I had a lovely date the other night and I also had the pleasure of trying a bottle of nice French wine that he brought along. A 2009 Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf du pape. I haven’t had good French wine since I was in France and Lawrence’s dad dug out a few bottles from his cellar for me. I had forgotten how wonderfully simple and velvety smooth an aged red wine can be compared to young, sometimes overbearing American wines.
It’s a little spendy, but the holidays are a great time to splurge on your alcohol and treat yourself and your friends. The Chateauneuf will certainly do it. If hard liquor is more your speed I have put in a few suggestions for some winter solstice celebration libations.
Martini and Rossi dry vermouth
Thin slice of cucumber
Put about a cap full of vermouth into a martini glass. Swirl it around until it coats the side of the glass and quickly pour out the little bit of excess. Put in one ice cube, slice of cucumber and fill the glass with Hendrick’s Gin. Trust me, nothing else will do.
If your are feeling fancy put about 1/2 cap of vermouth, 3/4 of glass full of Hendrick’s and crushed ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake well and pour into your martini glass.
Gluhwein and Mead
These two wines are traditional to the winter holidays and are generally served hot. You can get traditionally spiced Gluhwein in many stores. Simply heat it on the stove top in a pot on low and enjoy it in a coffee mug with lebkuchen. If you want to spice the wine yourself here is a sweet recipe from allrecipes.com
- 10 sugar cubes
- 2 (750 milliliter) bottles red wine
- 1 (3 inch) cinnamon stick
- 1 whole nutmeg
- 1 whole star anise pods
- 1 1/2 cups sour cherries – drained, juice reserved
- 1 orange, thinly sliced
- 3 fluid ounces kirschwasser (this is cherry juice)
- Combine the sugar cubes, wine, cinnamon stick, nutmeg, and star anise in a saucepan. Heat over medium heat until the mixture begins to foam.
- Remove from heat and transfer to a slow cooker to keep warm. Stir in the sour cherries and their juice; add the kirschwasser and the orange slices.
Mead is a honey wine that come in dry, semi-sweet and sweet versions. Personally, I like the semi-sweet. The dry is better served over ice. The semi-sweet and sweet can be heated on the stove on low heat, in the bottle submerged in water. It’s great with sweet breads and cookies.
Coquito is a nice eggnog drink traditionally served in Cuba for the holidays. This is a great twist on the traditional holiday eggnog. It brings a little bit of the Caribbean to your Christmas.
Basic Coquito Recipe
1 cup white rum
1 can cream of coconut (use a Latin brand such as Coco Lopez or Goya — you want cream of coconut that’s sweetened with sugar or with corn syrup)
2-3 egg yolks
2 cans evaporated milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon nutmeg
Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend thoroughly (until egg yolks and nutmeg are evenly distributed). Pour into a glass bottle or pitcher, and chill overnight in the refrigerator. Strain the mixture through a medium-mesh strainer. Return the strained coquito to the glass bottle or pitcher, and refrigerate. It’s best to drink it within 3 days of preparing.
A Conniseurs guide: Whiskey’s can vary greatly, an Irish Whiskey is very different from, say Wild Turkey. There are two basic types – Grain and malted. Of the malted you can get a blended malt or a single malt. Whiskey’s are made in almost every country including England, Scotland, Ireland, Canada, the US, Japan, Sweden, Australia, Germany, Finland and even India where it is made from fermented molasses. The main Whiskey from India is single malt named “Solan No. 1”. I prefer Bourbon Whiskey like Maker’s Mark,or Canadian Whiskey’s like Crown Royal Black or Pendelton. These are nice for the novice whiskey drinker. Here are a few other recipes for classic holiday drinks.
- 50ml Rye or Canadian whisky
- 20ml Sweet red vermouth
- Dash Angostura bitters
- Maraschino cherry (Garnish)
So for your Sol Invictus holiday, drink and be merry. Just remember a few drinking guidelines:
- Wine before liquor, never been sicker. Liquor before wine, everything’s fine.
- Never mix, never worry.
- Don’t drink alone – your friends won’t get to tease you the next day.
- Red wine and white clothes don’t go well together.
- Take a cab.