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Written for an assignment at Associated Content published 01/12/09.

As the winter holiday season draws to an end, weeks of over-indulgence and excess begin to take their toll. By the time New Year’s Day rolls around, resistance to cold weather is beginning to wear off and even the thought of alcohol is enough to make most people’s stomachs churn. What’s called for while everyone sits around feeling sorry for themselves before they can face the solid traditional New Year’s Day (or Ne’er Day as they call it in these parts) meal is something warm, soothing and non-alcoholic.

So here for those who have overindulged, or just want something warm and seasonable that is safe to give to the kids, are three of the best warm New Year’s Drinks.

Mulled Wine

2 pints/1 litre cranberry juice

½ pint/250ml orange juice (optional)

1 cinnamon stick

1 dried bay leaf

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp grated or ground nutmeg

one orange, sliced

one lemon, sliced

Method

Place the juice, fruit slices and spices into a pot, on a gentle heat, stirring occasionally until the liquid has infused with the taste of the spices. Strain the liquid into heatproof glasses and rescue orange slices for decoration.

The balance of juices and spices can be adjusted to personal taste and according to what you have in the cupboard; many supermarkets sell packets of mulled wine spices, which come in little pouches like tea bags that are a fuss free alternative. Some people find the cranberry juice a little wersh if they don’t use the orange juice, so try adding a couple of vanilla pods with the rest of the spices and this should balance it out.

Hot Mint Chocolate

½ pint/250ml hot milk

1 small bar peppermint cream chocolate

blender

Method

Break the chocolate bar into small pieces and place in the blender jug. Pour on the hot milk and blend for 30 seconds, or until smooth. Serves 2. Serve with cream and marshmallows if liked.

The peppermint cream bar can be substituted for orange or strawberry cream if preferred and is a handy and tasty way to use up left over selection boxes – after-dinner chocolate mints work especially well.

Blackcurrant Wine

½ bottle (approx 125ml) blackcurrant essence

6 pints/3 litres boiled water

2 pound/1kg bag sugar

Bring water to the boil, add sugar, boil until sugar has dissolved, then allow to cool. Once cool add essence. Decant into sterilised bottles; makes approximately 4 bottles full. Warm gently to serve.

A traditional Scottish favourite for seeing in the New Year, especially when there are children or teetotallers present. Ginger essence is also available for those who prefer a more piquant drink. Can be served hot or cold and is rather warming regardless of its temperature, perfect to set you up to go first footing.

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