Christmas Drinks

For centuries, people have been celebrating the holidays and getting in the Christmas spirit by sipping festive Christmas drinks. From creamy eggnog to spicy cider to sweet champagne cocktails, there”s a Christmas drink to suit every palate.

Christmas drinks are a wonderful way to enhance your holiday festivities. However, you should enjoy Christmas drinks moderately and responsibly.

Eggnog: A Traditional Christmas Drink

Eggnog is a term that is loosely used to describe a number of Christmas drinks made from eggs, milk and alcohol. Typically, the alcohol used to make eggnog is either brandy, rum or whiskey.

Eggnog has been a popular Christmas tradition since the 17th century, when people in Britain enjoyed a festive drink called nog. Comprised of beer, egg yolks, sugar, cinnamon and lemon rind, nog became the basis for modern day eggnog.

In the 1800s, eggnog became popular in North America. However, most of the American versions of eggnog are based on French eggnog, or lait de poule (literally “milk of the chicken”). In the French version, brandy and other spirits are used in place of beer.

Eggnog: Cooking with Eggs

Because eggs can contain salmonella bacteria, it is important to heat the eggs you use for your eggnog to 170 ?F to kill any bacteria and avoid food poisoning with Christmas drinks. Alterntively, you can buy pasteurized eggs at your local grocery store.

Traditional Eggnog Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 7 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup whiskey (alcohol can be halved to produce a less-potent eggnog)
  • 1/3 cup rum or brandy (alcohol can be halved to produce a less-potent eggnog)
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

Directions

  1. In a large heavy saucepan, heat the milk just to the boiling point. Do not let the milk boil.
  2. As the milk heats, whisk the eggs and sugar in a large bowl.
  3. Add the hot milk in a steady stream, whisking as you pour.
  4. Return the milk/egg mixture to the saucepan, and cook on moderately low heat for six to seven minutes. If you have a cooking thermometer, the eggnog should reach 170 ?F.
  5. Once cooked, pour the entire mixture through a fine sieve into a large bowl. Stir in the whiskey, brandy/rum, heavy cream, vanilla extract and nutmeg.
  6. Allow the eggnog to cool completely at room temperature, then refrigerate for at least three hours before drinking. Ideally, refrigerate for 24 hours to allow the flavor to mellow.

For a child-friendly, non-alcoholic version of eggnog, simply omit the liquor.

Mulled Cider Recipe

Mulled cider is a traditional Christmas drink in many American households. This version of mulled cider uses non-alcoholic cider instead of alcoholic cider. If you prefer, you can use hard, or alcoholic, cider.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • dash of salt
  • 8 cups non-alcoholic cider
  • 1 stick cinnamon (about 3 inches long)
  • 1 tsp whole allspice
  • 1 tsp whole cloves
  • dash of nutmeg
  • cheesecloth
  • orange slices for garnish

Directions

  1. Combine the sugar, salt and cider in a large pan.
  2. Tie all the spices up in a cheesecloth bag and add to the cider.
  3. Bring to a slow boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Pour into mugs and garnish with orange slices.

Christmas Drinks: Mulled Wine

Mulled wine has been a traditional Christmas drink far longer than many of the drinks we drink around the holidays. In fact, mulled wine dates back to medieval Europe. In order to make spoiled wine drinkable, people in the Middle Ages would often simmer the wine with herbs and spices. Thus, mulled wine was born.

When making mulled wine it is important that you not allow the wine to boil. Boiling the wine will cause the flavor to be ruined. Also, keep in mind that you don”t need to purchase a high-quality wine for mulled wine: Any fruity red will do.

Mulled Wine Recipe

(adapted from Mulled Wine Recipe from thewineman.com)

Ingredients

  • 2 lemons (sliced)
  • 2 oranges (sliced)
  • 1 bottle red wine
  • nutmeg and cloves, to taste
  • 2 ounces brandy
  • 1 cup sugar, optional
  • cinnamon sticks or candy canes, for garnish

Directions

  1. Heat the wine in a saucepan: Do not boil.
  2. Add the fruit, brandy, nutmeg and cloves to the wine.
  3. If using sugar, add when the wine is hot.
  4. Pour into mugs and garnish with cinnamon sticks, or, for Christmas drinks, candy canes.

Christmas Drinks: Champagne Cocktails

Champagne cocktails make elegant Christmas drinks and are a great way to toast the holidays. For a Christmas brunch, try a morning glory champagne cocktail or a poinsettia champagne cocktail.

Morning Glory Champagne Cocktail

Ingredients

  • 1 ounce Grand Marnier
  • champagne
  • orange juice

Directions

  1. Pour Grand Marnier into a champagne glass.
  2. Fill approximately half the glass with orange juice and top with champagne.

For non-alcoholic champagne cocktails, substitute a non-alcoholic sparkling cider for the champagne.

Poinsettia Champagne Cocktail

Ingredients

  • champagne
  • 1 ounce Chambord
  • cranberry juice
  • splash of soda water (optional)

Directions

  1. Fill a champagne flute half full with your favorite champagne.
  2. Add Chambord and top with cranberry juice.

If you find the cocktail too sweet, add a splash of soda water to lighten the flavor.