Since Christmas is celebrated in so many countries around the world there exists a wide variety of traditional drinks. Whether your preference is for high alcohol content or just a warming liquid, you'll find something in the selections below to lift your holiday spirits.
The basic Wassail hails from Britain where it has been a seasonal favorite for centuries. It's a delightful mixture that comes in a variety of styles.
1 gallon apple cider
4 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp whole cloves
1 1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
Slice up the orange and the lemon into very thin sections, then scatter them around the apple cider, swirling the liquid well. Throw in the cinnamon sticks and cloves, then add the allspice. Let the mixture set for half an hour to allow the spices to diffuse throughout the drink.
Then place the liquid over a low flame and heat gradually. Simmer for an hour, then allow to cool for at least 10 minutes. Serve by pouring through a strainer, then top each cup with a bit of nutmeg. For a variation with a little kick, add brandy or mead about 5 minutes before done simmering.
To enjoy a bit of a great German tradition try some hot mulled wine. Germany is better known for its white wine than red. But the darker vintage used here also makes for a terrific holiday beverage.
1 bottle of dry red wine
3 tbsp of sugar
2 sticks of cinnamon
1 tsp cardamom or ginger
Heat the wine slowly, being careful to avoid bringing it to a boil. Remember, alcohol has a low boiling point. You don't want to accidentally make hot grape juice. Slice the lemon finely and add when the liquid is hot. Then add the sugar and spice. Allow the mixture to cool to just above room temperature. Serve by pouring into cups through a strainer. Top with cardamom or ginger.
Mexico celebrates Christmas with a twist, by enjoying a fine chocolate coffee.
1 1/2 cup coffee
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 tsp chocolate syrup
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Start with a fine dark brew. A French roast works really well for this drink. Keep the coffee hot. You'll need it soon.
Stir the cream until it's thickened. Pour the chocolate syrup evenly into four warmed cups. It's easy to warm cups. Just fill them with a small amount of water and place into the microwave for a minute, making sure the water doesn't all boil away. Then remove and dump out any excess water.
Add the coffee to the chocolate and blend well. Then, sprinkle on the cinnamon and nutmeg and top with cream. Delicioso!
For a good old-fashioned American Christmas drink, mix a dash of rum or brandy into some eggnog. Top with an ounce of triple sec and let the liqueur dribble down into the drink. Sprinkle with nutmeg and have a party!