It’s an unfortunate side effect of getting older: Christmas morning begins to lose its luster. Thankfully, as the magic of Santa subsides, you also reach the legal drinking age. Coincidence? Certainly not. So while in your youth, December 25 would have started off with you digging through your stocking and mentally sorting out the toys from the sweaters, nowadays your morning routine starts the same way as the other 364 days of the year—by firing up a cup of coffee.
However, adult Christmas isn’t all bah humbug. As one of the few holidays where you’re obliged to be up early in the morning, it’s also one of the few days of the year where spiking your morning coffee should be totally guilt-free. So to help you get your holiday cheer on early and often, we’ve created a list of some of the best spirits to have on hand that make for painless one-pour additions into almost any cup of coffee. These aren’t fancy morning cocktails; these are eye-openers pure and simple. It’s your day off. Relax and keep it simple.
Baileys Irish Cream
For anyone who already prefers their coffee with milk or cream, Baileys—or any Irish cream liqueur—is a natural choice. You get that similar dairy kick but with an added touch of boozy Irish whiskey. For those feeling extra frisky, don’t be afraid to top off with a little more whiskey to further cut any sweetness.
Thanks to an improvement in the quality of coffee in general, flavored coffees aren’t as popular as they once were. However, back in those flavored coffee glory days, hazelnut was one of the most popular additions out there—and for good reason. Tossing a hazelnut liqueur like Frangelico into your cup of joe will remind you just how well those rich, smooth hazelnut notes round out a coffee’s edge.
Speaking of nutty liqueurs, the light syrupy sweetness of Amaretto Disaronno is already easy on the palate even when drank straight. Meanwhile, when added to a cup of coffee, the intense almond notes add an easy flourish. And at a surprisingly strong 28 percent ABV, a bit of alcoholic punch as well.
Godiva Chocolate Liqueur
Admittedly, spirits don’t get much more decadent than Godiva’s line of milk, dark and white chocolate liqueurs. And let’s be honest, there are only so many times of the year you can pull the Godiva out of your liquor cabinet: One of them is Christmas morning where sweets are already filling stockings and it’s not very sensible to stick an entire chocolate Santa in your coffee.
When it comes to boozing up an otherwise ordinary cup of coffee, the easiest choice is probably the world’s best-selling coffee liqueur, Kahlua. Since it’s already made with 100 percent Arabica coffee beans, Kahlua pulls double duty on the coffee flavor front before its additional sweetness helps merge its rum notes into the equation.
Compared to the rest of this list, Grand Marnier is a little more outside of the box. The orange-flavored liqueur is not as natural an accompaniment to coffee as some of the creamy or nutty options. But with its hit of sweetness, Grand Marnier can still add some wonderful compliments to a quality dark blend. And as an added bonus, this French spirit is surprisingly strong at 40 percent ABV so a little goes a long way.
Let’s be honest: For serious morning drinkers, all the options above are just beating around the bush. True red-blooded Americans looking to celebrate Christmas with as much cheer as possible will find nothing wrong with pouring a bit of bourbon into their morning coffee to start the holiday off right. Though be forewarned: Not all bourbons are created equal, and some will blend better with coffee than others. Maker’s Mark in particular is on the sweeter side, with nice vanilla notes. But it’s your holiday, so pick the bourbon (or whiskey or Scotch) that works best for you.