The History of the Snowball Cocktail

Every year we have dreams of a white Christmas, but unfortunately, it doesn’t always work that way. Depending on where you are in the world, you might get rain, wind, maybe scorching hot sunshine, but the fantasy of building snowmen and making snow angels while you wait for Christmas dinner does not always come true.

Perhaps that is why the Snowball cocktail is such a popular treat at this time of year. We might not be able to throw snowballs, but we can certainly drink them! As you might expect, this is a creamy, decadent drink that tastes like the most luxurious winter you could imagine. Made of Advocaat, lemonade and lime juice, it should obviously be shaken with ice and served in a chilled glass. You might want to pop on another layer of clothing to enjoy this one!

The Rise of the Snowball

Before we discuss the history of the snowball, it is useful to spend a moment discussing its key ingredient. Advocaat is a Dutch egg yolk-based liqueur that is so named for its ability to lubricate the throat so that you are better able to speak in public, like a lawyer. The word ‘advocaat’ is a literal translation of the word ‘lawyer’.

The original Snowball recipe was created in the 1940s in Britain, although the
details are scarce. It actually contained brandy, which helped to cut through
the incredibly sweet taste of the other ingredients. However, the drink didn’t
become very popular until the 1970s, when people started to leave out the brandy so that they could enjoy the full force of the sweet taste.

The popularity seems to come from the fact that this is an incredibly inexpensive drink to make. Since it is just egg and lemonade in its simplest form, it can easily be reimagined in the kitchen as a mocktail. Even when liqueur is used, it is still a drink with a low alcohol content that makes it a great choice for older kids who want a taste of their first alcoholic beverage. Of course, if you add brandy, it takes on a new personality that is more likely to appeal to after-dinner drinkers who need to reset their palate after a large Christmas meal.


If you want to get experimental with your choice of festive drinks, a Christmas Snowball is the way to go. Swap lemonade for Babycham and lime juice for ginger syrup and you get a whole new take on the beverage. A Dirty Snowball pairs vodka and lemonade with the traditional Advocaat, while a Russian Snowball contains Advocaat, lemonade, lime juice and Citron vodka. Basically, as long as your drink contains Advocaat, you can claim it is a snowball of some description!

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Bartender's top tip

Balance is key in mixology. Always measure ingredients. A dash less or more can transform a drink. Experiment with fresh garnishes; they can elevate even the simplest cocktails to new heights.

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