Thursday, December 8, 2011

Holiday drinking takes a turn for the better

Holiday party time is quickly approaching If you drink alcoholic beverages you have no problem finding recipes for fancy cocktails. But what do you do if you're having a holiday party with no alcohol?

Here's what you do. If you have an easy punch recipe, you mix it up and toss it at your guests. If you don't have a recipe, you call one of your friends and request a recipe. At this point they will give it their best shot and give you that punch thing where you float orange sherbet crap in it.

That particular recipe is fine if you're giving a baby shower or even a wedding shower for someone you barely know.

But be reasonable guys. This is the holidays we're taking about. Do you really think your recovering alcoholic friends are going to be thrilled drinking something with a big orange blob floating around in it?

There are lots of people who don't drink because of religious beliefs, or are on medications where they can't drink alcohol. There are thousands who are recovering alcoholics and can't drink. Too many of these abstainers think the only alternatives, unless they serve the above floating stuff,  are milk, water and coffee. Not true.

Almost any drink becomes elegant when served in stemware. Don't rule out drinking some of the mixes for drinks and just leaving out the alcohol.

Another option available for those of us who cannot tolerate alcoholic beverages:
Virgin Mary:
3 oz. tomato juice
3 oz. cranberry juice
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco
1 teaspoon lime juice
and a little black pepper.
Mixed and served in a highball glass with a stick of celery and a lime wedge.

If you want to really wow your guests, put together an old English tradition, the Wassail!

There are many recipes out there. Many use pineapple juice, apple juice, even grapefruit juice. For a number of years I fixed wassail every Christmas. It's a delightful drink that's served hot in mugs. Very nice for cold nights during the holidays.

Here's my favorite recipe. You can adjust it if you're having a large crowd.

Start by juicing 2 oranges, 2 lemons, and 2 limes. Set juice aside.

Into a large stockpot bring about a quart of water to a boil. Add to the boiling water: 8 teaspoons allspice berries, 10 teaspoons whole cloves, 4 cinnamon sticks, and all the peels from the fruit you just juiced. Bring back to a boil, cover and simmer for 30-45 minutes.

Dip out the spices and peels. Then add to the pot: 1 gallon apple cider, the juices you set aside, 1 large cranberry juice cocktail, 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar. Heat it up and you're ready to serve. If you have very many people, I suggest you double everything, because they're going to want refills.

Put a cinnamon stick in each mug and fill with wassail. You can float thin slices of oranges, lemons or limes on wassail. If you don't want the cranberry juice, add pre-mixed lemonade, and/or orange juice. Make it to your taste and your guests will love it!
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