These Yuletide Red Wine Cocktails are made with wine, bourbon, cherries, citrus, and warm spices for a refined sugar free cocktail perfect for the holiday season. Serve them on the rocks, and watch your guests rave!
This roundup, originally published in 2016, has been updated to provide you with better content and new and/or improved recipes! If you can’t find something you’re looking for, let us know, and we’ll be happy to help!
Tis’ the Season!
Cheers, y’all! If you’ve been around a while, you probably already know that I’m a wine lover. There’s just something about a good red or dry white that always hits the spot. As a result, it’s not often that I stray away and venture into the world of cocktails and mixed drinks. In fact, I only drink old-fashioned cocktails that you can sip on and savor. This being said, I do adore a refreshing Paloma and cozy comforting holiday cocktails like a Hot Toddy every once in a while. They aren’t too sweet and sugary, go down super smooth, and are even slightly better for you, too! I’m also fond of boozy bites such as Dark Chocolate Amaretto Cake Bites and White Chocolate Peppermint Rum Balls.
However, all this changed when my friend Katie introduced me to Negroni a few years ago. If you’re unfamiliar, Negroni is an Italian cocktail made from equal parts gin, vermouth, and Campari, and it’s completely refreshing and delicious! (Source) After tasting this drink, I knew I had to try to recreate it but wanted to add my own twist with the addition of red wine.
Holiday Cocktail Mixology at Home
I searched high and low, played mixologist, and eventually found the key to creating the perfect red wine cocktails in one of my favorite New Zealand magazines. Right there on the front of the page sat a recipe for a Yuletide Moon Cocktail by H. Joseph Ehrmann of Elixir Saloon! I was immediately intrigued and learned that a Yuletide Moon Cocktail is part merlot, part bourbon, part cherry, part simple syrup, and lemon zest. Sometimes a dash of nutmeg is added, too. This sounded right up my alley, and I knew it was the red holiday cocktail I’d been looking for!
So, I took the recipe and made a few simple swaps such as removing the simple syrup to make it a bit more healthy. What resulted was my very own Yuletide Moon Red Wine Cocktails sweetened with maple syrup and fruit juices! They’re a beautiful festive red color and continue to be a favorite during the holiday season each year. So, if you’re ready to get mixing, keep reading to find everything you’ll need to know to make your new favorite gluten free holiday cocktails.
Ingredients for Easy Red Wine Cocktails
For these wine cocktails, I did my best to keep the ingredient list as simple and nourishing as possible. Luckily, I think I was successful! All you’ll need are a few basic ingredients, and you’ll be on your way to making things merry and bright.
- Cherries – Both fresh and canned maraschino cherries will work. Just make sure they have been pitted!
- Orange Juice – If you don’t have orange juice on hand, swap it out for clementine juice instead. I promise you won’t be able to tell the difference.
Pro Tip: To muddle the flavor of the wine, reserve about ¼ of your orange or clementine to add to your cocktails.
- Merlot Wine – Although it contains fruity notes of black cherry, plum, and raspberry, merlot is not an overly sweet or sugary wine, making it the perfect companion to the fresh fruit in these cocktails.
Foodie Swap: If you don’t have merlot, use a bold red wine you prefer instead. Not sure where to start? Take a look at these tips to pick the best wine!
- Bourbon – Any bourbon you have available can be used! For a gluten free option, take a look at this guide.
- Maple Syrup – A natural substitute for simple syrups typically found in cocktails, maple syrup adds a hint of sweetness for a delicious flavor. However, honey or agave could be used in its place!
- Spices – For these red wine cocktails, I suggest using either cinnamon or nutmeg and adding orange or lemon zest to balance out the warm flavors with a hint of citrus.
How to Make Yuletide Moon Wine Cocktails
Good cocktail recipes don’t get much easier than this! Instead of carefully measuring, blending, shaking, and more to create balanced flavors, we’ll follow the simple steps below.
- Muddle. To begin, place the cherries in a tall cocktail shaker, and muddle them by pressing them with a spoon or a tool called a muddler to extract the juice.
- Shake. Add the remaining ingredients to the cocktail shaker, and shake vigorously until they are well-combined.
- Pour. Once shaken, pour the drink mixture into individual cocktail glasses over ice, give them a stir, and top the drinks with citrus peel and a dash of nutmeg or cinnamon.
In all honesty, you can serve anything you want with these cocktails. They’re tasty no matter what! However, if you truly want to enhance the flavors (and feel extra fancy) the following foods make great pairings!
- Red meat such as steak or stew
- Dark chocolate, especially with berries in foods such as Vegan Chocolate Christmas Cake
- Aged Cheese such as Gouda, Gorgonzola, or Brie
- Garlic of all kinds such as these Chili Garlic Cauliflower Risotto Bowls
Yes, if you like, you can prepare a large batch of these gluten free holiday cocktails ahead of time, and store them in the fridge (without ice) for up to 4 days. However, they are best when consumed right away! Answer goes here…
In all honesty, I haven’t tried serving these wine cocktails warm, but I wouldn’t recommend doing so.
Yes and no. You see, the combination of cherry, bourbon, and merlot are what make this cocktail EPIC. However, you could try thawed frozen cherries or cranberry and cherry juice if you run out of cherries!
Yes! Just place the cherries in a tall glass, and use a spoon to press out the juices. Then, pour the liquid over a mesh strainer before serving to catch any cherry pieces.
Are you feeling festive, yet? I know I am! In all honesty, though, these cocktails are great all year long! What are some of your favorite cocktail recipes? Let me know in the comments below!