Beyond wassail: holiday beverages for every occasion

While we sing about how we go a-wassail-ing (among the leaves so green, etc.), hardly anyone actually serves old-school wassail (recipe here, if you must) to carolers or other holiday guests.

What kind of drinks should you serve at your holiday party? Here are some of our favorite wintertime beverages:

spiced_ciderMull it over. From harvest time, through Thanksgiving and into the Christmas and New Year holidays, apple cider is a party favorite. As the weather grows colder, our preference grows for warm, mulled cider. Mull and serve the cider from a Crock Pot to keep the cider nice and warm (and no-fuss) throughout your party or open house.  Pro tip: Simplify your cider-making, and use our exclusive Mulling Spice Blend. Super-pro tip: Use mulling spices and a slow-cooker to make Mulled Wine for your next gathering.

“Punch,” above your weight. One last cider recommendation: for a stronger apple cider drink, make a batch of Cider-Rum Punch. With dark rum, brown sugar, and fresh ginger, this cider drink really (groan) packs a punch.

cranberry-holiday-punchSpiced and spiked. Cranberries are another end-of-year seasonal fruit we just can’t get enough of. AllSpice owner Rory Brown has created this recipe for a spiced Cranberry Holiday Punch that blends tart cranberry with sweet pineapple juices, and balances the sweet-tart with cinnamon and a bubbly ginger ale. Serve as is, or, as Rory recommends, spike the holiday punch with your choice of vodka, rum, or Cointreau.

Brunch-tastic. Don’t forget that brunch is maybe the best meal of the week – why not do your holiday entertaining with a midday bash? (If you don’t remember, here are eight reasons why brunch is awesome.) A Bloody Mary is our recommended brunch beverage, and we’ve just created a Bloody Mary Kit ($20) to make drink-making simple.

egg-nogBourbon, brandy, heavy cream, and… a dozen heavily-beaten egg yolks? May sound a little strange, but the eggy emulsion gives real, homemade Egg Nog its trademark taste and thick texture. Sip by a roaring fire, while you listen to Nat King Cole’s “Christmas Song.”

Speaking of odd ingredients that make a surprisingly delicious winter drink, sweet cream butter takes on a new dimension when combined with spices and alcohol, and hot buttered rum is a great cold-weather drink. (Does anyone else remember “Buttered Rum” flavor Life Savers candy from when we were kids? Those were surprisingly good.)

Irish CoffeeFancy a spot of tea? Chai is always a great cold-weather treat, and when we make Spiked Holiday Chai, we make the tea from scratch, and then add some Bailey’s and a spot of cinnamon schnapps for fortification.  “Regular” old chai is also delicious, and you can find that recipe here.

Or coffee? Strong, hot coffee with sugar, some Irish whiskey, and a dollop of whipped cream: that’s how you make Irish Coffee. Get really fancy, and serve it in a tall, skinny glass Irish coffee mug (photo, right), so you can see how awesome your coffee drink is, as you’re drinking it.

Anger management: When chocolate was introduced to the French in the 17th century, it was also reportedly used “to fight against fits of anger and bad moods.” You can fight bad moods (your own, and possibly guests’ – but why invite angry, moody people to your party?) with these two homemade hot chocolate recipes. Or you can save time, take the shortcut, and use some of our organic Cafe Blend Hot Chocolate ($4.85 for the 1/2 Cup jar).

Need some fresh ideas for party drinks? Come check out the Mocktails, Cordials, Infusions, Syrups & More ($19.95) drink “cookbook” here at the shop, and browse the Beverages category in our recipes database from the comfort of home.