Tuesday, December 16, 2008

CLASSIC COCKTAILS FOR THE HOLIDAYS


Five Beverages Guaranteed to Make Your Holiday Spirits Bright

According to Slashfood.com, creamy cocktails are some of the unhealthiest choices, simply because of the sugar and calorie intake. For example, the White Russian is 865calories, while the Mudslide has 851 calories. Each year Paul and I look forward to Cate Wilson's homemade eggnog. Sinfully creamy, eggnog without alcohol has 257 calories and 14 grams of fat, more than a Snickers bar but less than the White Russian or a Mudslide, the trick is to pace yourself. If you're going to be enjoying eggnog regularly throughout the holiday season, those calories can stay with you a long time.

There is a way, however, to enjoy holiday cocktails without worrying about putting on extra pounds, go classic. I have chosen to share five cocktails which are classic to me. They will make your nose glow and your friends say 'ho, ho, ho". These cocktail recipes were chosen based on the premise that everyone has a few basic ingredients in their pantries and liquor cabinets, so whether you are hosting an office party or an intimate gathering at home you hopefully won't have to make a special shopping trip for extraordinary ingredients.

Let's start with the Bees Knees. Bees Knees is a very simple gin-based recipe popular around the time of prohibition. Simply gather together a good bottle of gin, Hendricks is great, fresh squeezed lemon juice, and honey. For every six tablespoons of Gin, add one tablespoon each of Lemon juice and Honey. Shake well with ice and strain into a pre-chilled martini glass. Now there's a drink that will keep you warm, and soothe your throat, on a cold winter's night. If you want something equally nice, make a dry martini with the Hendricks and garnish with cucumber. Superb.

Next is the Cosmopolitan Cocktail. My sister Meg and I perfected this cocktail over several "girl's night out" years ago. I add the splash of seltzer and dried cranberry garnish over Christmas for that special holiday feeling. I guarantee you the majority of party goers will love this cocktail. For every three parts Vodka (I prefer Grey Goose), add ½ part Cointreau or Grapefruit Juice (optional), and ½ part Cranberry Juice. Shake well with ice and strain into a pre-chilled martini glass. Top with a splash of seltzer, garnish with a slice of Lime and drop in a few dried cranberries if you'd like. Voila! It's Party Time.

What party is complete without a Bloody Mary? This drink has been around forever for a good reason, it's delicious, tomato juice is good for you and Bloody Marys allow you to drink without guilt on a Sunday morning; what could be better than that?

I like my Bloody’s spicy. The great thing about a Bloody Mary is that you can play a little with the garnishes (celery sticks, olives and a lemon wedge, maybe a dill pickle, or a shrimp) and make them cool or spicy; they are so easy to individualize. Here's how I do it. Combine 2 parts Vodka with 4 parts Tomato Juice, (or Spicy Hot V-8), add a squeeze of Lemon Juice, 2 dashes each Worcestershire and Tabasco, drop in at least 2 tablespoons of Horseradish along with Salt, White and Black Pepper to taste. Stir the mixture well. Pour into a tall glass filled with ice cubes and garnish.

I have to tell you I love variations of the Bloody and one of my favorites is the Shrimpy Mary served at Jumpin’ Jays Fish CafĂ© in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. They also have a great raw bar there. If you are ever in the area I would highly recommend a visit. Next Please!

How about Whiskey Sours? My Grandmother loved them. She used some kind of pre-packaged mixture that was too sugary for me. Here's what I do instead: For every shot of Whiskey, add ½ shot of Lemon Juice, if you need a touch of sweet add a dash of Honey (or Maraschino Cherry Juice to taste). Shake well and pour over a short class of ice and garnish with a cherry. Sit back and enjoy.

You simply must finish off the festivities with a nice Irish coffee. So warming on a cold evening, you simply need a good pot of strong Coffee and a fine bottle of Irish Whiskey. Simply pour the coffee into a mug, add a shot of whiskey, sugar to taste (optional), and if you decide to indulge a big a dollop of whipped cream on the top is more than acceptable.

So there you have it, five of my favorite cocktails. Hopefully you’ll find one or two of the recipes to your liking. Here is to a happy, healthy holiday and a roaring good New Year. Ciao!