Holiday Cocktail Recipes and Adaptations for Individuals Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

Recipes compiled by Maureen Duffy

VisionAware has gathered together an assortment of holiday cocktails for your imbibing pleasure. Serving any of these delightful drink concoctions is sure to bring out your guests' holiday spirit!

A Cosmopolitan cocktail served in a martini glass with a sprig of red ribbon

Apple Cider Milkshake
Applejack Rabbit-tini
Bloody Mary
Cosmopolitans for a Crowd
Lily Blossom
Pecan Milk
Pumpkin Pie Milkshake
Raspberry Champagne Cocktails
Satan's Whiskers

For practical, easy-to-implement adaptations that will enable you to prepare any of these festive cocktails, review these tips if you're blind, visually impaired, or have low vision.


Apple Cider Milkshake

From MaryBeth at Dunkin Cooking the Semi-Homemade Way (used with permission), who says this about the Apple Cider Milkshake: "I highly recommend giving this a try. It's a great-tasting shake and an excellent way to enjoy the taste of apples."

Ingredients

  • 6 scoops vanilla ice cream
  • 1-1/4 cups apple juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Place all ingredients into a blender.
Blend on high speed for approximately one minute.
Serve in a glass of your choice.

Yield: Two goblets/glasses

Here are some practical, easy-to-implement adaptations that will enable you to prepare this festive cocktail independently if you're blind, visually impaired, or have low vision.


Applejack Rabbit-tini

By Ashley Rodriguez at Not Without Salt

Ashley notes the following: "This is a classic Gourmet cocktail from December 1965—and the epitome of fall refreshment. Perfectly balanced, crisp, refreshing, and comforting as a mug of hot cider but more fun."

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces apple brandy
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • Apple slices for garnish (optional)

Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with cracked ice. Pour in the apple brandy, lemon juice, and maple syrup. Shake the mixture vigorously and strain it into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with an apple slice.

Here are some practical, easy-to-implement adaptations that will enable you to prepare this festive cocktail independently if you're blind, visually impaired, or have low vision.


Bloody Mary

There are many versions of the classic Bloody Mary. This recipe uses fresh horseradish and lemon for an extra kick.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes with juice
  • 3 tablespoons thinly sliced red onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • 1 tablespoon thinly sliced pimento
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • A pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups tomato juice
  • 1/4 cup (6 ounces) vodka
  • Juice of 1/3 lemon
  • Freshly grated horseradish for garnish
  • 6 lemon slices for garnish
  • 6 celery stalks for garnish

Combine the canned tomatoes and their juice, onion, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, hot sauce, prepared horseradish, pimento, sugar, and pepper flakes in a blender or food processor fitted with a steel blade. Season with salt and pepper. Blend or process until smooth. Pour into a large pitcher. Add the tomato juice, vodka, and lemon juice. Stir well. Pour over ice into large glasses and garnish with the fresh horseradish, lemon slices, and celery. Makes 6 servings.

Here are some practical, easy-to-implement adaptations that will enable you to prepare this festive cocktail independently if you're blind, visually impaired, or have low vision.


Cosmopolitans for a Crowd

The Cosmopolitan was the favorite drink of Sex and the City's Carrie Bradshaw.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups limeade, made from frozen concentrate
  • 2 cups (16 ounces) vodka
  • 1 cup cranberry juice
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) orange-flavored liqueur
  • Lime slices, for garnish

Combine the limeade, vodka, cranberry juice, and orange liqueur in a tall pitcher; stir well. Refrigerate until well chilled. Before serving, stir again. Pour into martini glasses and garnish with lime slices.

Here are some practical, easy-to-implement adaptations that will enable you to prepare this festive cocktail independently if you're blind, visually impaired, or have low vision.


Lily Blossom

By Matt Robold at Rumdood

According to Matt, "This drink was developed by Matt Wallace at Seven Grand, my favorite whiskey bar in Los Angeles. (Yes, a rum drink developed in a whiskey bar—you can't escape rum)."

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces white rum
  • 3/4 ounce honey syrup
  • 1 ounce Lillet Blanc
  • 3/4 ounce lime juice
  • 2 drops orange flower water
  • 2 sprigs mint

Muddle 1 sprig of mint with syrup and rum in a cocktail shaker. Add the remaining ingredients and shake vigorously with ice. Strain over ice into a double old-fashioned glass. Garnish with the remaining mint sprig.

Here are some practical, easy-to-implement adaptations that will enable you to prepare this festive cocktail independently if you're blind, visually impaired, or have low vision.


Pecan Milk

By Alejandra Ramos at Always Order Dessert

Alejandra says this about her drink creation: "Pecan Milk is a dairy-free 'milk' similar to almond or rice milk but better. Better because it's lusciously creamy and tastes kind of like an amazing nutty milkshake, except that it's actually healthy. According to ILovePecans.org, pecans contain more than 19 vitamins and minerals—including vitamin A, vitamin E, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, several B vitamins, and zinc."

Ingredients

  • 1-1/4 cups raw or roasted pecans (unsalted)
  • 4 cups filtered or spring water
  • 1/4 cup raw honey (can substitute maple syrup or agave)
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon Celtic sea salt (or Kosher salt)
  • Additional honey or sugar for sweetening

Combine the pecans, salt, and water in an airtight container. Seal and leave to soak in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours or overnight. Pour the soaked pecans and the water mixture into a blender (note that the water will have turned slightly golden from the nuts). Add the honey, coconut milk, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Process on high for two minutes or until the mixture is smooth. Sweeten to taste and store in the refrigerator. This will last one week refrigerated in an airtight container. Note: For a smoother beverage, strain the pecan milk through a sieve lined with cheesecloth.

Here are some practical, easy-to-implement adaptations that will enable you to prepare this festive cocktail independently if you're blind, visually impaired, or have low vision.


Pumpkin Pie Milkshake

By Kevin at Closet Cooking

According to Kevin, "This drink is pretty much a pumpkin pie in milkshake form. You can easily control the consistency of the shake by changing the amount of milk you use. If you like a thick shake, use just enough milk so that the ice cream or frozen yogurt will puree in the bender. If you like a thinner shake, add additional milk."

Ingredients

  • 2 cups vanilla frozen yogurt
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoon ginger snap cookies (crumbled, optional)

Place all ingredients in a blender. Blend on high speed for approximately one minute. Serve in a glass of your choice. Garnish with the crumbled gingersnap cookies.

Here are some practical, easy-to-implement adaptations that will enable you to prepare this delicious non-alcoholic milkshake independently if you’re blind, visually impaired, or have low vision.


Raspberry Champagne Cocktails

The Food Channel

Fresh raspberries soaked in crème de cassis and then bathed in chilled champagne with just a hint of grenadine for extra flavor make this a sophisticated and eye-catching way to start the evening.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup fresh raspberries
  • 3 tablespoons crème de cassis
  • 1 bottle dry champagne or sparkling wine, chilled
  • 4 to 6 teaspoons grenadine syrup (optional)

Place the raspberries in a small bowl, add the crème de cassis, and let soak for at least 30 minutes. Divide the raspberries among six Champagne flutes and pour in the chilled Champagne. Add grenadine to taste and serve immediately.

Here are some practical, easy-to-implement adaptations that will enable you to prepare this festive cocktail independently if you're blind, visually impaired, or have low vision.


Satan's Whiskers

By Marleigh Riggins Miller at Sloshed

According to Marleigh, "This is probably one of the best cocktail names ever put to paper. There’s just a little twinge of the Inferno in there—what better drink to get everyone in the [holiday] mood?"

Ingredients

  • 1/2 ounce gin
  • 1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 1/2 ounce dry vermouth
  • 1/2 ounce fresh orange juice
  • 2 teaspoon orange curaçao or Grand Marnier
  • 1 teaspoon orange bitters

Shake well with ice and strain into an iced cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

Here are some practical, easy-to-implement adaptations that will enable you to prepare this festive cocktail independently if you're blind, visually impaired, or have low vision.


Adaptations If You're Blind, Visually Impaired, or Have Low Vision

Use a Tray

Bottles on a tray with a contrasting white mat

Organize your drink ingredients ahead of time on a cookie sheet or tray with a raised edge or lip. This can contain any spills and also help with cleanup afterward. If you have low vision, you can provide extra contrast by covering the tray surface with a contrasting paper towel or washable placement. A cookie sheet covered with a white paper towel provides contrast with the darker liquor bottles. A cookie sheet covered with a dark blue placemat provides contrast with a clear glass. Read more information on contrast and lighting.

Check the Lighting

If you have low vision, make sure the lighting in your work area provides sufficient illumination. A flexible-arm task lamp enables you to focus light directly on your work area.

Measuring Your Drink Ingredients

Use a long-handled measuring spoon placed over a larger flat-bottomed measuring cup. If the spoon overflows, the excess liquid will spill into the cup and can be returned to the bottle or container with a funnel.

Use a white measuring spoon for darker liquids and place it over a dark measuring cup for better contrast.

A white measuring spoon placed over the handle of a dark measuring cup for better contrast

Use a dark measuring spoon for white liquids and place it over a white measuring cup for better contrast.

A dark measuring spoon placed over the handle of a white measuring cup for better contrast

You can also place your jigger or shot glass inside a larger flat-bottomed measuring cup.

A silver jigger placed inside a white one-cup flat-bottomed measuring cup

And place your measuring cup inside a larger contrasting bowl.

A dark measuring cup placed over the rim of a larger bright yellow bowl

Pouring Tips and Tricks

Electronic liquid level indicators will beep, buzz, vibrate, or play music to indicate when the rising liquid is close to the top rim of the glass.

When you pour, use an electronic liquid level indicator on the rim of your glass to help prevent overflow.

The prongs of an electronic liquid level indicator are placed over the rim of a clear old-fashioned glass

You can even use an electronic liquid level indicator with your champagne glass!

The prongs of an electronic liquid level indicator are placed over the rim of a tall champagne flute

Hints for Slicing Garnishes

A knife with the cutting edge facing downward

Use a cutting board with a non-slip bottom. You can also place a flat, rubberized mat (such as a silicone baking sheet or jar opener) under your regular cutting board for additional traction and stability. Store your knives in a knife holder or with the blades covered if you store them in a drawer—remember, a sharp knife is safer than a dull one.

It is possible to identify the sharp or slicing edge of the knife blade without touching it by using the following method:

  • Because the slicing (and sharper) edge is usually curved, try rocking the knife blade forward and backward on the cutting board to determine the slicing edge. The knife blade will rock when the cutting edge is facing downward.
  • If you place the straight (and duller) edge against the cutting board, the knife will be flush against the cutting board and will not rock. The knife blade will not rock when the straight non-cutting edge is flush against the cutting board.
photo of a white cutting board surface and a black cutting board surface to demonstrate contrast

If you have low vision, a reversible black-and-white cutting board can provide contrast when slicing. Lemons and oranges will show up more clearly on the black side, while the white side will provide better contrast with red and green fruits and vegetables. A reversible cutting board can offer good color contrast with a wide range of fruits and vegetables.

Tips for Blender Safety

Before using your blender, it’s always helpful to review "the basics."

  1. Make sure the electrical cord is not frayed or split.

  2. Set the blender control to "off" before plugging it in.

  3. Position the blender so that the cord can reach the electrical outlet without stretching.

  4. Make sure your hands are dry before plugging it in.


Here are some hints and adaptations to help with plugging in the blender:

  1. To locate the blender plug, it's helpful to first find the spot where the cord attaches to the blender and then use your fingers to "trail" or follow along the cord until you reach the plug.

  2. You can mark the electrical outlet with raised or color-contrasting dots to help with fitting the prongs of the plug into the outlet.

  3. You can also create your own raised dots by using small pieces of tape or dots of glue.

  4. Use a power strip or surge protector. Plug it into the outlet and plug the blender into the power strip. Mark the outlets on the power strip with raised or color-contrasting dots.

You can learn additional cooking and kitchen safety techniques by reading Cooking and Meals: Master Your Kitchen.

Personal Stories

services icon Looking for Help?

Join Our Mission

Help us expand our resources for people with vision loss.