cinnamon sugar White Russians
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You’ve likely put booze in your coffee at least once during festive cold weather occasions, like trimming the tree or wrapping gifts. (And no judgment if it’s been more than once!) This holiday season, why not try another boozy brew-flavored beverage? Coffee liqueur, which serves as the base for some popular beverages, like White Russians and espresso martinis, is an underrated holiday season player. Highly versatile, it works well in a range of cold and warm cocktails, while also adding depth to the flavor of cakes, pies, and cupcakes.

Though you’re probably familiar with Kahlua, you can easily make your own coffee liqueur, which can make for an excellent homemade gift for friends and family you haven’t yet shopped for. The simplest versions involve combining vodka or rum, vanilla, sugar and either coffee grounds or instant coffee. (Here’s a good go-to homemade coffee liqueur recipe to try.) With a bit of effort, you’ll end up with a smooth, java-flavored drink that can elevate a number of celebratory cocktails and desserts.

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Want to incorporate coffee liqueur into your celebrations this year? Read ahead for some festive ideas!

Ghost in the Graveyard Cocktail

Ghost in the Graveyard dry ice cocktail with coffee, vanilla, and vodka

Creative Culinary

Can’t let Halloween go this holiday season? Then this slightly goth cocktail (which is smoky, thanks to dry ice) makes for a dessert drink that is sure to be a conversation starter at any party. Get the Ghost in the Graveyard Cocktail recipe.

Salted Caramel Coffee Martini

salted caramel coffee martini

Berly’s Kitchen

This gin-based tipple is the ultimate choice for those who love the salty and sweet pairing. Does a martini not seem like a martini without a garnish? Then refashion some caramel squares into decor by putting them on a skewer and adding them to your glass. Get the Salted Caramel Coffee Martini recipe.

Brown Sugar & Cinnamon White Russian

brown sugar and cinnamon White Russian cocktails

Foxes Love Lemons

The White Russian gets a mini makeover in this recipe. This take has all the richness of a milkshake, while a hint of cinnamon and booze give it an adult twist. Get the Brown Sugar & Cinnamon White Russian recipe.

Cold Brew Martini

cold brew coffee martini

1912 Pike

If you’re a coffee aficionado, you’ll love this chilly martini. Espresso-flavored with a hint of vanilla, it’s the perfect cocktail if you’re hunting for a grown up cold brew. With all the caffeine it packs, it will surely perk you right up, no matter who you’re chatting with at the holiday party. Get the Cold Brew Martini recipe.

Warm Eggnog Latte

warm eggnog latte

Hot Chocolate and More

Warm up on a winter’s day with this boozy answer to a cafe au lait. One sip of this ‘nog and you’ll start to feeling any “Grinchness” melt away. Get the Warm Eggnog Latte recipe.

Boozy Iced Coffee Float with Homemade Coffee Liqueur

boozy iced coffee floats with ice cream and homemade coffee liqueur

The Flavor Bender

Remember the joy you used to get as a kid when your parents let you have an ice cream float? This drink is like that, only better. If you’re feeling particularly motivated, you can make your own vanilla ice cream popsicles, or go for the grocery store stuff. Either way, you’ll end up just as happy as you were in those ice cream float memories. Get the Boozy Iced Coffee Float with Homemade Coffee Liqueur recipe.

Kahlua Cake with Mocha Buttercream

Kahlua cake with mocha buttercream

Live for Cake

Once again, chocolate and coffee prove to be a winning duo. In this rich cake topped with a smooth mocha buttercream frosting, the two flavors complement each other for an impressive dessert. Top it with coffee beans for some additional flair—and wash it down with one of the above drinks, of course. Get the Kahlua Cake with Mocha Buttercream recipe.

Kahlua Coffee Poke Cake

Kahlua chocolate poke cake


This full-flavored cake is the ideal dessert to bring along to any holiday party potluck you go to this year. Poking holes in the cake allows the coffee liqueur-based icing to sink into every bite. Get the Kahlua Coffee Poke Cake recipe.

For more holiday hacks, tips, tricks, and recipes, check out our Ultimate Guide to Christmas and Holiday Entertaining Headquarters. And for more coffee pointers, check out our guide to The Best Coffee Subscriptions you can try (or give as a gift).

Related Video: How Fresh Is Your Coffee?

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Kelsey Butler is a reporter and editor based in New Jersey. She has written for a number of health and lifestyle publications, including Women's Health, Brides, and NBC News Better. Hot sauce, black coffee, and bacon make up 50% of her diet.
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