Decide whether you want the flavours of the cocktail to complement or contrast with the food. For example, a rich and savoury cocktail might complement a similarly flavoured cocktail party appetizer, while a citrusy cocktail could contrast with a rich, creamy dish.  

Balance. Ensure that neither the cocktail nor the food overwhelms the other. If the food is rich and hearty, consider a cocktail with enough acidity or effervescence to cut through the richness.  

Ingredients and seasonality. Consider using similar ingredients in both the cocktails and the food. Utilising seasonal ingredients can enhance the overall theme of the festivities. 

Alcohol content. Pay attention to the alcohol content of the cocktails. A strong cocktail might overpower delicate flavours in the food, so balance is key. 

Texture & mouthfeel. Think about the textures of both the food and the cocktail. A creamy cocktail might pair well with a dish that has a velvety texture, while a sparkling cocktail can be refreshing with crispy or fried foods. 

Temperature. Match the temperature of the cocktail with the temperature of the food. Hot cocktails can complement warm dishes, while chilled cocktails are refreshing with cold appetisers or desserts. 

Accommodate dietary needs. Be mindful of any dietary restrictions or preferences your guests may have. Offer alternatives or adjustments in the cocktails or food to accommodate various diets. 

Presentation & visual appeal. Consider the visual aspect of the pairing. A well-coordinated presentation enhances the overall dining experience. 

Experiment & taste. Don’t be afraid to experiment and taste-test. Everyone’s palate is different, so what works for one person might not work for another. 

Remember that personal preferences play a significant role in pairing, so these are guidelines rather than strict rules. Ultimately, the goal is to create an enjoyable and harmonious dining experience for your guests. 

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Holiday cocktail and appetiser pairings

Cosmopolitan paired with cranberry and brie bites

  • Mojito and smoked salmon on toasted baguette slices with a dollop of herbed cream cheese. 
  • Bellini and melon balls wrapped in thin slices of prosciutto on skewers, drizzled with balsamic reduction.  
  • Cosmopolitan and phyllo cups filled with a mixture of cranberry sauce and melted brie cheese, topped with chopped pecans for extra crunch.  
  • Aperol Spritz with cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil leaves on toothpicks. 
  • Gin Martini with chilled shrimp served in individual shot glasses with cocktail sauce, a lemon wedge and freshly chopped parsley. Or you might consider another holiday Martini, of course… 

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Holiday cocktail and main pairings

Mulled wine paired with a classic glazed Christmas ham

  • Eggnog and a traditional turkey dinner with mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, and fresh, warm dinner rolls.  
  • Mulled Wine with glazed ham, served with scalloped potatoes, green beans, and hot English mustard.  
  • Cucumber Martini and grilled salmon, served with sautéed spinach with garlic and olive oil, wild rice pilaf, and a dill yogurt sauce.  
  • Pomegranate Martini and stuffed portobello mushrooms with goat cheese and herbs served with kalamata olives, artichoke hearts, and a crusty ciabatta.  
  • Moscow Mule and a Vegetarian Wellington served with oven-roasted rainbow carrots, garlic aioli, and a quinoa salad. Not too keen on ginger beer? Try another Christmas vodka cocktail instead.  

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Holiday cocktail and dessert pairings

Brandy Alexander paired with a classic Christmas pudding

  • Brandy Alexader with a traditional Christmas pudding served with custard and whipped cream.  
  • Hot Buttered Rum with slices of piping hot apple pie, straight from the oven, with a dollop of clotted cream.  
  • Espresso Martini and chocolate lava cake, sprinkled with a dusting of icing sugar and garnished with a few raspberries.  
  • Bourbon Apple Cider Cocktail and lush slices of pumpkin cheesecake, dusted with fragrant pumpkin spice.  
  • Strawberry Basil Cocktail and mango sorbet decorated with dainty pomegranate arils. 

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BONUS! Take-home edible gift ideas for festive occasions

Edible Christmas gifts jars with ribbon and cinnamon

Homemade edible gifts are thoughtful and personal, making them perfect for festive occasions. Here are some ideas for take-home edible gifts: 

Cookies in a jar. Layer the dry ingredients of your favourite cookie recipe in a decorative jar. Attach a tag with the recipe and instructions for baking. 

Infused olive oils. Create flavoured olive oils by infusing them with herbs, garlic, or chili flakes. Package them in beautiful bottles and include a note with suggested uses. 

Homemade jam or preserves. Make jams or preserves using seasonal fruits. Package them in small jars with a festive ribbon. Consider unique flavour combinations like strawberry-basil or blueberry-lavender. 

Spice blends. Prepare custom spice blends, like a holiday-themed seasoning mix or a gourmet salt blend. Package them in small jars with labels and usage suggestions. 

Hot chocolate mix. Layer ingredients for homemade hot chocolate in a jar, including cocoa powder, sugar, and marshmallows. Attach a tag with instructions for preparation. 

Homemade granola. Create a delicious and nutritious granola with a mix of oats, nuts, seeds, and dried fruits. Package it in festive containers or mason jars. 

Flavoured nuts. Roast nuts with unique flavourings such as rosemary and sea salt, sweet and spicy cinnamon sugar, or a savoury herb blend. Package them in decorative tins or jars. 

Candied citrus peel. Make candied citrus peel from oranges, lemons, or grapefruits. Coat them in sugar and package them in small bags or boxes. 

Homemade chocolates. Craft your own chocolates with various fillings like caramel, nuts, or fruit. Package them in decorative boxes or tins. 

Savoury snack mix. Create a custom savoury snack mix with a combination of nuts, pretzels, and seasoned crackers. Package it in festive bags or jars. 

Remember to consider any dietary restrictions or preferences of the recipients when preparing edible gifts. Personalise the packaging with festive ribbons, tags, or labels to add a special touch. 

There you have it—some insights into how to pair cocktails and food for Christmas, along with a list of our go-to favourites, and a bonus line-up of edible gifts to wow your guests this festive season. Merry merry, everyone! Remember to sign up for our newsletter to get more tasty bits delivered straight to your inbox by The Mixer elves 🎁🎅 


Traditionally, people enjoy a variety of drinks with Christmas dinner, including red or white wine, Champagne, or festive cocktails like Mulled Wine. Personal preferences vary, so some may opt for non-alcoholic options like sparkling cider.

Eggnog pairs deliciously with holiday treats like gingerbread cookies, pumpkin pie, and spiced cakes. Its creamy, spiced flavour complements the warm, comforting notes of traditional festive desserts.

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