Favorite Holiday Cocktails, State by State
White Russian. Peppermint Martini. Jingle Juice! According to Yummly users, these are the best holiday cocktail recipes to make your holiday season merry and bright.
Infographic by Clark Miller
What do you get when you shake up fabulous cocktails with the world of data? Why, you get a collection of holiday drink recipes that defines comfort and joy. One that might even provide more fun than an ugly sweater contest.
Who makes more chocolatey mudslides: Michiganders or Minnesotans? Does Oregon or Washington lay a bigger claim to Irish coffee? Which state feels the most love for frothy eggnog, cozy hot toddies, and jiggly jello shots? To determine the answers to these and other important questions, we turned to you, Yummly’s users, to see what you crave each December.
What are some good holiday cocktails?
We take our work seriously at Yummly, no matter how enjoyable it may be. To come up with a definitive list of favorite cocktail recipes state by state, I pulled in Yummly data scientist and big brain Saranyaa VR. She worked her data magic to analyze top cocktail recipe searches among Yummly users in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
Click on the map to get a closer look
What she discovered is this collection of uniquely popular drinks: Elegant Champagne cocktails. Traditional holiday cocktails like eggnog, white Russians, and rum punch. There are also lots of classic cocktails such as old fashioneds, mai tais, and mimosas that you could stir up any time of year, but hey, it’s the holidays. So why not now?
Each one is worthy of toasting you and yours this season. We hope you enjoy them as much as we have. Cheers!
Alaska: Peppermint White Russian
With only 55 miles separating the Last Frontier State and Russia, it’s not surprising that the white Russian, a cocktail featuring vodka, coffee liqueur, and cream, scores high in Alaska. To make it extra festive, Yummly users go for this version with peppermint schnapps and a rim of crushed candy canes.
Alabama: Hot Chocolate with Kahlua
I can imagine multiple holiday occasions where a Crock Pot full of spiked hot chocolate might make for a more enjoyable afternoon or evening, and Alabamans agree. For starters, how about tree-trimming or snuggling up for a holiday movie?
Arizona: Bloody Mary
Can you enjoy a really solid holiday brunch without the bloody Mary? Doubtful, says the Grand Canyon State. This classic version incorporates all the elements they look forward to in the vodka cocktail, including tomato juice; wedges of lemon and lime; savory hits from Worcestershire, horseradish, Tabasco, and celery salt; and of course a stalk of crunchy celery.
Arkansas: Eggnog White Russian
Though many states favor the vodka-and-Kahlua cocktail called a white Russian, Arkansans like theirs with eggnog as the creamy element, plus a generous dusting of nutmeg on top.
California: Tequila Sunrise
Popularized in the Golden State in the 1970s, and a favorite with rock ‘n’ roller Mick Jagger, the snazzy, ombre Tequila Sunrise features layers of tequila, orange juice, and grenadine. A splash of lime juice and seltzer water make this version extra refreshing.
Colorado: Whiskey Sour
Of course any time of year is a fine time to shake up a whiskey sour — the beautifully balanced combination of bourbon, lemon juice, and simple syrup, preferably with a cherry on top. But Coloradans think December holidays provide the perfect excuse, and I agree.
Connecticut: Chocolate Martini
In Connecticut, Nutmeggers apparently enjoy both tradition and innovation, as search volume for this classic yet indulgent drink made with four forms of chocolate demonstrates.
Could there be a more thirst-quenching cocktail than the mojito, with crushed fresh mint, rum, seltzer water, and a little sugar and lime? The First State ranks it first for holiday imbibing.
District of Columbia: Mulled Wine
No matter their political persuasion, everyone in D.C. can toast to a mug of red wine mulled with cinnamon, cloves, orange, and vanilla.
Writer Ernest Hemingway famously favored the daiquiri during his time in Cuba, and it’s no wonder that Floridians, just 90 miles away, feel the same way. If you’ve only tried frozen versions of the white rum drink, this more delicate shaken drink may surprise you.
Georgia: Cranberry Cocktail
Far from the chilly cranberry bogs of New England and Oregon, the Peach State has no built-in excuse to favor the tart berries in their December cocktails. But Georgians know a good thing when they see it. A 5-minute recipe made with cranberry juice, vodka, a splash of ginger ale, and fresh cranberries for color is sure to brighten any holiday occasion.
Hawaii: Peppermint Vodka
You might expect Hawaiians to favor cocktails with lilikoi (passion fruit), guava, or other tropical fruits, but no. When it comes to holiday beverages, they say a big Aloha to a more traditional, and beautifully pink, tipple. Vanilla vodka, peppermint schnapps, half-and-half, and a peppermint stick spell happy sipping.
Idaho: Peppermint Mocha White Russian
As we continue to explore the popular variations on white Russian cocktails among Yummly users, we can’t miss Idahoers particular yen for this one. It’s got the vodka and coffee liqueur you’d expect; the option of milk for a lighter cocktail than cream; and a double hit of peppermint, with both extract and a rim of crushed candies.
Illinois: Amaretto Sour
Sweet and tangy: that’s the delicious promise of an amaretto sour, much-loved in the Prairie State. It features the almond-flavored liqueur along with bourbon, lemon juice, and a little simple syrup. A swizzle of lemon peel and a cherry on top are technically optional, but c’mon, it’s the holidays.
Indiana: Peppermint Martini
Beauty alone could convince Hoosiers to favor this stunning red and green holiday cocktail presentation. A splash of grenadine and a rim of peppermint candies deliver on the red, and a sprig of mint creates the green. But vanilla vodka and peppermint schnapps help bring home some pretty sweet sipping.
Iowa: Christmas Cranberry Cocktail
As with Indiana, the Hawkeye State falls hard for presentation in their search for holiday cocktails. A variation on a cranberry gin and tonic creates a bright and sophisticated drink, while sugar-frosted fresh rosemary and cranberry “Christmas tree” garnishes deliver the oohs and ahs.
Kansas: Jello shots
Who says the joy of downing Jello shots ends with college days? Not the Jayhawkers. But their top “cocktail” choice skews surprisingly sophisticated: gelled cubes of Champagne and ginger ale dusted with a little sparkling sugar.
Kentucky: Eggnog martini
Is it the promise of an easy, 5-minute cocktail that sways Kentuckians on this one, or the rich and creamy combination of eggnog, vanilla vodka, amaretto, and sweet spices?
Louisiana: Rum punch
You likely won’t be holding a holiday party this year, and yet. A rum punch is one of those Christmas cocktail recipes that everyone should have in their back pocket for when the good times can roll. Louisianians favor a generously fruity combination of apple juice, three kinds of booze including Grand Marnier, and sliced fresh fruit in both the ice block and punch bowl.
Maine: Mocha white Russian
The Pine Tree State doesn’t mess around with their favorite version of the white Russian, made with chocolate. Into each glass you’ll pour a big drizzle of chocolate syrup over ice; when you add vodka, Kahlua, and heavy cream, you’ll get lovely swirls.
If you’re not familiar with the Cosmo, it’s a beautifully pink and well, delightfully girly combo of vodka, orange liqueur, cranberry juice, and fresh lime. Marylanders give it a big thumbs-up, and you should too.
Food writer M.F.K. Fisher loved martinis. So did Sir Winston Churchill, and so do Yummly users in the Bay State. Though many variations are out there (see Connecticut, Indiana, and Kentucky), this one is the classic with pure booze: gin and vermouth with a dash of bitters, plus a lemon twist garnish.
Adult milkshake or boozy dessert? Whatever you call it, Michiganders go in big for the mudslide. To make it, just grab a blender and whirl up chocolate vodka, Irish cream like Baileys, Kahlua, creme de cacao, and chocolate ice cream. The toppings are up to you: chocolate syrup, sprinkles, chocolate chips, and whipped cream? Sounds like a yes.
Minnesota: Brandy Alexander
Positively restrained compared to the previous cocktail, the brandy Alexander is simply Cognac or other brandy, creme de cacao, and cream shaken over ice and given a shower of fragrant, freshly ground nutmeg. I think this would be quite lovely to sip on a wintery Minnesota evening, don’t you?
Does the Magnolia State embrace the holiday brunch more than other places in the U.S.? Because if they do, that might explain the popularity of mimosas: Champagne or similar bubbly with orange juice and a splash of triple sec.
Missouri: Hot toddy
While the hot toddy has a reputation for soothing sore throats, Missourians must find the warm combination of bourbon, water, spices, lemon, and honey plenty soothing on cold December nights, too, given the drink’s popularity in search.
Montana: Mai tai
It seems that a local tiki culture is not required to enjoy mai tais. Montanans know that the tropical flavor combo of light and dark rum, citrus juices, and almond-flavored liqueur (orgeat) is a winner wherever you are.
Nebraska: White Russian
Three ingredients, 5 minutes. Nebraska cocktail-makers get right to it for the classic white Russian recipe they choose on Yummly. Pour vodka and Kahula over ice, add a splash of cream, and stir.
Do residents of the Silver State prefer their margaritas with silver (white) or gold tequila? While that remains a mystery, I can confirm that they strike it rich with the perfect proportions in this popular cocktail recipe: two parts tequila to one part Cointreau and one part fresh lime juice.
New Hampshire: Manhattan
People in the Granite State stick to tradition when it comes to their December cocktails, and a good bourbon-based Manhattan has legions of fans. In addition to the bourbon, you only need some sweet vermouth and a few shakes of bitters — though a maraschino or Luxardo cherry and strip of orange peel put it over the top.
New Jersey: Prosecco cocktail
Given the large Italian population in New Jersey, it’s no surprise that New Jerseyite users on Yummly want to make holiday drinks with Prosecco, a sparkling wine from Italy. This one gets a splash of Grand Marnier and squeeze of lemon to keep things interesting. A V-shaped zester called a channel knife makes it easy to create the long, skinny strands of orange zest.
New Mexico: Coconut rum punch
New Mexicans love the flavor combination of coconut and rum in their holiday cocktails. Here there’s the addition of chocolatey creme de cacao and a sweet, crunchy rim of candied pecans on the glasses.
New York: White sangria
Though less well-known than a red wine sangria, a white sangria can be beautiful and refreshing on a holiday table, which is probably why New Yorkers go for it.
North Carolina: Cranberry punch
Similar in concept to a couple of other cranberry cocktails in this collection, this recipe favored by North Carolinians has an important distinction: It serves 4, a time-saver if you’re the in-house mixologist.
North Dakota: White chocolate peppermint Christmas cocktail
Cold December winters on the prairie call for fortification of the adult dessert variety. The Flickertale State responds with an indulgent white Christmas concoction of peppermint schnapps, white chocolate liqueur, whipped cream, and crushed candy canes.
Ohio: Jingle juice
Buckeyes must be a fun-loving bunch to go for a drink called jingle juice, which is a big-batch punch recipe made with homemade citrus sugar, six kinds of fruit juice, rum, Grand Marnier, and amaretto. The recipe serves 10 but you could cut it in half if you’re serving a smaller group.
Oklahoma: Champagne cocktail
Searching for a festive holiday cocktail, Oklahomans like to stick with tradition. To make these old-school drinks, put a sugar cube and dash of Angostura bitters in each glass, top up with Champagne, and add a twist of lemon.
Oregon: Hot buttered rum
Oregonians spell cozy winter comfort with a homemade spice butter that’s ready to dollop into mugs and top up with hot cider and rum.
Pennsylvania: Apple sangria
The Keystone State is apple country, and so it’s natural that pride in local produce (or perhaps determination to use it up) drives searches for the right recipe. In this one, two kinds of apple, apple cider, pear, fresh cranberries, a little fresh rosemary, and white wine make for a gorgeous and tasty combo.
Puerto Rico: Coquito
If you’re from Puerto Rico or just love Puerto Rican cooking, then you’re probably a super-fan of coquito, an indulgently creamy eggnog-style drink made with rum and spices, and served with a cinnamon stick for style. Unlike traditional eggnog, coquito is egg-free and is based on coconut milk — or coconut milk and cream, evaporated milk, and sweetened condensed milk, as in this recipe. Bonus: It keeps for months in the fridge, so even if you can't hold a Christmas party, you and Santa can enjoy it more than once.
Rhode Island: Sangria
Look at that ruby color. You can see how a red sangria shines on a holiday table. Rhode Islanders like theirs with citrus and other fresh fruits, white rum, and sparkling water for a little fizz.
South Carolina: Champagne punch
A bowl of punch sets a festive mood at a holiday occasion, but it serves a useful function in freeing up the host or hostess to chat instead of shake individual drinks. The red and green punch that South Carolinians go for incorporates cranberry and pomegranate juices as well as fresh cranberries and limes.
South Dakota: Moscow mule
No matter that vodka and ginger beer-based Moscow mules are best known as a cool summer drink. Those shiny copper mugs positively glow on December tables in the Mount Rushmore State.
Tennessee: Old fashioned
Dating back to the early 19th century, the old fashioned is true to its name, and that’s just the way Tennesseans like their holiday cocktails. Combine some bourbon, a dash of bitters, and a little simple syrup; tuck in a twist of orange and a cherry; and you have yourself the much-loved drink.
Texas: Milk punch
What, you’re not familiar with milk punch, the mixture of cold, spiced, and spiked milk that dates back to Colonial America? Yummly users in Texas think it’s a tradition worth continuing.
While I can’t confirm that folks in the Beehive State go a-wassailing (meaning, go from house to house singing Christmas carols), I know that they enjoy a warm-up of wassail: mulled cider with plenty of spices, brown sugar, and bourbon.
Vermont: Grinch punch
If the name “grinch punch” alone doesn’t put you in holly jolly mood, how about that electric green color and the rim of red sanding sugar? Vermonters, you know how to have a good time.
Some user searches on Yummly can be cryptic ones, but fortunately, our search engine is up to the task. When Virginia users type in “smash,” we know it’s a whiskey smash they’re in the mood for, a delightful drink with muddled lemon and a splash of simple syrup as well as the alcohol.
Washington: Irish Coffee
If you expected the state that launched Starbuck’s to hold a fondness for Irish coffee, you would be correct. A generous shot of Irish whiskey, a touch of sugar, and a swoop of whipped cream are all it takes to turn your regular joe into a cozy hello.
West Virginia: Limoncello
West Virginians pride themselves on hospitality, and anyone handed a delicious and pretty cocktail with raspberries and the Italian lemon liqueur called limoncello would feel welcome indeed.
Wisconsin: Vodka slush
Wisconsinites must laugh off cold winters, because why else would they especially love an icy, lemony cocktail that looks a bit like the snow they’ve probably just come in from shoveling?
Mmm, eggnog. Of all the holiday cocktails, it might be the most iconic, as Wyoming users on Yummly can attest. This eggnog recipe goes for the full experience, directing you to separate the eggs and beat the yolks with cream, milk, brandy and dark rum before folding in the airy beaten whites.
Snacks and sips to raise your holiday spirits
Like cooking, mixology is an art and a science. It’s about combining elements you might not expect to rhyme into a unique and delicious composition greater than the sum of its parts. Each sip is food — or drink — for thought about the poetry of it all. The most surprising bit? Cocktails can be as fun to make as they are to taste. Need more cocktail and chaiser ideas for the holidays? Explore additional articles and enjoy your beverages responsibly!