Sunday, December 2, 2012

Holiday drinks: mocktails or cocktails.It's up to you

A reader sent in a link to her blog post called "7 Holiday Inspired Mocktails." Cutting back on alcohol -- or for many, not using it at all -- is a good way to help keep the pounds off at this challenging time of year. Not only do alcoholic drinks add empty calories to your daily total, one effect of the booze is to lower your ability to resist the other fat-and-sugar-laden treats that are all around us this time of year.
On the other hand, if you're more of the "eat, drink and be merry" philosophy -- at least until January -- you might spike these drinks for those who prefer to indulge.
Click on the link above to read about all the non-alcoholic suggestions. Here are a few, with my ideas in parentheses about what alcohol you might consider adding to some of them.

  1. Cranberry Splash – Fill a tall glass with ice cubes and fill the glass half full with tea (any flavor) and top off with sparkling cranberry juice, such as Sierra Mist Cranberry Splash, or a little plain cranberry juice and ginger ale.  Garnish with a wedge of lime and a few floating cranberries for a pretty and festive drink. [Instead of ginger ale, add Prosecco or other sparkling wine]
  2. Cherry Bomb – Bring 2 cups of water to a boil, remove from the heat and add 1 cup of grenadine, stirring to combine. Cool slightly and then pour into ice cube trays. Freeze for at least 2 hours.  To make the drink, fill a tall glass with the ice cubes and top with a lemon lime soda.  Garnish with several bottled cherries on a toothpick laid across the top of the drink. [Cherry flavored vodka, or just a shot of plain vodka, would spike this one nicely.]
  3. Grape cider sparkler – Combine ¼ cup of grape juice with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.  Split this mixture between 2 glasses, then fill up the glass with sparkling cider.  Garnish with a twist of lemon.
  4. Apple pie spiced cider – You can create this warm and soothing drink in place of a hot toddy.  In a medium pan, whisk together 1 ¼ quarts of apple cider, 3 tablespoons of brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of allspice, ½ teaspoon of ground ginger and ¼ teaspoon of cloves.  Add a pinch of salt (optional) and bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat.  Grate some fresh nutmeg over the pot.  Stir and simmer for 10 minutes.  Serve in mugs and garnish with a whole cinnamon stick. [I've always liked rum in hot cider, but others swear by bourbon.]

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