In the UK people tend to drink whatever they like all year round, but what are the typical drinks especially enjoyed at Christmas and New Year?
Mulled wine’s a Christmas drink which has been around for centuries and is easy to make. All that’s needed is wine, traditionally red, but white is fine too, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg with grated orange and lemon peel. Some people also add brandy. All you have to do is put the ingredients in a heavy saucepan and heat them until it’s on the point of boiling. It’s just the thing for cold winter days.
You can also make mulled cider or ale. Originally, mulled ale was the drink of choice in Britain, probably because it was cheap and readily available.
Eggnog’s also drunk during the festive season. If you don’t like it, you could spice it up with a dash of rum. It’s easy to make but you may prefer to just buy a bottle of it.
It can be very rewarding to make your own sloe gin. Beware of lurking squirrels though, they don’t like people ‘stealing’ their sloes. They have been known to pelt pilferers with acorns, and chatter at them belligerently when someone climbs their sloe or acorn-laden tree! You need to pick sloes in late September or early October.
You simply steep the sloes in gin and leave them until the gin is pinky-red. Then you strain it and reserve the macerated sloes. If you coat a baking tray with melted chocolate, add a layer of the sloes, top them with more melted chocolate and refrigerate this confectionary, you have your own chocolate liqueurs (another seasonal treat).
Traditionally mince pies are eaten over the Christmas period. A lot of people are confused by these as they wrongly believe that they’re made with minced (or ground) meat. However, the mincemeat is made with dried fruits. Now you can buy a jar of mincemeat rather than make it yourself. People with children sometimes leave mince pies on the table on Christmas Eve for Father Christmas.
Christmas Day is a time for family meals. In the past goose or game was eaten, venison was also a favourite. Most families have roast turkey, and get inventive when the days go by and the turkey is still not completely eaten: — turkey curry, turkey in a cream sauce topped with breadcrumbs and so on.
Brussel sprouts, chestnut stuffing, cranberry jelly, roast potatoes and various other seasonal vegetables accompany the Christmas turkey.
Dessert’s traditionally a flaming Christmas pudding, served with a white sauce and decorated with a sprig of holly.
When the meal’s finished everyone has a Christmas cracker to pull. These can contain cheap novelties, a motto and a party hat, or they may have more upmarket presents in them.
New Year’s Eve is party time, without the constraints imposed by a family gathering. In Scotland, it’s called Hogmanay and celebrated with haggis — a savoury pudding made with sheep’s offal (heart, liver and lungs) beef or sheep’s suet, onion, oatmeal and spices, all stuffed into a sheep’s stomach lining and boiled. It’s served with potatoes (tatties), turnips (neeps) and often with a whiskey sauce.
Although times are changing, most people with children generally still celebrate a traditional Christmas, with the opening of presents the highlight of the day.
We hope you’ve enjoined Christmas and New Year celebrations. Compliments of the season from everyone at Garçon Wines!