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Archive for Cocktails & Spirits

HOLIDAY: Egg Nog Recipes For National Egg Nog Day

National Egg Nog Day is December 24th. But you can enjoy the rich holiday beverage from Thanksgiving through New Year’s.

While the origins of egg nog are debated, it may have originated from posset, a medieval European beverage made with hot milk and white wine. Americans adapted it but used the New World liquor rum, and later, bourbon (which evolved to its present form in the late 19th century). Cider was also used.

George Washington was quite a fan of egg nog and devised his own recipe that included rye whiskey, rum and sherry.

We know that there are eggs in egg nog, but what’s the “nog?” Opinions differ, but it’s an American name.

  • In Colonial America, rum was commonly called “grog,” and the descriptive term for the drink, “egg-and-grog,” may have corrupted to egg‘n’grog and then to egg nog.
  • Other experts insist that the “nog” is short for “noggin,” a small, carved wooden mug used to serve drinks in taverns.
  • It could even be a combination of the two: that an “egg and grog in a noggin” was shortened to egg nog. After having one or two, it’s easy to see why.
  •  
    In the 1800s, egg nog was nearly always made in large quantities and nearly always a party drink. It was noted by an English visitor in 1866, that “Christmas is not properly observed unless you brew egg nog for all comers; everybody calls on everybody else; and each call is celebrated by a solemn egg-nogging…It is made cold and is drunk cold and is to be commended.”

    Here’s more on the history of egg nog.
     
    EGGNOG RECIPES

  • Chocolate Egg Nog Recipe
  • Classic Egg Nog Recipe
  • Coconut Egg Nog
  • Eggnog Martini Recipe
  • Eggnog White Russian Recipe
  • Flaming Egg Nog Recipe
  • Low Calorie Egg Nog Recipes
  •    

    Classic Eggnog

    Chocolate Eggnog

    [1] Classic eggnog (photo courtesy Liquor.com). [2] Chocolate eggnog (photo courtesy Pitch.com).

     

    Eggnog Gingerbread Cheesecakes

    Gingerbread-eggnog mini cheesecakes (photo courtesy Driscoll’s).

      HOLIDAY RECIPES MADE WITH EGGNOG

  • Egg Nog Crumble Bars Recipe
  • Egg Nog Mini Bundt Cakes Recipe
  • Eggnog French Toast Recipe
  • Eggnog Gingerbread Mini Cheesecakes Recipe
  • Eggnog Ice Cream Recipe
  • Eggnog Panettone Ice Cream Cake Recipe
  • Eggnog Panna Cotta Recipe
  • Eggnog Streusel Bars Recipe
  • Eggnog Truffles Recipe
  • Eggnog Whipped Cream Recipe
  • Eggnog Wreath Cookies Recipe
  • White Chocolate Eggnog Fudge Recipe
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    TIP OF THE DAY: Cranberry Mulled Wine

    She uses a slow cooker: a great way to mull wine or cider without having to tend to it.

    After years of serving mulled wine, we realized that the popular garnishes are wasteful: They can’t be eaten, and are tossed out. That means you, cinnamon sticks, curls of peel, raw cranberries and star anise. So, we’ve settled on a seasonal garnishes that is edible, attractive and aromatic:

  • Orange wheel for the rim, especially blood orange; or a wedge studded with a few cloves for the aroma.
  • We’ve also made a glass rim of orange zest with a bit of superfine sugar.
  • For the same reason, we add dried cranberries to the pot instead of whole cranberries.
  •  
    We start with a conventional recipe and end up with a slow cooker alternative. Slow mulling is great because it doesn’t take up a stove top burner that you may need for cooking.
     
    TIPS

  • the juice and the brandy bring the yield to 46 ounces. If you’re serving 6-ounce portions in 8-ounce cups, that’s roughly 6 servings.
  • Make a batch without alcohol: mulled Apple cider with cranberry juice.
  •  
    RECIPE #1: CRANBERRY MULLED WINE

    We adapted this classic recipe from Wine And Glue.

    TIP: Serve mulled wine in a glass vessel. If you don’t have glass mugs or Irish Coffee glasses, consider getting some. They’re not more than $5 apiece, and you can use them year-round for any hot beverage. Rocks glasses and stemmed wine glasses also work.

    Ingredients

  • 750 ml bottle Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Zinfandel (un-oaked)
  • 1-1/2 cups brandy
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 oranges, sliced and studded with 1 tablespoon cloves
  • 1 cup cranberry juice (not cranberry drink or cocktail)
  • 1/3 cup honey or sugar (we prefer the flavor nuances of honey and use only 1/4 cup for less sweetness, more sophisticated flavor)
  • Optional: 5 cardamom pods, bruised
  •    

    Holiday Mulled Wine

    Orange Studded With Cloves

    [1] The conventional garnishes look beautiful, but you can’t eat them (photo courtesy Kitchen Treaty). [2] Our favorite garnish: an orange wedge (edible) studded with a few cloves (photo courtesy The Guardian).

     
    Variations

  • If you have cranberry liqueur, you can substitute it for all or part of the brandy.
  • Ditto for orange liqueur, like Grand Marnier.
  • Both of these will change the flavor profile a bit: more cranberry or orange flavor.
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all ingredients in a large sauce pan. Bring to a quick boil, then reduce to a low simmer for 10 minutes. You don’t want the alcohol to evaporate.

    2. SERVE warm. If you don’t have glass cups or mugs, you can also use stemmed wine glasses or rocks glasses.
     
    RECIPE #2: SLOW COOKER CRANBERRY MULLED WINE

    We adapted this recipe from Kate at Kitchen Treaty.

    Ingredients

  • 1 bottle (750 ml) unoaked Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Zinfandel
  • 2 cups cranberry* juice (not cranberry cocktail)
  • 1 cup whole cranberries
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar (substitute honey or maple syrup)
  • 1 medium orange
  • 2 tablespoons whole cloves
  • 2 3-inch cinnamon sticks
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • Garnishes of choice
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the wine, orange juice, cranberries, and sugar to a 3-quart or larger slow cooker. Stir to help the sugar dissolve.

    2. SCRUB the orange, stud it with cloves and add it to the pot. If you don’t have the time to insert the cloves, just toss them into the pot separately. There are two techniques to stud an orange: use a thimble on your finger (pushing in more than a few starts to dent your finger) or first make holes with an ice pick or toothpick.

    3. COOK on low for 2-3 hours, until the cranberries are tender. Be sure not to boil. Remove the orange and the cinnamon sticks, then carefully pour the mulled wine through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl. Use the back of a large spoon to press on the cranberries and release the juices. Return the wine to the slow cooker and stir in the brandy. Taste and adjust the sweetness until it’s just sweet enough (the sweetness should be more elegant than a soft drink!).

    4. LADLE into mugs, garnish as desired and serve. Keep the slow cooker on the low setting so guests can help themselves to refills. Kitchen Treaty advises that if kept on low for more than three hours, it will boil—and boil off the alcohol.

     

    Mulled Wine Recipe

    Mulled Wine

    [3] and [4] Glass mugs or rocks glasses make mulled wine look even better (photo #1 courtesy Gimme Some Oven. Ali adds star anise to her recipe. Photo #2 courtesy Gordon Ramsay Group).

     

    RECIPE #3: MULLED WINE WITH VODKA

    This ingredient comes from Ocean Spray. The vodka is optional, but we highly recommend it!
     
    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1-1/2 cups Ocean Spray 100% Juice Cranberry Juice Blend
  • 1-1/2 cups dry red wine
  • 3/4 teaspoon lemon peel
  • 3/4 teaspoon grated orange peel
  • 6 whole cardamom pods
  • 6 cloves
  • 2 three-inch cinnamon sticks
  • 6 ounces lemon flavored Vodka (substitute other citrus vodka or plain vodka)
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries/Craisins
  • 2 tablespoons slivered almonds
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all ingredients except the vodka, dried cranberries and almonds in a large saucepan. Heat to boiling, reduce the heat and simmer 15 for minutes.

    2. STRAIN to remove the spices. Stir in the vodka,

    3. PLACE 1 tablespoon of dried cranberries and 1-1/2 teaspoons almonds in the bottom of each glass or mug. Pour the in mulled wine and serve.
     
    WHAT DOES “MULLED” MEAN?

    According to Harvard University, the origin of the word “mull” to mean heated and spiced is shrouded in mystery. Mulling spices can include allspice, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, peppercorns and/or star anise. A “mulled” drink is one which has been prepared with these spices. The same spices can be added to the brewing process to make spiced beer.

    The custom is believed to have originated in northern Europe to use wine that had gone bad. The spices covered up the off taste, along with additions such as apples, oranges and dried fruits, including raisins.

     
    The technique is to heat the liquids with the spices and then strain them out before serving.

    The expression “cup of good cheer” comes to us from Merrie Olde England, referring to hot mulled cider and wine.

    “Wassail” (WASS-ul), meaning good health, began as a greeting among Anglo-Saxons, who inhabited England from the 5th century. They comprised Germanic tribes who migrated to the island from continental Europe, and initially spoke what we today call Old English.

    Centuries later, the term evolved into a drinking toast. The wassail bowl tradition began in the 14th century in southern England, home to apple groves galore and a lot of apple cider. The first wassail bowls contained hot mulled cider. When you come across references to “a cup of good cheer,” it refers to mulled cider or wine.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: A Perfect Christmas Cocktail (& A Chanukah Cocktail, Too)

    For your holiday celebrations, we propose a perfect Christmas cocktail:

  • It’s sparkling.
  • I can be red and green.
  • It’s easy to make.
  • There’s a mocktail variation.
  •  
    A conventional Mimosa combines sparkling wine and orange juice (see the Mimosa history, below). Substitute cranberry juice and you’ve got the holiday version.

    (For a Chanukah version, use sparkling wine and blue Curaçao, with blue sparkling sugar. Here’s the recipe; photo below.).

    You need only two ingredients—wine and cranberry juice. But you can create a more complex flavor and glamorous look recipe by adding:

  • Liqueur: cranberry or orange.
  • Rose or red sparkling wine.
  • A glass rimmer.
  • A festive garnish.
  •  
    RECIPE #1: CRANBERRY MIMOSA

    You can make the drink sweeter with a sweeter sparkling wine, by adding liqueur, and/or by increasing the percentage of cranberry juice (which also makes a less potent drink).

  • For a sweeter cocktail, use a 1:1 proportion of wine to juice.
  • For a less sweet cocktail, use a 2:1 proportion of wine to juice.
  • For a dry cocktail, use a tablespoon or two of juice and fill the glass with wine.
     
    FOR THE WINE: There’s no need to spring for Champagne; its toasty flavors get covered up by the juice. Instead, use a well-priced ($10-$15/bottle) sparkling wine such as Asti Spumante or Prosecco from Italy, Cava from Spain, Crémant from France, or our favorite Yellow Tail Rosé Bubbles from Australia.
     
    TO SERVE: Champagne flutes are ideal, but you can use a conventional wine glass, preferably a white wine glass, which has a smaller and narrower mouth (a wide mouth lets the bubbles escape quickly, which is why champagne flutes are so narrow).

     
    Ingredients

  • Sparkling wine (see our recommendations)
  • Cranberry juice (cranberry cocktail and cranberry drink products are sweeter)
  • Optional liqueur
  • Garnish (see ideas below)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CHILL the wine and juice in advance.

    2. RIM the glasses in advance. Moisten the glass rims and twist them in a plate of sugar at the beginning of the event.

    3. ADD the juice and optional liqueur to the glass. Stir briefly.

    4. TOP off with the sparkling wine. Garnish as desired and serve.
     
    Garnishes

  • “Evergreen”: rosemary sprig with cranberries or small red grapes.
  • Frozen grapes on a pick (recipe #3, below).
  • Red & Green: green sparkling sugar rim on the red drink.
  • “Santa hat”: a white sugar rim on the red drink.
  • Strawberry with green top, notched to sit on the rim.
  •  
    RECIPE #2: MOCKTAIL VERSION

    Ingredients

  • Ocean spray sparkling juice drink or plain cranberry juice
  • Lemon-lime soda or (for a drier drink) club soda, plain or citrus-flavored
  •  
    RECIPE #3: FROZEN GRAPE PICKS

    Increase the ingredients as needed for the size of your gathering. You can mix the colors or use just one color of grapes.

  • 1 cup seedless green grapes
  • 1 cup seedless red grapes
  • 1/4 cup white granulated or sparkling sugar
  • Cocktail picks
  •  
    Preparation

    1. REMOVE from the stems and wash the grapes.

    2. PLACE 3-4 grapes on each pick and roll in a plate of sugar. The coating does not need to be even or heavy; a smaller amount makes for better eating. If the grapes have dried, you can lightly spray them with water. Let them sit for 15 minutes for the sugar to adhere.

    3. FREEZE the skewers until ready to use.
     
    THE HISTORY OF THE MIMOSA COCKTAIL

     

    Cranberry Mimosa

    Sparkling Christmas Cocktail

    Sparkling Christmas Cocktail

    Sparkling Christmas Cocktail

    Brachetto d'Acqui

    Chanukah Champagne Cocktail

    [1] Cranberry Mimosa with a conventional garnish (photo courtesy Ocean Spray). [2] With an “evergreen” garnish: a rosemary sprig and red grapes (photo courtesy Delish). [3] Like a Santa hat with a rim of sparkling sugar (photo courtesy Stress Baking). [4] With frozen sugared grapes (photo courtesy The Cookie Rookie). [5] For a deeper red cocktail: Brachetto d’Aqui sparkling Italian wine (photo courtesy Banfi). [6] The Chanukah version. Here’s the recipe from Announcing It, plus more Chanukah cocktails.

     
    The Mimosa, a cocktail composed of equal parts of orange juice and Champagne or other dry, white sparkling wine, was invented circa 1925 in the Hôtel Ritz in Paris, by bartender Frank Meier.

    Served in a Champagne flute, it is believed to be named after the the mimosa evergreen shrub (Acacia dealbata), which bears flowers of a similar light orange color as the drink.

    Because of the juice component, the Mimosa is often served at brunch. A Grapefruit Mimosa is a popular variation.

    A related drink, the Buck’s Fizz, has two parts Champagne to one part juice—and sometimes a splash of grenadine. Created at London’s Buck’s Club by bartender Pat McGarryhe, the Buck’s Fizz predates the Mimosa by about four years.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Cotton Candy Cocktail

    Cotton Candy Cocktail

    Cotton Candy Cocktail

    Spun Sugar Dessert

    [1] Top a cocktail or mocktail with cotton candy (photo Jeff Green | Barbara Kraft | Arizona Biltmore). [2] Soft drinks, shakes, and so forth can get the cotton candy treatment (photo courtesy Aww Sam). [3] Spun sugar, the predecessor of cotton candy (photo courtesy Food Network).

     

    December 7th is National Cotton Candy Day. In different parts of the world, it’s known as candy cobwebs, candy floss, fairy floss and spider webs, among other names.

    THE HISTORY OF COTTON CANDY

    The father of cotton candy was spun sugar. In the mid-18th century, master confectioners in Europe and America learned to hand-craft spun sugar nests as Easter decorations and elaborate dessert presentations.

    According to The Dictionary of American Food and Drink, the debut of the product we know as cotton candy took place in 1897 in Nashville.

    Candymakers William Morrison and John C. Wharton invented an electric machine that allowed crystallized sugar to be poured onto a heated spinning plate, pushed by centrifugal force through a series of tiny holes.

    In 1904 at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, Morrison and Wharton sold the product, then known as “fairy floss,” in cardboard boxes for 25 cents a serving. Though the price equaled half the admission to the Fair itself, they sold 68,655 boxes!

    Here’s more cotton candy history.

    COTTON CANDY AS A DRINK GARNISH

    For those with a sweet tooth, cotton candy is a fun garnish for cocktails, mocktails and other non-alcoholic drinks.

    Caterers love the idea, as do some mixologists. Some mixologists create “magic” at the bar or table, presenting a glass of cotton candy, then pouring the cocktail over it.

    Check out this YouTube video and this fun recipe. The cotton candy disappears “like magic”.

     
    THE COTTON CANDY COCKTAIL

    Match the cotton candy color to the drink, or create contrast.

    Here are some recipes to start you off:

    Cotton Candy Daiquiri

    Garnished Shots

    Multicolor Cocktail With Multicolor Cotton Candy
     
     
    For a drinkable dessert, garnish a glass of sweet wine.

    You can find many more online, including a Pinterest page on cotton candy cocktails.

    TIP: You don’t have to add an ice cream scoop-size ball of cotton candy. Sometimes, less is more.

     

     
      

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    FOOD 101: It’s Repeal Day, Drink Some Real Gin

    On December 5th, in the spirit of Repeal Day—the repeal of the 18th amendment to the U.S. Constitution—raise a glass to your federal right to drink alcohol.

    In the winter of 1919, Congress passed the 18th Amendment, outlawing the production and consumption of alcohol in the United States.

    The original intent was to put an end to social misconduct, crime and family crisis—since on payday, too many breadwinners would squander much of their paychecks at the saloon, leading to brawling, inability to pay for rent and food, aggression at home, etc.

    Alas, instead of creating a better society, the law engendered the growth of organized crime, which was happy to bootleg, provide protection to speakeasies, and so on.

    Those who wanted to party at home found a way with bootlegged spirits, bathtub gin (which could cause blindness), and other horrors.

    After thirteen years of living with Prohibition, the 18th Amendment was repealed on December 5th, 1933 under the leadership of President Franklin D. Roosevelt*. The date has been referred to as “Repeal Day.”

    So celebrate your freedom from bathtub gin with one of the…

    TOP 12 GIN COCKTAILS

  • French 75, with champagne, lemon juice and simple syrup.
  • Gibson, a gin Martini with a cocktail onion replacing the olive.
  • Gimlet, with lime juice and simple syrup.
  • Gin Rickey, with lime juice and soda water.
  • Gin & Tonic, with tonic water.
  • Gin Fizz, with lemon juice, sugar and soda water.
  • Martini, the original made with gin, dry vermouth and an olive garnish.
  • Negroni, with Campari and sweet vermouth.
  • Pink Lady, with egg white and grenadine.
  • Tom Collins, with lemon juice, simple syrup and soda water.
  • Salty Dog, gin and grapefruit juice with a salt rim.
  • Singapore Sling, with benedictine, benedictine, bitters, cherry heering, Cointreau, lime juice and pineapple juice.
  •  
    BATHTUB GIN: WHAT WAS IT?

    Gin was the predominant spirit in the 1920s. After the Volstead Act (which led to the 18th Amendment), bathtub gin was “of necessity” created in actual bathtubs or other large containers. The alcohol to make it was either purchased from bootleggers or from legitimate medical suppliers, which sold denatured or wood alcohol.

     

    Gin & Tonic

    Caviartini

    The Gin & Tonic, photo [1] (courtesy Drizzle And Drip) and the Martini, photo [2], courtesy Petrossian, vie to be the most popular gin drink in America. We’re wild about Petrossian’s Caviartini® garnish, caviar cubes made exclusively by the company.

     
    By mixing wood alcohol with other flavorings, such as the juniper berries that flavored real gin, and allowing the mixture to steep in a tub for hours or days, the wood alcohol became more drinkable.

    Many gin cocktails were created to cover up the less-than-ideal flavor of bathtub gin.

    Actual distillation requires a closed distillation apparatus; it can’t be done in an open container like a bathtub.

    The process for converting wood alcohol into a drinkable form was not always reliable, resulting in batches that were poisonous, often leading to blindness and even death: About 10,000 people died from drinking bad alcohol during Prohibition.

    ________________
    *Not everything was rosy after the 19th Amendment was passed, repealing Prohibition. Prohibition gave way to the start of the Great Depression in the early 1930s. Constitution trivia: The 18th Amendment is the only one to be repealed; a total of 27 have been ratified. The first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, known as The Bill Of Rights, were ratified together in 1791.

      

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