Here are some festive beverages to enjoy while you're decking the halls:
Hot buttered rum
Got milk? Heat up three-quarters of a cup. Add a teaspoon of sugar, a piece of cinnamon stick, two shots of dark rum. Float a couple of teaspoons of unsalted butter in it and dust the surface with nutmeg. Now sip, slowly. Winter looks a little better from here.
Some beer producers acknowledge the calendar with brews to suit the season. From Samuel Adams comes a hearty, deep amber-colored Winter Lager redolent of orange and ginger, along with the usual malt. A six-pack costs about $7.
Zinfandel represents one of the best domestic red wine values available. Toast one another's health with something made in the U.S.A.: The 1999 Cline zinfandel from California, bright with berry, vanilla and spice notes, is about $10 a bottle.
Hot chocolate, with a twist
Top off your favorite mugful with something memorable: a hand-crafted marshmallow. Ocean View Sweets in Santa Barbara, Calif., sells the real deal in five fine flavors, including toasted coconut (my pick). A one-pound box costs $12.50, plus shipping; to order, call 805-693-8350.
Trust us, the carols will be a lot more distinct when the singers warm up with a punch free of booze. For 10 servings, mix a quart each of apple juice and cranberry juice cocktail in a large pot; sprinkle with ground cloves, cinnamon, allspice and the grated rind of an orange; simmer for 10 minutes and serve hot, decorated with cinnamon sticks and orange slices.
The most festive of wines, champagne is even more so when you add a splash of raspberry liqueur to the glass before pouring in the bubbly.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.