Holiday Cheers

Body: 

Tis the season that holiday parties are in full swing, which means drinks will need to be served. Instead of mixing up the traditional egg nog and hot chocolate, try some of these festive drinks. Now, I know alcohol is optional so I have also included the alcohol free versions to these delicious beverages.

Mistletoe Cocktail

¼ tsp of lime juice
½ tsp honey
3 mint leaves
1 ounce vodka
Ginger Beer (non-alcoholic)
5 cranberries (3 for garnish)
1 sprig of rosemary for garnish
white sugar for garnish

Place mint leaves, 2 cranberries, honey and lime juice in a dish and use a muddler to mash the ingredients and set them aside.
Squeeze lime juice into a small dish and sugar into another, make sure the dishes are big enough for the rim of the glass. Dip the rim in the lime juice and then in the sugar to coat the rim of the glass.
Place the mash mixture in the bottom of the glass, add ice filling ¾ of the glass, next pour vodka over the ice, add ginger beer to just below the sugar rim.
Garnish the beverage with a sprig of rosemary and 3 cranberries.

Alcohol free version: You can replace the vodka with Sprite or 7-Up.

Santa's Little Helper

1 bottle champagne

1 bottle ginger ale

2 (10 ounce) packages frozen strawberries, partially thawed

In a large punch bowl combine the champagne, ginger ale and strawberries. Gently stir the ingredients and serve.

Alcohol free version: You can replace the champagne with sparkling cider.

Merry Blackberry Sparkler

1 cup fresh blackberries
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 bottle champagne

In a small saucepan, combine the blackberries, sugar and water. Bring the ingredients to a boil on high heat, and then reduce to a simmer letting it cook for approximately 15 to 20 minutes. The blackberries will become soft and bright in color, be sure to let it cook down enough. Remove it from the heat and drain the blackberries, keeping the syrup in a separate bowl. Set both aside and allow them to cool.
Once they've both cooled, spoon about 4 tablespoons of syrup into the bottom of each champagne flute and top it with champagne.
Garnish with fresh blackberries or the cooked blackberries and a sprig of rosemary.

Alcohol free version: Again, just replace the champagne with sparkling cider.

Jolly Sangria

1 bottle of dry white wine
¾ cup pomegranate seeds

4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
¼ cup simple syrup
1 lemon, freshly squeezed
1 orange, freshly squeezed
⅓ cup Triple Sec

In a large pitcher add all of the ingredients and mix them together. Keep the pitcher in the refrigerator overnight and serve the drink over ice garnished with pomegranate seeds and rosemary.

Alcohol free version: Replace the white wine with white grape juice and the triple sec with 2 tablespoons of orange extract and 2 tablespoons of orange zest.

Noel Spritzer

¼ cup chilled chardonnay
½ cup chilled cran-apple juice
¼ cup chilled champagne
apple slice and mint sprig for garnish

Mix the wine, juice and champagne in a pitcher or punch bowl. Pour the beverage over ice and garnish it with apple slices and a sprig of fresh mint.

Alcohol free version: Replace the chardonnay with white grape juice and the champagne with sparkling water.

Snowy Chocolate

2 cups whole milk
2 shots of irish cream liqueur
1 shot of peppermint schnapps
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt

Garnishes:
chocolate sauce
whipped cream
Andes Mint Chips

Add the milk to a small saucepan over medium heat; stir and heat the milk until it comes close to a boil. Stir in the cocoa powder, sugar and salt until dissolved. Lastly, stir in the irish cream and peppermint schnapps and remove it from the heat.
Serve in coffee mugs topped with whipped cream, chocolate sauce and Andes Mint Chips.

Alcohol free version: Replace the peppermint schnapps with peppermint extract and reduce the measurement to one tablespoon, depending on how strong you want it. Most stores will sell irish cream flavored coffee creamers in the dairy section, if unable to locate one you can mix heavy cream with sweetened condensed milk, chocolate syrup, vanilla extract, almond extract and instant coffee.