It’s that time of year again. The Thanksgiving and Halloween holidays are long behind us, but Christmas, Hannukah, Kwaanza, and Festivus are just around the corner. This leaves our friendly merchants and retailers only a few more weeks to whip us into a frenzied orgy of consumer spending for the holiday season.
Your intrepid liquor report is quite partial to the many extended lunches and corporate parties that happen this time of year, and I take full advantage of the open bars at the holiday parties I manage to weasel my way into.
But, as you may have already guessed, my favorite part of the holiday season would have to be all the fine holiday drinks that we only get to enjoy at this time of year. In no particular order, here are a few of my favorites – give them a try at your next yuletide get together.
With the first real snowfall of the season only a week or so old by now, Christmas carolers need sizzling hot thermos of Gløgg to keep those songs flowing. If it works for our Scandinavian friends in the frozen climes of northern Europe, it must be good enough for us!
For those not in the know, Gløgg is the traditional Christmas drink in the Nordic countries. It is a warm spiced alcoholic drink made from cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and vanilla.
Brave the holiday crowds at IKEA to get yourself a bottle of Gløgg mix, then take it home and add vodka, red wine, almonds, and raisins. Boil it in a pot on the stove, then sip in front of a roaring fireplace, or pour into a thermos if you intend to venture out into the chilly night air.
There are as many versions of holiday eggnog recipes as there are presents under the tree, but this one is my current favorite. Purists insist on using real eggs, but at the risk of sounding lazy, that’s a lot of effort when store-bought eggnog is so readily available.
I add 500mL of coffee-flavored ice cream to one litre of light eggnog in a large mixing bowl. Add a cup of dark rum and half a cup of brandy, then spin with a mixer until the ice cream has been mostly liquefied. Add a few shakes of nutmeg then pour immediately into mugs and serve. Garnish with a cinnamon stick if you’re into that sort of thing.
My paramour has her own favorite holiday drink, doubtlessly inspired by the Sex And The City girls. Crush a candy cane into a rough grit the consistency of tiny pebbles, then use it to dust the rim of a wetted martini glass. Add ½ oz Peppermint Schnapps, ½ oz Vodka, and 3 oz Cranberry juice. Drop in a few frozen cranberries and garnish with a full candy cane if you are feeling extra festive.
If you are entertaining guests, read on for my secret family recipe for X-X-X-Mas Cider. The three X’s are officially part of the name because I most recently used the cider jug for a batch of old fashioned Granny’s Hard Cider Moonshine from my private still down in the reeds at the end of the lake.
If you aren’t lucky enough to have any hard cider, just take plain old unfiltered apple cider and add 4 oz vodka to one litre of cider. Squeeze in the juice from two lemons, as well as a generous dollop of agave syrup. Pour the whole batch in your slow cooker with a few cinnamon sticks on low heat, and ladle it out into tumblers as the night progresses. Rim the wetted tumblers with graham cracker crumbs if you are feeling ambitious.
If you’re looking for a little pick-me-up while unwrapping gifts on Xmas morning, here’s the way the tradition unfolds at Casa de Nick. Instead of the traditional champagne and orange juice, I throw festive-looking frozen cranberries into a half-and-half mix of white wine and 7-Up. You’ll need to prepare these immediately before drinking them to preserve the bubbles, so no sneaking off and mixing up a vat of them early in the morning.
If you’ve got little urchins in the house, you can leave out the white wine, but don’t ruin it for the grown-ups!
So, until next year, faithful readers, enjoy the holiday season, and as with all liquor-related happiness, enjoy in moderation!