Ok, ok, we know the posts have been a
little booze-heavy lately but what do you expect? Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa,
Christmukkah, Festivus and every other culturally inclusive holiday can lead us toward the
liquor cabinet. That said, why not share these tasty holiday cocktails with your family and keep everyone in a holly, jolly festive mood?
Just when we thought we wouldn’t be able to
enjoy another fresh and delicious Pimm’s cup until next summer, Firkin Pubs
comes along and offers a winter version. All you’ll need is an ounce of Pimm’s,
half an ounce of brandy, 1.5 ounces of apple juice and a squeeze of fresh
orange juice. Shake all the ingredients together and pour over ice. Garnish
with a cinnamon stick or orange wheel (or both, if you’re feeling fancy).
Mulled Wine Evoking feelings of comfort, spice and everything nice, mulled wine is essentially a winter version of sangria that has been around since the 1800s (read: people have been drinking during the holidays for centuries). In a pot, add a bottle of wine (or two), two ounces of brandy, a dash of Angostura bitters (see here for where to buy), two or three cloves, three cinnamon sticks, three whole star anise, three whole peppercorns, a sliced orange and a handful of cranberries. Heat until steaming and serve punch-style or pour into individual glasses. Tip: use a full-bodied wine like Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz.
“Tequila for the holidays?” you ask?Yes! Newly revamped REDS Wine Tavern has us covered for this simple winter cocktail. Combine 1.25 ounces of tequila, one ounce of Cointreau, half an ounce of lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of egg white in a chilled shaker. Now shake it like a Polaroid picture and pour into a coupe glass. Top with lemon twist and a dash of orange bitters.
Tequila for the holidays, olé! Image source: REDS Wine Tavern.
This one comes courtesy of SPiN Toronto; another winter take on a Southern summer favourite. Can you can tell we’d trade in our jackets for jean shorts in a snap? Muddle three orange wedges with two bar spoons of brown sugar. Add ice, half an ounce of lemon juice, two ounces of peppermint tea, a dash of lemon bitters and (our favourite part) two ounces of Bulleit bourbon. Shake vigorously and serve in a mason jar topped with fresh mint and a wedge of orange.
This Julep is sure to make family dinners more fun. Image source: SPiN Toronto.
A classic cold weather drink, we’re sure Hot Toddies have cameo’d your holiday family gatherings. (Apparently they’re good for colds, wink wink.) In a mug, add one ounce of bourbon (but scotch or brandy will do too), a tablespoon of honey and two teaspoons of fresh lemon juice. Top off with hot water and stir until honey is dissolved.
Do you wish you cooked more, but every time you’re inspired by a recipe, the grocery list seems overwhelming? This is the number one complaint we hear from new-to-cooking friends: that recipes require too much stuff, and they give up. Well, fear not, hopeful chefs! We’re breaking down the essentials for you. Stock up on these items, and you’ll be ready to tackle any recipe challenge that comes your way.
Olive oil is the most versatile oil in your kitchen arsenal. If you’re only going to have one on hand, make it olive oil. You can use it for cooking, marinading and salad dressings. Basically, everything. Now olive oil isn’t called liquid gold for nothing — the stuff is pricey. If you’re looking for some decent bang for your buck, Primo Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a good choice.
Okay, so you’re all thinking “Salt, duh. Good one, fourth floor.” But hear us out! Once you get over the sticker shock and start using Maldon sea salt, you’ll never go back. It’s made by a family-owned company in Essex (south-east corner of England) who use the traditional method of extracting salt from seawater with long-handled rakes. Cool, right? It is soft and flaky, and has a stronger flavour, so be mindful that you use less than you would table salt.
Soups, stews, risotto. You need chicken stock for it all. Now, the best stock is always, always homemade. Here’s a good recipe for making your own. If that intimidates you or you don’t have some spare chicken bones on hand or you’re in a rush, then Swanson Organic Chicken Broth is your jam.
The recent $30 million maple syrup theft has brought international attention to our nation’s most delicious export, but it’s always had a leading place in our hearts. It’s a great sugar substitute, and has fewer calories per serving than honey or corn syrup. Plus, it is the secret ingredient in our favourite salad dressing and it tastes delicious on pancakes.
You’ve got the salt covered, but what other spices do you need? While specific spice requirements vary according to the national cuisine (cooking Indian? Pick up some curry powder. Italian? You’ll definitely need oregano), a few stand out as general must-haves: cinnamon, cumin, chilli powder, sweet paprika, nutmeg and, the classic, black pepper.
Now you’ve got the basics, so time to get cooking!