12 Festive Sips to Toast the Season

‘Tis the season for sipping! And whether you’re craving a Christmas classic or a holiday-inspired spin on your go-to spirit, we’ve scouted a 12 festive sips to toast the season, locally. Featuring everything from not-so-secret family recipes to Volume 6 and Volume 7 favorites — plus a brew, because no Knoxville guide is complete without locally-brewed beer — think of this as your go-to guide for the holiday season.



Windy Hill Farm and Preserve’s delightful restaurant, Wilder, serves up an old fashioned with smoked cinnamon bitters that’s, well, perfectly fashioned for the season. Enjoy over dinner during your stay or make a trip to Loudon to ring in the season. A limited number of outside dining reservations for dinner service (5:30 to 9:00 p.m.) are offered nightly. Call 865-657-1700 to reserve…


If cozy was a fragrance, it would be the aroma of citrus, spices, and red wine simmering on the stove. Best served hot, Sara Hedstrom Pinnell from Hedstrom Landscape Architecture chooses this traditional Christmas drink to warm up when there’s a chill in the air. The perfect beverage to serve a crowd, it’s as simple as leaving the ingredients to stew away as the scents of the season drift through your home. One sip, and you’ll instantly slip into the holiday spirit!


  • 1 (750 ml) bottle of dry red wine
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 1 orange, sliced into rounds (also peeled, if you would like a less-bitter drink)
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 star anise
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons sugar, honey, or maple syrup to taste (or your desired sweetener)
  • Optional garnishes: orange slices, cinnamon sticks, star anise


  • Add wine, brandy, orange slices, cloves, cinnamon, star anise, and 2 tablespoons sweetener to a large saucepan.  Stir briefly to combine.
  • Cook the mulled wine on medium-high heat until it just barely reaches a simmer.  (Avoid letting it bubble — you don’t want to boil off the alcohol.)  Reduce heat to low, cover, and let the wine simmer for at least 15 minutes or up to 3 hours.
  • Using a fine mesh strainer, remove and discard the orange slices, cloves, cinnamon sticks, and star anise.  Give the mulled wine a taste, and stir in extra sweetener if needed.
  • Serve warm in heatproof mugs, topped with your garnishes.


Mouthwatering autumn pear meets Boyd and Blair vodka and thyme for a delicious aperitif or after dinner drink. Sidle up to the bar at RT Lodge’s recently renovated (and truly stunning) bar, The Morningside Room for the seasonal cocktail Monday 3:00 to 9:00 pm and Tuesday through Saturday 3:oo to 11:00pm. Seating available on a first come, first served basis. Reservations are not accepted.


For the holidays, Heather Ann Thomas of Beall + Thomas and Caroline Trotter opt for an espresso martini, which, like the Spagliato, is having a major moment in the cocktail world. Yet, there’s something special about the libation come Christmastime. Find all the ingredients you need at Bob’s Wine + Liquor to whip up at home for an after dinner drink, garnishing with the traditional three coffee beans that allegedly allude to health, wealth, and happiness.


  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 1/2 ounce coffee liqueur (usually Kahlúa)
  • 1 ounce espresso freshly brewed (or cold brew concentrate)
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup
  • Garnish: coffee beans


  • Brew the espresso and let it cool completely.
  • Add ice to a cocktail shaker then add the cooled espresso, simple syrup, Kahlúa and vodka.
  • Shake very hard so foam forms then strain it quickly into a martini glass. Top with coffee beans, serve.


For chillier temps, RT Lodge offers a seasonal spin on the classic mule, adding spiced apple cider to the mix for a delicious drink best enjoyed by the roaring fire. Both the cocktail and the ambiance are available to diners and overnight guests.



A winter classic and crowd pleaser, the Hot Toddy is a favorite in Editor Frances King’s household. Easy to pre-batch, it’s the perfect house cocktail for your holiday gathering. Make ahead of time for a sweet-smelling house. Have a few guests that aren’t imbibing? Whip up the recipe sans alcohol and let your guests add their own at the bar.


  • 4 cups fresh pressed apple cider
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 12 whole cloves
  • 1 whole orange (optional)
  • 1 three inch cinnamon stick
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 large apples, peeled, cored, sliced in quarters
  • 1 cup brandy
  • 3/4 cup dark rum
  • Butter


  • In a saucepan, mix apple cider, sugar and spices. Let simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
  • Add apples and return to simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.
  • Strain, reserving apple slices, and return liquid to saucepan. Add liquors and heat through.
  • Place an apple quarter in each mug, pour in toddy and serve.
Knoxville Holiday Cocktails


A Christmas cocktail with a tiki twist, the Rum Rum Reindeer transports you to holidays on the beach. With pineapple, Cynar, Giffard Banane, and of course house-spiced rum, this lively libation from Tern Club is brimming with tropical holiday cheer.


A new TSG KNOXVILLE favorite, recently served at our Holiday Soiree, these Frozen Whiskey Sours are easy to batch and sure to be a hit with all of your guests! This recipe is from the famed southern entertainer, Julia Reed and makes enough to serve a crowd (around 32)!


  • 3/5 Bourbon, such as Maker’s Mark
  • 2 quarts of fresh orange juice
  • 2 cups of fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 4 10-ounce jars of maraschino cherries
  • 1 orange, thinly sliced for garnish


  • Place the whiskey, orange juice, lemon juice, and sugar in a large bowl (I usually have to resort to a stockpot) and stir vigorously to dissolve the sugar. Dump in one jar of the cherries with their juice and mix well. With a strainer over a medium bowl, strain the rest of the cherries and reserve the juice. Add the cherries to the whiskey mixture and sweeten to taste with the remaining cherry juice.
  • Mix well and pour into a large plastic container (a big Tupperware bowl, a couple of pitchers, or the aforementioned Ziploc bags will work). Cover and freeze until slushy (it actually never freezes hard).
  • Serve the mixture in a punch bowl, making sure some of the cherries rise to the top. Float a few orange slices on top as well, dotting them in the center with a cherry.
Knoxville Holiday Cocktails


Come Christmas, Volume 6 and 7’s Hayley Rutherford of Graphic Creations reach for the eggnog. Made popular in the 1800s, several Knoxville bars are putting their spin on the drink this season. From Maple Hall to The Brass Pearl, follow The Peppermint Trail to to sample the sip with a little spirit. Or, recreate classic at home, just don’t forget to add the booze from Bob’s!


  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Optional ¼ cup brandy, bourbon, rum or whisky (add more to taste if desired)
  • Garnish: ground cinnamon, nutmeg, whipped cream


  • Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a medium bowl until light and creamy.
  • In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the cream, milk, nutmeg and salt. Stir often until mixture reaches a bare simmer.
  • Add a big spoonful of the hot milk to the egg mixture, whisking vigorously. Repeat, adding a big spoonful at a time, to temper the eggs.
  • Once most of the hot milk has been added to the eggs, pour the mixture back into the saucepan on the stove.
  • Whisk constantly for just a few minutes, until the mixture is just slightly thickened (or until it reaches about 160°F on a thermometer).
  • Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla, and alcohol, if using.
  • Pour the eggnog through a fine mesh strainer into a pitcher or other container and cover with plastic wrap.
  • Refrigerate until chilled. It will thicken as it cools. If you want a thinner, completely smooth consistency, you can add the entire mixture to a blender with 1 or 2 tablespoons of milk and blend until smooth.
  • Serve with a sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg, and fresh whipped cream, if desired.
  • Store homemade eggnog in the fridge for up to one week.
Knoxville Holiday Cocktails


One might be wary of tequila paired with peppermint, but Chivo Taqueria’s Minter Wonderland, featuring Blanco Tequila, cranberry, heavy cream, and Peppermint Schnapps leaves imbibers feeling extra cheery. Best enjoyed with ample tacos.

Holiday Cocktails


Take a seat inside the beautifully decorated lounge inside Maple Room to stay warm and toasty with this delightful seasonal drink. A festive concoction of George Dickel Rye, molasses bitters, and house-made marshmallow syrup, this is a pop-up bar holiday treat not to be missed.

Holiday Beer


Volume 6 and 7’s Michelle Corley of Michelle Corley Homes reminds us that any round-up of seasonal sips is incomplete without the addition of a local brew. And Tennessee Brew Work’s holiday offerings fit the bill. Warm up with their Limited Edition Belgian Style Quad and Imperial Porter. Aged in George Dickel Bourbon Single Barrel 15 year old Tennessee Whisky Barrels, this elegant and balanced pair are essential for the holidays.

Looking for more ways to support local? Stock up on all the bar essentials at Volume 7’s Bob’s Wine + Liquor. Don’t forget to tell them Scout sent you! And however you sip, cheers and happy holidays!