Donner and Blitzen: A Ginger Brandy Cocktail

A festive time of year calls for a festive cocktail, right? Donner and Blitzen: A Ginger Brandy Cocktail makes a lovely addition to your holiday cocktail party… Combine ginger simple syrup, brandy, pomegranate molasses, and pomegranate juice with ice in your cocktail shaker, pour into your favorite glassware, top off with ginger beer, and a few shakes of orange bitters. Garnish with an orange slice, and crystallized ginger. Bellissimo! 

A bird's eye view of 2 ginger brandy cocktails in coupe glasses garnished with orange with a shaker in the background.

👩🏻‍🍳 Tamara Talks – Ginger Brandy Cocktail Inspiration

Why Donner and Blitzen? Well, my husband Mark and I created this cocktail together. He and I share German ancestry. He is Danish and German; I am English, German, and Native American.

So, we wanted a name that spoke to our common German heritage and the holidays… Donner=thunder and Blitzen=lightning. Really. Of course we all know they’re famous members of Santa’s reindeer team, right?

I stumbled upon ginger simple syrup recently quite serendipitously. I was working on a lemongrass and ginger tapioca (still not on the blog in 2019!). The ginger syrup was a delicious byproduct of making crystallized ginger to garnish the pudding. As soon as I licked the spoon, I knew it had to be a key ingredient in a cocktail.

I relied on savory flavor profiles to help jump start the process of finding the right combination of ingredients. I do a fair amount of Indian and Middle Eastern cooking, and both cuisines combine pomegranate and orange with ginger. The more difficult variable, though, was the booze.

We started out with the ginger syrup, bourbon, pomegranate juice, ginger beer, and a bit of orange blossom water. The orange blossom water was overpowering even when exercising restraint.

After switching out the orange blossom water in favor of orange bitters, the bourbon was still lost. I opted to swap the bourbon for brandy, and the cocktail hit the “sweet spot” – not too sweet, smooth, complex, and all the flavor components were present and balanced. Success!

📋 Ingredients Notes

  • brandy – You don’t need a “top shelf” brandy, but do use a drinkable brandy! Total Wine has an “affordable brandy” category.
  • ginger syrup – You can make or buy the ginger syrup.
  • pomegranate juice
  • pomegranate molasses
  • ginger beer – Ginger beer can be both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. We like an ale (alcoholic) ginger beer, but usually use a non-alcoholic ginger beer to reduce alcohol in the cocktail. Use your favorite. NOTE: Ginger ale is NOT a good substitute. It doesn’t have enough ginger flavor!
  • orange bitters

🔪 Step-By-Step Instructions

  • Make sure your ginger beer is cold!
  • Add ginger syrup, brandy, pomegranate juice and molasses to a cocktail shaker with ice.
  • Shake until well chilled, then strain into coupe glasses.
  • Top with ginger beer and a few shakes of orange bitters, then garnish with orange slices, candied ginger, and/or pomegranate arils. Enjoy!


Are ginger ale and ginger beer the same?

No. The ginger flavor in ginger ale is very subtle. Ginger beer has intense ginger flavor.

💭 Tips

If you’re looking to reduce the alcohol content, use a non-alcoholic ginger beer. There are many good ones on the market.

Ginger ale is NOT a good substitution. The flavor of the ginger will not come through!

We liked this cocktail best with brandy (of the spirits we tried). If you have a strong preference on spirits, or you have don’t have brandy on hand and want to try it, go for it!

If you can’t find pomegranate molasses, and don’t want to wait to order it, try making your own. It’s super easy! Try this recipe.

Garnishes are pretty, and we love them, but you can omit if you don’t want to bother!

A close up of Donner and Blitzen: A Ginger Brandy Cocktail with an orange wedge and candied ginger on a cocktail pick.

We plan to enjoy a Donner and Blitzen with New Mexican Red Chile Posole and tamales Christmas Eve. Christmas Day the menu stars a standing rib roast. I’d love to hear about your holiday menus… Leave a comment below?


Donner and Blitzen: A Ginger Brandy Cocktail

This brandy cocktail features ginger syrup, brandy, pomegranate molasses, and pomegranate juice topped off with ginger beer, and a few shakes of orange bitters. It's a lovely holiday sipper!
5 from 3 votes

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Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Course Cocktail
Cuisine American
Servings 2 cocktails
Calories 193 kcal



  • orange slices
  • crystallized ginger
  • pomegranate arils


  • Add brandy, ginger syrup,pomegranate juice and molasses, and bitters to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously.
  • Pour into glasses (we like coupe glasses). Top off with chilled ginger beer.
  • Garnish as desired.


Ginger beer can be both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. We like an ale (alcoholic) ginger beer. Use your favorite.
Calories are an approximation only (from and based on 2 ounces Crabbie’s Ginger Beer and 1/4 teaspoon Fee Orange Bitters per cocktail. I did not include garnishes as they vary.


Calories: 193kcal

NOTE: Macronutrients are an approximation only using unbranded ingredients and Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

Did you make this recipe? Please leave a comment and/or star rating! Email us with any questions:

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