December 6, 2007

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Making spirits really bright
Cocktails to ornament your holidays
By Linda A. Odum food@hippopress.com

A popular way to celebrate the holidays is to share a glass of cheer with friends and family.

Manager Nichole Mutton and her staff at the New Hampshire State Liquor Store on the northbound side of Interstate 93 in Hooksett had many helpful suggestions for gifts and drinks.

“Most of the gift packs have special holiday spirits and mixers,” Mutton said. “Most people look to the higher-end, more expensive scotches and bourbons for gifts, but with the high gas prices, a lot of people are looking for less expensive alternatives this year.”

For that holiday standard — eggnog — the staff suggested rums and bourbons.

“Old-timers like brandy,” Mutton said. Kahlua, Bailey’s Irish Cream, and peppermint or cinnamon schnapps make tasty additions to both eggnog and hot chocolate. Mutton also recommended adding Captain Morgan spiced rum to a mug of hot apple cider.

Bailey’s, Kahlua and vodka are the most popular liquors at this time of year, but Mutton also pointed out a few unique bottles that fit into the holiday spirit. Cabin Fever is maple-flavored liqueur produced by Custom Spirits in Chester. Oak-barrel aging makes this a smooth beverage with slight caramel and butterscotch undertones.

Flag Hill Winery and Distillery in Lee also offers a sugar maple liqueur, made by mixing New Hampshire maple syrup with the company’s General John Stark vodka and other neutral spirits. They also produce a cranberry liqueur made in much the same way, except with Massachusetts cranberries instead of maple syrup. (Cranberries are also used to make their apple cranberry fruit wine.)

Another seasonal fruit, the pomegranate, is making an appearance in liqueurs. One brand, PAMA, is made with pomegranate juice, vodka and a little tequila. Both the pomegranate and cranberry liqueurs can be used to make cosmopolitans, martinis, and most drinks that call for some type of fruit juice.

For wine lovers, Keith Dickey, owner of Butter’s Fine Food and Wine in Concord, had some special holiday suggestions. First is the classic paring of port and stilton cheese. He recommends Burmester Jockey Club tawny port, which comes packaged for gift-giving.

Dickey also pointed out the Castellare vin santo, a Tuscan dessert wine. Italians like to dip biscotti into this sweet, honey-like drink after a meal. For a little pizzazz, he recommended a Moscato d’Asti from Italy, which is a sparkling sweet dessert wine containing only five percent alcohol.

“It is not going to knock you over,” he said. “It’s clean, light, crisp and refreshing.”

Instead of traditional champagne, Dickey suggested a Spanish cava from the Codorniu estate. Pinot noir grapes give this wine a festive pink color. The winery recommends serving it as an aperitif, or with salmon, poultry, raspberries and black currants.

For a white wine, try Hopler gruner veltliner, made with Austira’s most widely planted grape.

“It has a bigger, brighter flavor than most white wines,” said Dickey. He suggests pairing it with cheeses, lighter pasta dishes or fish.

If red wine is called for, Dickey likes the Atteca garnacha from Spain.

“It has a richer, meatier, bolder flavor than most,” he said. “It would go well with any kind of roasted meat, steak, pork, lamb, and tomato-based pasta dishes.”


Metropolitan
Recipe courtesy of Flag Hill
1/2 oz. General John Stark Vodka
1/2 oz. Cranberry Liqueur
1/2 oz. orange juice
2 whole cranberries
Shake the vodka, cranberry, orange juice and a few ice cubes in a cocktail shaker. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with cranberries.

Hot Toddy
Recipe courtesy of Flag Hill
2 shots whisky
2 shots Sugar Maple Liqueur
3 cloves
1/2 shot lemon juice
2 spoons of honey
Hot water
Build and stir drink in a toddy glass. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.

Blushing Lady
Recipe courtesy of PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur
1 oz. PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur
2 oz. vodka
1 oz. pink grapefruit juice
Lemon wedge
Course sugar, for garnish
Rub a wedge of lemon around the rim of a martini glass and dip the glass into a plate of coarse sugar. Set it aside. Pour the remaining ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into the garnished martini glass. .


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7/12/2007 Reintroducing ratatouille
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6/28/2007 Peanutty dinner delight
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11/30/2006 Bites of comfort with chips of happiness
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11/16/2006 Easier-to-enjoy Thanksgiving feasts
11/9/2006 The new classic
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02/02/2006 Forget formal dining, head to the bar
01/26/2006 Goodbye rooster, hello year of the dog
01/19/2006 The secret lives of chefs
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01/05/2006 A sunny Italian side dish
A year of eats

All-you-can-read guide to breakfast
A bagel by any other l
abel
A picnic — it’s romance with ants
A sweet burst of summer, in stages
Beef, It's What's For Dinner, Lunch, And Dessert
Be it ever so humble, the burger rules
Blockbuster snacks for your movie
Box Of Chocolates
C Is For Cookie And Christmas And Cool Combo
Celebrating A Holiday For The Rest Of Us
Celebrate Easter In A Sugar Coma
Chat And Chew

Chinese soup is magic
Chocolate cake makes everything better
Chocolate, Part II
Competition flows like chocolate
Corn Flake Chicken, Honeycomb Salad
Dining at the "Your House Bistro"
Don't Dread The Bread
Dress Up Your Next Meal
Drinking Out Of The Box
Eating Your Way Back To Health
Empanadas
Enter Soup
Experiments With Very Bad Brownies
Feeding A Crowd The Morning After
Follow the cider house rules
Fresh Herbs
Go ahead — run silent, run deep
Goodbye corn syrup, hello organic oatmeal
Go Indian for Thanksgiving
Grilled Cheese Junkie

Halloween candy for grown-ups
Have a Happy Meal and a happier wallet
Holiday Cookies - The Easy Way
Holiday Potluck 101-Tips For The Kitchen Novice
Home-Based Date
How do you like them apples?
In-A-Pinch Love Feast
It's not easy to be cheesy
It’s not Christmas without tamales
Lest We Forget The Humble Squash
Keeping your cool while you eat
Living through your salad days

Looking Beyond The Hot Dog Stand
Lunching your way to a less toxic you
Meat's meat and a man's gotta eat

Moist and delicious chicken — no, really
Oatmeal Cookies, The Miracle Cure
Oscar Night, When The Stars Come Out To Eat

Offering Up A Slice Of Teriyaki Pie
Pot Pies Are Darn Tasty
Pumpkin-Flavored Treats
Small Plates Are The Next Big Thing
Speedy 'za not pie in the sky
Steak: it’s what’s for dinner, again
Summer coolers, just add sunlight
Summer Squash
Super Bowl Grub
Take A Walk On The Dark Side
Taste of Manchester Event
The Cosmopolitan
The joys of a simple oatmeal breakfast
The return of comfort food
The One-Note Cook Book
The New American Plate Cookbook
The Stickiest, Hottest & Sweetest Of Love's Labors
The taste of retro
The Unheralded Peanut Butter Cookies
The union of sweet and heat
The Weekly Dish (12-16-04)
The Weekly Dish (12-23-04)

The Weekly Dish [1-13-05]
There's a Barbecue Bonanza Next Door
Week Four: Adding Diet To The Mix
What Was Hot And Haute In 2004
When $$ trumps urge to dine out
When in doubt, go for the organic
When nothing else will cool, Slurp it
You Say Potato, She'll Say Potato,Too
You say tomato, writer says lunch