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How to Wow with Holiday Beverages

Krista Fredrick

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Krista Fredrick | December 13, 2012 | 0

Christmas CocktailsWhat’s October with no Oktoberfest?

What’s December without eggnog?

What’s November without … um … Wild Turkey?

The end of the year is a time to eat. But whether you’re entertaining a crowd or having an intimate evening in front of the fireplace, don’t forget to give the drinks their due. It’s time to send 2012 on its merry way with a selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic bevvies to wet your whistle while you’re under the mistletoe.

Beer cocktails

Kick the venerable brewski up a notch with a frothy beer cocktail. You may already be familiar with the shandy (beer mixed with citrus-flavored soda, carbonated lemonade, ginger beer, ginger ale, or cider) or the michelada (like a bloody mary, but with beer instead of vodka). But what about a shock me? Here’s the recipe:

  • 1/4 cup brown ale
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon Southern Comfort
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup

Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker. Plop ice into the mix and stir gently (you want to keep the carbonation of the ale). Transfer into a lowball glass (a short tumbler), straining as you go. Now get ready to be shocked.

Sicilian wine

There’s nothing like the old country when it comes to memories, romance and, yes, wine. And there’s no place more replete with memories, romance, and wine than Sicily, where hoary Mount Etna watches over the island and its many high-altitude vineyards. If you get the chance to go, go with God and goblets, for it is truly a place of heavenly spirits. The reds are all the rage now, but also treat your palate  to the great Sicilian whites. One to look for is Carricante, the outstanding wine that’s almost paper white but with a hint of lime green in its reflections.

Finger limes

These aren’t drinks, but these tasty citrus fruits pair nicely with your favorite poison. Originally from Australia, finger limes are now grown in sunny and drink-savvy California. They are the caviar of the fruit realm, though the juicy treats are far cheaper than sturgeon roe. Chefs are adding them to sauces and desserts, and bartenders are plonking the finger-sized fruits into cocktails and other concoctions. You should, too.

Java

Don’t forget that coffee can be a special treat, too. But what if you’re on the road and don’t have time to find your fave brew? No worries if you’ve got an AeroPress, a simple, hand-operated coffee maker. Put the filter on, cap the chamber, spoon in the coffee grounds, drench with hot water, stir and plunge the plunger. Coffee is served. And there are tons of great sweetened syrups to get your cuppa joe into the holiday spirit, including eggnog, pumpkin spice, buttered rum and chocolate peppermint.

Pineapple  wassail

Wassailing is an old tradition in the southern counties of England. It involves singing and drinking in celebration of the apple orchards that yield these regions’ exemplary ciders. But you can make Christmas a little less Dickensian and a little more tropical this quick wassail recipe. It will warm you up and make your home smell fantastic.

  • 4 cups unsweetened pineapple juice
  • 1 (12-ounce) can apricot nectar
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 3 (6-inch) cinnamon sticks, broken

Heat on the stove, then strain to remove bits of fruit and spice. Garnish with orange wedges and whole cinnamon sticks.

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