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Perfect in Fall and Winter: The Happier Holidays Cocktail

Happier Holidays Cocktail - Happier Place

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.


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]


  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
Happier Holidays Cocktail and Happier Place Insulated Stainless Steel Bottle at 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

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

  1. 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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