Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Holiday (Family) Cocktails

When I spent my first Thanksgiving with my in-laws, I remember my Mother-in-law opening a bottle of champagne and the whole family toasting with a glass of bubbly. It is a wonderful tradition that we have continued: special drinks on special holidays.

Now with two young boys, I've tried to come up new, what they deem, "fancy drinks" to enjoy at holidays and other special events. Since we try to eat natural, whole foods, sodas and other artificially sweetened and gunk-y (yes, that's a technical term) drinks are off the table. Instead, we've come up with some really easy and above all, fancy, homemade drinks for guests of all ages to enjoy!

(Sparkling) Fruit Water

Perhaps the easiest of all fancy drinks, fruit water simply requires fresh, cut-up fruit, water (we think sparkling is fun, but you can use regular water) and a little bit of time for the fruit flavors to marinate into the water.

Making it is as easy as ONE (cut up the fruit of your choice to flavor the water):

TWO (place in a drink pitcher):

THREE (fill with sparkling or flat water and let sit for several hours):

(Added bonus: this is a really super way to use the middle of the pineapple, the part that is too tough and fibrous to eat)

Serve and garnish with fresh fruit:

Other easy fancy drink ideas:

Sparkling Berry Juice

Mix half unsweetened seltzer and half 100% juice in a glass or container. Garnish with a lime and ice.

Spiced Cider

Drop a cinnamon stick and vanilla bean in cider and let sit overnight in the fridge. The vanilla flavor adds a new flavor dimension to the cider. Let kids have their own cinnamon stick or star anise in their drink (if they are older and can understand it is not for their mouth).

Click here for the full description and pictures.

Snowy Hot Chocolate

This is a great dessert drink. Mixing 6-8 oz warmed (heat in the microwave for 45-60 seconds) skim milk and three chocolate kiss candies creates velvety hot chocolate. Let preschooler and older kids stir the milk themselves while the chocolate melts. Sprinkle unsweetened coconut on top for the snow.

Mint Fool-ups

A great alternative to the mint julep. Make a mint simple syrup (Microwave 1 cup water in a glass pyrex until boiling. Add 1/2 white sugar and stir until it melts. Add 10-20 mint leaves and allow to steep, much like a tea, for about 20 minutes. Remove the mint leaves and voila, mint simple syrup). Mix 1/4 cup mint simple syrup with 1/2 cup unsweetened seltzer or club soda. Garnish with a mint sprig!

And there you have it, a handful of ideas to fancy-up your holiday drinks!

Life is sweet,

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