A holiday gathering wouldn’t be complete without these players!!! Here are a few traditional drinks with some twists, some warm, some cold, something for everyone. These are all very versatile, you can omit or change spices, you can switch up the liquors; make them suit your needs and the preferences of your guests. The Rum Chai Spiced Cider is delightful, with essence of chai spice, a bite from the ginger, and warm cozy feeling from the rum. It is a great way to get into the holiday spirit. The Choco-nog is a bit different than traditional but ridiculously yummy. It is like dessert and can be made with out the cocoa and spices for a yummy after dinner drink. The Holiday Sangria is stupid easy and a good crowd pleaser. This can also be made with white wine if you wish. And the Kir Royale just screams celebration! This is such an elegant drink and a great way to kick off your holiday gathering! Please enjoy responsibly!
Rum Chai Spiced Cider - Serves 6-8
2 cinnamon sticks
8 whole cloves
15 whole black peppercorns
13 slices candied ginger, reserve 8 for garnish and chop the rest
2 star anise pods
8 cardamom pods
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 quart apple cider or natural apple juice
Juice and rind from 1 orange
1 cup light or spiced rum*
Mortar and pestle
Fine mesh strainer
Using a mortar and pestle crush the whole spices: cinnamon through fennel seeds, (alternatively you could put them in a zip top bag and crush with a heavy bottomed pot). In a medium sauce pan over medium heat combine the apple juice, orange juice and rind and ground cinnamon. Add the crushed spices and bring to a simmer and allow to cook for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, strain out the solids and discard, then add the rum and serve with a slice of candied ginger on the side of the glass.
*We tried this with both light and spiced rum. The spiced rum gave us a bit of a kick and the light rum seemed subtler and fruity…you choose!
3 cups heavy cream or 1/2 and 1/2
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
Pinch of cayenne (optional)
1/2 cup bourbon or brandy
Grated chocolate for garnish
Microplane or rasp style grater
In a medium saucepan set over medium low heat combine the cream and sugar. Bring to a simmer (about 170°F) stirring occasionally to ensure that the sugar dissolves. In a blender, blend the eggs until light in color and frothy. Add the cocoa powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cayenne and blend until combined. With the blender running carefully add 1/2 of the warmed cream/sugar mixture to the blender. Return the egg mixture to the pan and whisk to combine. Add the bourbon or brandy and whisk to combine. You can serve it warm or chilled with grated chocolate.
* If you want just traditional nog omit the cocoa, cinnamon, and cayenne and garnish with grated nutmeg.
Holiday Sangria - Serves 8
1/4 cup natural cane sugar
1/4 cup water
1 small grapefruit
1, 750 ml bottle red wine (we used Syrah, but Zinfandel, Merlot, or Shiraz will work)
3 ounces Brandy
2 cups club soda
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
For the simple syrup: Heat the water and sugar in a small saucepan until the sugar is dissolved, set aside and cool. Cut all of the citrus fruits in half and juice into a pitcher (oranges use 1 1/2 for juice) then slice the other halves into thin slices to add to the sangria. Combine the red wine, brandy, and simple syrup. Stir to combine and chill. When ready to serve add the club soda and most of the pomegranate seeds and stir. Serve over ice with a sprinkle of pomegranate seeds in each glass.
To make a Kir Royale just add about a tablespoon of Chambord to each glass of champagne then garnish with a lemon twist…rub the yellow part of the twist around the rim of the glass…it will leave some essential oils from the rind for the drinker to enjoy with every sip!