Category Archives: Holiday

Holiday Recipe, Special Christmas-Eve-Eve Edition: Mulled Wine (Vin Chaud)

Mulled Wine

Having only just recently perfected this recipe, the Bartender has been mulling (pardon the pun) over whether to post this one now, so late in the holiday season, or sit on it for next year.  However, after writing it up in email for one friend, and then spending the next couple of days watching the list of recipients grow longer and longer as more of her friends demand the recipe, it seems wisest to capitulate to obvious demand.  After all, there are still several months of cold days ahead, long after the warm glow of the holidays have faded, when a bit of warm spicy cheer might not go amiss.

Luckily, mulled wine (or Vin Chaud as it’s known in France) is quite easy to make, and very open to interpretation.  Put the wine and spices (and fruit, if you’re using it) into a pot, turn the heat on medium-low, wait for it to just start bubbling, then turn the heat to low and leave it partially covered.  Stir it now and then if you feel inspired.  Half an hour later you’ve got mulled wine.  You can let it simmer longer if you like stronger flavors from the spices.  Needless to say, the product at the end is fairly low in alcohol content, so if you like you can fortify it with brandy, but this is optional.

A point of note:  The secret to this particular combination appears to be the vanilla bean, which is a slightly alien ingredient to many people.  (Pro tip:  they’re usually ridiculously expensive, but Costco has them right now for $15 for ten beans.  Normally they’re more like $15 for one bean.)  All you need to know is that the seeds are tiny and suspended in a sort of gooey texture.  So you cut it down its length with the tip of a paring knife (the bean itself is fibrous and will help you do that), then lay it out flat and scrape the seeds out of the inside with the dull side of the blade.  You can then put the seeds and the pod both in the wine.

Speaking of the wine, the Bartender here breaks with her usual “quality-only” mantra, because the spices and the heat serve to break down any subtle bouquets the original wine might have had.  Break out the three-buck Chuck, with her blessing – especially if you have quality spices!

1 bottle fruity red wine
2 tablespoons honey (more or less to taste, depending on how dry the wine is)
1 vanilla bean, scraped and seeded, with pod
2 cinnamon sticks
11 whole cloves
1 star anise
3 cardamom pods
2 ounces brandy

Strain before drinking.  Irish coffee glasses are great for serving it in, especially over one of the cinnamon sticks.

And for those who want to play around with theirs, here are some ideas for additional/replacement ingredients to get you started:

Blackberry cordial or brandy
Orange slices
Lemon slices
Sliced fresh ginger

Enjoy, friends, and stay warm!

Holiday Recipe: Old-School Egg Nog

A holiday recipe?  Nearly two months before the actual holiday?  Surely the Bartender hasn’t sold out to the ever-increasing, ever-bemoaned commercialization of the winter months?  No, dear reader.  Rather, today’s recipe is of the old-fashioned variety, where aging and anticipation both increase its savor.  But first, the origin story!

ImageThe Rebel Spouse, who has been known to hang out in the Something Awful Forum Goon community, came to the Bartender a few years ago with this recipe.  “We have to try this,” he said, in a tone that brooked no argument.  “The goons call it ‘Fuckin’ Nog’, short for ‘The Best Fucking Eggnog You Will Ever Drink’.”

Looking over the recipe, and mentally calculating the calories (not to mention the booze content) involved, your Bartender’s eyes widened.  “If we drank this all ourselves, we’d be spherical.  Possibly dead and spherical.  Certainly dead drunk.  And spherical.”

“Then we’ll have to have a party,” the Spouse decided.  “We know enough people here to have a Christmas party, don’t we?”  Though at the time we’d just moved to Bisbee, the promise of such alcoholic delight proved a potent lure, and the Rebel Christmas Party was a modest success during the years it was held, in large part due to the eggnog.

Incidentally, this recipe may well be the perfect use for Kirkland Signature Bourbon, as the strength of flavor that makes it so overpowering an experience drunk straight serves it well against the incredible richness of the eggs and cream – and it’s inexpensive, to boot.  Even better, Kirkland has seen fit to add a quite tasty and reasonably-priced spiced rum to its line (review forthcoming!), which also serves well.

A note on aging:  Though it goes against the usual instant gratification of drink-mixing, the secret to a truly great nog is aging.  Buy a cheap gallon jug of water from the store, empty the jug, fill it with nog, and stick it in the back of the fridge for a month, checking it now and again and shaking it up if it separates.  The leftovers you can keep handy, and try a little bit each weekend until your party.  You’ll likely be amazed at the improvement in mellowness and depth that the nog takes on each week.  (The Bartender has heard tell of folk making theirs a year ahead of time and keeping it in the garage – and it’s true that the booze quantity is likely sufficient to kill anything that might try to grow in the nog! – but that seems slightly overkill.)

Old-School Egg Nog
Adapted from “The Joy of Cooking”, with help from the Something Awful Forum Goons
serves approximately 20, or one Goon

12 eggs, separated
1 pound confectioner’s sugar
3 cups bourbon
2 cups spiced rum
2 quarts whipping cream
pinch of salt
freshly grated nutmeg

Strain the egg yolks through a sieve and beat until light in color. Gradually add the sugar. While continuing to beat, slowly add 2 cups of the bourbon. Cover the mixture and let stand for 1 hour to dispel the “eggy” taste.

Add the rest of the liquor and the cream, beating well. Cover and refrigerate the mixture for 3 hours.

Beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold them into the other ingredients. Grate nutmeg to taste into the eggnog and fold it in. Transfer to a jug or pitcher, cover, and let age in the refrigerator for thirty days.

Serve in small cups (the one in the picture is a double-serving), with a sprinkling of fresh nutmeg grated over each pour.

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