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  • Yuletide Cheer

    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 reporter 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.

    A holiday drink that is flying off the supermarket shelves down in the USA is none other than the fancy new Southern Comfort flavoured non-alcoholic eggnog.

    Well, there are just two things wrong with that. First, that delicious concoction is not yet available in Canada. Second, well, you probably noticed the non-alcoholic part.

    Luckily, your intrepid liquor reporter wasted no time in coming up with his own version, and you can be sure there was plenty of real Southern Comfort in there!

    To mix up a special batch of your own, just follow these easy steps.

    Start with 3 cups of whole milk, then add 1 cup of heavy cream. Lazy readers can just substitute a litre jug of store-bought eggnog.

    After mixing the milk and cream, add five whole vanilla beans and let soak overnight in the fridge. Substitute 50mL of vanilla extract and stir if you don’t have whole vanilla beans in the spice rack.

    Add 1 cup of chilled Southern Comfort, mix well, then dust the top of the jug with nutmeg and ground cloves.

    Pour into a tall glass, and you’ll be feeling like Janis Joplin in no time!

    For the readers in the audience who find eggnog too sweet of a libation to drink all night, fear not, as I have plenty of other holiday cocktail favourites to share!

    For a classy soirée with a holiday twist, consider the Pomegranate Martini. Begin with a 2-litre bottle of pomegranate juice from Safeway.

    Throw a handful of crushed ice into a martini shaker, then add 1 cup of pomegranate juice, and squeeze in the juice from half a lime.

    I like to add 2 ounces of the highly aromatic Gin from Okanagan Spirits in BC, but you can use whatever Gin you have in the liquor cabinet.

    Top up the martini shaker with a white or rosé wine, shake twice to blend, then strain into four waiting martini glasses. After a few of these, your party guests will be feeling like they are in a posh lounge in Monte Carlo!

    Should you be the type of holiday boozer who doesn’t like to stray too far from your trusty beer, you’re in luck, as many brewers jump on the holiday bandwagon with special beers to celebrate the festive season.

    Calgary’s own Wild Rose Brewery makes a seasonal Cherry Porter that has won accolades both at home and abroad, even rating an entry in the prestigious 1001 Beers You Must Taste Before You Die hardcover book.

    You can find this in 650mL bottles right at the brewery on the old Currie Barracks in Calgary, or at well-stocked liquor retailers across Alberta.

    Also in Calgary, Big Rock has put out a seasonal six-pack, containing two bottles each of their Autumn Wheat Lager, Espresso Stout, and Winter Spiced Ale.

    Faithful readers may remember your humble narrator waxing poetic about the Big Rock Espresso Stout back in 2006, when it made a brief appearance as a one-off holiday release, which has been repeated a few times since then.

    Sadly, the commemorative glasses and baggie of chocolate covered espresso beans are no longer included in the six-pack, but that blow is cushioned by addition of two bottles of the Autumn Wheat Lager.

    The Winter Spiced Ale made its first appearance just before Christmas 2008, with a dark malt body balanced with cloves and nutmeg for a holiday treat I’m sure Santa would enjoy much more than a glass of milk left on the mantlepiece.

    As with all Big Rock products, they are widely available across Alberta, so pick up a six-pack at your local booze merchant!