What do you mean you haven’t put the lights up yet? You need to get to work and I’ll tell you right now what you need to drink for inspiration before and to celebrate after.
First you need a glass or two of Chambull. Here’s the simple nonrecipe. Put an ounce or two of Red Bull in a flute and top with nonvintage Champagne or sparkling wine. I had a dandy the other day: Domaine Ste. Michelle blanc de blanc ($7.99 at Bev Mo). Put on the holiday music and decide to get into a good mood. The Chambull will really help. It’s like Santa’s elves in a glass. Soon your whole house will be decked out in swags, presents wrapped, holiday cookie recipes selected.
That night you’ll be ready to relax. Get some takeout pizza or Mexican food. Settle in with some mulled cider in front of the fire. Here’s a real recipe courtesy of Holiday Cocktail Bar, a cool new app.
2 bottles red wine
4 cups orange juice
3/4 cups simple syrup
4 cinnamon sticks
4 oranges, slice into wheels
10 whole cloves
1 ounce Grand Marnier or cognac, per serving
12 cinnamon sticks, for garnish (optional)
Combine wine and half the orange wheels in a saucepan or crockpot. Heat. Ladle into mugs and add Grand Marnier or cognac to each serving. Garnish with an orange wheel and a cinnamon stick.
It’s dead easy and delicious. As for the wine, I like to use an inexpensive pinot noir, like Cambria’s Julia’s Vineyard ($19 at Bev Mo). Zin works well too but make sure you adjust the sweetener down a little or it could be too jammy. Pinots are my favorite for mulled wine. They pick up spicy flavors well. And if you don’t finish the whole pot keep it in the fridge and serve it over ice as sangria the next day.—Anne Valdespino