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White Russian

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I know the White Russian isn’t really considered a holiday drink, but it’s white-ish and it’s made with 2 different kinds of alcohol so I thought it would fit with this festive season. The fact that it’s super easy to mix up, makes it a no brainer for those last few holiday parties.

The White Russian holds a special place in my heart as it was the first cocktail I was drinking once I discovered what cocktails were. One of the reasons it was a favorite was because the coffee liqueur was sweet enough to mask the strength of the vodka. The cream made it nice and smooth going down and it couldn’t have been easier to make: one ounce of Kahlua, one ounce of vodka and one ounce of cream. But here’s the thing about the White Russian, it wasn’t actually created until 1965.

I know, that goes against my policy of only drinks pre-1960. But turns out there were two other “Russian” drinks that set the stage for the white concoction we all know and love. Back in the 30’s vodka was primarily from Russia, so it should come as no surprise that one of the first Vodka cocktails was called The Russian. It consisted of vodka, crème de cacao, and gin. Then in 1949 the Black Russian appeared on the scene and was made up of vodka and a coffee liqueur (typically Kahlúa). While it’s true the White Russian appeared on the bar scene in the mid 60’s, it’s easy to see how it came about: some brilliant mixologist simply took the two senior Russian drinks and mixed them.

So this holiday season (and throughout the rest of the year) follow suit and mix up a Russian cocktail for yourself or others. A drink this simple to stir up is an absolute must for each and every party.

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White Russian

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz. vodka
  • 1 oz. Kahlúa
  • 1 oz. cream

Directions:

  1. Pour all ingredients into an old fashioned glass filled with ice. Stir and serve.

Night Cap

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No, I’m not inviting you over for a late night snuggle. (That would require a question mark after the title.) Believe it or not, that’s really the name of today’s cocktail. You will want to sip it with the person you love, though because it’s warm and snuggly and absolutely perfect for this time of year. It’s the kind of cocktail you drink while cuddled up under a warm blanket with slipper socks.

While it’s yummy, there is one small problem with it. It’s made with warm milk, which usually means shortly after you finish it you could be drifting off to dreamland. Actually, the fact that it has a shot of Kahlua in it, pretty much makes that trip a guarantee.  But even with the sleep-inducing effects, this cocktail is definitely worth imbibing during these chilly winter months.

Although I can’t point to a specific date when this drink was created, it’s believed that drinking a warm cocktail before bed began in the 18th century. Back then it was a useful way to warm the body before turning in on a cold night. But whenever this cocktail was created, it’s absolutely worth a try this holiday season. Maybe even on Christmas Eve… you know, so you can guarantee those sugar plums will be dancing in your head.

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Night Cap

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz. Kahlua
  • 1 teaspoon powdered sugar
  • 6 oz. milk
  • dash of nutmeg

Directions:

  1. Pour the Kahlua and powdered sugar into a mug. Stir in the warm milk. Sprinkle the nutmeg on top and serve.

Rice Krispie Cherry Balls

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I’ve never been a big fan of Rice Krispie treats. They were always too sweet.  Too sticky.  Too time consuming.  And that was the main problem. Two boys means I just don’t have the time to stand over the stove stirring marshmallows for an hour. But then I discovered a recipe in Better Homes and Gardens that said I could make them in the slow cooker.

Wait, what?! I had to reread the recipe. And it was true. I just had to put the marshmallows and butter in the slow cooker on low for an hour, stir once, add the Rice Krispies and voilà, cookies. But since it was the holidays and the annual FBLA cookie swap was coming up, I wanted to do something special. So I added dried cherries, rolled them into little balls and dipped them in chocolate.

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The dried cherries were the perfect addition. I don’t know why I’d never tried it before. Since they’re tart, they cut that super sweetness I’ve always associated with your standard Rice Krispie Treat. And since cherries go so well with chocolate, it was a no brainer. They were scrumptious, and a nice addition to the cookie swap. But the best news was, since I brought a whole batch, I was able to trade my cookies for some other delicious treats by some of my favorite food bloggers.

If you’re looking for some new cookies to share this holiday season, try mine. But if Rice Krispies and cherries aren’t your thing, there were several other delicious options from several other bloggers. Try them all. I did and I’m just sorry I didn’t have more.

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Cooking on the Weekends made an Everything Cookie.

She Paused 4 Thought made her Mother’s Apple Strudel.

My Imperfect Kitchen made Linzer Cookies.

Within My Means made Peanut Butter Chickpea Blondies.

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Rice Krispie Cherry Balls

Ingredients:

  • 10 cups mini marshmallows
  • 6 tablespoons butter, cut up
  • 8 cups Rice Krispies
  • 1 cup dried cherries, chopped
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted

Directions:

  1. Grease the inside of a 4-6 quart slow cooker. Add the marshmallows and butter, cover and cook on low for an hour or until the mixture is melted and smooth. Add the Rice Krispies and cherries and stir to coat evenly.
  2. Using buttered hands, scoop and shape the cereal mixture into 1-inch balls, place on a buttered sheet of foil and let stand at room temperature until firm.
  3. While the balls are firming up, melt the chocolate in a double boiler until smooth. Once the balls are firm, dip each one into the chocolate, then place on a piece of parchment and let the chocolate harden. Serve.

Mulled Wine

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It’s December which means we’re right in the middle of holiday season. Hanukkah is only 11 days away and Christmas is 20. That means if you haven’t already started it’s time to buy and wrap presents, trim the tree and get ready for your holiday parties. And holiday parties mean cookies, cakes and of course cocktails. While eggnog is always a perfect choice for this time of year, another popular choice is mulled wine. But unlike the eggnog which is served cold, the wine is served piping hot, ideal for those evening parties or just snuggling up by a roaring fire with the person you love.

I remember the first time I had mulled wine. I was going on a ski trip with some friends from college. We were carpooling and we picked up one of the guys from home. He not only had his ski stuff, he also had a jug of something. We all asked what it was and he promised us it was a treat for after skiing. It was mulled wine and it was amazing. I wanted the recipe but he said it was a family secret. So I just sipped my wine and savored every single taste, knowing that I would do my best to replicate it. Of course I could never replicate his family’s recipe, but I discovered I didn’t need to.

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Much like sangria, there are hundreds of different ways to make mulled wine, but all of them start with a dry red. After that you could use brandy or congac, lemons or oranges, and a variety of spices. Then if you want it sweeter, you could add sugar or even honey.

Although the beverage actually dates all the way back to Roman antiquity, it wasn’t until the 14th century that the mix of wine, fruit and spices gained its name from an Old English word meaning “muddled.” But it’s actually Charles Dickens who gets credit for elevating mulled wine to the holiday drink that we know and love today. While mulled wine appeared in several of the novelist’s books, it was its appearance in A Christmas Carol, that guaranteed the cocktail’s place at holiday parties around the globe.

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Mulled Wine

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle dry red wine, like a syrah or merlot
  • 1 cup cognac
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 orange, sliced
  • 1 lemon, sliced

Directions:

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a large sauce pan and simmer over medium-low heat for 30 minutes. Strain out the fruits and spices into a large pitcher, then pour into tall mugs, garnish with a cinnamon stick and serve.

Pan American Clipper

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No, I haven’t suddenly switched from a food blog to a blog about airplanes. Believe it or not the Pan American Clipper is not only an airplane, it’s also this week’s cocktail, and I chose it for two reasons. First it’s made with Applejack, and since we’re right in the middle of Fall when apples are being harvested from orchards everywhere, it seemed like a good choice. The second reason I thought it would make a good cocktail was because of the name.

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See, a Pan American Clipper was the way Americans (who could afford it) flew during WWII. It was luxury at its height. There were tables and chairs, dressing rooms and even beds. It was glorious. So, a cocktail was created in the late 30’s to commemorate the adventure. Then Charles H. Baker placed it in his cocktail book, The Gentleman’s Companion. Though I’m not sure who created the cocktail originally, Baker said that it came from “the Notebook of One of Our Pilot Friends Who—when Off Duty—May Seek One”. And after tasting the cocktail, I can see why a pilot might want one. It’s definitely one of the stronger cocktails out there.

Similar to the Jack Rose, this cocktail has Applejack which gives it a nice autumn, apple flavor, Grenadine and citrus juice. But it also has absinthe which gives it a wonderful herbaceousness that just seems to fit with this cool, Fall season. While it’s a minor, almost afterthought of taste, it’s there and it’s enough to make me and probably anyone else who tastes it, smile.

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Pan American Clipper

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 oz. Applejack
  • 3/4 oz. lime juice
  • 1/4 oz. Grenadine
  • dash of Absinthe

Directions:

  1. Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously for a minute. Strain into a cocktail glass and serve.