Essential Christmas Drinks

By Neat Pour Staff |

Milk by the fireside is great and all, but even Santa needs something a little bit stronger sometimes–and those of us with big families need something a lot stronger many times.

Tis’ the season for our annual Christmas drinks recipe list. We included some historical favorites like the Tom & Jerry and Wassail long with staples like Virginia Eggnog, Irish Coffee, and Mulled Wine. Coquito and Agave Hot Chocolate offer tastes of Puerto Rico and Mexico respectively.

Scroll on through to browse or jump directly to a recipe with the menu below.

Wassail

Wassail

Wassail is a cider based holiday punch with a fascinating history. The name derived from an ancient Anglo-Saxon greeting, “Wæs þu hæl” meaning, “be thou hale” which in modern English means, “be in good health.” Protocol dictates that one respond Drinc hæl which basically translates to “Drink to health.”

Originally, wassailing began in England and Scotland as the superstitious practice of of visiting orchards to sing to the trees and spirits in the hopes of procuring a good harvest the following season. During the rite, peoplehood pass a wooden bowl to each other. Upon receiving the bowl, one lifted it above their head, exclaimed, “Wassail!” and then took a hearty sip.

By the Renaissance, Englishmen would also go wassailing in cities. Poor crowds would list the grand homes of aristocrats and sing in exchange for for and drink. In reality, the mob basically scared the crap out of the wealthy aristocrats. The rich plied the visitors with booze and food in an attempt to push them out of the house before they started helping themselves (which was not uncommon.)

One seasonal treat handed over was the figgy pudding of song. In the context of this mob, the lyrics of the holiday favorite, “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” take on a new, threatening meaning. “Now bring us some figgy pudding, Now bring us some figgy pudding, And we won’t go until we’ve got some, We won’t go until we’ve got some, So bring some out here.”

When England began colonizing North America, the wassailing tradition was also exported to the New World—sort of. The settlers bought the traditions of the bowl and the verbiage, but toned down the proceedings. Most began busting out the bowl for parties held in house as opposed to a traveling affair. The punch, itself, became known as wassail.

By the early 20th century, wassailing was all but replaced by caroling in both America and England. Cisiting trees and manor houses yielded to visiting friends and family. In England, orchard wassailing has undergone a cult resurgence as a hip adventure of sort, but the practice is far from mainstream. Still, the drink is delicious.

A full history can be read here.

Print Recipe
Wassail
Servings
Ingredients
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a large pot.
  2. Simmer for about an hour.
  3. Strain and serve in small punch glasses.
Coquito

Coquito

Coquito is the traditional Puerto Rican equivalent of eggnog. The drink features all of the richness and baking spice that you expect from the holiday classic. However, the coconut milk provides an island (tiki if you must) element to the flavor profile and the condensed milk adds sweetness and density.

Every family on the island has their own recipe. Below, we provide a basic starter; the specs can be tweaked after you master the base.

Print Recipe
Coquito
Servings
Ingredients
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Beat the evaporated milk and egg yolks together over low heat for about five minutes. The mixture should thicken slightly.
  2. Let cool.
  3. Combine all ingredients into blender and pulse until thickened and frothy. If your blender can not fit all ingredients, work in batches.
  4. Transfer to pitcher or container and refrigerate until chilled.
  5. Pour into mug, garnish with nutmeg or cinnamon and serve.
Virginia Eggnog

Virginia Eggnog

Christmas’ constellation of quaffables is crowded with the likes of mulled wines, hot brandies, and traditional scotches, but eggnog is the undisputed king. Yet, even the bottled bliss from Brown’s wears old after a few weeks. Nog is best made from scratch.

Featured here, is Nick Detrich’s recipe for Virginia Eggnog. He explained the distinction, “Virginia eggnog is just a style that was very popular in the colonies. It’s different in just that it blends in rum as well as cognac.”

The recipe is relatively simple and requires no exotic ingredients. Detrich noted that the steps are straightforward, but some elbow grease is necessary for truly excellent eggnog. “Really the crucial thing is to beat the egg whites until they’re stiff. That’s what gives them their really thick silky texture almost like meringue.”

Print Recipe
Virginia Eggnog (Detrich Specs)
Servings
Ingredients
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. To prepare, first separate the yolks and the whites in two mixing bowls.
  2. Grate an entire nutmeg into yolks and beat until it’s very thin.
  3. Add the sugar to your yolks and mix to incorporate.
  4. Incorporate the milk and cream and your booze into the yolks.
  5. In the other bowl, beat your egg-whites and slowly fold them into the rest of the nog.
  6. Ladle out and finish with freshly fround nutmeg.
Tom & Jerry

Tom & Jerry

At it’s core, the Tom & Jerry is comprised of a rich batter, essentially akin to a whipped eggnog combined with cognac and/or rum and hot water.. Think about drinking hot, sugary pancake batter. Some people use whole milk instead of water, but the recipe has stayed relatively unchanged over the years—the backstory has not.

Golden Age bartending guru, Jerry Thomas successfully propagated the myth that the drink was his creation (and named in his own honor). However, the true creator of the libation was British writer Pierce Egan. In 1821, Egan’s book, Life in London, or The Day and Night Scenes of Jerry Hawthorn Esq. and his Elegant Friend Corinthian Tom was tearing up the charts. In fact, the book proved so popular that Egan sold the coveted theatrical rights; a stage adaptation titled Tom and Jerry, or Life in London was the talk of London’s West End the same year. As a bonus, Egan created one of the earliest known branded drink specials, the Tom and Jerry, named after his book on drinking.

However, Egan’s early cross-marketing was nothing compared to the self promotion of the “Professor,” Jerry Thomas. Despite the preceding evidence to the contrary, Thomas proudly professed to have created the libation, himself, in 1847. No stranger to the press, Thomas offered several interviews about the origins, the most famous being recounted in Englishman Alan Dale’s 1885 homage to America, Jonathon’s Home. In that telling, Thomas first notes that his youth was spent at sea around California and then recounts that on one incident a man requested of him a drink of egg beaten with sugar. Naturally, Thomas thought the concoction would be better with brandy. Thomas told his guest, “If you’ll only bear with me for five minutes, I’ll fix you a drink that’ll do your heartstrings good.” Within the allotted timeframe, the Tom and Jerry was born—according to the fabricated legend.

The specs below are from Chris Hannah, a modern legend.

Print Recipe
Tom & Jerry (Chris Hannah Specs)
Servings
Ingredients
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
Batter
  1. Separate the eggs. Reserve the yolks.
  2. Beat the egg whites until peaks form. Then, add 0.5 cup of the sugar and beat until peaks form again.
  3. Add the yolks to the mix and continue beating.
  4. Add the rest of the sugar and the vanilla. And, keep on beating until incorporated.
  5. Stir in the half and half.
Service
  1. Pour 1.5 oz. of cognac (or whiskey) into your favorite seasonal mug (or official Tom & Jerry set).
  2. Pour in 3 oz. hot water.
  3. Spoon 2 oz. of the batter on top.
  4. Grat nutmeg on top.
Agave Hot Cocoa

Agave Hot Cocoa

Alexandra Anderson is known for her agave focused creations behind the bar, but during her formative years, she was mixing batter not booze. Combining the two loves, she created this delicious hot cocoa at New Orleans’ Cane & Table.

First and foremost, this drink is rich. Waves of warm chocolate soothe the soul. The agave and cayenne provide just enough spice (without going to Jacque Torres extremes). That small kick is a perfect pairing with chocolate dating all the way back to the Aztecs. This incarnation is basically dessert in a mug.

Print Recipe
Mezcal Hot Cocoa
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
Crockpot
  1. In a 4-quart slow cooker, whisk together milk cream, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and nutmeg.
  2. Add chocolate chips. Cover and cook on LOW setting for 2 to 3 hours, stirring every 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Add sugar at the end 1/4 cup at a time to taste.
Service
  1. Add 1 oz of Mezcal (Chicicapa or any of the rich smokey variants you like) to 4 oz of hot chocolate.
  2. I’m partial to a styrofoam cup, but you can also use all those mugs you get every year during Christmas. (A coffee cup works fine also.)
Mulled Wine

Mulled Wine

European cultures have been drinking hot, spiced wine beverages like Glögg and Glühwein for centuries. However, the most famous of them all might be Britain’s contribution: Mulled Wine.

A mix of baking spices and red wine, the roots of the drink can be traced to Roman rule over the Sceptered Isle. However, the beverage we know as mulled wine really emerged during the Victorian era even appearing in the authoritative Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management.

The Christmas favorite soon spread to the American cousins across the pond.

These specs are a baseline take on the standard–not overly complex, but a massive leap above those pre-mixed packs sold at the supermarket.

Print Recipe
Mulled Wine (Cure)
Servings
Ingredients
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Bring all to a boil, quickly, then simmer for 30 minutes.
  2. Strain into a punch bowl or carafe.
  3. Add brandy.
Irish Coffee

Irish Coffee

The Irish Coffee lays claim to one of the greatest origin stories of all cocktails. In the early ’40’s, Pan Am was running flying boat flights direct from New York to Limerick, Ireland. One night, the weather got particularly brutal and one flying boat was forced to turn back to Foynes, Limerick’s airport.

A group of cold American travelers disembarked into the terminal. Chef Joe Sheridan was called back to work at the airport to offer some food and comfort to the Americans. Sheridan quickly whipped up a warming mix of local whiskey, coffee, and cream.

Legend has it that one passenger asked, “Is this coffee Brazilian?” and Sheridan replied, “No, this is Irish coffee!”

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the drink continue to accrue local fame in Foynes until 1951 when Stanton Delaplane, the Chronicle’s Pulitzer Prize winning journalist visited Ireland. Delaplane was so amazed by the drink that when he got back to the day, he worked with his local watering hole, the Buena Vista Cafe, to replicate the libation.

The drink went on to become a signature for the Buena Vista which sold countless Irish Coffees over the years. In fact, the cafe even hired Sheridan who relocated to the States and lived out his days in the East Bay.

On the other hand, Delaplane eventually got sick of the beverage. He famously quoted a friend who said, “The Irish Coffee ruins three good drinks: coffee, cream, and whiskey.”

Print Recipe
Irish Coffee (Joe Sheridan Original)
Servings
Ingredients
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Lightly whip the cream. Reserve.
  2. Fill your Irish coffee glass with hot water to preheat, then pour it out.
  3. Pour hot coffee into the glass.
  4. Put in sugar cubes and stir until dissolved.
  5. Add the whiskey.
  6. Top it off with the cream. Pour over a spoon so the layers stay separated.
Bad Santa

The Bad Santa

We finished our list with one modern classic from the Death & Co. team. Devon Tarby describes why she loves this drink: “The Bad Santa is one of my all time favorites. It requires an overnight infusion of unsweetened cacao butter, which is a little time consuming, but it’s totally worth it – the end result is like peppermint bark candy in a glass. The nice thing about this drink is that it can be made in larger batches and stored in the freezer, making it a great option for holiday entertaining.” — by Brett Moskowitz

This recipe was featured in Cocktail Codexbuy the full book here.

Print Recipe
Wassail
Servings
Ingredients
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a large pot.
  2. Simmer for about an hour.
  3. Strain and serve in small punch glasses.

 

Liked it? Take a second to support Neat Pour on Patreon!

Read Next

England Announces Hospitality Specific Stimulus Package

The US hospitality industry is in dire straits and lacking governmental support. Yet, across the pond, the English cousins took some preliminary steps to bolster their reopened bars and pubs. On Wednesday (7.08), Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled a stimulus plan for the service industry that included incentives for diners and employers alike.

By Neat Pour Staff

For Some Reason, Celeb Booze Brands Now Have Their Own App

Think celebrity sports and brands jumped the shark when Elon Musk started threatening his own tequila? Well, then you haven’t heard about GrapeStars. Launched in the early days of the quarantine, GrapeStars is an app that aims to “disrupt” the spirits markets by making celerity brands easier to find. Oh. And, if you think that’s a good idea, you can now invest in the brand through crowd-sourcing.

By Neat Pour Staff

RTD Roundup: Onda, Five Drinks, Tip Top

Ready-To-Drink (RTD) beverages are almost as popular as Zoom during the pandemic. As Nielsen reports all time highs for the sector, liquor stores’ shelves—and websites—are filling up with canned cocktails. Neat Pour did some samplin’ of three emerging brands: Five Drinks, Onda, and Tip Top Cocktails. Here’s the scoop.

By Neat Pour Staff