Winter Wednesday: More Holiday Cocktail Ideas

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Alexis, our newest compatriot here at Bites, recently sent up the holiday entertaining bat signal asking for advice on what to offer food- and drink-wise for an upcoming get-together. Although we haven't yet met, I was more than happy to chime in with a few suggestions for the drink side of the equation.

Then, what to my wondering inbox should appear? A release from Stratford University in Virginia, which is inexplicably full of really good holiday wine and cocktail advice. Since the holidays are all about sharing, I thought I'd share some of their helpful hints with you. And Alexis, who I hope will be at the SouthComm holiday party: I'll be the guy who brings his own plate to the buffet table. Silly tiny-ass little Chinet saucers ...

Read all the skinny on getting all holly jolly after the jump.

With the holiday season upon us, many people will be focusing on the food that takes center stage at family meals, parties, and office gatherings. Often, however, it is the holiday drinks that can steal the show or help to put the finishing touches on the festivities. Choosing the right holiday drinks to provide to your guests can be easy, with a little advance planning.

“People are often so busy focusing on the food that they completely forget about the drinks,” explains Brett Chappell, adjunct professor at Stratford University (www.Stratford.edu). “Great holiday drinks can make a wonderful addition to meals or events. This is the time of year to focus on those drinks and incorporate them into the menu.”

When it comes to choosing the types of drinks to serve at a holiday function, it is important to consider the age range of guests so that there is something special for everyone who will attend. Also take into account alcohol safety if people will be driving home afterwards. Some guests may be watching their calorie intake, so consider offering some healthier or “skinny” drink options.

Ideal holiday drinks include homemade versions of eggnog, punch, cider, and peppermint hot chocolate. These drinks can easily be made following online recipes, and they can be made "virgin" for the kids or spiked with alcohol for those adults who want an extra kick. Festive cocktail recipes abound: candy-cane martinis, Bailey’s peppermint cream, hot buttered rum, and more.

When it comes to pairing wine with the holiday meal, think medium- to heavy-bodied fruity wines. Whites like Riesling, Pinot blanc, and Chenin blanc work whether you serve turkey or ham. For guests who want to bring a bottle of red wine to a dinner party, think fruity and versatility; Pinot noir, Zinfandel, and Tempranillo are great choices.

“Hosts can add some fun by including holiday drinks or suggesting to their guests that they bring along their favorite bottle of wine,” adds Chappell. “Either way, having great holiday drinks makes the night just that much better.”

Give these holiday cocktail recipes a try:

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Twisted Hot Toddy

1 1/2 oz bourbon whiskey
1/4 oz orange juice
3/4 oz sugar syrup
4 oz hot water
1 lemon wheel
1 clove
1 candy cane

Mix bourbon, orange juice, hot water in a warmed mug.
Stud lemon wheel with clove and float in drink.
Garnish with candy cane.

Holly Berry

1/2 oz almond liqueur
3 oz cranberry juice
Prosecco, or other sparkling wine
1 sprig mint

Chill all ingredients.
Mix almond liqueur and cranberry juice in a wine glass.
Top with prosecco (be prepared to wait for mousse to subside).
Garnish with mint sprig.

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