How to survive the holidays: a drinks guide

If you can’t handle festive time with the family without raiding the drinks cupboard, Kristina Králová has the perfect drinks guide for you

Kristina Králová

The question “So, what will you do when you graduate?” is something I can only handle with a drink in my hand. Although most of us miss home in the midst of our work crises, holiday family time (filled with thorny questions from relatives) can often be a bit intense. Since I spend every Christmas with my extended family and live in the mountains, where everything non-alcoholic instantly freezes, I’ve had to develop a survival strategy consisting of situation-appropriate drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions). Politics debate over Christmas lunch? I have the drink for that. Tired after a long day with the family? I have a drink for that. 

The “Road to Adulthood” aka Surprise Hot Cocoa


We all have that family member who refuses to accept that we are grown-ups. Even when you’re a real adult who pays their own bills and makes their own doctor’s appointments, this relative will always see you as a 6-year-old. There is a high chance that the ‘child-you’ might be served hot chocolate. However - don’t fear - the ‘adult-you’ can add a secret shot of your favourite liquor when your auntie is not looking (rum works the best). Take this drink as a metaphor –  its stuck in between childhood and adulthood just like you. But it is so delicious it will only remind you that it is alright to feel a bit lost sometimes. For a non-alcoholic version, add a little bit of cardamom and pepper to your hot cocoa for that extra kick.

"The question “So, what will you do when you graduate?” is something I can only handle with a drink in my hand"

The “Too Much Love” aka Grog

Every time I get home from Uni, my parents have a need to catch up on all the time we missed together. Instead of the usual family dinners and TV time, my mum chooses more intense bonding activities – hikes and sledging. Such trips back in time to childhood can get draining - thankfully, a favourite (alcoholic) medicine in my household that warms up both the body and the soul is grog. This beautifully simple drink, originally created by British sailors in the 18th century, has just two ingredients - rum and hot water. You can basically add anything you want, like spices, fruit, or more alcohol, and make it your own. My favourite mix includes cloves, cinnamon, orange and lemon. Not only is it very Christmas appropriate, but vitamin C in lemon is also beneficial for our immune system. You could almost say that this drink is good for you.


  • Rum of choice (darker rums are better)
  • Hot water
  • Lemon and/or orange slice/juice
  • Clove
  • Cinnamon

Place lemon, orange, and spices into a pot with cold water and bring to boil. Let simmer for a few minutes. Fill a mug to about 2/3 with the mixture and add a shot of rum (ratio definitely amendable). For a non-alcoholic version, substitute rum with a tiny bit of rum essence. Add sugar or honey to taste.

The “I Know How to Cook Now” aka Spiced Spice Chai Tea Latte


Even though you might not have your future totally figured out, you’ve survived university life on your own. My parents often worry that the only thing I eat is toast and pot noodles (to be honest, they’re often correct) so when I get home I’m served the finest of feasts. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. But you can reciprocate your parents’ loving care and show them you do actually know how to turn on the hob with this flavourful drink. Chai tea latte is my favourite all-year-round coffee alternative but its distinct flavours and essences of cinnamon and cardamom always remind me of winter. There are pre-packed flavoured tea bags but I guarantee that even though this is a lengthy and more elaborate process, it’s worth it - once you have made your own chai tea concentrate, store-bought will never taste the same.

Chai tea concentrate

  • 2 cups of milk of choice
  • 1 tea bag of black tea or a table spoon of loose leaf tea
  • ½ tablespoon of fresh cut ginger
  • 5 whole cardamom pods (slightly crushed) or a pinch of cardamom seeds
  • ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 3 cloves
  • 2 peppercorns
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • A pinch of ground nutmeg
  • Honey or sweetening syrup to taste

"Sooner or later (and usually in the least ideal moment) politics will inevitably come up. Just the mention of politics can instantly ruin the holiday spirit. You need to find an instant solution quick - what about grandma’s liquor cabinet?"

Place all spices in a saucepan and let heat up until you can smell the flavours. Add milk and honey and wait until its almost boiling. Add tea. Let boil for about 5 minutes. Keep an eye on it and stir occasionally then remove the saucepan from heat and let steep for about 30 minutes. Strain. To serve a classic chai tea latte mix with milk of choice 1:1.

Spiced Spice Chai Tea Latte

  • ½ cup chai tea concentrate
  • ½ cup milk of choice
  • 1 shot of whiskey
  • If you want to make this drink even more spicy, combine all ingredients in a shaker and shake well. Works well warm and cold over ice.

The “Political Quarrel” AKA Eggnog Martini

So, you’re catching up with your family, snacking on some chocolate in front of the fire. Sooner or later (and usually in the least ideal moment) politics will inevitably come up. Just the mention of politics can instantly ruin the holiday spirit. You need to find an instant solution quick - what about grandma’s liquor cabinet? I don’t know about your granny but the only thing my grandma has over the holidays is eggnog which I absolutely hate. But somewhere in the depths of her kitchen may be an old lost bottle of spirits, ideally gin or vodka, which could make the combination of milk, alcohol, and politics more bearable. So, go ahead, make everyone this Christmas variation on martini and perhaps change the topic to something less outraging, like the weather. For a non-alcoholic version you can make a warm home-made eggnog but, as I said, definitely not for me.


Mountain View

‘Tis the season to be sober

Eggnog martini

  • Home-made or store-bought eggnog
  • Gin (or vodka)
  • Ground cinnamon and nutmeg
  • Ice

Combine 3 shots of eggnog with 1 shot of gin in a shaker with ice and shake well. If you do not have gin, use vodka for eggnog vodkatini. Pour into a martini glass and top with ground cinnamon and nutmeg. Alternatively, you can dip your glass in caramel or honey (you need to be very gentle) and rim with the ground spices. Delicious with gingerbread!

So, there you have it – delicious drinks to ease out any holiday stress and make spending time with your family even more enjoyable. It is a universal Christmas truth - you can tackle anything with a drink in your hand, alcoholic or not