Holiday celebrations are in full swing - we’re looking forward to some open houses and holiday parties. With colder than average temperatures, I've been searching for a warm drink to lift our spirits and make the holidays a bit jollier.

Eggnog is a family favorite and we like to add a splash of spiced rum or bourbon to ours which gives it a little extra kick. The problem is it’s basically a chilled drink. Not exactly what I’m craving when it’s freezing outside!

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Hot Spiced Wine

Spiced or Mulled wine is also a holiday favorite. Many start with a light bodied red wine. When combined with Kirsch, a brandy made from cherries, and then laced with citrus and warming spices like cinnamon and cardamom, it becomes a delightful warming drink. If you’re planning to entertain this recipe can be prepared ahead of time and reheated just before serving.  

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A Hot Toddy

A hot toddy is basically just a cup of hot water spiked with a shot or two of a strong spirit. I often make mine with bourbon and lemon, but to get into the holiday spirit try making this toddy which has apple brandy and cinnamon. Additional flavors from lemon and honey help round out the drinks flavor  and then you can garnished it with a slice of apple.

Wassail

Wassail is a deeply rooted tradition and a popular staple throughout the cold-weather season. Wassail always blends apples and winter holiday spices, but the sweeteners and spirits often change from recipe to recipe. This one has bourbon and ginger - two of my favorites.

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I hope you all have a happy holiday season. Please remember to entertain responsibly and never drink and drive.

Live, Laugh, Love and Merry Christmas.

Hot Spiced Wine

iCookCourtesy of Food and Wine

Serves 12

  • 2 bottles of light-bodied red wine (e.g. Pinot Noir or Gamay)
  • 1 ¼ cup sugar
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 Black Peppercorns, crushed
  • 2 cardamom pods, crushed
  • One 3-inch cinnamon stick, crushed
  • 1 clove, crushed
  • ½ cup kirsch (brandy made from cherries)

In a large saucepan, combine the red wine with the sugar and the orange and lemon zests. Put the spices in a tea ball and add to the saucepan. Bring the wine to a very slow simmer over moderate heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat, discard the tea ball and stir in the kirsch. Ladle the spiced wine into heatproof glasses and serve at once.

NOTE: The spiced wine can be kept overnight at room temperature. Reheat before serving.

Apple-Brandy Hot Toddies

iCookCourtesy of Food and Wine

Serves 8

  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 2 TBSP plus 2 tsp honey
  • ½ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cups apple brandy, preferably Calvados
  • Eight 3-inch cinnamon sticks

In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the honey until dissolved. Stir in the lemon juice and apple brandy. Set a cinnamon stick in each mug or heatproof glass, pour in the hot liquid and serve.

NOTE: You can also garnish with a thick slice of apple.

Wassail

iCookCourtesy of Epicurious

Serves 10 - 12

  • 12 whole cloves
  • 6 whole allspice
  • 1/2 inch fresh ginger root, peeled and sliced
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 12 whole white peppercorns
  • 1 gallon fresh apple cider
  • 6 ounces cranberry juice
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 10-12 ounces bourbon

 To make the wassail, wrap the cloves, allspice, ginger, cinnamon sticks, and peppercorns in cheesecloth and tie with kitchen string. Combine the cider, cranberry juice, brown sugar, and spice bag in a large pot over high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes.

For each serving, put one ounce of the bourbon into a mug and fill it with hot Wassail. Garnish with a dusting of nutmeg and a cinnamon stick.

Tip:The Wassail can be stored for several days in a covered container in the refrigerator. If you like lots of spice, you can make it a day ahead and leave the spice bag in the container overnight.


You can download the recipe of the week HERE!