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You might think it’s too early to discuss the holidays, but we’re in the large majority of people who’d beg to differ. After all, the temperatures are already dropping, dusty slippers are being yanked from the depths of closets, and we’ve moved from heirloom tomato sandwiches to pumpkin everything. So with that in mind, it should come as no surprise that the holiday season is hardly complete without the clinking of glasses filled with your favorite beverage or brew. Sipping eggnog while the fire roars and sputters is an essential practice of November and December’s dark days, just as swirling together apple and pear beverages are in early fall. 

Related Reading: 11 Cocktail Ingredients You Have Hiding in Your Kitchen

So for those who consider themselves to be at-home mixologists during the colder months, you’ll surely want to get acquainted with the cookbook, “Very Merry Cocktails,” lifestyle writer Jessica Strand’s ode to ringing in all the season’s beloved holidays. Is the snow raging outside? Boil up spiked Mexican hot chocolate as a soul-warming balm. Throwing a safe fête for friends and family? You’ll need to earmark the pages for traditional festive drinks, like Swedish glogg and hot buttered rum. There are a slew of seasonal-inspired cocktails and festive Champagne drinks, plus a handful of zero-proof libations, designed for anyone to enjoy. 

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Along with recipes, Jessica also provides advice for a number of ways to bring the bar into your home. She outlines a host of holiday mixers and ingredients you’ll want to have on hand, plus recipes for preparing the syrups, shrubs, and garnishes many of the cocktails require. And once you’ve got all of that covered, read up on how to properly rim a glass for that extra spark. 

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Now that the weather has turned a corner, you should probably start off with a batch of Jessica’s mulled cider. The recipe, which lists a handful of ingredients you probably have in your pantry anyway—apple cider, maple syrup, lemons, oranges, nutmeg, and cinnamon—just relies on boiling everything together in a saucepan until warmed. This winter classic doesn’t call for alcohol, but you can certainly doctor it with whatever liquor that’s been hanging out on your bar, like whiskey or bourbon. Serve hot, ladled into mugs or heat proof punch glasses, as your first bona fide dose of winter weather.      

Reprinted from Very Merry Cocktails by Jessica Strand with permission by Chronicle Books, 2020

Mulled Cider Recipe

Warm, fragrant, and delicious…a winter classic.

Mulled Cider

Makes: 16 drinks
  • 64 oz (2 L) apple cider
  • 1 oz (30 ml) maple syrup
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced into rounds, plus 1 lemon peel
  • 1 orange, thinly sliced into rounds, plus 1 orange peel
  • 2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  1. Pour the cider and maple syrup into a large saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Simmer for 15 minutes. To serve, ladle into heatproof punch cups.

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Header image by Ren Fuller..

Amy Schulman is an associate editor at Chowhound. She is decidedly pro-chocolate.
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