The holiday season brings with it a plethora of social gatherings, but no festivity would be complete without a traditional yuletide cocktail. The Information Age has imparted on us cocktail recipes from around the world, which will add an impressive amount of cultural depth to your parties that will be interesting, delicious and intoxicating. These five regional imbibements are steeped in the traditions of their respective cultures and promise to add the flavor of worldliness to your get together.
Red wine has been mulled with spices since the later days of the Roman empire. Gluhwein is a particular blend of mulled wine created by a German nobleman in the early 15th century. It has since then evolved into a Christmastime tradition that seems to embody the colors and flavors of the holiday. The spiced hot drink is a favorite in Austria, Germany and surrounding countries.
Start to finish: 2 hours
26 ounces dry red wine
3.5 ounces water
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 lemon, sliced
3 cardamom pods
1 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
In a large enough saucepan, heat all of the ingredients on a high flame for a minute. Reduce the temperature and allow the concoction to simmer without boiling for 2 hours. Serve hot.
Puerto Rico comes alive in December, and this little rum and coconut cocktail is partly to blame. Coquito is a chilled, small-serving drink perfectly suited for a tropical holiday celebration, and a bit of cinnamon adds a distinctive Christmas touch.
Start to finish: 30 minutes
3 cinnamon sticks
2 cups water
12 ounces evaporated milk
14 ounces condensed milk
4 egg yolks
15 ounces cream of coconut
4 cups white rum, adjust to taste
In a medium pot, boil the cinnamon sticks in the 2 cups of water. Remove the sticks once the water has turned a yellowish brown and has the smell and taste of the cinnamon. Add the evaporated milk, condensed milk and egg yolks. Simmer at a low temperature for 5 minutes while continuously stirring to avoid sticking. Stir in the cream of coconut and the rum until consistent, then remove from the stove. Allow the batch to cool, then refrigerate. Serve in small cups and garnish with a pinch of ground cinnamon.
The traditional Mexican imbibement during Christmas celebrations is a hot and heavy mix of spices, fruits and liquors whose pungent aroma drifts through the streets and back alleys during festivities. It is a heady concoction that is traditionally ladled out to paraders.
Start to Finish: 1 hour 40 minutes
8 quarts water
1 pound tejocotes (Mexican hawthorne)
3 whole oranges, studded with the cloves
1/2 cup whole cloves
8 guavas, halved
2 pounds sugar cane, peeled and sliced
1 pound pitted prunes, halved
3 pears, cored and chopped into large chunks
1 cup raisins
6 ounces walnuts, coarsely chopped
3 sticks cinnamon
2 1/2 pounds piloncillo (brown sugar loaf,) chopped into large chunks
3 cups brandy or rum, optional
In a medium pot, bring one quart of water to a boil. Add the tejocotes and return to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 6-8 minutes until the tejocotes soften. Remove the fruit, peel and cut off the hard ends and return to the water. In a very large pot, add the water with tejocotes and the remaining 7 quarts of water, bring to a boil. Add the remaining fruits and nuts to the pot and bring back to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for half an hour, stirring every 10 minutes. Add the piloncillo and cinnamon sticks. Simmer for another half an hour then remove from heat. Ladle into cups, making sure each cup gets some chunks of fruit and nuts. Add rum or brandy to each cup as desired. Serve hot.
Holiday festivities in Argentina overflow with cider, champagne and sparkling wines. Ananáfizz is a cider cocktail born out of the festive hearts of the middle and lower classes. It's ideally refreshing for the regional climate and perfectly suited for Christmas and New Year's toasts.
Start to finish: 1 day 15 minutes
Servings: 12 to 14
1 ananá (South American Pineapple,) cut into chunks
1/2 cup sugar
Two 25 ounce bottles dry sparkling wine or cider
1/2 cup vermouth
In a punch bowl or serving vase, add the ananá chunks, sugar and 1 bottle of your chosen bubbly. Stir the punch, then cover and refrigerate. The next day, pour the contents into a blender and liquefy. Return to punch bowl and add the second bottle of sparkling wine or cider and the vermouth. Serve in 8 ounce glasses with ice.
The jury is still out on the official origin of egg nog, but it has come to be synonymous with the holiday season in Canada and the United States. Innumerable variations of the drink have arisen, as is common practice in U.S. mixology, but the original remains timeless.
Start to finish: 15 minutes
12 large eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups superfine sugar
1 quart whole milk
1 1/2 quarts heavy cream
3 cups bourbon
1/2 cup dark rum
2 cups cognac
Freshly grated nutmeg
In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks until they are a consistent light yellow. Gradually stir in the sugar. Whisk in milk and 1 quart cream. Stir continuously as you add the bourbon, rum, and cognac.
In a separate mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until peaks form, then fold into the first mixture. Whip the remaining heavy cream until stiff, then fold in as well. Refrigerate until cold, then serve in 6 ounce cups and garnish with a pinch of nutmeg.
Note: Consumption of raw eggs is potentially dangerous for pregnant women, babies, young children, or anyone with health problems. Only grade A and AA eggs should be utilized.