This post is sponsored by Minted. All words and thoughts are my own.
Christmas and cocktails go hand in hand for my family and me, and it’s always a time of festive drinks and finger foods in between the reunions, the traditional meals, and the present opening.
We like to start the day with mimosas and gin fizzes, move on to a second round of gin fizzes after brunch, and preface dinner with a creative cocktail or two. If it weren’t for my brother-in-law, a mixology aficionado, I probably wouldn’t stray too far from tried-and-true favorites in the drinks department… Because honestly, every time I source the web for Christmas cocktails that feel special, they all seem a little too fancy for my liking.
I always land on recipes that call for exotic liqueurs or time-consuming infusions, all of which I’d maybe use once and never again. For me, the ideal holiday cocktail involves hard liquor we already stock, seasonal fresh fruit, and a little fizz. That’s why I love these cranberry moscow mules! They’re simple enough to make but still look — and taste — like you put some effort into it.
Since a cocktail never goes unaccompanied in this house, I like to pair it with these herbed and spiced nuts that you might remember from my book, The New Camp Cookbook. (They are a much tastier option than the tired trail mix you pass around in camp!) No holiday gathering is complete without a few bowls of holiday nuts scattered about, and because they’re so quick to whip up, you can vary the flavors simply by using new combinations of nuts.
I also make a batch of sparkling sugared cranberries for a sweet and tart snacking option that looks beautiful on the table. A few of these floating in your cranberry moscow mules will seriously step up your Christmas cocktail game.
I put all of these out before dinner as an aperitif, and because it’s Christmas, I also get out the fancy linen cocktail napkins. Have to say, they make me feel very adult! I have plenty of linen dinner napkins but never owned linen cocktail napkins until Minted introduced me to their line.
They’re minimal and elegant, and come in dozens of beautiful designs (which seem to rotate regularly) that Minted’s artist community is known for. I’m thinking they’d also make great hostess gifts, as I’d love if someone brought a set to one of my parties. So chic and unexpected, and infinitely useful. (They also make pretty coordinating dinner napkins.)
It’s crazy to think we’re nearing the end of another year already, and I feel like there are still so many things left unticked on my list. Do you feel the same? It always seems like there’s a mad rush to get it all done in December so we can start the New Year fresh, but I’m trying to brush it off, relax the rest of the month, and enter the next year with renewed focus and energy.
I hope you have a moment to relax as well, take in the cheer of the season, and spend the holiday with someone (or doing something) you love. Sending warmest wishes from my family to yours!
Cranberry Moscow Mules
Makes 4 servings
For the Cranberry Syrup (makes enough for 2 rounds of cocktails)
2 cups fresh cranberries
2 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
For the Cocktails
8 ounces cranberry syrup
6 ounces vodka
2 limes, halved
1 (12 ounce) bottle ginger beer
Sugared cranberries, for garnishing
In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the cranberries, water, and sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Cook, stirring frequently, until all the cranberries have burst, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Strain the syrup.
Fill 4 glasses with ice. In each glass, combine 2 ounces cranberry syrup, 1 1/2 ounces vodka, and the juice from 1/2 lime. Top off with ginger beer and serve immediately.
Makes 2 cups
1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
1 cup water<
2 cups fresh cranberries
In a small saucepan over medium heat, dissolve 1 cup sugar in water. Stir in the cranberries until well coated, then turn off the heat and let steep for about 30 minutes. (I usually prepare the holiday nuts, see recipe below, during this time.)
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cranberries to a wire cooling rack to dry, about 1 hour. They’ll be dry but tacky from the simple syrup. (Reserve the syrup for use in other beverages. It can be stored in a lidded container for up to 2 weeks in the fridge.)
Roll the cranberries in a bowl filled with the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, then let dry for about 1 hour before serving.
Makes 3 cups
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups unsalted mixed nuts (such as cashews, almonds, walnuts, and pecans)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the nuts and stir to coat with oil. Cook until they deepen in color and turn fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the salt, sugar, rosemary, thyme, and cayenne pepper in a small bowl. Sprinkle the mixture on top of the nuts and stir to coat evenly. Remove the nuts from heat and let cool before serving.
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