The in-laws are coming! There’s nothing quite like a festive cocktail to kick-start those compassionate conversations, put everyone at ease and boost spirits (pun intended.) Now is the time to shake (or stir) things up with libations that include ingredients with proven health benefits, like mood-boosting vitamins and antioxidants. Cheers!
Anti-Inflammatory Remarks: The Betty White
A fresh take on the “White Lady,” this one comes to us via Maggie Savarino, author of The Seasonal Cocktail Companion. Savarino’s favorite chill-out cocktail is based on chamomile, which has historically been used in teas and tinctures for its calming effect and anti-inflammatory properties. “Good chamomile has a smell that is at once flowers, hay, green and sunshine,” she said, “and it’s a cure-all ingredient found in many bitter liqueurs.” Savarino also recommends using the best quality chamomile. She gets hers from World Spice Merchants as the flavor is vastly improved over what is available via the typical teabags you can buy at the supermarket.
- Chamomile liqueur (1 1/2 cups chamomile buds to 2 cups vodka, sweeten to taste)
- Lemon coriander (you can also use sage, hibiscus or just plain lemon)
- Lemon juice (margarita proportions)
Shake well with cracked ice and then strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
-Recipe courtesy of author and spirits expert Maggie Savarino.
Flavor Flav Flavonoids: Chocolate Wine
Chocolate-flavored wines are becoming a big beverage trend, appealing to younger, health-conscious connoisseurs. Sweeter than a regular wine but not as heavy as a port or as strong as a liqueur, these wines can go the distance either on their own, over ice, or mixed with coffee (the crème de cocoa version only). Plus… yum! Be sure to check that the bottle you choose is naturally flavored with real chocolate (not all chocolate wines are). A favorite is the Precept Wine’s Chocolate Shop Wine – dark chocolate, chocolate strawberry and crème de cocoa versions.
- 4 ounces of freshly brewed hot coffee
- 4 ounces of Chocolate Shop Crème de Cocoa chocolate flavored wine
-Recipe from Hal Landvoigt, director of Winemaking, Precept Wine.
Berry Happy: The Goji Berry Cosmo
Long considered the “happy berry” in China, goji berries (also known as wolfberries) have high antioxidants, a beautiful color and have been used for centuries for their therapeutic and mood-boosting properties.
- 3 oz. cranberry goji juice
- 1 oz. soda
- 1 oz. vodka
- Splash of limejuice
Serve in a chilled martini glass with a lime to garnish.
-Recipe courtesy of Genesis Today.
Spice is Nice: The Snap Dragon
This one includes Yazi, a premium, ginger-flavored vodka produced by Hood River Distillers in Oregon, using glacier-fed spring water from Mt. Hood. The sweet and spicy vodka includes notes of ginger, lemon, orange, cayenne and red pepper for some fun holiday zing.
- 1 ¾ parts Yazi
- ¼ part green tea liqueur
- Lemon slices
- Tonic water
Muddle lemon slices in a pint glass. Add ice, vodka, liqueur and top with tonic water. Shake and serve on the rocks or strain into sugar-rimmed cocktail glass.
-Recipe courtesy of Amber Restaurant in Seattle, Wash.
Plant a Tree with the TREEtini
The coolest thing about this cocktail (aside from the ultra-fresh ingredients) is that for every TREEtini ordered, VeeV and Live It Green will plant a tree in monsoon-ravaged Tamil Nadu, India. Make your own from the recipe variation below, or visit your favorite local watering hole to do your part.
- 3oz VeeV Açai Spirit
- Fresh squeezed quarter lime
- 4 raspberries
- 2 sprigs thyme
- Grand Marnier rinse
Pour a small amount of Grand Marnier in martini glass and rinse, discarding the rest. Place the other ingredients in a martini shaker with ice and shake vigorously, straining into a martini glass. Garnish with a fresh thyme sprig.
-Recipe courtesy of Brandon Wise, food and beverage manager at Over Vue Lounge, Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort and Spa.
O’Ho Ho Ho! A Standby Classic: Irish Coffee
Coffee is well-known for its stimulating and mood-enhancing properties. Traditionally served in a tall glass mug as a late evening warmer-upper, this one is best indulged once your evening has died down and you can sink your brain into a good novel. If you are not interested in staying awake (or finishing that book), substitute with decaf instead.
For each mug:
- 6 ounces hot, strong coffee
- 1 ounce Irish whiskey
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 3 tablespoons whipped cream
- Ground cinnamon for sprinkling (optional)
Place the hot coffee in a tall coffee mug. Stir in the whiskey along
with the sugar. Spoon the whipped cream over the top and serve,
sprinkled with cinnamon, if desired.
-Recipe courtesy of three-time James Beard award-winner Judith Choate, author of A Reader’s Cookbook.
Look Mom, No Dairy! No Eggs! No Booze: Almond Pumpkin Nog
For the dairy sensitive or alcohol adverse, this one has loads of vitamins A, D, & E and the pumpkin is a great source of alpha carotene, fiber and protein. A great twist on an old classic!
- 4 cups vanilla flavor almond milk
- 1/4 cup canned pumpkin
- 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp corn starch
- Pinch clove, ground
Combine almond milk with the pumpkin, spices, sugar and cornstarch in a blender. Blend on medium/high speed for approximately 30 seconds until uniform. Transfer the blender contents to a saucepan and heat on medium/high heat with constant stirring using a whisk until boiling. Remove the pan from heat and cool over ice or in the refrigerator with occasional stirring. Store the nog in a sealed liquid storage container until ready to serve. Serve chilled. Shake before serving. Makes approximately 8 servings. Refrigerate to preserve.
-Recipe courtesy of Blue Diamond Almond Breeze®.
Which is your favorite drink?