When you think Christmas, what comes to mind?
Endless social engagements with family and friends…? Beautifully wrapped gifts tucked under a glistening Christmas tree? A giant turkey dinner complete with scratch-stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce and home-made buns? I don’t know about you, but my answer is all of the above – which quickly turns into an incessant need for self medication.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my family (both blood and adopted), adore fighting the rabid shopping crowds to find that one perfect gift, and mowing down on some good old fashioned holiday food. Gimme! But to be entirely honest, it can be a bit much. Luckily, I have an old friend to keep me company through it all: Wine. Or in the case of mulling, cider, beer, scotch and brandy too!
That’s the sheer libatious beauty of mulled drinks – there. is. no. recipe. Sure (as with the Knickerbocker Glory) there’s basic guidelines; It should be hot with some allspice and cloves, but after that, she’s all up for grabs.
Even if you value the tradition of mulled wine specifically, the flavor combinations are endless: cinnamon, honey, nutmeg, star anise, peppercorns, orange or lemon zest, cardamom and Wintery herbs like rosemary or thyme, to name but a few. Or shove some fresh seasonal produce in it like pumpkin, pomegranate, cranberries or pineapple. Mamma what!
And if you’re like me – or have a particularly trying family – you might need a little extra boozy lovin’ with a splash of Grand Marnier or Chambord. Infuse some chocolate in there and you have yourself some stellar – and oh so soothing – mulled cocktails!
Even the cooking styles and times can vary. Some people just chuck it all in to float freely and mingle with each other, others insist upon a diffuser, while still others recommend a piece of cheesecloth. Simmer longer for a more infused, less boozy drink (the alcohol will cook away) or cook just long enough to get it all hot and cozy and serve for a more booze friendly crowd.
Mulled cocktails are the definition of culinary innovation. They’re the ultimate fusion of flavors, colors and inspiration. Given the right combination, you prepare not only yourself, but at this time of year, those you love most for a serious “WOW” experience.
Bartenders and mixologists worldwide have been provoking us to look at drinks in a new way – as a culinary art. Beverages – and in this case, mulled cocktails – really are an extension of our food tasting experience. They set the mood, create new spaces for discussion (both due to flavor as well as intoxication) and refuse to be bound by a set recipe. It’s all about personal preference and creating something new. Mulled cocktails may be historically & traditionally Christmas, but their culmination is evolving.
For more inspiration, visit us on Facebook and share your mulled cocktails with us. Or any cocktails, really. We’re gonna need ’em!
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