Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Seasonal Beverages.

By now you have probably made or sourced your Christmas cake and pudding, your turkey, pork or ham. Have you given any consideration yet to what you going to drink with your dinner?  

Speaking personally, I don’t feel the need to go further than good bubbles - especially red bubbles - at Christmas, but there being no accounting for taste, some of you may disagree. I therefore give you a selection of beverages of which I hope one will fit your particular preference, whether you like them  hot or cold, alcoholic or not, with floating fruit or definitely not, with egg or absolutely not.

Firstly, let us deal with the egg-nog issue. Egg-nog is the drink you have when you would really rather be having custard. I gave you several egg-based beverages (both hot and cold) in a Christmas 2008 post, and refer you to that if you want drinkable custard this year.

As a complete change, and so as to include Southern hemisphere contributions, I give you two ideas from a selection offered in The Mail (Adelaide, SA) December 9, 1950. The article notes in the preamble that ‘wine or spirits may be added to any of them to suit your taste.’ The first recipe is a very basic tea punch suitable, I would think, for sissies, or those who chose not to take alcohol. The second one sounds quite Christmassy with its sweet spices and ginger base.

Christmas Punch.
3 quarts of strong tea
3 cups castor sugar
¾ pint lemon juice
3 pints soda water
Slices of orange or other fruit
When making the tea, allow at least four tablespoons of tea to each quart of water. Stand for 10 minutes before straining from leaves. Leave till cold after straining, then pour into a punch bowl or large jug containing a lump of ice.
Mix in sugar and lemon juice, stirring occasionally until the sugar is dissolved. When sugar is dissolved, add soda water, one or two slices of orange or other fruit, a few grapes if obtainable, one or two chunks of pineapple, and float a handful of mint leaves on top.
Serves 10-12.

Spiced Fruit Punch.
2 ½ cups orange juice
1 cup pineapple juice
2 cups water
½ cup sugar
Grated rind of one lemon
1 tablespoon clear honey
½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
6 whole cloves
½ teaspoon cinnamon
3 pints ginger ale.
Combine orange juice, pineapple juice, water, and sugar. Add grated rind of lemon, honey, cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Mix and let stand for three hours. Strain through cheesecloth and add ginger ale. Stir briskly and serve in glasses containing ice cubes. Serves eight.

And here is another Aussie Christmas Punch recipe, from the Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW) of December 9, 1939. This is the fruit punch you have when you would really rather be having fruit salad (or vice-versa.)

Christmas Punch.
1 medium-sized pineapple
2 apples
Rind of 1 and juice of 3 lemons
Juice of 2 oranges
2 to 2 ½ cups sugar
1 cup water
2 cups cider
2 tablespoons cherry brandy
1 pint soda or seltzer water
Crushed ice
Drained or maraschino cherries
2 bananas

Method: Peel and core the pineapple and apples. Cut the flesh into fine dice, and mix with the strained lemon and orange juice. Simmer the peels and cores with the thinly peeled yellow lemon rind and the water for ten minutes, add the sugar, simmer for five minutes, and when cold, strain and add to the diced fruit and juice. Add the peeled, sliced banana, cover and chill for three hours. Just before serving add the cider, cherry brandy, and soda water, mix thoroughly, and serve in tall glasses with crushed ice. Garnish with drained or maraschino cherries.

There is something about the following recipe which makes me think it should be served hot.

Fig and Apple Beverage.
Two quarts of boiling water, six figs, two apples. Open the figs, and cut the apples in six or eight pieces each; boil them twenty minutes, pour them into a basin to cool, then pass the liquid and pulp through a sieve. The figs when drained may be eaten.
Vegetable Cookery, (1866) by John Smith

And finally, if you want hot and pure alcohol, reinforced with sugar but free from any diluents save a little terminal lemon juice, this is the drink for you.

Hot Port Wine Punch.
Should a hot drink be required, one may always depend upon the ‘hot port wine punch’ that ‘The Only William’ esteemed as the most appropriate of Christmas tipples. To prepare it, mix a quart of claret with a quart of Rhine wine, and two quarts of port wine, and put them over the fire, with two pounds of sugar. Let them heat slowly, for they must not be permitted to boil, and stir them sufficiently to assure the sugar being dissolved. When the mixture has become very hot, pour it into a tureen in which there shall be the juice of four lemons; add half a bottle of the best arrack, stir for a moment, and serve. For a Christmas Eve or a Christmas night party, no hot drink can be better.
The New York Times, December 15, 1907

Quotation for the Day.

There is a remarkable breakdown of taste and intelligence at Christmastime. Mature, responsible grown men wear neckties made of holly leaves and drink alcoholic beverages with raw egg yolks and cottage cheese in them.
P.J. O'Rourke

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