Nothing is more fun than drinks that embrace the spirit of this time (and the spirits that enhance my favorite sips of the season).
For me, nothing is more festive than champagne and sparkling wine. I’m particularly fond of drinks like the Poinsettia (yes, named after the plant) which use sparkling wine as a base.
3 oz Cranberry juice
½ oz Cointreau
4 oz brut champagne or sparkling wine
1 oz orange juice
Lime twist for garnish
Or fresh cranberries as a garnish
I like a tasty drink that looks like the holiday, and the Poinsettia is perfect. (I’ve also seen versions of this drink made with pomegranate juice.)
Whether or not there is snow on the ground, the holidays stir up cravings for warm drinks. Two of my favorites are warm and spiked.
Warm eggnog is a twist on the holiday staple many enjoy cold and spiked. I make the lazy woman’s version, starting with readymade commercial eggnog and then doctoring it up.
4 cups eggnog, the commercial kind
1/8 to ½ ground nutmeg
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
Whipped cream and additional ground nutmeg
In a large saucepan combine eggnog and nutmeg heat over low heat—do not boil. Slowly add ½ cup bourbon or rum
Remove from heat add vanilla top with whipped cream and more nutmeg.
Serves 4 (not the way I drink it, but I digress)
More work is the homemade warm eggnog recipe:
Separate egg yolks and whites (see below for use of whites)
Beat egg yolks well before
Mix sugar (minus one teaspoon) into the yolks—take your time to make sure it’s thoroughly mixed—a whisk does the best job of mixing all these ingredients
Slowly stir in alcohol
(Note: some only use vanilla if there is no alcohol to give flavor—I like both)
Add in 3 cups of half and half or cream (you can use milk, too)
Now you’ve got eggnog!
Pour into glasses (heat tempered since this is warm)
Sprinkle I teaspoon nutmeg or 1 teaspoon cinnamon for garnish (I like both)
(If you chill in the refrigerator for about 4 hours it will mellow the alcohol’s taste.)
For creamier eggnog take egg whites that were set aside and in a different bowl, beat egg whites until form soft peaks (as if you were making meringue)
Mix in one teaspoon of sugar. Fold whipped sweetened egg whites into eggnog mixture.
Equally yummy is another warm drink—hot chocolate with the flavored liqueur Peppermint Schnapps.
Mint and chocolate are a great combination, even better with the schnapps. I kind of do a free form thing—make hot chocolate and add schnapps to taste:)
But for those who need a more precise recipe, here it is courtesy of celebrity chef Michael Chiarello, and the Food Network:
Hot Chocolate with Peppermint Schnapps
1 quart milk (skim, 2 percent or whole) or half-and-half
6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped (recommended: Scharffenberger)
9 ounces peppermint schnapps
Whipped cream, for serving
6 peppermint sticks, for serving
Heat 1 cup of the milk in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add chocolate, stirring constantly, until melted. When the chocolate has melted, increase heat to medium and add the remainder of the milk while whisking rapidly. Do not allow to boil.
Serve in small cups fortified with a jigger (1 1/2 ounces) of peppermint schnapps and a dollop of whipped cream. Add a peppermint stick to stir.
If transporting in a thermos, heat thermos up with hot water to get it warm for 1 minute. Pour water out and fill with hot chocolate.
Note there are some who say there is a difference between hot chocolate made by melting chocolate, and hot cocoa made with powdered mix. I’ve been happy with both versions (as long as the schnapps is added).
A couple of tips to keep in mind as you prepare your warm drinks—use heat tempered glasses, and DO NOT BOIL.