Traditional Holiday Drinks Christmas Dinner Party

Christmas Dinner Party: Traditional Holiday Drinks and What to Serve with Them

Roslyn Lifestyle Entertaining, Food and Drink, Holidays

The holiday season is here and you are the hostess for a dinner party of 8.  You could always open several bottles of very good wine, but you want this festive occasion to be special and you want to serve traditional holiday drinks.

Selecting and preparing your main course is not your challenge. Google becomes your best friend leading you to tons of recipes and ideas for traditional holiday drinks. Your head is spinning and you have consulted too many people. Your partner thinks you should serve something fancy with whiskey because there’s something about whiskey that makes people feel warm and fuzzy.

You recall a thought you’ve had in the past that if you ever threw a holiday party again, you would include mulled wine (the English love it, maybe we will too). But your best friend loves eggnog despite all the calories and you have your mom’s favorite champagne punch that you can only serve with a good sized crowd. What will you do?

After much consideration, experimentation, taste testing (this, of course,is the fun part) you make a startling discovery. All the traditional holiday drinks that appeal to you have healthy ingredients, in addition to alcohol, which makes it easier to come up with your final recipes.

Starting with a whiskey cocktail seems like the way to go, but making it more festive than straight up is the name of the game and you decide to end the meal with Irish Coffee in order not to mix too many grains. In between will be food offerings, an additional traditional holiday drink together with the usual wines, beers and soft-drinks you have on hand.

Cinnamon-Infused Whiskey Cocktail

This Pin shows you how to make a DIY version of the traditional party starter Fireball Cinnamon Bourbon. But because it needs a while to infuse we’ve included a quick recipe below that you can use to make a delicious cocktail in time for the holidays. It’s easy to make and includes some beautiful Fall and Holiday flavors of cinnamon, clove, and apples. That’s gotta be good for you, right?

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Whiskey
  • 2 Cinnamon sticks
  • 1 whole Clove
  • 1/2 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
  • 2 cups Apple Juice
  • Apple slices for garnish

Recipe:

Do this step at least 1 day in advance: Put the whiskey, cinnamon sticks, clove and red pepper flakes in a jar and let it sit for a minimum of 24 hours up to 72 hours.

Next, strain and discard the spices. Combine the 1 1/2 ounces of the infused whiskey with 4 ounces of apple juice. Pour over ice and garnish with fresh apple slices.

 

Mulled Wine

Mulled wine is a traditional winter drink, especially around  Christmas. If you have never tried it, you should. Essentially it is hot, sweetened red wine made aromatic by adding citrus fruits and warming spices. It is usually made with red wine and mulling spices, served hot or cold, with or without alcohol.

The first record of heating and spicing wine is attributed to the Romans in the 2nd century and was spread across the continents by legionnaires. Others date its history to the Ancient Greeks. Mulled wine is still very popular and traditional in the United Kingdom at Christmas time, but has not gained much popularity in the US.

Recipes have evolved over time and commonly use a combination of orange, lemon, cinnamon, nutmeg, fennel seed, cloves, cardamon, and ginger. Once again we see a plethora of healthy herbs and spices. You can vary the amount of sweet, spice or fruit and the end result will always get you nice and warm. And it doesn’t have to be a very expensive wine. The only time I had mulled wine it tasted like spiced sangria.

Again traditional mulled wine needs to be prepared ahead of time, but the recipe below can be done in 20 minutes in a slow cooker! Follow the recipe from the Pin or our slightly tailored one below.

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Ingredients:

  • bottle of red wine
  • an orange
  • 1/4 cup brandy (optional)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 star-anise

Recipe:

Tie all the spices up in a cheesecloth if you have one.

Bring the bottle of red wine to the boil with the orange, brandy (optional), honey or agave, cloves, cinnamon sticks, star-anise in a non-aluminum saucepan.

Simmer over  a medium-low heat for at least 15 minutes or for hours in your slow cooker.

Strain the mixture to remove the spices or pull out the cheesecloth ready.

Serve warm.

The added benefit to this recipe is the way it infuses your home with the wonderful aromas of the holidays.

You really can’t serve drinks without something to eat so let’s take a look at some ideas to complement the aforementioned drinks.

Hors D’oeuvres

I like to make my life as easy as possible and everyone loves cheese and crackers. If serving mulled wine I’d select a stilton, gorgonzola or a manchego for a salty option.

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Mini quiches, pâté, hummus, baba ganoush, olives, guacamole, mixed nuts, figs are other go-tos and are easy to beautifully serve straight from the store.

If  you enjoy a bit of food prep you might also roll a log of chèvre (a creamy, soft goat cheese) in dried cranberries and walnuts and serve that with crackers.

These will definitely sate the hunger pangs, whilst people mingle and chat casually before the main event.

Main Course

Again during the holidays I would select something that I can set and leave – consider a roast with rosemary potatoes or a beef stew with vegetables on the side. If you don’t want to fuss with getting potatoes crispy perhaps swap them for warm baguettes and a mixed green salad with dressing on the side.

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Desserts

Dessert is the show stopper and the course that everyone remembers. If you’re serving Irish Coffee, then I would go for something dark and chocolaty – think Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes, Chocolate Pots or even a real dieter’s downfall a Chocolate Peanut Butter Roulade!

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No meal is complete without a good cup of coffee. Be prepared and offer an Irish Coffee to stay with the theme of traditional holiday drinks and serve them up with Christmas cookies on the side.

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Ingredients (per person):

  • 1 1/2 ounces Rye Whiskey
  • 1/2 ounce pouring cream
  • 1 tspn brown sugar
  • 5 ounces coffee
  • 1/4 cup whipped cream

Recipe:

Add the sugar to the bottom of the serving mug. Combine 1 1/2 ounces of Rye Whiskey, 1/2 ounce of cream and stir together and add to the mug. Pour in hot coffee and top with whipped cream and cocoa powder.

Prepare as much of the meal as possible ahead of time, so you can enjoy time with your guests. If at all possible to hire a helper or barter with a teenager, do so. It makes clean-up so much easier. If guests are close friends or family and they offer to help, let them. You can have tons of fun singing holiday songs, as together you put left-overs away. Remember, it is holiday time and what matters the most is the love you share with those you invited to your table. Give and receive and if partaking and one more glass will send you to sleep with a glow and a smile on your face, go for it.

Do you have a favorite holiday recipe? Please share in the comments.

Happy, Happy holidays to all.

Roz and Beth

 

 

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Roslyn
I loved going to work each day for 30 years as a professional career counselor. When I retired, I explored my creativity and regard for crafts until I discovered beading. At age 68 I turned my new found passion- jewelry design, into a business. At age 72 I took on learning about social media marketing and developing my computer skills. I am sharing my journey from inception, to frustration, to elation -in the hope of inspiring others that 'it is not too late to start again'. Welcome to my re-invention!

Comments 50

  1. That’s unusual – starting with the drinks and building the menu around that! I love mulled wine and haven’t made it in ages. Thanks for reminding me. What do you think of making your life simpler by buying perhaps the dessert and maybe a couple of appetizers so that you aren’t working so hard that you don’t have energy left to enjoy the dinner party?

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      Beth Niebuhr, I agree & believe in using as many quality store bought products as possible. All the Hors D’oeuvres and appetizers mentioned in the blog are available in a specialty food store. Using a crock pot for drinks or a main course does make it easier for a hostess to get dishes prepared in advance. Often guests will bring dessert and some hostesses really enjoy preparing a special one. So much depends on the comfort & skill level in party prep. Thanks for your thoughts and enjoy the holidays.

  2. I LOVED reading this!!! The whiskey drink, we will make it using Honey Jack, apple cider, cloves, cinnamon and other stuff, put it into a Growler, lace it up with some Ginham ribbon and voila… a gift that is totally appreciated and used within hours 🙂 I used to make my own mulled wine, but I can’t drink red wine anymore.

    For desserts, I’m making Hungarian Kiflies for my family. I don’t dare bring them to Joe’s family because nobody makes them better than his Mom 😉

    Harrison just walked in the door, first time home for Christmas since he’s been in the Military.. he brought his crock pot and we’re making two massive batches of Honey Whiskey BBQ meatballs as appetizers.

    So off to hug him like crazy!

    Wishing you and your family a very Happy Holiday and best wishes for 2016.

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      Your plans sound wonderful Gisele Grenier. Having your son home for the holidays is the best gift of all. It is so nice that you have family traditional drinks and dessert. Enjoy, take care and the very best for 2016. So glad we met in 2015.

  3. I’m supposed to bring a desert for Christmas, and you just made it SO easy for me, Roslyn! That Irish Coffee will be my offering–I’ve been searching for a good recipe, and here you are to the rescue! Thank you, and Merry Christmas to you and yours!

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  4. I’ve never heard of mulled wine, but I LOVE mulled hot apple cider. It’s a good thing I had already eaten lunch before reading your tasty suggestions, or I’d be headed to the pantry for something yummy. While I lust after almost all cheeses, I think my favorite recipe is the peanut butter roulade. I had no idea you were such a food expert, Roslyn! Seeing Irish Coffee on the list made me smile since that was an all-time favorite of my parents when I was growing up. I really enjoyed this unexpected but fun article–perfect timing!

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      Thanks, Meghan Monaghan for your delightful comment. We went with a holiday theme of business survival, personal survival and finally a bit of indulgence. This was a collaborative blog and so pleased it is making a hit.

  5. Roslyn – Now I need to head back to the grocery! Your article has so many great suggestions. I’m going to try the mulled wine. I know I’m going to love how it makes the house smell too! (But the Irish coffee would be a hit for our party too. Hmm.) Vickie

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      So glad we provided some new ideas for your party Vickie Maris. Please make sure to update us on your final choice. A very happy holiday to you, your family, musicians & animals.

  6. This is quite an elaborate and expansive list of choices you’ve shared, Roslyn! Amazing and yes, some of the ingredients are healthy. As someone who doesn’t drink alcohol, my family usually drinks run and organic eggnog and then often a good red wine…my daughter’s new favourite is Apothic dark. We usually keep the food pretty simple. Organic turkey breast roast with organic carrots and potatoes. The once-a-year highlight is an organic pork tenderloin cooked with mustard and apricots. Simply yummy. I have a lovely recipe for a no grain flour desert, (it uses almond flour), although this year we are doing dates (cut in half) with cream cheese in the middle. Healthy and yummy. Of course my indulgence is cheesecake. You offered some fabulous ideas to those who are still looking for “the” recipe that will have their guests oohing and ahing this holiday season. Enjoy yourself, whatever you make.

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      Thanks, Beverley Golden for sharing your family favorites. I hardly drink alcohol as it makes me feel flush and I can only have a sip of white wine. So these recipes are suggestions and offerings and it seems like it is making a hit. Although one can find everything on line & on Pinterest, it is sometimes easier with a limited offering. The best on the New Year. It seems we know one another much longer than 1 year, but I’ll always remember 2015 as it introduced us.

  7. Oh my goodness, so many foods to choose from. Being vegan I’d have to adjust many of the recipes, but I’m getting pretty good at that. I have never heard of mulled wine, and even though I don’t drink, I do like to have options for my guests. I may try this one! Thanks for the great info!!!

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      Lisa Swanson, I think it is amazing that you can adapt recipes on your own. As I learned mulled wine is not much known in USA, but people are familiar with hot apple cider. Add a touch of red wine, some spices & you have ‘mulled’ a drink. Enjoy the holiday & the best on the New Year.

  8. You have covered all the bases with this post Roslyn, sharing some amazing recipes. I love the sound of the cinnamon infused whiskey and will definitely try that when our winter comes. This year we’re reinstating a Christmas day tradition from years back – strawberry daiquiris, which fit perfectly with our warm Christmas. The strawberries help to make them a little less naughty. That pot roast recipe looks delicious – another one to add to my winter list. We’ll be having a selection of roast pork, ham and turkey but the star of the show is always fresh seafood. I used to make chocolate roulade every year but have recently changed to gingerbread houses – so much fun to decorate with the Goddesses! Hard to believe it’s all happening here tomorrow – best get cooking. Have a wonderful week. 🙂

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      Thanks so much Tamuria, for taking the time to offer such a lovely comment. Love that you have traditions. Can’t imagine celebrating Christmas in the summertime but I guess that is what you grew up with in Australia. The joys of internet bringing us together. Enjoy your delicious sounding meal and so glad 2015 brought us together.

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      You are welcome Carol Rundle. Once I got into writing and thinking it thru I really wanted to have this party. We don’t drink at all, nor celebrate Christmas so I guess this was my fantasy menu. The best to you on the holiday and in the new year.

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  9. Mmmm mulled wine. This brings me back to the 3 years I lived in Germany. Mulled wine is a staple there for the holidays and is sold in the Christmas markets etc on the street. Thanks for the recipe, I am definately making my own this year 🙂

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  10. I love mulled wine, Roslyn, along with my winter staple of Hot Rum Punch. 🙂 For someone who just had lunch a short while back, my stomach is already growling and I think that is the ultimate compliment I can give to this wonderful post.

    May there be love, laughter and lots of happiness at your family table on Christmas and every day.

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  11. This is just what I need!! A great post, I am on my way to the store so I can prepare mulled wine, another thing g about mulled wine is it is so aromatic!

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  12. Wow.. I want to come over for holiday dinner at your house. We are a small family and moved to Texas with just our small family of 4+1 (step kid) and we did what we enjoy eating and that’s about it. lol Your stuff sounds fabulous. We did enjoy some Sailor Jerry and diet though, and I tell you, spiced rum is amazing! lol

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      Kristen Wilson, your holiday time and family time sounded perfect. Plus you & your girls volunteer to serve food to the homeless is the spirit of the holiday.

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      Your visit to Minnesota to care for your mom was just where you needed to be. These dishes & drinks can be made anytime.Thanks for compliment. Our thoughts are with you.

  13. Great tips Roslyn. Funnily, I recognize some of the dishes I served at Christmas – we seem to have the same taste. 🙂 As a person who loves oenology, I specically like the topic of matching food and drink. Especially at festive occasions I pay attention that every course is accompanied by the right wine. It’s relatively easy here in Europe, because it’s enough to take a dish or a cheese and a wine from the same region (eg. a specific part of France) and normally it should be matching. I love mulled wine – just as Stephanie, for me it recalls the atmosphere of Christmas markets. I never thought of matching it with a dish yet. Food for thought…

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      Thanks, Erika Kalmar for your thoughtful comments. I’ll let you in on a secret. Most of my research covered recipes popular in the UK & Europe so no surprise they were familiar to you.I’m sure your holiday table was magnificent. Best wishes on the New Year.

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  14. Lots of food for thought here, Roz=> I love the approach of doing as much ahead of time as possible. So many traditional dishes you’ve listed that bring back childhood memories. I’ve changed up my diet a lot over the past 5 or so years, with the focus being plant-based. Yes, it creates challenges; but it’s also taught me that we can incorporate family favorites in new ways. Great post – thought-provoking, as always.

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      Thank you so much for your thoughtful words, Deb Nelson.I think it’s great that you can adapt traditional recipes to suit your current food choices. Glad this blog evoked childhood memories. All the best on the New Year.

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      Thanks, Joan Harrington. Glad you will be saving this for next year and who knows, who can even decide to host a themed dinner party any time of year or need to bring a drink or dish. All the best on the New Year.

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