Making spirits really bright
Cocktails to ornament your holidays
By Linda A. Odum firstname.lastname@example.org
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.”