I wish all holiday calendars could work like this year's configuration: long holiday weekends, with time for both pre- and post-party rest and recovery. How rare it is when we can eat and drink ourselves silly on New Year's Eve, with a bonus package of two whole days to nurse a hangover, extract that lampshade party hat and perhaps arrive at some sobering New Year's resolutions?
With the extra time to prepare and recover, we have a perfect excuse to yip it up at home rather than taking trouble out into the streets.
Today, I'll cover beverage options. Tomorrow, I'll follow up with some ideas for chow and festive snacks.
Today's Food section has gone bubbly, with a primer on concocting champagne cocktails, inspired by several Washington area mixologists. (Check out the fun interactive photo gallery, too!) Plus, wine columnist Ben Giliberti offers his picks for traditional French champagne.
At this point in the holidays, I'm looking for bargains, so I'll steer my palate toward less-expensive bubbles. I'm a big fan of Spanish Cava and usually there's a bottle of Cristalino in my fridge, which sets me back about nine bucks. (It's also quite food friendly; I love it with spicy stuff.) Other fun option is Italian Prosecco, made from the Prosecco grape, with a lightness and fruitiness that takes me far, far away from winter snow. Ask your friends at your local wine shop and they'll be able to offer something around $15. For domestic fizz, I would hit Gruet from New Mexico (about $12) or Roederer from California (about $30).
Stop mulling things over and cut to the glogg, a mulled red wine concoction with Scandinavian roots. There are tons of recipe variations for this high-octane brew; some include aquavit, the Swedish caraway-flavored liqueur, while others use brandy. Whatever you decide, the red wine gets punched up with lots of aromatics and spices -- cloves, cinnamon, orange peel -- and is served hot. By the way, say GLOOG if you want to hang with the cool kids.
Its mulled cousin (mulled means heated and sweetened, by the way) is wassail, an apple cider-based warmer upper that can be served spiked or as is. Those who like it leaded add calvados, brandy or even vodka.
Non-alcoholic options are not just a good idea, they're a must. In addition to the standard fizzy water and soft drink lineup, consider something a bit more inviting to non-boozing guests. Spruce up that fizzy water with a few splashes of pear or mango nectar (available at many supermarkets these days), garnished with a slice of fruit, a minty sprig. Or, hey! It's party time: a lemon grass stalk.
For further reading, have a look at the "Drinkology" titles by James Waller, whose style and wit is accessible to we plebes. Fun reads and useful to boot.
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Posted by: DCCeline | December 29, 2005 11:47 AM
Posted by: rkh | December 30, 2005 01:20 PM
Posted by: rete | December 30, 2005 02:47 PM