Holiday beverages

There are a variety of special holiday beverages, I’ve stocked up on a few special Christmas Beers, and there are a couple of warm drinks that fit the weather.

I don’t have anything nice to say about Egg Nog, the traditional salmonella and alcohol favorite. Here’s why. Properly prepared Egg Nog contains raw eggs, a bad idea when sharing holiday bacteria, and the description of Egg Nog is ” a sweetened dairy-based beverage traditionally made with milk and/or cream, sugar, and whipped eggs. Brandy, rum, whisky, bourbon, vodka, or a combination of liquors are often added”. In other words, it is a vehicle for whatever alcohol you have laying around.

My favorite warm beverage is Hot Buttered Rum. A few years ago I found a bulk recipe, and made a Winter’s worth of mix, which I kept in the fridge so that making the drink was as easy as boiling water, adding mix, and adding rum. This recipe will make about ten servings:

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 cups light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
Pinch ground cloves
Pinch salt
Bottle dark rum (I prefer Black Seal for this)
Boiling water
In a bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. Refrigerate until almost firm. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the butter mixture into small mugs. Pour about 3 ounces of rum into each mug (filling about halfway). Top with boiling water (to fill the remaining half), stir well, and serve immediately
Mulled wine is also popular this time of year. You may have heard it call “Gluehwine” or “Glow wine”. This is easy to prepare in a large crock pot, if you don’t have one a double boiler will do. Worst case, an exceptionally low heat under a very thick pot. Use an inexpensive heavy red wine, Zinfandel or Cabernet Sauvignon work well:
One bottle (750 mL) of red wine
One  orange
8-10 cloves
1/3 cup honey
3 cinnamon sticks
1 inch fresh ginger julienned
Slice the orange into quarters, insert the cloves into the peel, the ginger into the flesh. Dissolve the honey in the warming wine, add the cinnamon and the orange pieces. Ladle into cups when hot, do not boil.
If you’re looking for celebratory bubbly, I prefer blanc de noirs, it’s not quite a rosé, and is a bit unusual. Chandon has a festive holiday bottle this year, I haven’t been able to find my favorite, Domaine Ste Michelle. Prosecco, a sparkling wine from Italy, is also a nice alternative to traditional sparkling wines. If you want to try something completely different, how about Kriek?

Kriek is a cherry beer from Belgium, there are several brands, we prefer Lindemans. It’s a low alcohol (4.5%) beverage, the flavor is black cherry so it’s not exactly “sweet”, and it’s a lovely red color. Another new beverage is from Stella Artois, “Cidre” is an apple cider also rated at 4.5% alcohol.

Several Belgian breweries produce Christmas beers, winner of the cutest bottle is from Delirium.


Which brings us to the effects of alcohol. Know your limits, and those of your guests. The measure of “safe to drive” includes how safe it is to drive with all the other wankers sliding about. Stay close, stay warm, make good memories.


One comment on “Holiday beverages

  1. MIke R says:

    In all of my many years I have never tried Hot Buttered Rum. Thank you for the recipe! Alas, I suppose I am a man of whiskeys and brandies, straight up. My son gifted me with a bottle of special scotch and a very nice box of cigars which will make for a nice Christmas.


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