The From Away 2011 Holiday Cocktail Collection

I went wassailing up and down the hedgerows of the internet to find a few thrilling cocktails, temperance punches, and warm mugs of festive delight to share with you this year. I then spent my afternoon in the kitchen, slicing oranges and clementines, popping out pomegranate seeds, ripping mint, steeping tea, and snacking on blackberries. It is my dream to one day host a sprawling open house at Christmas with crystal punch bowls and Anne Shirley raspberry cordial, and cheese straws and orange pomander balls and a thousand white lights and mistletoe and Bing Crosby and live reindeer grazing on the front lawn. For now, I must satisfy myself with making our dog Olivia wear an elf costume and drinking sparkling cider from a champagne glass all alone. I find myself in the most unusual position this year of seeking out nonalcoholic options, which is strange, but enlightening. Did you know that there are people who never drink alcohol ever, even at Christmas? Electively. I know. Please enjoy these gorgeous, jewel-colored drinks all season long. Follow along with the ornaments for further instruction.

1. Sparkling Wine with (a tiny splash of) Pomegranate Cherry Juice

It is absolutely critical to quaff from a fluted glass during the holidays. This is a lovely choice for those of us who won’t be in our cups this New Year’s Eve.

2. Winter Sangria

Ingredients

  • bottle of red wine (I used Maine blueberry)
  • 1 cup of vodka
  • 1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
  • slices of clementine
  • handful of blackberries
  • halved red grapes
  • ginger ale

Method

In a very large pitcher or mason jar combine everything but the ginger ale. Allow to marinate in the refrigerator overnight and top off with the fizzy stuff when serving. Don’t forget to garnish with all that wonderfully boozy fruit!

3. Roasted Orange Julius
Adapted from a recipe on Feasting on Art

Ingredients

  • 4 oranges
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method

In an 8 x 8 pan roast oranges covered with 1 cup water and 1/4 cup sugar for 30 minutes in a 400 degree oven. In a small saucepan boil the remaining water, sugar, and vanilla extract. When oranges cool, squeeze the juice from the fruit and discard the rinds. Pour the liquor into a pitcher with the juice and simple syrup to taste. Can be served chilled or, as pictured, warm with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of cloves. This has the most amazing, rich roasted citrus scent. A new favorite.

4. Prohibition Punch

This is one super simple: combine equal parts cooled spiced tea (mine is Hot Cinnamon Sunset), ginger ale, and pomegranate juice, garnished with a clementine slice, big, plump blackberries and a few pomegranate seeds. Could be made to order or served in a pitcher or punch bowl.

5. Wassail (Without Eggs)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 gallon apple cider
  • 1 cup cranberry juice
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 navel orange
  • whole cloves
  • 1 apple, peeled and sliced
  • ginger
  • nutmeg
  • 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • brandy (optional)

In a crock pot or Dutch oven on very low heat on the stove, combine all ingredients and steep for 2-4 hours. Spike with brandy, if desired.

6. The Spirits of Christmas Present (Shot)

Pour into a shot glass first the (green-tinted) peppermint Schnapps, then the grenadine, and finally pour Goldschlager over the back of a spoon slowly, so it floats on top. A good party trick to have in your arsenal. This one goes straight to your head, so I’ve heard.

Well, elves, there you have it. Three for the teeotalers and three for the lushes. Here are a few more potent potables from last year’s post. Enjoy all the intoxicated carousing this time of year demands and remember to buy your designated driver a Kit Kat.

Jillian Bedell

Jillian Bedell is a writer and mother living in a farmhouse in Cushing, Maine. She is very good at talking about herself in the third person. She is co-author of Eating in Maine: At Home, On the Town, and On the Road. She creates content on the internet, on subjects ranging from summer camps to semi-precious stones to the folklore of food. With Malcolm, Jillian was one of the original "Insiders," for the Visit Maine tourism campaign. She loves telling the stories of her adopted state, finding out-of-the-way places, and people making interesting things. Watching her daughters play in the wild woods and fields of Cushing makes her very happy.

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