November 15, 2013

Celebrate the 2013 Holiday Season with Something Different: Serve International Cocktails

You may be stuck in your hometown this holiday season, but internationally inspired cocktails can take you away with taste. This year, add a splash of international flavor— and color— to your holiday cocktail party. Drinks serve double-duty as table decorations when you sub a beautiful red Italian Lambrusco for soda water in your spiked-punch recipe. Serve in a crystal bowl surrounded by tiny votive candles to create an effervescent, festive mood. For a lighter punch, switch to the also-Italian Moscato d'Asti. This fresh, fruity bubbly has a lower alcohol content and a slightly less-exuberant "fizz factor." Find more internationally inspired cocktails below.

Go Swedish

Go Scandinavian for something different. Glögg, a hot wine beverage, is a real crowd-pleaser— find a basic recipe here. Lay out a smorgasboard of julbord and prinskorv (meatballs and mini sausages) with baked ham and seasoned mustard for a truly international experience.

Hot and Spicy

Photo by jules/stone soup via Wikimedia Commons

Need something to chase away the chill? Try this recipe from for Cafe Mexicano. The recipe makes one serving.

1 1/2 cup brewed coffee (dark rich coffee is best)

1/2 cup heavy cream

4 tsp chocolate syrup

3/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

firewater of choice

Pour syrup into warm cups, add coffee, and stir until blended. Splash one and half ounces of Jose Cuervo (or your favorite firewater) into the coffee mixture. Top with spices, and thicken with cream.

Meet the New Float

Photo by Stacy Spensley via Flickr

Beer cocktails are very trendy now. The Liberty Tap Room in Greenville, S.C. offers a unique cocktail that salutes yesteryear and today. It's a traditional root beer float with a couple of twists for today.

Marc Connolly, Liberty's general manager, told The Greenville News he starts with chocolate-orange ice cream he makes himself. Make your own homemade chocolate ice cream flavored with orange liqueur, or use purchased ice cream, and add the liqueur to the float while mixing. Put a scoop of ice cream in the bottom of an eight-ounce mug, top with root beer and add one and a half ounces of Absolut vodka.

The creamy, satisfying concoction is great for warmer climates— think Guam, Puerto Rico and Yuma, Ariz. For designated drivers and others who prefer not to imbibe, this is a great cocktail, too— just skip the Absolut, and top with cream.

Feeling Ambivalent? Try Sweet-n-Sour

Photo by Jgilgamesh via WIkimedia Commons

Depending on whom you are listening to, either Peru or Chile invented the Pisco sour. This beverage packs a unique, refreshing kick that has both sugary sweetness and mouth-puckering tangy tartness from South American limes.

To make, pour 3 ounces of Pisco, one ounce simple sugar, 1 ounce fresh squeezed lime juice, and an egg white into a shaker with a strainer. Add ice cubes. Shake well to create a frothy head. Strain beverage into an old fashion glass, and top with 2-3 dashes of Angostura bitters.

You make you own simple sugar by cooking two parts sugar to one part water over a medium heat for 5 minutes, or until sugar dissolves. Let cool before adding to beverages to avoid melting the ice.

Sip on Cocktails in the Right Setting

Pair your holiday cocktails with international decor for an exotic twist. In the U.K., some savvy decorators are substituting traditional stockings for bright, cheerful Wellingtons stacked in the foyer. These cute "gift-baskets" are playful and intriguing. Paint old cowboy boots to match a Western theme or small tins for a country look, or use glass vases tied with holiday bows for a more refined approach.

Add some mini-stockings to your table to hold utensils or napkins. Order some Christmas flowers for the centerpiece. Need some more inspiration? has some unique stocking ideas for table decorations to get your creative juices flowing.