Holiday Drink Traditions
Holiday recipes abound this time of year, as across the globe people are gearing up to celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, New Year's, and more. And the recipes aren't just limited to what to serve for the holiday lunch, brunch, or dinner: holiday drink recipes are also a staple of December. What are the traditions of holiday drinking in other countries? Are there holiday drink recipes that cross the oceans to other continents? What are our favorite holiday drinks?
In Europe, the destination for most of our cooking vacations, the holidays are more about the food than the alcohol. If the French and Italians drink wine with most meals, they will certainly drink wine also with their holiday meals. They will choose finer wines for these special occasions, but the only notable difference is the addition of a sparkling wine, de rigueur for holiday celebrations in Europe. Whether it's a bottle of Cava in Spain, Champagne in France, or Asti in Italy, a toast to ring in Christmas or the New Year is an absolute must.
In Central and South America, the traditions vary greatly by country. In Argentina, for example, there is a strong wine culture, so holiday meals will be accompanied by wines and sparklers, much like in Europe. In Mexico, you can enjoy a holiday punch called ponche navideño, a sort of hot holiday fruit-based drink that is made in every home and served on every street corner, and that always features the unique tejocotes fruit of the hawthorne tree. Or, for a non-alcoholic alternative, try atole, a hot corn-based drink that is a bit like liquid bread pudding (but it tastes so much better than that sounds!) or champurrado, the chocolate version. Both are commonly served with tamales during Christmas.
Of course, Mexico is not the only country featuring hot beverages during the holidays. Hot mulled wine, Glögg, and Wassail are all popular holiday drinks served spiced and hot, especially in Scandanavian, Anglo-Saxon, and Germanic areas. Here in Chicago, where our main office is based, Miller's Pub is famous for their "Tom and Jerry" cocktail, which is a sort of hot eggnog and is served only during the period between Thanksgiving and New Years. And hot cocoa is a time-honored Christmas tradition in many families.
What are some of our favorite holiday drinks? Adrian is a fan of the hot beverage holiday trend and ops for an Irish coffee after Christmas dinner, while Richard bucks tradition and chooses a Christmas margarita! I like a holiday Grasshopper, a pale green, minty concoction that I would never dream of drinking any other time of the year but that my Grandpa used to enjoy at Christmastime. Whether it's the color, the nice minty-ness after a big meal, or memories of Grandpa, it's my favorite Christmas cocktail.
Of course, we haven't even mentioned the popular holiday Egg Nog! A quick internet search indicates there are well over a million different recipes for that particular holiday drink.
Do you have any holiday traditions when it comes to drinks? Bubbly? Hot chocolate? Brandy Alexanders? Share your favorites in the comments or on our Facebook or Twitter pages.
And of course, if you are enjoying these festive holiday cocktails, please drink responsibly. And if possible, serve them in a holiday glass!
By Peg Kern