If you are anything like me, the proverbial twelve days of Christmas don't seem to be quite what they used to be. There always seems to be one more thing to add to the to-do list only to find time in shorter and shorter supply.
All those lords-a-leaping, maids-a-milking, running around and general hubbub can leave anyone seriously needing a good stiff drink. So when it comes to stocking the libation cabinet, I like to make sure I have it covered with a tried and true range to please every taste and warm the cockles of any heart. In honor of those traditional twelve days, here are a dozen of my favorite drinks.
A jolly English tradition most certainly in keeping with the original twelve days of Christmas, a frosty cold beer is the perfect accompaniment to making your list and checking it twice. One of my favorites is a local to me - Beau's Lug-o-Tread. This beer is full bodied and rich in flavor. Or perhaps a Steigl, Staropramen or another local to me, Steam Whistle Pilsner.
After the first day that I have put those lists to work – maybe even checked off a thing or two, a reward is in order. I choose a lighter bodied Pinot Noir from France or Oregon as my favorite. These elegant wines are a treat for sipping and snacking and help me unwind and warm up as the holiday season seems bright and hopeful.
All those lords-a-leaping, maids-a-milking, running around and general hubbub can leave anyone seriously needing a good stiff drink.
Time to get together with friends well in advance of the actual holiday. On a night out with work colleagues or friends I haven’t seen in awhile, I like to enjoy a fine cocktail. A Dry Gin Martini is classically elegant, maybe a Manhattan or my personal favorite, the Negroni. This delicious cocktail is made with equal parts campari, gin and sweet vermouth and is garnished with a twist of orange. As an aperitif before a meal or for sipping throughout the night, this bittersweet cocktail has holiday relaxation written all over it.
When I feel the onset of a winter cold, nothing picks me up like a warm Hot Toddy. This miracle mix of whisky, bourbon, dark rum and brandy plus the medicinal values of honey, lemon and cloves makes me feel better in no time at all. I sip it slowly allowing it to sooth my throat, clear my nose and relax my aching muscles. Back to the shopping list!
Hair of the Dog
The Caesar! By now the nights of celebration have caught up to me and the spice of this hearty cocktail is sure to cure all, morning, noon or night.
After catching up on last-minute shopping, I arrive home, kick off those wet boots and fall into a comfortable chair. One could have a tea or hot chocolate but better still a Scotch, a Bourbon, or an Irish Whiskey! Laphroaig is a peaty and fiery Scotch. Balvenie Sherry Cask delivers a smooth sweetness. Woodford Reserve is my bourbon of choice. Redbreast Irish Whiskey eases the stress of the day and warms from head to toe.
Another of my favorite light and easy libations of choice is cider. Magners Apple Cider or Sir Perry’s Pear Cider are crisp and refreshing. I personally like them best served over ice.
Nothing says ‘joy to the world’ like eggnog! But not that diluted, pre-fab supermarket version. The best and most classic is made with brandy, rum, cream, a farm-fresh egg, and topped with a little grated nutmeg and all-spice – sure to convert the most skeptical doubters! Or maybe a delicious ‘retro’ Peppermint Stinger – brandy, white crème de menthe and garnished with a sprig of mint. A perfect digestive.
So close to Christmas the realization of the stores shutting down for the holiday snaps me back to the reality of unpreparedness! The potential for drop by guests, extra family members, spontaneous gatherings reminds me to make sure to stock up on the favorites! A good vodka, gin and rye or bourbon are nice to have on hand. A selection of beer and cider are nice for afternoon guests and I always like to have a selection of wines, both white – Viognier or Riesling - and red - Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s also nice to have some sparkling rose for those spontaneous needs for bubbles!
Not to be forgotten is the luxurious need for a sherry and a port. These fortified wines are so versatile for aperitif, a pairing with a course, or to finish off a delectable meal. For an ultimate night of relaxation, I like to sit back and sip one of these sweeter wines with nothing but good conversation.
Don't Forget the Bubbly
Nothing says Christmas to me more than a Champagne Cocktail. This special day of peace and generosity deserves toasting with a classic cocktail with simple ingredients. Made with a bitters soaked sugar cube, brandy and champagne and topped with the zest of an orange, the scents of the season are alive!
Auld Lang Syne
Be prepared when the clock strikes midnight with a nice bottle of bubbly to share with family and friends. Raise a toast, ringing out the old and ringing in the new and add some sparkle to your evening. My favorites? Lanson Black Label Brut, Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé Brut, and if I really feel like splurging, there's really nothing like a chilled bottle of Perrier-Jouet Cuvée Belle Epoque Brut.
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