Ah, the holidays. Time for presents and mistletoe, singing carols and trimming the tree. And time for drinks, and plenty of them. But please, if any time isn't Miller Time, it's the holidays. The holidays are about reckless indulgence (see a grande eggnog latte or a white chocolate peppermint mocha) and mindless tradition. It's time to think beyond your standard long-necked Bud or simple vodka tonic, and try something incredibly rich or incredibly weird and weirdly tasty.
My Great Uncle Br� gl�falls into that second category. No one in my family was terribly close to Br�in fact, no one really remembers him speaking, and the only family story that involves him is about his ashes getting stolen, so that's not too nice either), but we do think of him fondly each year when his recipe for gl�gets trotted out. It's spicy, red, unbelievably potent, and once burned my eyelashes off (note: do not attempt to cook in a pressure cooker).
On the decadent front, yes, Virginia, you can make your own eggnog. Of course, you can find perfectly decent store-bought eggnog, but don't ask why that's not good enough or you'll put Martha Stewart out of business.
Seattle Weekly's charming and mysterious Pet Lady offers her recipe for the cure-all hot toddy. And you'll find other treats below. But you'll never find any argument here with resident gourmet Roger Downey's suggestion for a holiday drink. "I go along with John Maynard Keynes," offered Roger, "who, when asked on his deathbed if he had any regrets, said only, 'I regret I did not drink more champagne.'"
Bottoms up, indeed.
I lb. raisins
Peel of two oranges
15 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
12 cardamom pods
1 quart water
1 gallon port wine
4/5 quart brandy
4/5 quart grain alcohol (or substitute vodka)
1 cup sugar
Almonds and raisins for serving
Combine almonds and cardamom pods in a spice bag or cheesecloth. Place in a saucepan with the water and simmer for 30 minutes.
Pour above into a large pan, adding the port wine. Cover and heat until just below boiling. Remove from heat and carefully add brandy and alcohol.
Return to heat, cover and heat until just below boiling. Let cool for about five minutes, remove cover, and—very carefully!--light a match to the mixture. Cover immediately to smother flame. Add sugar and reheat, but don't boil.
Serve hot in glass mugs with a few raisins and/or almonds in the bottoms.
This makes an enormous amount, so make it for a party. It can also be bottled and stored in the refrigerator.
The Pet Lady's Bushmills Hot Toddy
1 oz. Bushmills
Big spoonful of honey
Juice of G lemon
2 oz. boiling water
Combine within a nice mug. Enjoy when a cold seems imminent, or when it is cold in general, or prior to retiring, or if wakeful in the night, or at any appropriate-seeming moment.
Buy 12 of the freshest eggs possible.
Separate yolks and whites of the eggs, and beat separately. Whites should form soft peaks.
Mix carefully together.
Add 1 cup powdered sugar; 1 pint milk; 1 quart vanilla ice cream, softened; I bottle Southern Comfort; I bottle Jamaican rum; H bottle of brandy; and cr譥 de cacao to taste.
Stir well and chill if necessary. Serve topped with nutmeg.
Shake equal parts brandy, cr譥 de cacao, and heavy cream over ice. Serve in small, elegant glasses.
This is a great recipe because it can be made for one or a crowd, and it's easy to remember.
Brattle House Wassail
1 gallon apple cider
4 sticks cinnamon
32 cloves in a spice bag
1H cup brown sugar
H cup lemon juice
2 lemons, sliced
Boil cider, cinnamon, and cloves for five minutes.
Remove spice bag of cloves.
Add sugar, lemon juice, and lemons; boil for five more minutes.
Serve hot in mugs.
6 oz. gin
1 16-oz. can of frozen lemonade concentrate
3 peaches peeled and sliced (you can use canned without the juice)
Blend in blender.
Peaches and lemons aren't traditional holiday tastes, but it is possible to get tired of eggnog and cider. Serves 5-6.