Many people think about breaking out a nice bottle of champagne on a special occasion, and a glass of bubbly definitely has a festive feel to it, but champagne is a drink that you can toast to all year round and winter holidays deserve their own special celebration drinks that you won’t see much at any other time of the year.
- Hot Caramel Apple Cider is a wonderful way to dress up apple cider. Cider – homemade or even store bought – is dressed up with caramel sauce and whipped cream for a real treat that practically shouts “happy holidays!” You could even spike this with a little alcohol for a more grown-up party drink, but I like to keep it simple because I never get tired of this treat.
- Eggnog is a holiday classic, a thick, dairy-based drink made with milk, sugar, eggs and spices, usually nutmeg and vanilla. You can spike it with a little brandy or rum for the grown-ups, too. You can easily buy eggnog, but nothing beats homemade. A cooked Homemade Eggnog is the most common kind of ‘nog recipe. This drink base is cooked like a custard, so it develops a thick and velvety texture. It is rich, but satisfying, and can actually stand in for dessert because it is quite indulgent.
Limeade isn’t nearly as common as lemonade, but everyone I know that is a fan of the lemon juice drink is at least as appreciative of limeade, if not moreso. The drinks are virtually the same – lemon/lime juice, sugar, water and ice – but limeade is a bit brighter and tangier than lemonade. It often tastes less sweet than lemonade, even with the same amount of sugar put in as a sweetener. For me, this makes it even more refreshing. It is perfect for cutting through rich or spicy foods.
Just as with lemonade, limeade is best when you start out with fresh limes. Real lime juice gives the drink a fresher flavor than prebottled does. If you’re going to try prebottled lime juice, you may as well just start out with a whole bottle of limeade and save some time (Simply Limeade is one of my favorites, if you are looking for a good bottled brand). Once you have your juice, you only need to stir in some sugar and dilute the mixture with water before chilling and drinking. I usually make a simply sugar syrup for lemonade, and I do pretty much the same thing for limeade, heating some of the water used just enough to dissolve all the granulated sugar. Sugar should be adjusted to taste, of course.
Limeade is great on its own, but can also be a good mixer for margaritas and other cocktails. It’s summery, but there is no reason that limeade can’t be enjoyed all year round as long as you can find juicy limes to start with.
In Berkeley, this drink is know as a Mocha Bianca, and I’m willing to bet it’s one of the more popular coffee drinks enjoyed on and around the UC Berkeley campus. Outside of Berkeley, coffee chains and independent coffee shops alike tend to call this drink a White Chocolate Mocha. No matter what you call it, it’s a tasty and simple drink to make. A White Chocolate Mocha Bianca (hybridizing the two names) is a classic mocha – a combination of coffee and chocolate – that uses white chocolate in place of cocoa powder, chocolate, chocolate syrup or some variant thereof.
This drink can be made as a latte, using espresso, or as a simple coffee drink using regular, brewed coffee. The white chocolate comes through a little bit bolder in the latte version of the drink, while the coffee flavor comes through more clearly in the coffee version. The method is the same for both options: melt white chocolate into milk, whisk until smooth and frothy, add coffee/espresso and serve. The great thing about this drink is that white chocolate is sweet on its own, so there is no need to add additional sugar, and its creaminess enhances the flavor of the milk.
I used low fat milk and Guittard white chocolate for this. Nonfat and whole milk will both work well. Nondairy milks like soy, almond and almond will work, too. Try to use the best quality white chocolate (with cocoa butter, as opposed to some kind of vegetable oil) you can get to get the best results. The measurements for coffee and espresso that I’ve given are approximate. Make the drink as strong, or as mild, as you like.
Arnold Palmer is a golfer, widely considered to be one of the best golfers in history, in fact. Arnold Palmer is also a drink and, as this is a food blog and not a sports one, it’s also the one that I’m talking about today.
The drink is a mixture of half iced tea and half lemonade and for many – including Arnold Palmer and me (usually) – it’s greater than the sum of its parts. It has the refreshing, bright citrus flavor of lemons and the mellowness of iced tea. I find Arnold Palmers to be less sweet and more refreshing than lemonade alone, since many lemonades are overly sugary and don’t really cool you down. They’re certainly more interesting than iced tea alone, especially if you tend to drink plain black tea.
I used homemade lemonade and homemade iced tea for this batch, and sweetened it with simple syrup. If I had sweetened both my lemonade and my iced tea in advance, I probably wouldn’t have needed extra sweetener, but I usually keep my iced tea unsweetened. Simple syrup is always my preferred sweetener for cold drinks. It’s basically sugar dissolved in water and reduced until slightly syrupy. You’ll never end up with grains of sugar floating around your drink if you use it. Use a strong iced tea so that the flavors come through. If your iced tea is only of average strength, don’t add ice to the drink to chill it because it will water down the flavors too much.
In horse racing, a “breeze” is where a racehorse is asked to show some speed and run at a fast gallop, but not to push himself too hard. It’s a good indicator of speed and fitness in a horse. At Belmont Park in New York, it’s still a racing term (of course) and it is also a drink. The Belmont Breeze is the official drink of the mile-and-a-half Belmont Stakes.
The drink was created by Dale DeGroff at the race track’s Paddock Lounge a few years ago and it’s been quite popular ever since. It isn’t as famous as the Kentucky Derby’s mint julep – largely because the mint julep is served frequently off the race course and not just on it – but it’s certainly not bad. The drink has a fairly strong whiskey taste with some fruity undertones. The hint of pink color that mine got from the cranberry juice was lost after shaking the drink and pouring it over ice, so I might play around with the proportions if I end up making this again.
For now, it’s a good drink to have in hand to watch the race and root for Big Brown, who will hopefully take home the next Triple Crown.