The Best of CaliGirl Cooking: Top 15 Cocktails and Mocktails

TGIF!

Caribou | CaliGirlCooking.com

Boy, what a week it has been. We’re still seeking refuge from the SoCal smoke up north, at least for a few more days, and I’m writing this at the eleventh hour so I’m going to keep things short, but I couldn’t let you kick off the second to last weekend before Christmas without the promised roundup of CGC’s Top 15 Cocktails and Mocktails!

So, without further ado….

A Festive Cranberry Clementine Martini is the perfect easy cocktail to whip up all through the month of December!

1. FESTIVE CRANBERRY CLEMENTINE MARTINI
2. CARIBOU
3. WINTER SPICED VANILLA EGGNOG

Cranberry Ginger Mule | CaliGirlCooking.com

4. CRANBERRY GINGER MULE
5. SPARKLING CITRUS VANILLA PUNCH
6. SPARKLING POMEGRANATE PARTY PUNCH

Sparkling Pomegranate Party Punch | CaliGirlCooking.com

7. ALMOND MILK EGGNOG HOT CHOCOLATE
8. PEAR, POMEGRANATE AND BOURBON PUNCH
9. SPIKED PEAR CIDER

A mug of Spiked Pear Cider is the perfect hot toddy for the holidays.

10. APPLE CINNAMON “FAUX-MOSA”
11. BOILO (A TWIST ON THE HOT TODDY)
12. FROM-SCRATCH SLOW COOKER SPICED APPLE CIDER
13. WARMING GINGER TEA WHISKEY COCKTAIL
14. BOOZY SPICED HOT APPLE CIDER

Citrus Vanilla Sparkler | CaliGirlCooking.com

15. CITRUS VANILLA SPARKLER

Okay, now it’s your turn. What are some of your favorite holiday cocktails and mocktails! Leave ’em in the comments below!

Sparkling Citrus Vanilla Punch

Because every holiday season needs a delicious punch recipe!

This Sparkling Citrus Vanilla Punch is the perfect batch drink to serve a crowd!

I mean, am I right? We are, after all, in the season of entertaining, and nobody wants to spend their entire dinner party mixing up individual cocktails for every single guest. Nope, you need a delicious batch cocktail recipe that is festive, features some of the best flavors of the season and is super easy to throw together. Well, my friends, I’m here to tell you that this Sparkling Citrus Vanilla Punch is the answer!

If you know me, you know that I’m a hard-core sparkling wine lover. In fact, if I had to choose just one type of alcoholic beverage to enjoy for the rest of my life, it would be bubbles. There are so many different varieties, from dry to sweet, pink to star-bright, incredibly effervescent to just a light spritz. I love them all (enjoyed in the appropriate time and place) and ESPECIALLY enjoy them at this festive time of year. Doesn’t everyone?

Which is exactly why I decided to use sparkling wine as the base for this uber-tasty Sparkling Citrus Vanilla Punch. It lends the perfect celebratory touch to the other flavors of orange, lemon and vanilla, and has the added bonus of not being sooo high octane that your party guests will have one glass and end up needing to call a cab home. It’s the perfect drink for a crowd and comes together with no fancy bar tools or ingredients. My kind of holiday cocktail!

A pitcher of this Sparkling Citrus Vanilla Punch is the perfect drink to serve at your holiday get-together.

As far as what type of sparkling wine to use, feel free to use your own creative license here based on your personal tastes. I opted for a medium-quality dry cava (Segura Viudas to be exact) because that just happens to be our “house” sparkling wine. (Yes, we have one. Hey, my husband’s in the liquor industry!) I also don’t like my drinks too sweet, but if you’re entertaining a more sweet wine-loving crowd, by all means go for something with a little residual sugar to it.

You’ll just need a few more ingredients besides the sparkling wine to make this Sparkling Citrus Vanilla Punch a tasty reality at your holiday get-together:

Fresh orange and lemon juice, both of which should be incredibly easy to obtain, especially at this time of year.
Grand Marnier to add a little extra kick.
Simple syrup (which you can easily buy if you’re too lazy to make.)
And last, but not least, some vanilla extract!

See, I told you it was easy 😉

A glass of this Sparkling Citrus Vanilla Punch is the perfect, easy cocktail to serve party guests.

You’ll want to make sure your sparkling wine and citrus juices are chilled ahead of time, but when it comes time for your guests to arrive, you’ll literally need less than 5 minutes and a tall pitcher or punch bowl to throw this Sparkling Citrus Vanilla Punch together. I don’t know about you, but that’s my kind of party recipe! Cheers to a wonderful holiday weekend!

Sparkling Citrus Vanilla Punch
Prep Time
5 mins
 

A fun, festive punch recipe featuring the best winter flavors including lemon, orange and vanilla. Perfect for your next get-together!

Course: Drinks
Servings: 5 servings
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice, chilled
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, chilled
  • 1/2 cup Grand Marnier
  • 1/2 cup simple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 750mL bottle sparkling wine
  • Orange and lemon wheels, for garnish
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a large pitcher or punch bowl. 

  2. Garnish with orange and lemon wheels and enjoy!

Two-Ingredient Pumpkin Apple Shandy

I hope you’re ready for a cocktail that’s as easy as it is delicious!

This Two-Ingredient Pumpkin Apple Shandy is the most delicious, easy fall cocktail!

This Two-Ingredient Pumpkin Apple Shandy is quite likely the drink of any fall-lover’s dreams. After all, the two ingredients involved include pumpkin and apple, which we all know are the stars of the show for the months of at least September, October, November and maybe even December. And who doesn’t want a crowd-pleasing beverage that can be whipped up at a moment’s notice?

In case you’re not quite familiar with what a shandy is (aka “radler” in German), it’s basically a low-octane cocktail made with a mixture of light lager and some sort of citrus juice. Now, I’m not one to normally want to mix my beer with anything, but when it comes to pumpkin-flavored beer mixed with my favorite apple cider, I can certainly make an exception!

Pumpkin beer and apple cider are the only two ingredients you need for this Two-Ingredient Pumpkin Apple Shandy!

And now that I’m breastfeeding our little one, I’m all about the low-octane drinks. Less alcohol + more liquids equal better hydration, which we all know is really important when you’re feeding for two!

At this time of year there is certainly no shortage of pumpkin beers out there, so feel free to use your favorite. To be honest, I’ve been a little bummed that Trader Joe’s hasn’t had a bigger selection this season, but I’ve still been able to find some of my favorites at stores like BevMo and Gelson’s. Right now the two I really like that I can seem to find fairly easily are Dogfish Head’s Punkin Ale and Ballast Point’s Pumpkin Down, so if you see either of those, I highly recommend you give them a try.

As far as the apple cider goes, you can either buy some from the store (preferably with as little added sugar as possible) or make your own using my super-easy recipe for From-Scratch Slow Cooker Spiced Apple Cider (which you should honestly have on hand at all times during this holiday season anyway.)

This Two-Ingredient Pumpkin Apple Shandy is the perfect low-alcohol cocktail to serve over the holidays.

Aside from the fact that this Two-Ingredient Pumpkin Apple Shandy involves, yes, just TWO ingredients, I also love it because it is sooo easy to make. I mean, you don’t even need to break out the cocktail shaker or jigger! You can totally eyeball the amounts, or just adjust the ratio of pumpkin beer to apple cider however you happen to prefer. I prefer a little more beer to my cider, but if you want more cider to your beer, by all means go ahead!

One final tip when making this delicious drink: Be sure your ingredients are well-chilled before mixing them together. I don’t often like to use ice in beer cocktails because I feel it waters them down too much, so you want to start out with your beer and cider being as cold as possible.

This Two-Ingredient Pumpkin Apple Shandy is the perfect cocktail to serve at any time of day during the holidays.

I hope you enjoy this Two-Ingredient Pumpkin Apple Shandy as much as I have been!

Two-Ingredient Pumpkin Apple Shandy
Prep Time
5 mins
 

This easy cocktail may be low on alcohol but it's certainly high in flavor! Two favorite fall ingredients come together to make one delicious drink.

Course: Drinks
Servings: 1 cocktail
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 9 ounces of your favorite pumpkin beer, chilled
  • 6 ounces apple cider, chilled
Instructions
  1. Combine ingredients in a large glass and enjoy!

Sleepytime Lavender Milk

This one’s for all my sleep-deprived mamas out there!

A mug of Sleepytime Lavender Milk is the perfect bedtime treat for a good night's sleep.

Or sleep-deprived anyone, for that matter. After all, who doesn’t want a warm, comforting glass of lavender- and vanilla-scented Sleepytime Lavender Milk after a long and tiresome day?

Even though by now I’m very much hoping we’ve welcomed our little girl into the world, since I’m writing all these posts in advance all I can do is guess that at this moment I’m in that awkward state of delirium and bliss as we work to adapt our lives to this new little miracle we created. I can also guess that I’m craving all the comforting foods (and all the sleep!) to help us get through this special transition that I hear goes by in the blink of an eye.

Being the foodie that I am, I spent a lot of time during my pregnancy reading up on the best foods to eat while pregnant, after pregnancy, while breastfeeding, etc. One of the most helpful books I read about postnatal diet (and care in general) was The First 40 Days by Heng Ou.

A warm mug of Sleepytime Lavender Milk will help give you a perfect night's sleep.

It spends a lot of time talking about how other cultures welcome new babes into the world, which frequently happens to be by the mother and baby retreating to their home and just plain RELAXING for the first 40 days after birth, allowing others to help with common household duties and cooking so that the mom can recover and the new family can spend time getting used to one another.

It also talks a lot about foods that will help get the mother’s digestive system back on track and recovered from labor, while providing important and helpful nutrients to the baby via breastfeeding. Many of these foods are warm, easy to digest and full of nourishing ingredients like homemade broths.

I’ve made a couple of soups that we have waiting in the freezer to defrost at a moment’s notice, and of course there were also these Make-Ahead Freezer Oatmeal Cups that I have waiting for us (as oats are known to promote lactation.) I haven’t figured out a way to make this Sleepytime Lavender Milk in advance, but it’s so easy that we can whip it up fairly quickly whenever the mood strikes.

Warm Sleepytime Lavender Milk comes together quickly and easily for any after-dinner treat.

Here’s how we do it: Simply put a small pot of your favorite milk on the stovetop laced with some honey and half of a whole vanilla bean. Then you’ll need to get your hands on some culinary lavender and cheesecloth to make your own little sachet. This easy sachet will sit and soak in the milk as you heat it up on the stove, much like steeping a tea bag.

That’s it! Incredibly easy and the perfect healthy treat for after dinner to get you in the bedtime mood. It’s bright and early in the morning here but I’m already looking forward to whipping up a batch of this Sleepytime Lavender Milk tonight. How about you?

Sleepytime Lavender Milk is a healthy alternative to dessert.

This post contains affiliate links.

Sleepytime Lavender Milk
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
15 mins
 

This warming drink is laced with comforting lavender, honey and vanilla - It's the perfect bedtime treat for a great night's sleep!

Course: Drinks
Servings: 2 servings
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 2 1/2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or your favorite milk)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 of a whole vanilla bean
  • 1 tablespoon culinary lavender wrapped in a small square of cheesecloth
Instructions
  1. Place milk, honey and vanilla bean in a small saucepan over medium heat. 

  2. Add lavender sachet to milk and bring to a heavy simmer.

  3. Turn off heat and let cool slightly before serving.

Homemade Citrus Electrolyte Drink

Thirst quenching to the max!

This Homemade Citrus Electrolyte Drink is a naturally sweetened alternative to all those sugary sports drinks out there.

To be completely transparent here, I’ve started writing these posts a bit in advance since our little girl could be making her entrance into the world any day now. I came up with this Homemade Citrus Electrolyte Drink recipe in the hopes that I could have some on hand when I start going into labor. (My days of overly sweetened Gatorade are behind me.) For the latest updates on whether Baby D has arrived yet, be sure to follow me on Instagram and Facebook!

But seriously, I’m really excited to share this recipe with you, and even more excited to have a hydrating Homemade Citrus Electrolyte Drink recipe in my back pocket for when I can finally get back to working out at my normal (fairly high) intensity, or even when I just need to replenish after a higher-than-normal level of partying or a long day of travel.

This Homemade Citrus Electrolyte will rehydrate and replenish you after a hard workout!

Staying hydrated hadn’t always been really important to me, but when I was spending almost every waking hour during high school playing volleyball, I learned firsthand what a difference a drink with some electrolytes and potassium can make in performance and recovery.

I think it was my freshman year the first time I experienced extreme dehydration. It was a couple of hours after I had gotten home from a long day of volleyball, and all of a sudden a horrific migraine came on…My eyesight was blurry, I had a horrible headache, and any light or noise just made everything ten times worse. Oh, and the nausea…It was INTENSE. It got so bad that I threw up and the only thing that seemed to make me feel better (aside from laying in a dark, quiet room with my eyes closed for a few hours) was a big jug of cold Gatorade.

I quickly learned that, due to the amount of sweat I was losing during training, I needed to be replenishing my body with more than just straight water DURING these times. I started bringing Gatorade with me to every practice and game, and made sure I sipped on it continuously throughout. Although the dehydration migraines have happened to me a few more times since then, it really is a one-off and I can usually pinpoint why they happened after they do.

This Homemade Citrus Electrolyte Drink comes together with just a few simple ingredients and is way better than any store-bought sports drink!

Of course, the peak of my athletic days (high school and college, more than 10 years ago) were way before trendy coconut water made its way onto the scene, and I am very happy to now have that as a more natural rehydration option as opposed to artificially sweetened (and colored) Gatorade. Coconut water is now my go-to when I’ve been through an intense workout or feel the need to fill my body with all the good electrolytes and potassium.

This Homemade Citrus Electrolyte Drink does indeed contain coconut water, but there are a few other ingredients that make it extra-special and hydrating, namely citrus juice, Himalayan pink sea salt and some maple syrup for a touch of natural sweetness.

A frosty serving of this Homemade Citrus Electrolyte Drink is all you need after a tough workout!

Here’s everything those components contribute to us when put them together in a big ol’ Mason jar and chug it down:

Coconut water – Contains more potassium than a banana

Fresh citrus juice – Also contains potassium and immune-boosting Vitamin C

Himalayan pink sea salt – Creates an electrolyte balance

Maple syrup – Contains antioxidants and fights inflammation

As you can see, not only is this Homemade Citrus Electrolyte Drink perfect for athletes/workout enthusiasts, it’s also going to be a godsend for me as I go through this crazy thing called labor. It also comes together quickly and can be stored in the refrigerator for at least a few days, so you can prep it and have it on hand at a moment’s notice!

A serving of this Homemade Electrolyte Drink will get you back on your feet in no time.

I’m not gonna lie, I’m pretty excited to have this to sip on during labor and throughout my recovery. It’s such a better alternative than sports drinks and I’m all about getting back on my feet (and in the gym) as soon as I’m medically cleared to do so.

Tell me, do you have any tips for rehydration and/or making it through labor? I’m all ears!

This post contains affiliate links.

Homemade Citrus Electrolyte Drink
Prep Time
5 mins
 

This homemade version of a replenishing sports drink has tons of health benefits and way fewer artificial sugars than any store-bought version.

Course: Drinks
Servings: 1 drink
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1/4 teaspoon Himalayan pink sea salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 cup coconut water
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a Mason jar (with a lid) and shake to combine.

  2. Add ice and enjoy immediately or place in the refrigerator to have on hand at a moment’s notice (just be sure to shake again before drinking.)

Homemade Citrus Electrolyte Drink | CaliGirlCooking.com