The Twelve Drinks Of Christmas

- jim Young

"I’ll always feel you close to me and though you’re far from sight,
I’ll search for you among the stars that shine on Christmas night." - anon

In spite of what you might have learned from Bob and Doug McKenzie while listening to their version of the “Twelve Days Of Christmas”, the real Twelve Days of Christmas actually begin on December 25 and end on January 6.

Over the years, however I have chosen to celebrate the Twelve Days Of Christmas on the days leading up to Christmas Day, beginning on the 13th of December and ending on the 24th.

Some years, in lieu of stocking stuffers on Christmas Eve I would surprise My Shirley with 12 small individual gifts giving her one to open each day as sort of a cross between the Twelve Days Of Christmas and half of an Advent Calendar.

When we were in the workforce we often celebrated the last 12 working days leading up to the Christmas holiday with employees taking turns bringing in a different snack each day for all to enjoy.

This year I’m going to try something a little different with the Twelve Drinks of Christmas by sharing a different afternoon or evening cocktail with my My Shirley for those twelve days.

And just to make it a little more special, each cocktail will be dedicated to a person that I have celebrated a Christmas past with, whose Christmas Futures have come to an end.

I invite you to join us in our Twelve Drinks of Christmas and may you raise a glass to loved ones of your own that you cannot spend this Christmas with.

Here are all the ingredients you will need to join us. I hope your bar is well stocked.

I’m guessing you have water on hand. You’ll need to freeze some of that into cubes and you’ll also need some of those cubes crushed.

Then take a trip to the grocery store to pick up any of the following that you don’t already have on hand. Coffee, Cola, Heavy Cream or Half 'n Half Cream (both is best but I’m going to sub Half ‘n Half for recipes calling for Heavy Cream), Honey, A couple of Lemons for slicing & twisting, Lemon Juice, Lime Juice, Maraschino Cherries, Nutmeg, A couple of Oranges for Slicing, Orange Juice, Pineapple Juice, Pineapple Slices, Shredded Chocolate, Sugar, Tea Bags, Vanilla Extract and Whipped Cream.

You’ll probably need your credit card at the Liquor Store if you need to purchase all of these items. 

Benedictine, Brandy, Butterscotch Liqueur, Cherry Brandy, Cointreau, Creme de Cacao, Galiano, Gin, Irish Cream, Kahlua, Light Rum (preferably Havana Club but any brand other than Bacardi will do) and Vodka.

Are you ready? Let’s countdown the Twelve Drinks of Christmas!

Irish Cream
On the first day of Christmas I raise my glass to thee… My Mother
Mom & Santa
It seems fitting that my first Christmas cocktail should be in honour of my original Santa Claus - my Mother. Mom taught me the true meaning of Christmas. It really is more fun to give than it is to receive. Hell - who am I kidding? Getting stuff is fun too. Right up until the day she died, Mom made sure we always had lots of presents for Christmas.

Mom, who was the embodiment of the true Spirit of Christmas, seldom imbibed, but she loved her homemade Irish Cream so we will have a toast to Mom with Irish Cream.

Stuff Required:
  • Irish Cream
  • Ice
Do This:
  1. Place a few ice cubes into a glass.
  2. Pour Irish Cream over the ice.

On the second day of Christmas I raise my glass to thee… Grandpa Chalmers
Grampa Chalmers
When my mother was a little girl my Grampa Chalmers rode an Indian Motorcycle with a sidecar for my grandmother and my mother to ride along in. As his family grew, my grandfather had to abandon his motorcycle for more traditional methods of transportation.

We will toast Grampa today with a Sidecar.

Stuff Required:
  • 2 oz brandy
  • 1 oz Cointreau
  • 2 dashes of lemon juice
  • Twist of lemon
Do this:
  1. Shake all ingredients except for the lemon twist over crushed ice.
  2. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
  3. Add the lemon twist.

Hot Toddy
On the third day of Christmas I raise my glass to thee… Helen Groh

Helen & Santa
When we returned from Niagara Falls after eloping I promised My Shirley’s mother that I would always love and take care of her daughter because “You scare the hell out of me.” Helen wasn’t really as scary as she sometimes liked to pretend. Underneath that tough exterior she had a heart of gold.

At the end of the day, Helen’s night cap of choice was a shot of whiskey with a cup of tea so I thought a Hot Toddy might be appropriate here.

Stuff Required:
  • 1 cup water + more for heating the mug
  • 1 tea bag
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 ½ oz brandy
  • ½ oz lemon juice
Do This:
  1. Boil water in a tea kettle or microwave.
  2. Once hot, pour it into a teapot, add a tea bag and allow it to steep for about 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. While brewing the tea, heat mug by filling it with hot water.
  4. Once the mug is heated dump the hot water out and coat the bottom with honey.
  5. Add the brandy and lemon juice.
  6. When the tea has steeped, pour it into the prepared glass and stir.

Black Russian
On the fourth day of Christmas I raise my glass to thee… Aunt Mary Greeley

The life of my Aunt Mary began at the beginning of this month of December. I remember Aunt Mary’s smile as infectious. There was no greater approval I could receive than to see Aunt Mary smile when I related a story to her in spite of the story’s dubious content. Aunt Mary smiled without judgement but at the same time it clearly said “I don’t believe you.” * smiles *
Aunt Mary Greeley

I recall Vodka was one of Aunt Mary’s favourites so I have chosen a Black Russian to drink in Aunt Mary’s honour today.

Stuff Required:
  • 3 oz vodka
  • 1 oz Kahlua
  • Chilled cola (optional)

Do This:
  1. Pour vodka and Kahlua over ice in a highball glass.
  2. Stir.
  3. Top up with cola if desired.

Dizzy Dame
On the fifth day of Christmas I raise my glass to thee… Barb Toussaint

Shirley & Barb
This fifth day of Christmas lands on December 17th, my sister-in-law Barb’s birthday. 

So it is the day that is her tribute more so than the cocktail I have chosen to honour her with. 

Far from being a “dizzy dame”, Barb was a very intelligent and successful business woman. 

She was also a very good friend and confidante to both My Shirley and me.

Stuff Required:
  • 2 oz brandy
  • 1 oz cherry brandy
  • 1 oz Kahlua
  • 2 oz heavy cream
  • Maraschino Cherry

Do This:
  1. Shake all ingredients except for the cherry over crushed ice.
  2. Pour into a tumbler.
  3. Add a cherry to the top.

Orange Blossom
On the sixth day of Christmas I raise my glass to thee… Wayne Neely

I doubt Wayne ever knew he was one of my heroes. I admired and aspired to be like him but when I couldn’t style my hair to be like his, I just let it grow long instead. Many of the things I learned from Wayne did help shape my teen years though.

Wayne died just a few days before another one of my heroes - John Lennon.  

For Wayne we will enjoy an Orange Blossom.
Wayne Neely

Stuff Required:
  • 2 oz gin
  • 3 tbsp orange juice
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Slice or orange

Do This:
  1. Shake all ingredients except for the orange slice over crushed ice and serve in a chilled cocktail glass.
  2. Add a slice of orange.

Singapore Sling
On the seventh day of Christmas I raise my glass to thee… Leah Neely

Leah & Me in the 60s
Leah was the little Miss Homemaker in our family. I remember her spending hours over the stove perfecting penuche and I certainly didn’t mind being her taste tester. When she finally got it right, Leah’s was the best fudge in the world. Her butter tarts were always very good as well and Leah never forgot to make a few without raisins just for Dad and me.

I would love the chance to sip on a Singapore Sling with Leah while sampling some of her penuche again.

Stuff Required:
  • ⅔ oz gin
  • ⅔ oz brandy
  • ⅓ oz Cointreau
  • ½ oz Benedictine
  • ⅓ oz lime juice
  • 2 ½ oz orange juice
  • 2 ½ oz pineapple juice
  • Slice of pineapple

Do This:
  1. Shake all ingredients except for the pineapple slice over ice.
  2. Strain into a highball glass over ice.
  3. Decorate with a pineapple slice.

Liquid Butterfinger
On the eighth day of Christmas I raise my glass to thee… Gramma Young

The thing I remember most about Gramma Young is having breakfast with her and Grampa at their cottage in the summer. After breakfast I would always ask Gramma if she wanted help with the dishes. I felt good for asking and even better knowing she was always going to say, “No thank you, dear. You run along and play.”

The Liquid Butterfinger is a very sweet drink for a very sweet lady.  
Gramma Young

Serves: 2

Stuff Required:
  • 1 ½ oz Irish Cream
  • 1 ½ oz Kahlua
  • 1 ½ oz Vodka
  • 1 ½ oz Butterscotch Liqueur
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Do This:
  1. Add all ingredients to a pitcher.
  2. Shake.
  3. Pour the mixed drink over crushed ice in lowball glasses.

Spanish Coffee
On the ninth day of Christmas I raise my glass to thee… Dad

Dad & Me at Expo '67
I don’t remember my father ever really “teaching” me very much in the traditional sense. But I sure learned a lot from him just by hanging around and watching while he built and fixed things in his workshop. He was never too busy to answer a question.

Dad had a great sense of humour. I remember how amused he was when a friend of his (Leo Gibbons) told Dad that he would have a shot of whiskey in his coffee before bed. Mr. Gibbons said, “The whiskey tries to put me to sleep and the coffee tries to keep me awake and I don’t know what to do.”

So for Dad I will enjoy a Spanish Coffee this morning and then try to decide if I should have a nap or stay awake.

Stuff Required:
  • 1 cup coffee, hot
  • 1 oz brandy
  • 1 oz rum
  • 1 oz Kahlua
  • Whipped Cream

Do This:
  1. Add brandy, rum and Kahlua to a cup of hot coffee. 
  2. Top with Whipped Cream

White Russian
On the tenth day of Christmas I raise my glass to thee… Grampa Young
Grampa Young

One fall afternoon I dropped in to visit Grampa Young as he was busy pulling the dead plants from his garden. “Do you plan to put in a garden next year?” I asked my grandfather who was nearing his 80s.

Grampa started to chuckle, “Jim,” he replied, “When you get to be my age, you don’t make too many plans for next year.” Grampa wasn’t well enough to have a garden that next year. Following a stroke he lived his remaining years in a nursing home.

The tenth day of Christmas falls on the day, one week before my grandfather’s birthday so I will wish a “Happy Birthday” AND a “Merry Christmas” for Grampa as we drink a White Russian on this day.

Stuff Required:
  • 2 oz vodka
  • 1 oz Kahlua
  • 2 oz heavy cream
  • Grated nutmeg
  • Shredded chocolate

Do This:
  1. Shake ingredients except for nutmeg and chocolate over crushed ice. (Shake well.)
  2. Pour in a highball glass.
  3. Sprinkle nutmeg and shredded chocolate on top.

Harvey Wallbanger
On the eleventh day of Christmas I raise my glass to thee… Gary Greeley

Gary Greeley

What fun it was to work with my older cousin Gary Greeley at the IGA in Stroud. There was never a dull moment.

But I’m going to borrow my sister Kathy’s memory here to offer a Christmas toast to Gary. Kathy and Ken had a tradition of sharing Harvey Wallbangers with Gary on Christmas Eve before Gary left us.

I had wanted to toast Gary with this drink tomorrow on Christmas Eve, but that day’s toast has been reserved for another. Sorry Gary - but I think you’ll understand when that drink is revealed.

And when it comes right down to it, there is no one special day of the year that I think about any of these people as well as many others that aren’t included here. Fond memories of them all can randomly haunt me any time, any day.

As you’ve probably guessed, our toast to Gary will be with a Harvey Wallbanger.

Stuff Required:
  • 1 ½ oz vodka
  • 1 oz Galliano
  • Chilled orange juice
  • Slice of lemon

Do This:
  1. Pour vodka and Galliano over ice in a highball glass.
  2. Top with orange juice.
  3. Decorate with a slice of lemon.

Brandy Alexander
On the twelfth day of Christmas I raise my glass to thee… Gaga Chalmers

On this, the last day of Christmas before Christmas Day I will toast my grandmother, Gaga Chalmers.
Gaga Chalmers

When Uncle Sonny showed up at a Family Christmas Party one year with Brandy Alexanders, he told us they were his mother’s favourite drink.

So how could I not toast Gaga with this special drink on such a special day - the anniversary of her marriage to Grampa?

Stuff Required:
  • 1 oz Creme de Cacao
  • 1 ½ oz brandy
  • 1 oz 10% (Half ‘n Half) cream
  • Nutmeg

Do This:
  1. Shake all ingredients over crushed ice.
  2. Strain into a brandy glass.
  3. Sprinkle with nutmeg.

Coffee and Kahlua
Merry Christmas To All…

Me & My Shirley
I guess you could call this the 13th day of the Twelve Days Of Christmas.

I remember reaching for my coffee on the first Christmas Day that My Shirley and I spent together. 

“I know what will make that better,” My Shirley suggested as she reached for a bottle of Kahlua, and a new Christmas tradition was born.

This toast is to My Shirley and everyone else - living or deceased.

Stuff Required:
  • Coffee, brewed and hot
  • Kahlua 

Do This:
  1. Pour hot coffee into a cup.
  2. Add Kahlua to taste.

… and to all a good night!

- 30 -


  1. Gary was one of my best friends and I miss him terribly. He is the one responsible for Ken and I meeting. This brought tears to my eyes but also some very happy memories. Thanks, Jim.

  2. Gaga used to make them for us every Christmas morning and serve them with fresh warm turkey on a bun. Another great memory! 🥰

  3. That was truly touching and a great tribute to all the amazing people you honored in your blog.


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