Cocktail cakes: straight up

Sift magazine’s holiday issue presents dozens of inspirations for this festive season’s baking.

There’s one big bash to go this holiday season, and that’s ringing in the New Year. We believe it’s an occasion for adult foods and beverages. In the world of baking, it’s easy to combine the two. This holiday issue presents a collection of original recipes for cocktail cakes. Cheers!

One of our favorite trends lately is the rebirth of the American cocktail. The level of craft and creativity found behind the bar these days is astounding. Custom and signature mixed drinks abound, carefully curated from the finest ingredients. Although the renaissance of cocktails is something to celebrate, we don’t think bartenders should have all the fun. The proper balance of bitter, sweet, and sour that makes a drink well-mixed also applies to cakes. We went into the kitchen to shake things up, and baked a collection of cocktail cakes based on some of the most iconic mixed drinks around. They’re just the thing to end the evening, next to that nightcap.

cocktail cakes cosmo via@kingarthurflour

Cosmopolitan Cake

Pink, cranberry-infused cake layers sandwich tangy lime curd to replicate the flavors of this popular libation. Soaking the layers with a triple sec simple syrup adds more pleasure to every bite. This cake is a party all by itself.

cocktail cakes white russian via@kingarthurflour

White Russian Cake

Creamy vanilla poured over rich, coffee-infused chocolate: the White Russian cocktail has always been in the realm of dessert; we’ve just made it official by transforming it into a cake. Chocolate and white batters swirl together in the layers, reproducing the hypnotic mix in one’s cocktail glass.

cocktail cakes manhattan

Manhattan Cake

A dash of citrus and bitters beautifully accents the caramel notes of smoky brown whiskey. A splash of cherry juice stands in for the classic Maraschino cherry garnish in a Manhattan cocktail. And of course, there’s a party’s worth of cherries on top.

cocktail cakes dark and stormy via@kingarthurflourDark and Stormy Cake

The robust flavors of ginger beer, lime, and dark rum are all in this moist cake frosted with Dark Rum Buttercream and soaked with ginger and rum simple syrup. It’s a swashbuckling dessert, perfectly suited for adventure.

cocktail cakes banana daiquiri via@kingarthurflour

Banana Daiquiri Cake

Long winter nights deserve a taste of the tropics, and this moist banana cake fits the bill. The Rum Citrus Buttercream frosting evokes a hint of warm breezes, and every forkful transports you to a tiki hut by the beach.

We hope you’re intrigued enough to choose a favorite flavor and try out one of our beautiful cocktail cakes. They’re a great way to ring in the new year, its new possibilities, and many reasons to celebrate. We wish all of you a very happy 2017, filled with many baking adventures.

Susan Reid

Chef Susan Reid grew up in New Jersey, graduated from Bates College and the Culinary Institute of America, and is presently the Food Editor of Sift magazine. She does demos, appearances, and answers food (and baking) questions from all quarters.


  1. Dialekti Pappas

    I was impressed how fast I was accepted to your website. All I gave was my email address and I was on your list. I didn’t have to give my whole life history. Am looking forward to your emails. Thanks. D Pappas

  2. Susan Martin Lesnik

    Wow, each one of these cakes sounds delicious, and I don’t even drink!
    Got to send for my holiday Sift magazine right away, even if the holidays are over!

  3. Faith Perue

    How about a pink lady cake? Seems to me they were made with cream de almond white cream de coco & cream. Wow I haven’t had one of those in 30 yrs.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Thanks for the suggestion, Faith! While we don’t have a Pink Lady Cake currently, we agree it sure is tasty. We’ll consider adding it to our cake recipe arsenal going forward. Kye@KAF

  4. Jennifer Essad

    I think I need to make each one and that recipe for the Harvey Wallbanger cake is one I’m going to seek out too

  5. Shelly

    I am new to your website and just love these cocktail cake recipes. I can’t wait to try these, especially the banana daiquiri cake!!


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