The wish, the promise, the clink, the quaff. Spirited or sans, the holiday toast is an essential of the season. It is a time-tested ritual, a temporal benediction, a shared hope among friends and loved ones. It is the notification that we have come through and will go forward, the realization that our wants are few, our blessings many. Verities of this sort emerge when people halt the headlong rush, form a circle, and raise glasses on high. With these libations, we wish you health and happiness.

Vodka Martini, Up

Blame it on Bond, but the martini is experiencing a renaissance. This one, served at Brennan’s of Houston, is as smooth as 007 himself. Anchovy-stuffed olives will make a splash. Recipe

Hot Apple Pie

When it’s time to curl up beside a fire on a cold winter night, only a hot drink will do. This cider-based concoction, served at Beau Nash in Dallas’ Hotel Crescent Court, combines the tartness of apples with a zip of cinnamon-flavored Tuaca liqueur. Whipped cream is a cooling counterpoint. Recipe

Champagne Noir

The Ritz-Carlton bar in Houston dresses up the season’s most favored drink –– bubbly. Recipe

Spirulina Cocktail

Drink to your health this season with an alcohol-free cocktail, created by Shannon Wynne for his 8.0 restaurant and bar in Dallas. The protein-packed spirulina algae powder (available in health-food stores) give this drink its deep-green hue. Use plenty of ice for a thick, frosty consistency. Recipe

Southwestern Pimm’s Cup

First blended in London more than a hundred years ago, the Pimm’s cup has become a British tradition. This Southwestern version of the drink form the Liberty Bar in San Antonio pairs zesty grapefruit juice with the sweet bouquet of Pimm’s No. 1, a gin-based spirit infused with herbs and spices. Recipe


Masa-based Mexican champurrado traditionally was made with the hearts of kernels from fresh ears of corn. Flavored with chocolate, it is a heartier substitute for everyone’s favorite comfort drink, hot cocoa. Or sweeten it with a sinless swirl of fresh-fruit purèe. Caterer Barbara Kazen of Laredo supplied this version of the native Indian recipe. Recipe