Wednesday, December 13, 2017

General Harrison's Eggnog

At first I thought of this drink as a low-ABV eggnog cocktail. I considered that this cocktail named for President and U.S. Army general William Henry Harrison took into account the man's penchant for sobriety by using less potent liquors like wine and hard cider over brandy and rum. Then I looked at the glass size, the fact that there's no ice in this eggnog, and the directions saying to top up with either cider or dry red wine.

Any way you cut it, that's a lot of wine or cider in one drink when there's only an egg and a bit of sugar in the drink. So my guess is that General Harrison made his eggnog with what he had available in an army camp. Cider or wine? Check. Eggs and sugar? Check.

This was an easy nog to make considering. I chose Angry Orchard Cinnful Apple cider because cinnamon would only go along with the winter spices in this drink. I also wanted to avoid a bruit cider that would be awkwardly dry in such a rich cocktail.

The effect was pretty awesome! The bubbles in the cider forced the egg foam to rise half way up the glass and force cinnamon and nutmeg scents toward your nose. Underneath is a silky but not overly rich cider nectar.
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • dry red wine or hard cider (Angry Orchard Cinnful Apple used)
  • grated nutmeg
Combine egg and sugar in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled Collins glass. Fill with wine or cider and grate nutmeg on top. 

Cafe Diablo

The Devil's coffee is fiery, spicy and black. That's the point of the Cafe Diablo. It is a punch that serves four people and should be made in a medium sized punch bowl. Warming the brandy, curacao and Cointreau a little and lighting it on fire to scorch the cinnamon, cloves and coffee beans before adding the hot coffee will excite your guests and possibly start a fire in your dining room. But oh, well! That's the price you pay for messing with the Devil.

The other point is to achieve an orange-like aroma in a black coffee drink that is pleasing if not too strong on liqueur. You don't even need fresh fruit. The burned liqueurs do all the work.

Besides the fire issue, you may also have trouble finding four people who can agree to drink the same drink. These days, everyone wants to be the man out. Between arguments over decaf versus regular, and hot and cold punches, you're probably better off just using 1/2 oz. of brandy and 1 oz. of orange liqueurs, reduce the number of cloves and cinnamon sticks significantly, and make a single cup of coffee. Here's to drinking your hot drink alone.
  •  2 oz. cognac
  • 1 oz. Cointreau
  • 1 oz. white curacao
  • 16 oz. black coffee
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 8 cloves
  • 6 coffee beans
Put all ingredients except coffee in a chafing dish and warm contents on low, direct heat. Ignite (and really keep your face and limbs away from the dish. This stuff burns brightly with intense heat. Have a long spoon for stirring and hot coffee at the ready to extinguish the flames.) Add coffee and stir until the flames are out. Pour into warm coffee mugs. Serves four.

Classic Cocktail

You read the name right: this is the original classic cocktail. Well, at least it purports to be classic. If you think about it, this drinks is somewhat modern. It brings together liqueurs and brandy in ways that taste familiar to brandy cocktail drinkers of the 19th century. Lemon and lemon zest keep it tart while a sugar rim means you can choose how sweet each sip will be.

The look and feel of the drink are certainly classic; the crust of sugar and three parts of lemon (the juice, the wedge and the peel) reminds me of last century architecture that possesses such ornate beauty for no other reason than appearing beautiful or prestigious. That's this drinks to a tee.

So I did a few unusual things with my liquor choices here. First, cognac please. You don't use ordinary brandy when you are making a classic drink. Use cognac. Next, I thought a half ounce of maraschino liqueur (which tastes like bitter marzipan) would be too intense, so I cut the proportion of it in the drink down and replaced that portion with Cherry Heering, which darkened the drink and made it sweeter with a more rich dark cherry flavor. Finally I chose Vitae orange liqueur because of its rum base. It is much closer to real Curacao, which is rum based, than cheap triple sec.
  • 2 oz. brandy (Cognac, please.)
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. maraschino liqueur (half Cherry Heering and half Luxardo used)
  • 1/2 oz. curacao (Vitae orange liqueur used.)
  • sugar
  • lemon wedge
  • lemon twist
Rim a cocktail glass with sugar by coating it with juice from the lemon wedge and dipping it in a bowl of sugar. Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into the cocktail glass. Garnish with the lemon wedge and peel.

Hot Milk Punch

There are lots of Milk Punches: from bourbon, to brandy, to gin. But there is only one Hot Milk Punch, and this one calls for blended whiskey. I like how the whiskey adds vanilla to an already sweetened milk drink. Then there's that thing that happens when the fat from the milk solidifies into a sweetly spiced skin as you drink down into the mug.

This is a great bedtime cocktail that is soothing in winter. It is also a great way to try a whiskey that maybe lacks character when had on ice. Warm booze is easier to taste, and a very vibrant whiskey when it is cold can be overpowering when it is hot. Stick with bargain blends for this hot punch.
  • 2 oz. blended whiskey
  • 8 oz. milk
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • cinnamon stick
  • grated nutmeg
Warm all ingredients except nutmeg and cinnamon stick in a saucepan on medium heat. Do not boil, but stir until well heated and pour into a warm coffee mug. Dust with nutmeg and stir with cinnamon stick. 

Jamaican Coffee

You have to love these tropical coffee drinks in the wintertime. They are so exotic, with rum and spices, and yet so festive here at home. The Jamaican Coffee is no exception here!

My homemade coffee liqueur and Cruzan white rum make this a rich treat. And I know that the recipe says that whipped cream is optional, but it clearly is not. Not once you try it with the whipped cream. You can do an Irish Coffee without the whipped cream--that's just sensible. But a Jamaican Coffee is luxurious.
  • 2 oz. coffee liqueur (homemade used)
  • 1 1/2 oz. white rum (Cruzan used)
  • hot black coffee
  • whipped cream (not optional)
  • freshly ground allspice
Pour rum and coffee liqueur into a mug that's nearly full of hot coffee. Stir and top with whipped cream. Sprinkle allspice on the whipped cream. 


Gluhwein is a traditional German drink made in large batches and served at those popular Christmas market squares during the holiday season. Many an Alpine skier can receive this warming beverage in the slopeside lodges.

This is a milder hot wine drink, the Germans would say fit for children and adults. Compared with British mulled wine with brandy and the Swedish Glogg with fiery akavit, it is pretty tame. But it does warm you in more than one way.

This recipe is designed for a single serving, but make a bottle or two of it by increasing the proportions. 
  • 6 oz. dry red wine
  • lemon peel
  • orange peel
  • cinnamon stick broken in pieces
  • 5 whole cloves
  • pinch grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. honey
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan on medium heat and stir until honey is dissolved. Do not boil. Serve in a heated coffee mug. 

London Dock

Londoners are fond of hot spiced wine cocktails in the winter. This hot drink is popular among these, with a good gob of dark rum to situate it perfectly among the docks where sailors to the Caribbean islands come and go.

Pusser's British Navy rum is an excellent choice for this hot drink because of its British nautical heritage and rich wooden still flavor that is noticeable under all that wine and spice.
  • 3 oz. dry red wine
  • 2 oz. dark rum (Pusser's British Navy used)
  • 1 oz. honey
  • cinnamon stick
  • grated nutmeg 
  • boiling water
Dissolve boiling honey in boiling water at the bottom of a warm coffee mug (Check my London mug!) Add rum, red wine and nutmeg and top with boiling water. Use the cinnamon stick to stir.