We all know that bubbly for New Year’s Eve is a no-brainer. So, this year, why not use that brain and think a bit out of the box? Sure, you’ll want to pop the cork on a bottle of sparkling wine at the stroke of midnight. But here’s a suggestion for sipping prior to the 2013 countdown: How about ringing in the New Year with the boozy equivalents of comfort food? That is, those heart- and gullet-warming winter cocktails like the hot toddie, hot buttered rum, glögg and such. Here are some of my favorite recipes for turning up the heat on New Year’s Eve and the holiday period before it.
Hot Toddie: Since most of us have microwaves in our kitchens, hot toddies are a snap to make; there’s no need to heat water on the stove like in the old days, although you can. So, in a Pyrex or other microwave-safe glass container, heat 3 ounces water, 1 ounce honey and 1/3 ounce fresh-squeezed lemon juice (don’t even think about using the icky lemony liquid from one of those plastic lemons) for 30 seconds to one minute. Stir to blend the ingredients, and then add 1 1/2 ounces whiskey. That’s all there is to it. I also like to make this with dark rum in place of the whiskey. Other variations include using brandy or substituting tea for the water.
Hot Buttered Rum: What cocktail could be more synonymous with winter and toasty fireplaces than hot buttered rum? It’s my favorite warm wintertime drink, and a simple one to make. In a ceramic mug, Irish coffee glass or pewter tankard, combine 2 ounces dark rum, 1 clove, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 teaspoon of brown sugar and a twist of lemon. Fill the remainder of the mug with boiling water, mix well and float a pat of butter on top.
Glögg: During the holidays, I love the smell of mulled wine and spices wafting through the house. So, I like to make batches of the Swedish mulled wine called glögg (known in Germany as glühwein). You can experiment with using different favorite spices in your glögg, making it truly your own. Common spice ingredients for glögg include cardamom, cinnamon and cloves. I like a smidgen of dried ginger (not fresh) in my glögg, and one of these days I’m going to try a dash of cumin. Here is a classic recipe for glögg: In a large saucepan, heat the following ingredients until steaming hot, but do not boil—boiling will burn off the alcohol. Heat one 750 ml. bottle of inexpensive red wine, preferably something fruity (I like Zinfandel), 20 or so cloves, 15 to 20 cardamom seeds, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, the zest from a lemon, 4 cinnamon sticks, 1 cup sugar and 5 ounces brandy (optional, if you’d prefer less alcohol). Adjust the sweetness to your liking with additional sugar or honey, if necessary, and serve hot in mugs with a cinnamon stick and/or a piece of lemon peel for garnish. It’s traditional to serve glögg with gingerbread.
Wassail: For designated drivers and nondrinkers on New Year’s Eve, consider serving wassail, the spiced punch popular in Northern Europe. Here is a good all-purpose recipe that you can fiddle with to your heart’s desire. In a large pot, combine the following: 1 cup orange juice, 1 cup lemon juice, 1 cup pineapple juice, 2 quarts apple cider, 2/3 cup sugar, 15 to 20 cloves and 4 cinnamon sticks. Heat until hot but do not boil. Serve warm. If you want to booze it up a bit, add vodka, brandy or rum.NEW YEAR'S EVE GUIDE