The winter holidays are upon us yet again. There is a chill in the air plus wreaths, plastic snowmen, and Bing Crosby seem to greet you at the every grocery store. You are likely already starting to think about this year’s celebrations and whether you are preparing for Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa or Winter Solstice, the season is sure to be full of social gatherings, nourishing meals and (hopefully) plenty of delicious libations.
Unfortunately, this time of year can also be stressful for many people for a number of reasons. If you get caught up in the commercial rat race that Christmas has become, it is likely you’ll end up feeling depleted, grumpy and run down by the time January rolls around. My antidote for a stress free holiday is to stay out of the big box stores as much as possible and instead shop at farm markets and local retailers. Spend more time enjoying meals, having drinks and conversations with the important people in your life.
Perhaps you’ve decided to forego midnight madness in order to stay home and host your friends and family. Throwing a holiday party can be really satisfying and fun when you are organized. Once you’ve figured out the food, take some time to stock your bar so all guests will be satisfied, happy and filled with that festive feeling! Check out the blog post I wrote last year about how to prep for your party. Here are a few more suggestions that should help you out in the drinks department:
Bring on the Bubbles
No need to pop the cork on Champagne in order to enjoy quality sparkling wine. There are plenty of Champagne-like bubblies out there that will set the mood and still make you feel super classy. It’s also a bonus that there are lots of local options in this department too. Try a Cava from Spain or a local sparkling wine made in the Champagne Method.
The Spirits of the Season
Keep it simple! Prepare a festive punch or a big batch cocktail ahead of time to keep you from having to mix drinks all night; you’re the host, not the bartender and you want to enjoy the party too. Some good spirits to have in your cupboard this time of year:
Whiskeys (Bourbon, Scotch) Caldera Distilling Hurricane Whisky
Gin – Try Nova Scotia’s own Steinhart Gin
Vodka- Made from local apples, we love the Ironworks Vodka
Rum- Try our staff favourite Diplomatico Exclusiva 12 Year
Tequila- Our staff recommends Los Azulejos Anejo Tequila
Beer Brings More Cheer
Have a few beer styles on ice. Offer good beer, but you don’t have to serve your best craft beer.
A balanced beer lineup to please beer connoisseurs and newbies could include a refreshing lager like the Dartmouth brewed Spindrift Coastal Lager, Boxing Rock’s Temptation Red Ale, and a seasonal winter warmer.
I’ll drink pretty much any wine served to me (if it’s good), but it’s always nice to have some options to chose from. At a party, I would offer the choice between two different white wine styles and two different red wine styles. One white could be light bodied and unoaked in style (not necessarily Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc – there are so many other interesting, affordable and tasty alternatives out there) and a second white could be fuller bodied, perhaps off dry or lightly oaked. The same goes for reds; serve contrasting reds like a light bodied red berry fruit driven style and a fuller bodied, rich dark style. Stay away from overly structured wines with lots of grippy tannins as they are usually wasted in these situations.
Stay hydrated so you don’t get sloppy.
I hope you all get a chance to take some time out of your busy schedules to actually slow down a bit this time of year, to pay attention to what you are eating and drinking and to enjoy the gifts that surround you everyday!