It’s time I fess up to a secret I’ve been hiding for years. I don’t really know what eggnog tastes like. I must have had it at some point in my life, but I honestly can’t remember trying it. Every time someone talks about it I nod and smile as if I am familiar with it, but the secret is I don’t really know what it tastes like. I don’t like milk, so I have always chosen other holiday drinks that looked better to me. Between hot chocolate, cider and all other non-alcoholic beverages (I’m leaving those out here), there are so many good choices on the holiday table that I never found a reason to spend the calories on eggnog.
Now that Christmas is almost here, it’s time to start gathering the ingredients for the holiday drinks I actually do know and love. In case you’re looking for an alternative to the traditional eggnog, I have compiled a list of some of my favorite holiday drinks. Each one listed is quick and easy to prepare (or even buy), since I never want to worry too much about drinks after a long day of shopping and cooking. Feel free to post your own favorites here as well.
1. Holiday Punch
This recipe comes from my mom, Debbie, and will be made at our own house this Christmas. The green and red colors of the sherbet make it look very festive, and everyone, from kids to adults, loves it.
*Note: All ingredient measures are approximate and can easily be scaled up or down depending on the size crowd you are expecting. This recipe works best when you add as much or as little of each ingredient as you like. Have fun with it!
1 liter of ginger ale (can substitute champagne if feeling extra festive)
1/2 gallon red sherbet (raspberry or strawberry)
1/2 gallon green sherbet (lime)
Small punch bowl
Fill half of a small punch bowl with ice cubes. Pour 1 liter of ginger ale over the ice cubes. Place scoops of sorbet, alternating between flavors, in the bowl filled with gingerale until the surface is covered with sherbet (the sherbet will continue to melt over time and flavor the ginger ale.) Toss a ladle into the punch bowl and let guests serve themselves.
2. Harney & Sons Art Teas
Art teas are a treat for your eyes and taste buds. The “tea” begins as a flower dried in the shape of a ball, and gradually expands once placed in hot water. The end result is a fully bloomed flower that creates a great tasting tea (most similar in flavor to chamomile or chrysanthemum). I love flowering teas at this time of year since it provides a non-traditional, natural touch to the holiday table.
3. Vanilla Coffee
Most famous for its Ice Blended Vanilla drink, the popular coffee shop Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf is good place to go to get your vanilla fix this season. During the holidays I usually skip the iced version and order the hot Cafe Vanilla coffee drink. The cafe version is made from regular coffee mixed with French Deluxe Vanilla powder, which is the same secret ingredient used in the iced drinks. The powdered mix makes the coffee perfectly sweet and light, without the need for additional milk or sugar (depending on your preferences, of course.) If you live near a shop you can stop in for one, or order the mix online and add it to your own coffee at home.
4. Apple Cider with Mulling Spices
I already sang the praises of the Mulling Spices available from Williams Sonoma earlier this week, but no holiday drink list would be complete without it. Mulling spices turn any apple cider from ordinary to extraordinary, with very little effort.
5. Tasse de Chocolat
I love this hot chocolate because it is so easy to make. No chopping chocolate, syrup or powder to deal with. Just stir the little chocolate “jewels” in a cup of hot milk and you’ll end up with rich, satisfying hot chocolate. You can purchase the Tasse de Chocolat at La Maison du Chocolat in New York City, or order online if you live outside of the United States.