We're in that in-between season. Some blast Mariah Carey the day after Halloween. Others insist that the holidays don't begin until after Thanksgiving.
I fall somewhere in between. We deck the halls right after Thanksgiving, but I start sneaking in holiday movies through November. Even some of the terrible budget ones have endearing qualities that I return to every year. I love the small-town feel and predictability. But I mostly love them because they ease me into the spirit.
As do holiday cocktails! The ultra seasonal ones always have a fun sprig of rosemary, candy canes or a twig of spruce. It's a busy time of year. We deserve to treat ourselves to something festive and seasonal.
Here a few of my favorites...
Spruce gin & soda
This one's a cinch to make, and the uncommon herbal flavor will transport you to a Christmas tree farm. You'll need:
- 3 oz spruce gin
- Splash of of club soda
- Squeeze of a lime wedge
- A spruce tip
Add all ingredients, save for the spruce tip, into a shaker with ice. Strain into a martini glass and top with a sprig of spruce.
Spiced mulled wine
This European classic evokes ski chalets, and nights by a roaring fire. It's endured since the Roman empire because it's warming and delicious.
- A bottle of dry red wine
- 1/4 cup of brandy
- A mulled spice wine season packet or sachet (you can make a homemade mix, but it's Christmas. Choose your battles.)
Pour a bottle of dry red wine into a crock pot or a stovetop pot on a low simmer. Add brandy. Dip in the mulled spices, which come in breathable sachets you can steep. Warm up, stir, and ladle into elegant tea cups.
Cranberry kir royale
A little sparkle and fizz adds lightness to a holiday gathering, and the seasonal ingredients make it extra festive.
- In a flute, pour two tablespoons of cranberry juice
- Pour one tablesproon of creme de cassis
- Add a cranberry
- Top with Champagne or Prosecco
You can get store-bought and spike it with rum (I'd still drink it). But this eggnog is fresh, and gets better with time. Its creamy complexity peaks months after making it.
- 4 large eggs, separated
- 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 pint whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/3 cup bourbon
- 1/3 cup dark rum
- 1 teaspoon freshly-grated nutmeg
- In a stand mixer, beat the egg yolks with the 1/3 cup of sugar
- Mix until the sugar and the yolks lighten in color
- Add the milk, cream, bourbon, rum, and nutmeg
- Once well-stirred, move the mixture to a large bowl and set aside
- Place the egg whites in the now-empty stand mixer bowl and beat into soft peaks
- While it's still mixing, gradually add the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar so that the peaks will stiffen
- Fold the egg whites into the mixture
- Chill and serve