The Perfect Nightcap Cocktails After Your Turkey Snooze

Do you find yourself dozing off after a big holiday dinner? The holidays are in full swing, and so is the notion of a long snooze after that delicious turkey dinner. Most people blame this sluggish feeling on the tryptophan in the turkey. However, experts say that isn’t necessarily the case. According to leading scientists and nutritionists, that sleepy feeling can mostly be blamed on bourbon (or any other alcohol) along with a large meal and the stress that comes along with the holidays.

Tryptophan, found in turkey and other dishes like fish, eggs, cheese, milk, and peanuts, can turn to serotonin in your body. Serotonin is responsible for making you feel calm, relaxed, and sleepy, which leads many people to believe that turkey causes this drowsiness after Thanksgiving, Christmas, or other holiday feasts. In reality, it’s actually changes in your digestive system with insulin and glucose paired with the stress many people feel around holiday gatherings.

If you’re looking to escape this sluggish feeling, keep your food and alcohol intake to a moderate amount so that your digestive system isn’t overwhelmed. However, if you’re looking for a great way to relax and wind down after an eventful day of family gatherings and (too much) delicious food, try your hand at a few of these bourbon nightcap cocktails.

Hot Toddy

Hot Toddy is probably the most famous bourbon nightcap cocktail, praised for its ability to help drinkers feel relaxed and even soothe sore throats and sinuses, common at this time of year. Here’s a great recipe from 1792 Distillery.


Recipe Instructions

  1. Put all ingredients except for the hot water into a teacup and gently stir.
  2. Top with hot water.
  3. Garnish with lemon wedge.

Kentucky Stinger

The Kentucky Stinger recipe is courtesy of local Kentucky favorite and neighborhood bar, Mordecai, featured on the 2022 Best Bourbon Bars list. Corbin Kell of Mordecai gives us this delicious Kentucky twist on a pre-prohibition classic.


  • 2 oz Buffalo Trace Bourbon
  • ½ oz Braulio
  • ¼ oz Green Chartreuse
  • Bar Spoon Tempus Fugit Crème de Menthe

Recipe Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients to a mixing glass.
  2. Add 4 classic cubes and stir for 15-20 seconds.
  3. Single strain into Nick and Nora glass.

Bourbon Ball

The Bourbon Ball recipe is courtesy of Nightcap Cocktail. This is a great cocktail for the holiday season, combining winter favorites of hazelnut, chocolate, and of course, bourbon.


  • 1 oz Bourbon
  • 1/2 oz Créme de Cacao
  • 1/4 oz Frangelico Lqueur (or other Hazelnut Liqueur)
  • Garnish: Chocolate shavings

Recipe Instructions

  1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice.
  2. Add bourbon, Créme de Cacao, and Frangelico.
  3. Shake for 20-30 seconds or until chilled.
  4. Strain liquid into a cocktail glass or coupe glass.
  5. Top with chocolate shavings.
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