Weekend Cocktail: Your Guide To Better Christmas Drinks

Weekend Cocktail: Your Guide To Better Christmas Drinks

Despite my earlier complaint in this column about the premature onset of Christmas decorations and music, there’s no doubt now that the time is here and it’s appropriate to be of good cheer. In light of the busy holiday, I’ll dispense with my usual meandering and get right into the business of keeping you and your loved ones lit as a Christmas tree. However, please know of my best wishes for the Christmas season and my earnest hope that it is a safe and merry (very merry) holiday. Hopefully these drinks can contribute in some small way to your enjoyment.

Simple Eggnog

It’s fair to say that National Journal scored a coup with their version of Eisenhower’s eggnog, so I’ll direct you to them if you’d like to make a large batch (we’re having it with our family this year). But if you’re looking to make just a glass or two for yourself, there’s no reason you can’t. You’ll need:

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2/3 oz heavy cream
  • 2/3 oz milk
  • 1 oz bourbon (or rum, or brandy, or some mix of them as you prefer)
  • ½ oz simple syrup (or 2 teaspoons of granulated, depending on the strength of your syrup)
  • Ground nutmeg

Pour the egg and liquid ingredients into a cocktail shaker with a few ice cubes. Shake it until you think you’ve shaken it a bit too much. Then shake it for another few seconds. Strain into a tumbler, or a reindeer-shaped mug. Sprinkle with nutmeg. If it’s not quite strong enough for you, add more booze. It’s your party; you can do what you want.

An alternative version with a unique taste is The Nogg at Fin – the recipe for which is:

  • 1 1/2 oz Remy 1738
  • 1 oz VIrginia Apple Cider (the non-alcoholic kind)
  • Dash Cream
  • Farm Egg
  • 2 Tablespoons Sugar

Place all ingredients and dry shake to emulsify egg. Add Ice and shake for about 2 minutes until thick. Strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with cinnamon.

Flaming Rum Punch

In It’s a Wonderful Life George Bailey’s guardian angel orders a “flaming rum punch” in an establishment that serves hard drinks to men who want to get drunk fast. That contributed to the two being given the bum’s rush, but if you serve this at a party I doubt you’ll have many complaints.

  • A fifth of dark rum
  • A bottle of cabernet or merlot
  • 3 cups of black tea, extra strong
  • 2 cups of granulated sugar
  • ½ cup of orange juice
  • ½ cup of fresh lemon juice
  • Sliced apples and oranges, whole cranberries (for garnish)

In a saucepan, heat the wine, tea, and fruit juices. Be sure not to bring it to a boil. Transfer to a heat-proof punch bowl. Fill a metal ladle with as much sugar as you can, dumping the remainder into the punch.

Now here’s the fun part. Add rum to the ladle, saturating the sugar. Light the rum and sugar mixture, and do try not to hurt yourself. While it’s burning, pour it into the punch bowl – it’s perfectly alright to make a production of this. Stir the punch and douse the flames.

Pour in the rest of the rum, and then stir until the sugar is thoroughly dissolved. Add fruit to the bowl as a garnish, and then if necessary visit the medical cabinet while your (hopefully impressed) visitors enjoy a warm drink.

Mocha Mint

For those who can’t get enough candy in their stocking, this chocolate and mint combo will hit all the right notes. My suggestion is to serve in smaller sherry or cordial glasses, as it really is exceedingly sweet. The mix is simple:

  • One part Kahlua
  • One part crème de cacao
  • One part crème de menthe

Mix all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake well, and then strain into glasses. Serve it up for a tasty treat after dinner, or after the children unwrap their gifts and go off to play. I’ve found that a generous dusting of cocoa powder helps to cut the cloying sweetness – you can also add it to the mix and shake it with the drink. Garnish with a few mint leaves, a mini candy cane, a piece of dark chocolate, or a cinnamon stick.

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Neal Dewing lives and works in Portsmouth, Virginia. He is the co-host of The Fifth Estate, a podcast examining culture and politics.
Photo by AMC
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