December is upon us, which means we are in the season of holiday parties and cocktails. Let’s be honest: Our real talent lies in drinking, and the holidays are when we really put thos skills to the test. Come December, you can find us throwing back festive libations at parties and pop-ups and bars, especially those that take the holiday spirit to a scale only possible in New York (see Rolf’s, below). But if you can’t make it to such a Christmas Mecca for your holiday cocktail fix, Zelda and Scout are here for you.
First, eggnog. Like its October counterpart, pumpkin spice, it is divisive. Its milky goodness is not for everyone, but those who do love it love it a lot. I am one of those people — a Noghead, if you will — and really the only thing that makes this drink better is the addition of alcohol. If you want to get fancier than the sweet and simple classic, Southern Comfort Eggnog + Southern Comfort Whiskey (the only way to drink nog, according to friend of the blog Jason), see below:
Salted Caramel Eggnog from The Cookie Rookie: This is one for the more ambitious in the kitchen (the Zeldas rather than the Scouts, if you will). You have to make the eggnog from scratch, see, which surpasses my three-step recipe limit. In a large saucepan, combine 3 cups whole milk, 1 cup heavy whipping cream, 4 cinnamon sticks, 3/4 tablespoon vanilla extract, and 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg, and bring to a boil over medium heat. As soon as the mixture starts to bubble, remove from heat and allow it to steep and cool for 5-10 minutes. While it’s brewing, in a stand mixer, beat five eggs and 2/3 cup sugar until fully combined. Pour your egg mixture into your milk mixture and whisk together. Add 1/2 cup caramel syrup, 1 tablespoon sea salt, and 3/4 cups dark rum. Garnish with caramel and more nutmeg if you’re feeling fancy.
Next up, milk punch. Bourbon Milk Punch is a traditional holiday drink throughout the Deep South, but especially in New Orleans. The drink dates back all the way to at least the 19th century, when it was featured in 1862’s How to Mix Drinks, perhaps the very first cocktail recipe book. This recipe from Arnaud’s French 75 bar seems to be the internet-accepted classic version of this cocktail, featured by the New York Times and Garden and Gun alike. Pour 1¼ oz bourbon (or, if you prefer, brandy), ½ oz dark rum, 2 oz whole milk or half-and-half, ¾ tsp vanilla extract, and ½ oz simple syrup into a cocktail shaker filled three-quarters full with ice. Shake until chilled (roughly 30 seconds). Strain into a rocks glass and dust with grated nutmeg.
Finally, for the clear alcohol connoisseurs, we have a seasonal twist on a classic — an Apple Cider Mule. This drink. from Pretty Plain Janes, swaps the summery lime flavors of the typical Moscow Mule for wintry notes of apple and spice. In a copper mug full of ice, as is traditional, mix 1 1/5 oz of vodka (this recipe suggests caramel-flavored liquor, but you do you) and 3 oz apple cider,. Top off with ginger beer, and garnish with apple slices and cinnamon sticks.