Posted on 35 Comments

Perfect in Fall and Winter: The Happier Holidays Cocktail

Rye Amaretto Cider Happier Holidays Cocktail at the lake

Looking for a delicious fall, winter and holiday cocktail? Please meet the Happier Holidays Cocktail, our almond-apple-whiskey cocktail ideal for cooler weather and cozy holidays.

The Happier Holidays Cocktail is a wonderful addition to any fall or winter event; from apple picking in early autumn all the way to chasing off the “I can’t take another day of winter” blues in late February – and all the holidays in-between.

With its flavors of apples, almonds and clementines, it evokes cherished memories of fall and winter holiday gatherings and meals. The amaretto (an almond liqueur) adds holiday flavor and slightly creamy texture. And because the Happier Holidays Cocktail is a whiskey-based drink, it will warm you right up on your autumn walk or snowshoeing picnic (oh yes, those are awesome!).

Scott created this delicious and simple amaretto-rye cocktail two years ago. It’s been a hit at all of our fall and winter events ever since… and also during yesterday’s recipe photo shoot, of course.

We believe the Happier Holidays Cocktail works so well because this particular balance of rye, amaretto, apple cider and clementine captures the seasonal flavors of apples, citrus, almonds, marzipan, vanilla and spices without being too sweet or too harsh. Unlike many other holiday drinks, it’s not heavy or too creamy – so it fits well with a day of big heavy meals or a nature walk.

Because we believe in sharing, Scott’s Happier Holidays Cocktail recipe makes 4 drinks for a total of 25 ounces, which fit perfectly into the Insulated Happier Stainless Steel Bottle.

Happier Holidays Cocktail Ingredients (Four Drinks)

8 oz. (240 ml) rye whiskey [we recommend Bulleit Rye]

1 oz. (30 ml) amaretto [we recommend Luxardo Amaretto]

16 oz. (480 ml) apple cider [aka unfiltered apple juice, not alcoholic “hard cider”]

1 washed clementine [unpeeled, for garnish]

Happier Holidays Cocktail Steps

  1. Cut unpeeled clementine into thin slices.
  2. Shake apple cider well before use.
  3. To go: Mix all ingredients including clementine directly in your 25 oz. stainless steel bottle.
  4. To stay: Mix all liquid ingredients (e.g., in a pitcher) and add clementine to individual drinks after pouring.
Happier Holidays Cocktail - Fort Collins Colorado - Happier Place
Too good not to share! Four Happier Holidays Cocktails fit into our double-wall insulated stainless steel bottle. Doesn’t the rye, amaretto and apple cider cocktail add a nice splash of color to the Riverbend Ponds in Ft. Collins, Colorado?

Happier Tips and Know-How

If you’re making the cocktail to-go, bring an additional sliced clementine (in a to-go container) to garnish each drink after pouring. Clementines slices probably won’t disburse themselves evenly out of a bottle. We’ve tried.

Added bonus: eating the marinated clementines left at the bottom of your glass or bottle!

Nice to serve over ice – but not necessary.

Difference between apple juice and apple cider? In the USA, the names are unfortunately used more or less interchangeably. But in theory, “apple cider” is unfiltered (and thus not see-through) and “apple juice” is filtered, clear and sweeter. Not to mix it up: the alcoholic beverage that is called “apple cider” around the world, is called “hard cider” in the US. For our recipe we recommend unfiltered (non-alcoholic) apple cider.

If you can only find filtered apple juice, you might need to add less juice and more rye to get the balance right.

Why Rye Whiskey?

Rye whiskey’s main ingredient is rye, rather than corn in the more traditional bourbon whiskeys. The rye gives the whiskey a spicier tone and drier taste. Rye whiskey is a better choice in our Happier Holidays Cocktail to offset the sweetness of the amaretto and apple cider. Our preferred rye (for this recipe that is!), Bulleit Rye Whiskey is a reasonably priced, easy-drinking, 90-proof American whiskey with hints of vanilla, honey, and spice. If you want to know more, check out this Thrillist post: Scotch vs. Bourbon vs. Rye: a complete guide to whiskey varieties.

If you only have Scotch, Bourbon, Canadian or Irish Whiskey, try the recipe with what you have and let us know how you liked your version.  

Why Happier Holidays Cocktail?

The biggest challenge with this drink was to come up with a name for it – because it’s perfect for so many different events and seasons – and we also wanted the name to be catchy and memorable and not just list the ingredients. Here are a few other names we had on our list: Happier Harvest Holiday, Happier Harvest Whiskey Cocktail, Winter Whiskey Warmer, Happier Holiday Whiskey Warmer, Happier Holiday Hiker, Happier Almond Whiskey, Apple Almond Rye.

Do you think any of the names would work better? Can you think of any other names for this delicious drink? 

Why always Happier?

You may think we’re just throwing around the term “happier” whenever we get the chance. But it actually means something rather specific to us, especially when it comes to food and drinks.

To be called Happier…

1. It has to have an element that makes it better. For example: just whiskey, apple cider and amaretto makes for a great drink, too. But it’s the juice from the clementines that takes it to another level. Another example: sitting on a dock overlooking a pond in autumn is lovely – but it’s even better if you’re sipping a Happier Holidays Cocktail.

2. It should be simple and quick. We want to inspire and motivate, not overwhelm. For example: you could make a more involved drink by also adding bitters, brown sugar, apple slices and cinnamon. But that makes for a cocktail that feels a bit too involved for the “happier” label – both in flavors as well as time spent making it. Another example: instead of staring at your computer researching a big weekend getaway, just walk outside for a little bit right now and watch some birds (it’ll make you happier).

Ingredients for 1 Happier Holidays Cocktail

Because sometimes a Happy Place is better with just one person and one cocktail…

2 oz. (60 ml) rye whiskey

1/4 oz. (15 ml) amaretto

4 oz. (120 ml) apple cider

2 slices of clementine

Like it? Pin it. 

Happier Holidays Cocktai, rye, amaretto, apple cider, ideal cocktail for post-feast walk in nature, also delicious indoors, Happier Place stainless steel bottle and cocktails on Colorado autumn lake

35 thoughts on “Perfect in Fall and Winter: The Happier Holidays Cocktail

  1. The Happier Holidays cocktail looks delicious. I’ll have to try this at my christmas party.

    1. Thank you. Hope you will like it as much as we do!

  2. This sounds really good. I am a bourbon/whiskey drinker.

  3. This looks like a yummy cocktail. I would love to try making this sometime.

    1. Thank you, Shannon. Hope you get the chance to make it and love it!

  4. Is there something you can substitute the amaretto for? It sounds like a delicious drink, but my boyfriend can’t drink amaretto anymore sadly.

    1. Is it safe to assume that your boyfriend can’t drink amaretto because he’s allergic to nuts? In that case, you could try the cocktail with a cinnamon liquor (something like Goldschlager, not Fireball, which would be too harsh, I think). I’d like to recommend using a chocolate liquor, like Godiva, because: chocolate. But I don’t think it would work well with the apple flavor, nor would a coffee liquor. If the problem aren’t nuts in general, but Amaretto or almonds in particular, then I’d try a hazelnut liquor like Frangelico. Mmmm, I think I’m going to try that variation tonight…

  5. I love finding a new cocktails to try. I’m always so scared I am going to mess it up somehow. This looks easy enough for me though. Thanks!

  6. I’ve never actually tried making a cocktail except for a mojito and it turned out so bad that I never want to try it again. hahah! This does seem easy enough to experiment…

    1. Oh no. Sorry to read you had such a bad experience with making a mojito. However, that’s a pretty challenging cocktail to make – with the muddling of the mint and all the sugar that can just hang at the bottom. This drink is super easy to make – really no way it can go wrong, unless you totally mess up the measurements. 😉

  7. Wow, that Holiday cocktails looks really delicious and look so easy to make. I will definitely try to make this.

    1. It really is very easy. And unless you don’t like whiskey, apples or amaretto, you should think it’s delicious. 😉 Hope you get to try it.

  8. I am not a drinker. I have imagined all drinks make you happier but now I know that there is a difference. Now I have something new to talk about .

  9. I’ve been looking for different holiday mocktails and cocktails recipes. this is great, thanks for sharing!

    1. Glad you found this one. Sorry there’s not really a mocktail version. It would just be apple cider and clementines 😉

  10. I do not drink but this looks so yummy! That orange color is beautiful too! What a refreshing drink for the end of a lot g day!

    1. Thanks, Shar. That color does brighten a grey day!

  11. Love to try out this recipe for Happier Holidays Cocktail. I like the name given and I shall use it to introduce to friends and relatives when they try it out during my Xmas party gathering.

    1. Makes me happier that you like the name. Hope your friends will like it and the drink just as much. I’ll already wish you Happier Holidays! 🙂

  12. This look delicious and would be a lovely cocktail to serve to friends over the holiday season and it’s so easy and quick to make!

    1. Thank you, Emily! Means a lot coming from you. And yes, it’s super quick and easy to make. While we love drinking more involved cocktails, we’re trying to keep things “simple with a twist” here.

  13. I am not a whiskey drinker but I do love amaretto, so I would like to try this cocktail. It sounds sweet but also festive in the same time, with the clementine hints.

    1. We’ve tried variations of the recipe to fine-tune it but also to accommodate other people’s tastes. So I can recommend you try it with rum instead of the rye. It’s different, but also tasty. Some friends actually liked it with more amaretto, but I think especially if you try it with rum, you wouldn’t want it any sweeter. The clementine really is the nice special touch that makes it happier. 😉

  14. Mm, this sounds like my kind of cocktail! I will be sure to give this a try very soon! 🙂

    1. Hope you’ll like it!

  15. This cocktail has happiness written all over it. Maybe that’s why it’s called a Happier Holidays Cocktail?

    1. Hah! Yes, that and a few more reason. Anything to make life a little happier.

  16. The Happier Holidays cocktail seems very delicious! Thank you so much for the recipe, will give it a try over the weekend. Thank you!


    1. Thank you for your comment, Chad. Glad the cocktail sounds delicious to you. Hope you’ll enjoy it!

  17. Ohhh I’ll have to try that out tomorrow for thanksgiving! Thanks for the yummy drink recipe!

    1. Makes me happier to know you want to try it. Thank you!

  18. That is the perfect drink for the holidays! It’s making me thirsty just looking at it!

    1. Mmmmm, now that you said that, I think I’m feeling thirsty, too. Thank you for your comment, Stacie.
      xx Luci

  19. I have to admit, I think I might enjoy this Happier Holiday Cocktail. And, the presentation is wonderful.

    1. I think you might enjoy it as well. But I suspect you’d like it a bit sweeter. So you could put a little less rye and a bit more amaretto in it.

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