December's social calendar is packed with office parties and dinner get-togethers, so pretty soon the celebration start spilling over into the daytime. The answer: a festive holiday brunch, served with copious daytime-appropriate cocktails. These recipes—all fun spins on the classics—are designed to make it easy to serve a crowd. Whether you're spending time with dear friends, or just using those extra cocktails to take the edge off a visit from your in-laws, this is the season to feel free to imbibe—especially in the morning.
If you're planning a brunch for a big group, you might consider dishing up ham and Gruyère bread pudding or chicken, leek, and mushroom strata, both of which can be made the day before your guests arrive. Or if you're looking to impress, try an oysters Florentine or a few endive, shallot, and goat cheese tarts, which are easy to assemble and can add a slightly fancier feeling to your holiday gathering. Whichever cocktail recipe you choose, make sure there's enough for plenty of refills, and you'll be sure to end up with a very happy group of merrymakers.
Somewhere between mulled wine and a hot toddy, this warm cocktail is made soothing with honey and lemon. Bay leaves and cardamom add a compelling herbal complexity to a steaming cup of warm riesling spiked with brandy. A few mugs full will warm you through and through.
Cinnamon Bun Hot Buttered Rum
Everyone's favorite breakfast pastry, now in cocktail form. Making a spiced simple syrup and cinnamon-spiced buttered rum batter ahead of time means all you need to do at the last minute is pour rum into some mugs and heat up a kettle. The scent of cinnamon and butter wafting through your kitchen is almost as comforting as the warming drink.
Bourbon Chocolate Eggnog
I'm going to go ahead and declare eggnog the perfect brunch drink: it's rich, sweet, and goes well with French toast. This frothy version is fortified with both chocolate and cocoa and finished with bourbon instead of the more typical brandy or rum. Garnish with shaved chocolate for added cocoa aroma.