Archive for Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Mixed drinks add element of surprise to holiday parties

November 22, 2006

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Something bright. Something frothy. Something seasonal. Something creamy. And, of course, something for those who'd rather not.

Coming up with a cocktail menu for a holiday party can be just as challenging as figuring out the food. So many choices and - for those who don't imbibe often - so many unusual ingredients. Makes it tempting to stick with wine.

But mixed drinks can be a fun way to add interest to the meal. It just takes a bit of planning.

The best approach is to select two or three seasonally appropriate drinks that are easy to assemble. Then decide whether to play bartender, or to designate a bar area and arrange the tools and ingredients so your guests can help themselves.

The following cocktails represent a mix of approaches for the holidays. The pomegranate-cherry royale is a light and refreshing mix of bright red juice and sparkling wine. Or try an apple orchard with fresh cider and a bit of whiskey.

For a frothy take that will keep your guests alert, try a vodka espresso, a slightly sweetened blend of the namesake ingredients that drinks like a martini. Or for something reminiscent of eggnog, a white Russian - a blend of vodka, Kahlua and cream.

And don't forget to have something for those who'd prefer to skip the alcohol. A pussy foot "mocktail" is a sharp and sweet blend of fruit juices with grenadine, a pomegranate-flavored syrup.

Pomegranate-cherry royale

(Start to finish 5 minutes)

2 tablespoons pomegranate-cherry juice (or pomegranate juice)

1/2 ounce creme de cassis

1/2 ounce cherry brandy

2 ice cubes

2 ounces chilled sparkling wine

In a blender, combine juice, creme de cassis, brandy and ice. Blend until smooth. Pour into a flute glass and top with sparkling wine.

Makes 1 serving.

Source: Andrew Chase, Alison Kent and Nicole Young's "400 Blender Cocktails"

A variety of seasonally appropriate drinks will add to the food selection during the holiday season. At back left is Pomegranate-cherry Royale, foreground, Apple Orchard, and right, Vodka Espresso.

A variety of seasonally appropriate drinks will add to the food selection during the holiday season. At back left is Pomegranate-cherry Royale, foreground, Apple Orchard, and right, Vodka Espresso.

Apple orchard

1/4 cup apple cider or apple juice

2 tablespoons frozen lemonade concentrate

1 1/2 ounces whiskey

1 ice cube

1 thin slice of apple or lemon, for garnish

In a blender, combine cider, lemonade concentrate, whiskey and ice. Blend until smooth. Pour into a highball glass and garnish with apple or lemon slice.

Makes 1 serving.

Source: Andrew Chase, Alison Kent and Nicole Young's "400 Blender Cocktails"

White Russian

2 ounces vodka

1 ounce Kahlua

1 ounce light cream

Combine the vodka and Kahlua in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake and strain into a small glass filled with ice. Top the drink with cream.

Source: "Ben Reed's Bartender's Guide"

Vodka espresso

2 ounces fresh espresso

2 ounces vodka

1 dash sugar syrup

3 coffee beans, for garnish (optional)

Pour the espresso into a cocktail shaker. Add the vodka and sugar syrup. Shake until well mixed, then pour into a glass filled with crushed ice.

Source: "Ben Reed's Bartender's Guide"

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