Perhaps you noticed my absence from posting these last few weeks? Yes folks I was out of the country where a good internet connection was as scarce as a decent vegetarian meal. I can now mark my return to WiFi and an abundant array of vegetarian ingredients by having a festive drink or two…or three…
A number of holiday drinks share the commonality of alcohol, sugar and spices. While some may argue that alcohol is medicinal and a “spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down“, it is the spices that can raise the health quotient of many holiday drinks.
Spices have been used worldwide throughout the centuries as aphrodisiacs, food preservatives and the basis of empire building. When consumed many spices can aid digestion and help quell nausea (e.g. ginger). Other properties include the regulation of blood sugar (e.g. cinnamon), pain-relieving properties (nutmeg) and anti-parasitic action (e.g. clove). In spite of their health benefits, exercise caution with spices. Too much of a good thing can be bad and many commercial spices have been adulterated thus impairing their ability to be effective.
Warning!!! Overdosing on nutmeg can result in hallucinogenic and narcotic effects.
Hallucinogenic Effect of Nutmeg
The Hallucinogen in Your Kitchen: The Chemistry of Nutmeg
Wassail, wassail all over the town…
A line from a holiday song chronicling the drink and tradition that is Wassail. Visiting, singing and sharing a drink with neighbours typifies the act of wassailing. The drink was originally made with toast floating on top giving rise to the expression ‘raising your glass in a toast’. (Or rather raising your glass with toast in it!)
There are numerous versions of wassail using various types of alcohol (e.g. ale, cider, wine), spices, fruit and/or egg. Here is Alton Brown’s (the Food Network) version and a traditional one.
In Jamaica mon the typical holiday drinks are sorrel and chocolate tea. Sorrel, a drink made from hibiscus, is often mixed with rum and ginger while chocolate tea is spiced Jamaican hot chocolate drunk at breakfast and sans actual tea.
Mulled wine is a warm drink made with wine (go figure), orange and spices. Brandy and sugar are often added too. Martha Stewart, tell us how you do it.
Eggnog is basically a liquified custard* or premature ice cream+. It can be vegetarian (eggs, dairy) or vegan (‘nog-flavoured’ soy or almond milk); adding rum is optional. It is the nutmeg that maketh the nog.
*mixture of milk and eggs
+sweetened custard; a base for making ice cream
Herbst, S.T. & R. (2007). The New Food Lover’s Companion.
Hauppage, NY: Barron’s Educational Series, Inc.