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It’s that time of year when you are most likely to be hosting a party with friends or family.
Make that gathering a little more festive and special by extending the holiday spirit to the drinks and refreshments you offer your guests.
Here is what you need to prepare some of the more popular traditional holiday cheer and a few more.
Drinking Wassail is an age-old winter custom. It is drunk at Christmastime, New Year’s and the 12th Night.
Wassail is a greeting, meaning “Be in good health!” One custom in olde England is the host proclaims, “Wassail,” to which all reply, “Drink hail!”
Then the cup is passed with a kiss to the next person and it continues until all have drank from it. This later became known as “the loving cup” with the introduction of Christianity.
Wassail is associated with caroling, too. There are stories of men carrying a large vessel (some reports say a bowl with 12 handles, some say wooden and some used pitchers) from house to house.
They would sing, get the vessel filled again and go on to the next house. It was a sign of good luck to have them visit.
2 qts. apple cider
1/2 cup brown sugar
1-1/3 cups lemon juice
6 cinnamon sticks
12 whole cloves
12 whole allspice
1-1/2 tsp. nutmeg
2 fifths of dry sherry
Combine juices, sugar and spices in pot. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer 20 minutes. Remove spices and add sherry; heat until just below boiling. Fill a punch bowl with boiling water; let stand one minute, and then empty. Fill punch bowl with spiced wine. Garnish wassail bowl with orange or lemon slices, studded with cloves. Makes 24-32 servings.
This is a perfect recipe for serving with appetizers before Christmas dinner. It’s prepared best in a crockpot, or just use a large pot simmered on the stove.
2 bottles dry red wine
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup water
Peel from one orange
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
Orange slices, thin
Combine all ingredients in a 4-qt. crockpot; stir well to combine. Cover and cook on low for 2-1/2 hours, stirring once during cooking. Remove orange peel and cinnamon stick before serving.
Place a thin orange slice in the bottom of each mug and fill with hot wine. Makes 8-10 servings.
Hot Buttered Rum
The way I make hot buttered rum is to add some “batter” to a coffee mug, add boiling water and then add two jiggers of dark rum. I like to keep a made-up batch of the batter in the refrigerator in an old margarine tub.
16 oz. dark brown sugar
8 oz. (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
Top quality dark rum
Put all batter ingredients (everything but the rum) in a food processor and run it until the mixture turns creamy. Scoop the mixture into a plastic container and refrigerate. It will keep for many months in the refrigerator, even though it contains butter.
To serve, fill a coffee mug (6-8 oz.) half full of boiling water. Add one generous tablespoon of batter. Stir until the batter dissolves in the hot water. Add 2 jiggers (3 oz) of rum. Makes about 16 servings.
This hot drink recipe is hearty and strong, but requires an hour or more to simmer to perfection in a slow cooker.
1 bottle port wine
1 bottle claret wine
1/2 cup apricot brandy
1/2 cup raisins or currants
6 dried chopped apricot halves
2 sticks of cinnamon
4 whole cardamoms
Put all the ingredients in a slow cooker and cook on low with the cover on for at least one hour or more. Serve hot.
Chocolate Milk Whip
4 oz. chocolate milk
2 oz. cold coffee
1 oz. Bailey’s Irish Cream (optional)
For an individual cocktail, fill a tall glass with ice. Add chocolate milk, cold coffee and Bailey’s; mix well. Top with whipped cream and garnish with shaved chocolate.
2 qts. apple cider
1-1/2 cups orange juice
3/4 cup pineapple juice
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
2 cinnamon sticks (3 inches)
1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
Combine all the ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
Remove cinnamon sticks and serve hot.
2-1/2 cups cranberry juice
1-1/4 cups pineapple juice
1-1/4 cups orange juice
1 (4 oz.) jar maraschino cherries
2 Tbsps. lemon juice
1 (12 oz.) can ginger ale
1 orange, sliced in circles
In a gallon pitcher or punch bowl, combine the cranberry, orange, pineapple, lemon and the juice from the cherries. Stir well and set to chill in the refrigerator. When ready to serve, add the ginger ale and stir. Garnish the glasses with orange slices and cherries.
You can also add rum to this for a festive adult drink.
Norm Harding is a cooking columnist for the Beacon. To send him recipes, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.