Cold? Tired? Had long freakin' day? Step into my kitchen, friend--I have just the drink for you.
I made Mulled Red Wine when my friend Ben and his boyfriend Steven came over on Rockport's First Night, New Year's Eve. Ben was scheduled to sing downtown at one of the churches (he's got a gorgeous tenor) and is there anything better than a little booze to loosen up those vocal cords? I think not!
I get excited about mulled red wine, because long long ago in a country far far away, I learned how to ski on a terrifying sheet of ice high up in the Alps somewhere. So high the town below was permanently in shadow, no matter how bright and sunny the day. I'm not sure spring skiing on a sheet of ice is the best way to learn how to ski, but a high point for me was stopping halfway down the precipitous slope for lunch, where they also liberally served (even to the high school students) a magical concoction called gluhwein.
This was, essentially, mulled red wine. And let me tell you people, I'm not sure it improved my skiing but it certainly lifted my mood and made me a fan of the stuff for life.
So what's in mulled red wine? Sugar and spice and everything nice, by which I mean a little brandy for kick and some citrus peel to round out the flavor. This recipe says to put the spices in a cheesecloth square and cinch it up but you don't have to--that's just to be neat (probably a German idea, come to think of it). Anyway, good stuff and very festive if you've been outside in the elements, skiing or shoveling or just building snowmen.
I couldn't decide whether or not to serve the guys Mulled Red Wine or Irish Coffee, so as is my way, I made both. They were thrilled! And so was I--usually I'm not an evening coffee drinker but New Year's Eve is a special occasion where you WANT to stay up late. Irish Coffee is a sweet sweet way to get a caffeine injection.
This is super-simple--basically a little Irish whiskey + a little sugar in a cup, add fresh brewed coffee and top with lightly sweetened whipped cream. And then you're ready to go dance your socks off.
Bubbly + creme de cassis--you're thinking New Year's Eve again, I'm sure! No, I'm not THAT schizophrenic a hostess, though this would make an excellent New Year's Eve beverage. I served this drink a few nights ago when our friends Mark and Elizabeth came for dinner--we had a bottle of Moet hanging around our house (probably since last New Year's) and what better thing than friendship to celebrate with champagne?
This is another very easy drink if you don't mind buying a largish bottle of Creme de Cassis that you may never use again--basically you pour a little creme de cassis (that's black currant, btw) into a champagne flute and pour the champagne on top. But if you want to try it, and you're at the liquor store, might as well buy a bottle of white burgundy while you're at it so you can at some future date have Kir (white wine + creme de cassis). That's what I did anyway, so keep your eyes peeled for a post on Kir at some point in the future!