We have many beautiful holidays a head of us, Thanksgiving, Hanukah, Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve. For these occasions, nothing is too beautiful. Once a year, one can indulge in an accumulation of crystal, silver, china, an abundance of light and reflections, without fear of criticism. But as always, good taste will keep the display within bounds. A successful holiday party can be an enchanted memory for a whole year.
In today's homes, a corner of a room, or piece of furniture, is often reserved for purpose of a "house bar" and for preparation of cocktails. When getting ready for your guests remember that champagne and whisky are also popular at cocktail time. A bottle of good dry white wine needs no apology among close friends.
Aperitifs may also be served to those who prefer them. Cocktails are easily prepared in beaker or shaker. Be sure to have fruit juice on hand, and remember that canapés are always appreciated with cocktails. These should be small and require no plates or cutlery.
Mulled wine is a very popular and traditional holiday drink. It takes the typical wine you enjoy year-round and takes it to a whole new level by introducing spices and seasonings you associate with this time of the year. This following recipe is one of my personal favorites to make and enjoy during the holiday season.
Mulled Wine, called "Glühwein" in German, is a traditional and tasty Christmas drink in Germany and the prefect treat for cold winter days. Enjoy!
- 1 bottle of dry red wine (preferably with fruity flavors)
- 2-3 sticks cinnamon
- 3-5 whole cloves ( I like less)
- 1/2 tsp ginger root, coarsely grated
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg, coarsely grated
- 5 pods cardamom, cracked
- zest of half an orange or lemon
- 1 anice star (optional)
- 1/3 cup brown sugar (maple syrup or honey is a great substitution)
- 1/4 cup brandy
- lemon wedge for garnish
Note: You need to use non-reactive pot (don’t use aluminum—the wine’s acids can react with it and add an unpleasant metallic taste)
Suggestions for wine: Tempranillo from Spain is one good option, and Chilean Merlot works well too, because it’s sturdy and fruity but not so distinctive that it can’t make a good canvas for the spices.
Wrap the spices and citrus zest in a large piece of cheesecloth, approximately 12 inches square, tying a knot to seal the bundle. Place the spice sack a pot. Pour the wine into the pot and add the brandy. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally. When the mixture is warm, stir in the sugar, syrup or honey. Don’t let the mulled wine boil, or you risk cooking out the flavors. Leave over low heat for about 25 minutes while the flavors meld.
Continue stirring occasionally. When the liquid is steaming lightly, it is ready to serve. Ladle into warm mugs. Have lemon wedges and extra sugar on hand so guests can squeeze in extra acidity if they want to cut the sweetness or add more sugar to indulge a sweet tooth. Note: Adjust ingredients and proportions to personal taste, but don’t let the sweetness overwhelm the wine’s acidity or the drink will be cloying.