Drinks lift holiday spirits

Published 6:29 pm Wednesday, November 28, 2007

By Staff
The countdown is on to the biggest holiday of the year: Christmas. There will be countless parties and gatherings of all sorts during the coming weeks. I plan to devote the space in this column to dishes to make the holiday merry and festive.
This week's collection of recipe focuses on beverages for the holiday. No holiday party would be complete without a festive drink to warm the spirit and the body. If the weather is cool, a hot chocolate or hot cider drink fits nicely. If, as we commonly experience here, the weather is warmer, a good sweet punch can brighten any party.
To begin this week, I've found a recipe for a cider-type drink that is wonderful, refreshing and has great flavor. It combines the apple cider with citrus and spices to create a great beverage.
Cider Wassail
2 quarts apple cider
1 1/2 cups orange juice
3/4 cup pineapple juice
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
2 cinnamon sticks (3 inches)
1 dash ground cinnamon
1 dash ground cloves
In a large saucepan, combine all of the ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Discard cinnamon sticks. Serve hot in mugs.
My mouth is watering now for a good hot cup of wassail. I hope you get a chance to put this drink together. It's quick to put together and requires very little effort to make. Once you're done with the simmering portion of the work, this drink can be kept hot by serving from a crock pot or other slow cooker method. It can be spruced up visually by adding a few slices of orange or lemon to the top of the pot.
For those of you who like cool and cream drinks, eggnog usually will fit the need. I've found a fairly easy and quick recipe for the drink that should be a crowed pleaser for your party.
4 cups milk
5 whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
12 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups light rum
4 cups light cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Combine milk, cloves, vanilla, and cinnamon in a saucepan, and heat over lowest setting for 5 minutes. Slowly bring milk mixture to a boil. In a large bowl, combine egg yolks and sugar. Whisk together until fluffy. Whisk hot milk mixture slowly into the eggs. Pour mixture into saucepan.
Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly for three minutes, or until thick.
Do not allow mixture to boil. Strain to remove cloves, and let cool for about an hour. Stir in rum, cream, two teaspoons vanilla, and nutmeg. Refrigerate overnight before serving.
If eggnog or wassail doesn't fit your needs for a holiday beverage, this next recipe is something that everyone can enjoy. Children love punch, and grownups enjoy a sweet, festive drink around the holidays as well.
This next recipe is for a quick and easy punch that can be made at the last minute. Just keep the chilled ingredients in the refrigerator until just before serving time.
Keep in mind this recipe makes just over a gallon of liquid so make sure you have a large enough bowl to mix the ingredients in before you begin.
You could cut the recipe in half easily to accommodate a smaller group of folks.
Cranberry Fruit Punch
5 cups chilled cranberry juice
5 cups chilled white grape juice
5 cups chilled pineapple juice
3 cups ginger ale, chilled
1 pint orange sherbet
Just before serving, combine the juices and ginger ale in a punch bowl. Add scoops of sherbet.
Next week, I plan to share some party food ideas and recipes with you.
Some of the recipes are old and some are old ideas with new twists.
I'd love to hear about your holiday ideas and recipes that you've come to trust during the holiday season.
Whether it's party foods or recipes for side dishes or main courses, I'd love to share them with the readers of this column.
If you'd like to share something, give me a call, drop by the office or send me an e-mail at lisa.tindell@brewtonstandard.com. I promise to give you credit for anything printed here.
Until next week, happy cooking!