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Holiday Mixers for a Crowd

Gretchen Skedsvold

Most of us will attend at least one “holiday mixer” this season, be it with friends, family, or co-workers. For those of you who are hosting one, we have put together a list of some holiday refreshments: alternatives to eggnog and mulled wine, a boozy liquid fruitcake, fancy champagne punches and a crock-pot surprise! The cocktails range from “let it cook and forget about it” to “infuse and measure your mixers.” We have also included some single servings so you can impress your friends with your mixology skills or indulge on your own in the comfort of your own home. The list is broken down into three sections: Batch Cocktails and Punches, Hot Drinks with Hard Spices, and Single Serving Cocktails.

Batch Cocktails and Punches

Coquito
This traditional coconut milk based Puerto Rican Christmas cocktail is a great alternative to what many consider the quintessential holiday cocktail: eggnog. It is creamy and rich with warming hard spices and rum. While some recipes use egg whites for the cocktail base, we chose a recipe without eggs from Latina food blogger Vanessa at Smart Little Cookie. Coquito is traditionally served on Nochebuena (Christmas Eve) when families gather to celebrate. Neighbors often stop by to carol or share food and are offered this sweet, creamy délice. If you’re in NYC the Museo Del Barrio typically holds a coquito contest where competitors offer their best variation on a drink!

Ingredients: (makes about 18 half cup/4 ounce cocktails)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 can evaporated milk
1 can (14 oz) of coconut milk
1 can (14 oz) of coconut cream
1 teaspoon cinnamon (plus extra for garnish)
1 teaspoon of nutmeg (plus extra for garnish)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups of Twisted Path Distillery Organic Light Rum
Toasted coconut shavings for garnish (optional)

Directions: 
Blend ingredients together until well mixed. Place in in refrigerator in a  sealed container until chilled. Serve in a small glass (a double shot glass would be perfect) with light garnish of cinnamon, nutmeg, coconut shavings or all three! 

Sparkling Pomegranate Punch (makes 10-12 servings)
This sparkling pomegranate from Food and Wine has dry sparkling wine and sweet white wine creating a tangy, fruity, and bubbly cocktail. Garnishing with pomegranate seeds makes this drink look as festive as it tastes. 

Ingredients:
2 oranges, thinly sliced crosswise
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
3/4 cup sweet white wine
Two 750-milliliter bottles dry sparkling wine, chilled
3 tablespoons sugar
1 cup diced fresh pineapple (1/2 inch dice)
1 cup pomegranate juice

Directions:
In a punch bowl, dissolve the sugar in the pomegranate juice. Add the wines followed by the orange slices, pineapple, and pomegranate seeds. Serve over ice cubes.

Mother's Ruin
Death and Co. in New York is well known for their punch service. “Mother’s Ruin” is like a Greyhound (gin and grapefruit juice) French 75 (champagne, gin, and lemon) hybrid dressed up to attend the Royal Ascot. If you prefer a simple sparkling simper, pick up our French 75 cocktail kit as a gift for a host or a treat for yourself. But if you want a lady with pedigree in an oversized hat who can hobnob with royals, make you and your guests, co-workers, friends, and foes “Mother’s Ruin.”

Ingredients: (makes 8, 1 cup/8-ounce servings)
½ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup Spruce Soda Sparkling Water
¾ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
¾ cup tea-infused sweet vermouth (750 milliliters Primitivo Quiles Vermouth Rojo and 4 teaspoons black tea; see directions below) 
1 ½ cups of fresh squeezed grapefruit juice, plus three wheels for garnish
1 ½ cups of Far North Gustaf Navy Strength Gin
2 ¼ cups dry sparkling wine
Large block ice (Fill Tupperware container with water and freeze)

Directions:
To make the vermouth: Combine 4 teaspoons loose Harvest Moon Tea (this is black tea with cinnamon and apple; you may substitute with any black tea) with 750-milliliter of Primitivo Quiles Vermouth Rojo; Stir or shake to combine. Let sit for 1 1/2 hours; Strain.
Dissolve sugar with soda water in a large pitcher. 
Combine the remaining ingredients in pitcher and chill in refrigerator for an 1 hour or until cold.
Transfer contents to a punch bowl with a block of ice.
Top with sparkling wine and grapefruit wheels and serve!

Hot Drinks with Hard Spices

Bourbon Citrus Sipper
Apple cider, Bourbon and citrus are a happy triumvirate in this warm cocktail, which can be made ahead of time in a crockpot! 

Ingredients: (makes 8, ¾ cup/6 ounce servings)
6 cups (48 ounces) cider or apple juice
¼ cup of sugar
9 inches of cinnamon stick
8 whole cloves
½ teaspoon anise seeds
1 large navel orange, sliced
1 medium lemon, sliced
½ cup of bourbon

Directions:
Add cider, sugar, and spices to a crock-pot or saucepan. Cover and cook on low-heat for 3 1/2 to 4 hours or on high-heat for 2 hours. 
Add orange and lemon slices and cook for 30 more minutes.
Strain cider mixture into a bowl or remove oranges, lemons, and whole spices with slotted spoon. 
Pour strained cider back into the slow cooker or saucepan and place on low heat to keep warm.
Add bourbon when you are ready to serve! 

Glögg
We know, there is a lot of mulled wine at holiday parties. Glögg (pronounced glook) is the Scandinavian version of this iconic winter tipple with just enough twists to keep it interesting. Unlike most mulled wines, you serve glögg in a mug with a tiny spoon to eat the almonds and raisins steeped in the wine! This recipe by Steven Raichlin for the New York Times is a traditional glögg, perfect for any Minnesotan who wants to reconnect with their Scandinavian roots.

Ingredients: (makes 12 servings)
2 bottles dry red wine
1 bottle sweet white wine, like Château Les Arroucats Sainte Croix du Mont
1 lemon
1 orange
10 cloves
10 cardamom pods
3 cinnamon sticks
1 inch fresh ginger, thinly sliced
1 cup raisins
1 cup blanched almonds
1 cup sugar (or to taste)
1 tablespoon Bittercube Jamaica #1
1 cup aquavit or vodka (optional)

Directions:
Combine wines in a large saucepan. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the zest of citrus fruits. Squeeze fruits and add juice to wine. Tie up lemon and orange peels and spices in cheesecloth and add to mixture. Add raisins, almonds and sugar.
Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, or until flavors are well blended and almonds are soft. Skim wine occasionally to remove any foam. Taste and adjust sugar as necessary.
Just before serving, add bitters and aquavit or vodka. Ladle into mugs or cups and with a small spoon to enjoy the raisins and almonds.

Single Serving Cocktails

Vesper
This classic cocktail was introduced in the James Bond novel Casino Royal. It’s primarily gin (three parts), with one part vodka and half part of Lillet Blanc, a Bordelais aperitif. This aromatized (fortified) wine is made in Podensac, a small town close to Sauternes in Bordeaux, with 85% Semillon - the white grape the region is most known for - and 15% liqueurs.  
Though not a traditional holiday cocktail the strong gin flavor, with juniper and cedar notes, lend it a festive and seasonal taste. The Duluth made Boreal Cedar Gin in particular has strong notes of spruce, cedar, pine and juniper with a hint of lavender – a classic flavor complement to Lillet – making it a great choice for this cocktail’s base. It also requires few ingredients and is easy to make (and drink). Approach with caution! It’s a boozy one.

Ingredients: (Makes one serving)
2 ounces of Boreal Cedar Gin
½ ounce of Tattersall Vodka
¼ ounce Lillet Blanc
Lemon twist

Directions:
Combine over ice in martini shaker. Shake (about 30 seconds) or stir until well chilled. Strain into a chilled champagne coupe or martini glass and serve with a lemon twist. 

Christmas Fruitcake Cocktail
Christmas fruitcakes would surely surge in popularity if eating them resulted in a pleasant buzz. This cocktail by Zachary Pearson of Kindred Cocktails is alcoholic fruitcake in a low ball sure to lift your Christmas spirits, pun intended. 

Ingredients: (Makes one serving)
1 1⁄4 oz Far North Alander Spiced Rum
1 oz Scotch or Whiskey
3⁄4 oz Tattersall Amaro
1⁄4 oz Channing Daughters VerVino sweet vermouth
4 ds Bittercube Blackstrap bitters
1 twist orange peel (flamed, as garnish)
1 ds Bittercube blackstrap bitters

Directions: 
Stir ingredients in a martini shaker with ice. Strain ingredients into a lowball. Flame orange peel over the top, add a dash of Christmas bitters to the peel, drop into drink and serve.