On average, there may be roughly two dozen Christmas carols in sporadic rotation in the playlist in our heads at any given time (I’m being very conservative with that estimate). There might be disputes as to which persistent seasonal tunes are in the top 10, but it’s a safe bet that “12 Days of Christmas” is in the top 20.

Traditionally, the celebration of the 12 days begins on Christmas day and ends on January 5 (called the Twelfth Night). I decided to switch it up and start it early. I thought it would be fun to go through the whimsical list and put a twist of alcohol to it. I’ve created cocktails based on a particular day in the song and asked a few bartenders to share their recipes for it.

FIRST DAY – A Partridge in a Pear Tree 
  • 45 ml Mount Gay Rum
  • 20 ml Grilled pear and cinnamon puree
  • 10 ml Pedro Jimenez nectar
  • 10 ml lemon juice
  • 1 whole egg
  • 5 ml maple Syrup
  • 1-2 dashes of Black Cloud Bitters salt

Add all ingredients in a shaker without ice to emulsify the egg until frothy. Add ice and shake until cold. Fine strain over ice. Garnish with pear slice and dash of Black Cloud Bitters.

SECOND DAY – Two Turtle Doves by Jay Doy
  • 50 ml Bombay Sapphire
  • 15 ml cinnamon syrup
  • 15 ml sugar syrup
  • 20 ml egg white
  • 20 ml lillet rouge
  • 25 ml lemon juice
  • 1 dash each Angostura and Peychaud bitters

Add all ingredients in a shaker; shake for a long time to make the egg white froth. Transfer the mixture in a glass. Add one dash each of Angostura and Peychaud bitters. Torch the top of the cocktail lightly to get the turtle shell effect.

THIRD DAY – Three French Hens by Sophie Douse
  • 30 ml Chateau de Laubade No.5 Armagnac
  • 5 ml  Dubonnet Rouge
  • 10 ml crème du cassis
  • 30 ml sparkling wine

Add all ingredients in a chilled champagne flute and top with sparkling wine.

FOURTH DAY – Four Calling Birds by Sophie Douse
  • 45 ml Wild Turkey Rye
  • 30 ml apple juice
  • 15 ml lemon juice
  • 25 ml homemade gingerbread syrup

Top with hot water. Garnish with cinnamon bark and orange twist. (Take on a hot toddy.)

FIFTH DAY – Five Golden Rings by Cedric Cello, Hooch, Makati
  • 45 ml Bacardi Oro
  • 30 ml simple syrup
  • 20 ml fresh orange juice
  • 20 ml fresh lemon
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 dashes dark chocolate bitters

Put all ingredients in a shaker, dry shake. Add ice, hard shake. Add a pinch of salt around the foam top.

SIXTH DAY – Six Geese a-Laying by Neil Ocampo
  • 45 ml Cognac
  • 20 ml ginger liqueur
  • 15 ml agave extract
  • 90 ml ginger tea (hot)

Put everything inside the metal tea pot (stirred). Light it up and slowly pour mixture into a tea cup while pouring drizzle with cinnamon powder. Garnish with dehydrated orange slice and cinnamon stick.

SEVENTH DAY – “7 swans a swimming” by Campari Brand Ambassador for Hong Kong and Macau Mr. Joe Villanueva
  • 45 ml Appleton 12 y.o. rum
  • 30 ml Advocaat
  • 30 ml Frangelico
  • 60 ml unsweetened light cream (heated with froth)

Garnish: Grated dark chocolate rim, nutmeg, and biscuit

This drink is served warm and the presentation of the drink is an imitation of a swan.

EIGHTH DAY – “8 maids a milking”
  • 45 ml wild turkey 81
  • 22.5 ml ginger bread syrup
  • 90 ml cereal milk
  • a pinch of salt

Garnish: Biscuit, blueberry, raspberry, mint sprig

Again, the presentation of this drink suits the name of the drink.

Disclaimer: This cocktail may cause “Nine Ladies Dancing” by way of the cocktail.

The Crown Jewels by Mr. Enzo Lim of Jeepney and Maharlika New York

In a mixing glass/tin combine:

  • 3 pcs candied cherries (Luxardo is best) with a bit of syrup
  • 3 pcs banana discs (at least 5 mm thick)
  • 0.5 oz banana syrup (Giffard)

Muddle gently (but firmly); then add:

  • 0.5 oz lemon juice (can be increased for a more tart drink)
  • 0.5 oz brandy (Carlos I or better)
  • 1.5 oz bourbon (Evan Williams or better)
  • 6 drops Mexican Mole bitters (Bitter End, Bittermen’s or other)

Add five ice cubes (or equivalent) then whip shake (forcefully in one direction) five times.

Pour everything into a rocks glass and garnish with a skewer of two brandied cherries flanking a rolled up quarter banana peel.

TENTH DAY – “10 Lords a-Leaping” – AU FAIT by Kenneth Benavides, Diageo World Class Philippine Champion 2015, ABV

It was named Au fait because the taste is familiar with something that would remind you of your childhood.

I will not disclose any information about it but it is funny how I came up with this cocktail thinking about the 10 hand selected botanicals of Bombay Sapphire that resemble the 10 lords leaping. Then suddenly when I tasted it, the first thing that went out of my mouth was “Okay ka ba tiyan?”

I was surprised and felt like I was a child again.

  • 1 ½ oz Bombay Sapphire
  • ¾    oz blackberry shrub
  • ¾    oz lemon juice
  • ¾    oz Sirop de Gomme
  • 2 dashes coriander bitters
  • egg whites

Put all ingredients inside the shaker. Dry shake it first. Fill up the shaker with ice. Shake and double strain inside a cocktail glass. Garnish with cassia powder and dehydrated lemon.

ELEVENTH DAY – “11 Pipers Piping” 

Pipers are usually called in as interim music during the olden days. So here’s a tasty cocktail shot in between your usual drinking sessions.

  • 15 ml Absolut Lemon Vodka
  • 10 ml Frangelico
  • 15 ml cranberry Juice

Glass: shot glass

Prepare shot glass and rim with pop rocks. Place all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Shake to blend and chill. Strain into a shot glass, and shoot!

TWELFTH DAY “12 Drummers Drumming” by Remy & Cointreau Regional Brand Ambassador Mr. Richard Gillam
  • 35 ml The Botanist
  • 20 ml Cointreau
  • 50 ml fresh grapefruit juice
  • 40 ml passion fruit
  • 15 ml cinnamon syrup
  • 15 ml egg white

Glass: Coupette

Garnish with sliced passion fruit wheel so they look like drum tops and cinnamon sticks as drum sticks.


Restaurateur, expert drinker, creative proprietor of steam punk bar Hooch, SMITH Butcher and Grill Room, Ebeneezers, Poulet Manille, and Ampersand. She wrote The Standard newspaper’s Tipple Tales cocktail and spirits column and co-hosted the Manila episode of the Travel Channel show Booze Traveler with cocktail connoisseur Jack Maxwell. She is DrinkManila’s resident mixology expert.

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