7 Holiday Cocktails Inspire 7 Rooms

Oct. 16 is National Liqueur Day—perfectly placed as a prelude to the fall holiday season. What better time to bring you recipes for colorful cocktails and the rooms they inspire?

The word cocktail is something of a mystery. I’ll share the story I like the best, that it came from something called cock-tailings. Tavern-keepers of long ago combined the dregs, or tailings, of nearly empty liquor barrels in a single elixir they sold at bargain prices. The spigots of these barrel were sometimes referred to as cocks, hence cock-tailings were combination drinks.

These days most cocktails have a liqueur or two or three in the mix. A liqueur is itself a combination, albeit it a delicately achieved one, of distilled spirits flavored with a host of possibilities—fruit, cream, herbs, spices, flowers, nuts. Most are bottled with added sweetening and allowed to rest while the flavors marry. Some formulas have been around for centuries, while others have a more recent origin.

Interior design is a bit of hodge-podge, too—a complex marriage of sweet and delicate with savory and strong, a curated mix of old and new with infinite results. Enjoy these cocktails this holiday season, as well as the rooms they inspire. Of course, it’s not mandatory that your cocktails match your decor, but it’s a fun way to go nonetheless.


Chambord Mimosa

Style at Home/Lauren McPhillips. Photo by Virginia Macdonald

An elegant reading and lounging corner calls for an elegant drink. Chambord is an infusion of red and black raspberries, Madagascar vanilla, and extra old cognac made only in the Loire Valley of France. It’s only been around since 1982 but is said to be inspired by a drink served to Louis XIV during a visit to Châteaux de Chambord in the 1600s.

I can picture myself flipping through the latest issue of Elle Décor in this room, sipping my Chambord Mimosa, my kitty curled at my feet and my hubby handling refills. The reflecting on all the room’s reflective surfaces–chest, table, lamp, draperies and all that white–would wake up my senses even without the drink. But why not pamper myself? It’s Saturday. No blog post today or tomorrow.

This cocktail makes a refreshing drink to toast the morning on your own or share with family and friends at a holiday brunch. Its lovely raspberry color makes it a Christmas favorite.


  • .25 ounce Chambord Black Raspberry
  • 1 ounce fresh orange juice
  • Champagne
  • 1 raspberry (optional garnish)
  • Add the Chambord and orange juice to a flute.
  • Top with Champagne and garnish with fresh raspberries.



Smashing Pumpkin

Juliet Burns

An allspice dram is at the heart of this cocktail, so it’s made to order for this spicy great room.

All the colors in the area rug find their way to other elements in the room, including the white, which shows up on the hurricane candles, then as a backdrop across the room on the kitchen cabinets. I love the bohemian mix of pattern in the rug, pillows and lampshades, but how does it all work together? Must have something to do with that plump, orange-velvet sofa and chair—the room’s own “smashing pumpkin”! This is a warming cocktail, both savory and sweet—like this room—so serve it to guests and wait for things to heat up.


  • 12 ounces pumpkin puree
  • 4 ounces lemon juice
  • 2 ounces water
  • 1.5 ounces aged rum
  • .5 ounce allspice liqueur, such as Pimento
  • bay leaf
  • Add pumpkin, lemon juice and water to a soda siphon and charge with one CO2 cartridge to make a lemon-pumpkin soda.
  • Add rum and allspice liqueur to a Collins glass filled with ice.
  • Top with lemon-pumpkin soda.
  • Garnish with bay leaf (but don’t eat it).



Black Russian 

Found on Decoholic

This room and this cocktail make up just the ticket to survive a Moscow winter—or any winter, for that matter. In reality, the cocktail’s only connection to Russia (or dark, mysterious Russians) is that it contains vodka. The room, on the other hand, is a study in contrasts.

First, there’s the rug and the coverlet; though they share a colorway, it’s straight lines underfoot and undulating curves on the bed. Beyond that, there’s the hard surface of the stone against the softness of the faux fur throw and window-seat upholstery. The same soft gray-green that edges the coverlet covers the walls, which are parsed by rustic timber framing.

Kahlua—the flavoring agent in this drink—is a bold combination as well—Mexican coffee beans, rum, vanilla bean and corn syrup. Caffeine content is about 25 percent of coffee by volume. The problem (for me anyway), is it goes down so smoothly I find myself going back for too many refills, then being wide awake all night.

Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, if you get my drift. And with a cozy bed like this to loll in, who would care? If you do, drink it earlier in the day, preferably wrapped in that killer throw, curled up near that roaring fire with your own dark and mysterious comrade.

Now THAT’S the Black Russian spirit!


  • 2 ounces vodka, 2 ounces
  • 1 ounce Kahlúa
  • Pour both ingredients into a mixing glass filled with ice.
  • Stir, then strain into an old-fashioned glass filled with fresh ice.


Midori Peppermint Kiss

Found on Decoist

Who couldn’t love the color of this cocktail AND this room? That one raspberry pillow on the sofa is like the garnish on the drink! And the greens in the room are the perfect representation of the combination of “green” flavors: honeydew melon from the Midori liqueur, mint and basil.

If you would’ve asked if I wanted a life-size stag statue in my formal living room, I likely would’ve passed. But hey, it works here as a foil to the high-falutin’ architecture. I say, bring it on; after a few cocktails it will become the entertainment as guests take turns riding the stag. All in all, it could be a way to relieve some of the pressure that sometimes builds up at family gatherings around the holidays.

The Midori Peppermint Kiss sure looks like Christmas, too. The liqueur provides the saturated color, and the melon (because it’s tempered with the pineapple, peppermint and basil) is subtle.


  • 1 ounce Midori melon liqueur
  • 1 ounce vodka
  • 3 ounces pineapple juice
  • .25 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • .25 ounce peppermint schnapps
  • 6 fresh basil leaves, gently torn in half
  • Additional basil leaves and raspberries to garnish
  • Add all ingredients except the garnish to a chilled shaker glass.
  • Add ice, shake for 15 seconds and strain into a Collins glass.
  • Garnish with a basil sprig and raspberries.


Mint ChocoChata

The Mint ChocoChata has been called “dessert in a glass,” and this room embodies that description as well. First and foremost is that killer chandelier, picking up the mint green of the rug, which seems to spread like melting mint ice cream. The glass table allows the green to travel, and, like its inspiration cocktail, is topped with its own “chocolate shavings.”

I love the faded, worn look of the rugs and how the branches in the vases reach upward to echo the artwork. BTW, the accent here is the Pantone 2014 color of the year, Radiant Orchid.


  • 1 ounce RumChata
  • .3 oz chocolate vodka
  • .25 oz green crème de menthe liqueur
  • Chocolate shavings
  • Add all ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice.
  • Shake, and strain into martini glass.
  • Garnish with chocolate shavings.


Flaming Dr. Pepper Shot

Pottery Barn

This cocktail is no-nonsense, daring and dark, like this room—masculine in a James Bond, don’t-mess-with-me way. It tastes like Dr. Pepper soda but packs a punch. The amaretto that flavors it tastes of almonds, but actually contains no nuts or nut oils. Rather, the liqueur is an infusion of apricot kernel oil with 17 herbs and fruits in a recipe that dates back to the 1500s.

Better have a fire extinguisher handy during preparation, as well as something to cool down any super-heated situations it engenders. Seriously, watch this video before trying to make this.

You want to be around to enjoy the mix of flavors in the drink and textures in the room—velvet, leather, reptile and fur. Giraffe is an animal print you don’t see much, and when you do it’s not often done well, as it is here. I love this rug and those cool architectural stairs, as well as the mix of grays, black and browns.

Mrrrawwwhl! Put on some Eartha Kitt and light me another shot!


  • 8 ounces of beer
  • .75 ounces Amaretto Disaronno
  • .25 ounces rum


  • Fill a pint glass halfway with beer.
  • Add the amaretto to a shot glass and top with the rum.
  • Use a long-handled lighter to set the rum on fire
  • Carefully drop the filled, burning shot glass into the beer.
  • Drink immediately.


Baileys Chai Swizzle

This is the nightcap you and your sweetie share after all the guests have gone. I picture Chris and I curled up on that chocolatey loveseat, watching Maisie the cat bat crumpled wrapping paper around the room. Boxes will be scattered about, but we’ll leave cleanup until morning.

The creamy breakfront and walls match the color of the drink. I love the two bunching tables with reflective tops used instead of a coffee table, as well as the houndstooth area rugs layered beneath.

I’m guilty of an ongoing love affair with Irish cream liqueurs. On our honeymoon, a restaurant-owner treated us to a glass of Baileys when he found out we were newlyweds, and I think of that whenever I drink it. I don’t know the identities of the secret herbs combined with the Irish whiskey and cream, but it always tastes of chocolate and coffee to me, like this room.

You can also serve this cocktail cold. Simply chill the tea before mixing and serve in a tall glass filled with ice.


  • Freshly brewed chai tea
  • Raw brown sugar
  • Baileys Original Irish Cream, 1.5 ounces
  • 1 cinnamon Stick


  • Brew a pot of chai.
  • Add 2 teaspoons of brown sugar for every cup and stir until dissolved.
  • Add the Baileys and 3 ounces of the sweetened chai to a coffee mug
  • Stir with the cinnamon stick.

SOURCE: All drink photos and recipes courtesy of Liquor.com

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