- Erika Ravnsborg
Christmas is coming up and you are in charge of throwing at your house this year. Your family and friends are coming from all over just to see you. Because of this, it’s adding some stress, as the holiday season tends to. You want to give a party where everyone will have a good time. However, you are not worried about that because you are an organization fiend who always gets the job done!
You pick up your iPad and are scrolling through your organizer. You have got the food prepared, the decorations are set up, and the last thing you need to do is come up with a special drink for the occasion.
“Uh oh.” You say looking up from the iPad. The kids are easy, you can just make them a punch and you’re set but the adults are way pickier. Each person in your life has their own individual needs and wants.
Fear not! It is not as hard as you think. Throughout the centuries people have celebrated the holidays with festive cocktails that warm the heart and bring joy to the soul. These are the drinks to get you into the spirit of the holidays.
Eggnog: Now everyone knows this one! Originally it was enjoyed by British aristocrats, and it soon made its way down the Atlantic Ocean in the 18th century. Recipes tend to vary but the easiest (and fastest) way to make it is by blending 2 beaten eggs, 3 tablespoons sugar, 2-1/3 cups (580 mL) cream or milk, 1 teaspoon (5 mL) vanilla extract, a dash of ground nutmeg, and for the finishing touch, ¼ cup (60 mL) alcohol of your choice (classically made with brandy, bourbon, rum, or whiskey). Serve chilled.
Wassail: Not just a beautiful carol! Hailing all the way from the 12th century, this famous drink has Anglo-Saxon and Norse beginnings as it is an integral part of the yuletide tradition of wassailing. To make this drink, you need 8 cups (2 L) apple cider, 2 cups (500 mL) orange juice, ½ cup (125 mL) lemon juice, 4 whole cinnamon sticks, 12 whole cloves or 1 teaspoon of ground cloves, ¼ teaspoon ground ginger and nutmeg. Combine them and heat them over medium-low heat for 45 minutes. And there you have a hot beverage worthy of a song.
Hot Buttered Rum: In the 1650s, Jamaica started importing molasses to Colonial America and from that trade came the buttered rum drinks. Mostly popular in the United States, this drink is only made in winter. You will need 110 g unsalted butter, 2 ounces of dark or aged rum, 2/3 cup (160 mL) hot water, ½ cup light brown sugar, a cinnamon stick for garnish, and a teaspoon of spices: vanilla extract, ground cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and allspice.
Mulled Wine: What started in 2 BC Rome has made its way across Europe for centuries, being sold in Christmas markets through out the world. Although it gets called different names (ie. Scandinavian glogg) the ingredients are the same. This recipe is 1 bottle of dry red wine, ¼ cup (60 mL) brandy, 1 sliced round orange, 8 whole cloves, 2 cinnamon sticks, 2 star-anises, and 2-4 teaspoons sugar, honey, or maple syrup. Combine all these ingredients, cook on medium-high heat for 15 minutes, simmer for 3 hours, strain with a fine mesh strainer, and serve heated. Worthy of a Roman Holiday!
Spiked Hot Chocolate: What started in Mexico has become a wonderful international drink that people of all ages enjoy. But when you want to give a little more of an adult flair to a family staple, you can do that with ease and only five ingredients: 9 cups of milk (2.25 L), 6 ounces (170 mL) bourbon or whiskey, 85 g dark chocolate, ¾ cups of cocoa powder and ¾ cup (180 mL) maple syrup. So, if you are snuggling with your sweetie or trying to impress your coworkers, give them this hot recipe. They’ll love you for it.
Christmas Punch: In the middle decades of 19th century Britain, the Christmas punch became famous thanks to Charles Dickens featuring it in his book, “A Christmas Carol.” Want this yourself? Here is the most recent recipe: 2 cups (500 mL) vodka, 2 cups (500 mL) pomegranate juice or liqueur, 4 cups (1 L) cranberry juice, 4 cups (1 L) sprite, 3 cups (750 mL) pineapple juice, and 3 cups (750 mL) ginger ale. Mix all these ingredients together, add some ice and you’ve got yourself a Christmas punch for the ages!
Peppermint Martini: When many drinks are becoming hot, sometimes it’s best to cool things down. As Louis Armstrong sang, “Have a Yule that’s cool.” Since its creation in 1911, the martini has been shown to be versatile and capable of becoming something more festive. That’s what the peppermint martini does. You will need 1/3 cup (85 mL) peppermint schnapps or crème de menthe, 1½ ounces (3 Tbs) of vodka, ½ cup (125 mL) heavy cream, and crushed peppermint candies. Sugar the rim with the crushed peppermint candies. Mix the remaining ingredients together and if you have some crushed candies left over, sprinkle it on top of the drink. Now that’s how you can have a cool Yule.
Poinsettia Cocktail: Do you want to get elegant for Christmas? Well, nothing says lavish like a champagne cocktail. Red in colour and bubbly by nature, and the best thing about this drink is that it only needs three ingredients: 1 bottle of champagne, 1 jug unsweetened cranberry juice, and ½ cup (125 mL) Cointreau or other orange liqueur. You mix all of these together, put them in champagne flutes, add a sprig of rosemary, and you’ve got yourself a delectable cocktail that will raise everybody’s spirits.
The Grinch: Since 1957 when Doctor Suess wrote that book which reminds us of the true meaning of Christmas, the Grinch has forever been on our minds. So, if you are wanting to inspire people to grow their hearts three sizes bigger, maybe you should serve this tasty modern beverage. You will need ½ cup (120 mL) of the following: melon liqueur, white rum, lemon-lime pop, and blue curacao liquor. Lastly 1½ cup (360 mL) orange juice to finish it all off. Guaranteed to sweeten up the grumpiest humbug.
Jack Frost: Known as the personification of winter and all that comes with it, Jack Frost stories have been told since the 19th century. No matter how you choose to view this famous figure (a mischievous troublemaker or a great hero) he certainly deserves his own drink. This newest holiday cocktail is quickly spreading cheer throughout the internet and social media like a Canadian blizzard. What you need is: 1 cup (240 mL) pineapple juice, ½ cup (120 mL) blue curaçao liquor, light rum, and lastly cream of coconut. Sounds like the holidays in a glass!
Hot or cold, these festive drinks scream Christmas. They are a sure-fire way to impress your guests with your mixology skills and historical knowledge. Whether it is the true traditions or modern twists, the spirit of Christmas is sure to come alive if you find the right recipe. Happy Holidays readers!