Food, Wine, Good (and Evil) Spirits

ImageBecause our holiday parties tend to revolve around themes and menus of yesterday (I blame my house, it’s terribly 1950s to the extreme, and no, I wouldn’t change a thing), I wanted to experiment with a category of drinks that are probably better suited to Patagonia rather than Sunny Southern California: hot cocktails.

Regardless of the outside temperature though, sipping a hot cocktail accomplishes two things: it warms your hands and tummy and makes you incredibly drunk. What’s not to enjoy about that? Besides, we can all sit around sipping cider or cocoa all the time, can we?

Here are 4 hot cocktails that will definitely be featured at my next shindig, no matter what the weather’s like. The suntan lotion, however, will be strictly optional.

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sangria.pitcherEvery holiday party deserves a little cocktail. Don’t you agree? Using seasonal ingredients to create both savory and sweets is a given. Drinks should share in what the season has to offer and that is exactly why this cocktail will be what we will be toasting with this season.

Two years ago I made Moscow Mules and last year I whipped up Persimmon Mojitos using one of my most favorite seasonal fruit. This year I am all about the Honey Crisp Apple.

If you haven’t eaten one yet, you are truly missing out. It is the one apple, aside from a good Fuji, that I crave. Around 11 a.m. every day, my snack of choice is a honey crisp with a wedge of raw, white cheddar. So satisfying!

Whipping up a cocktail is an effortless task. I don’t drink all that much and when I do come up with something as simple as this I am reminded as to how much easier it is to mix up a drink, unlike a cake or a tart.

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Herradura-Scotch-Bonnet-Mango-MargaritaAs a margarita fanatic (dare I say connoisseur?), I feel like I have a certain responsibility to find the best margaritas wherever I go—dive bars, hotels, even the Greek Theatre (theirs is surprisingly worth $18, by the way). There’s only one rule: they need to be crafted with fresh juice and premium tequila. No artificial sour mix that looks like antifreeze or tequila that comes in a plastic bottle!

I love the simple, like “The Boss” at Valley institution Casa Vega and a traditional Cadillac at Hillstone. They house-make the best sour mix: freshly-squeezed lime, lemon, and orange juice and a splash of simple syrup. The complex cocktails intrigue me, too.

The best I’ve had is the Market Margarita at Rick Bayless’ Red O. It’s a fusion of tequila, muddled fresh cucumber and honeydew melon and homemade limonada.

Naturally, I’m always looking for the latest trend to spice up my love affair with the Latin libation. Pepper-infused concoctions have been popping up on specialty cocktail menus everywhere (jalapeno martinis, Tabasco gin and tonics, sriracha everything), and now it’s the margarita’s turn.

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chaieggnog.jpg I don't know about you but when Christmas is in the air, it's time for my favorite, favorite drink.....

Can you guess what it is?  It's EGGNOG!  I love it, in any shape or form and prefer it sans the alcohol....most of the time.

I even love the cheap stuff right out of the gallon jug at the supermarket (I know, I know, sometimes I'm desperate) or McDonald's Eggnog Shakes.  My obsession runs deep with this one.

However, several years ago I started making my own Chai Eggnog and I've never looked back.  Of course Chai is another obsession, so when you combine the two...oh mercy.

This is the perfect warming drink for a cold Sunday morning, what a way to start the day.

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proseccoThere is no better way to celebrate a special event than with a glass of sparkling wine. All across the world people turn to sparkling wine in moments of great celebration, be it holidays, birthdays, or any momentous occasion. The French have Champagne, which is named after the region in which it is made. The Spanish have cava, which is named after the natural caves in which the wine ferments. Anywhere else we call wine that bubbles sparkling wine. Italy's version is Prosecco or what I like to call the wine of sheer joy.

Prosecco is a white wine made from grapes of the same name. It is one of the most armoatic wines that you will ever try. And its taste and finish are crisp, clean, and refreshing. This year I'm drinking Prosecco for New Year's Eve and I have many reasons why. It is affordable, extremely flavorful, very elegant, and it's easily a crowd-pleasing drink. Prosecco is a wine that not everyone is familiar with, but it is a wine that is easy to adore.

Prosecco is produced in the Veneto region of Italy, of which Venice is the capital. It originally was produced as a still wine, but somewhere along the way fermentation was introduced into the process, and a sparkling wine was created. Today we would not recognize the original Prosecco as a sparkling wine, because the bubbles were very soft and delicate. Many Prosecco wines produced today have vigorous bubbles. The lightly sparkling version is called frizzante and the fully sparkling version is called spumante. Either is very nice. It's personal preference that dictates which you choose.

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