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Holiday cocktail roundup

December 29, 2014

New Year’s Eve is just around the corner, and what a year it’s been! After a month of frenzied shopping and party hopping, it’s probably safe to say you deserve a drink. So, before the New Year’s ball starts to drop, we’d like to take a moment to share our favorite holiday cocktails with you!

Horchata

Homemade Horchata Cocktail

WHAT YOU’LL NEED

For the Horchata
• ⅔ cup white rice
• 3 cups warm water
• 1 two-inch cinnamon stick
• ½ cup granulated sugar
• Splash of vanilla
• 2 cups whole milk (or a mixture of whole milk and cream)*
• Ground cinnamon

For the cocktail
• 1 ½ ounces (1 full shot) vodka
• ¾ ounce (½ shot) dark rum
• 4 ½ ounces (3 shots) horchata
• Fresh cinnamon

HOW TO MAKE IT

To make the Horchata
Begin by pulsing the rice in a blender or food processor until it’s the consistency of coarse polenta. Your blender may or may not do a good job with this task. Mine was mediocre. So, don’t worry if yours doesn’t do this well. Place the rice in a quart jar, and add the cinnamon stick and 3 cups of warm water. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours, but preferably overnight. Place the mixture back into the blender, cinnamon stick included, and blend once again. There may be some splattering, so throw a towel over the mixer or food processor. Don’t expect the cinnamon stick to get fully blended. Into a large pitcher, strain the mixture through a mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth and give it a squeeze at the end to extract as much liquid as possible. Then add the milk, 1/2 cup of sugar, and a splash of vanilla to the pitcher. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Store in the refrigerator. Your kids will love this served over ice with a sprinkle of cinnamon.

*Almond milk can be substituted for a dairy-free version. Coconut milk works too, just be sure to adjust the amount of sugar you add.

To make the cocktail
Mix the vodka, rum, and horchata into a shaker for a second or two. Then pour into a low-ball glass filled with ice. Grate some fresh cinnamon on top and cheers away!

Cherry Bourbon

Cherry-Chocolate Bourbon Soda

WHAT YOU’LL NEED

For the homemade cherry-vanilla soda
• 2 lbs pitted fresh cherries
• 4 limes
• ½ tsp vanilla extract
• 1 cup water
• 9 tbs sugar
• ⅛ tsp salt
• ⅛ tsp dry champagne yeast

For the cocktail
• ¾ cups homemade cherry-vanilla soda or other cherry soda
• 15 drops Taza Mexican chocolate extract
• 1 oz Bourbon

HOW TO MAKE IT

To make the homemade cherry-vanilla soda
Place the cherries, lime juice, and vanilla in a large bowl. Bring one cup of water to a boil, then stir in the sugar and salt until dissolved. Pour the mixture over the cherries and let macerate for 10 minutes. Place the cherries and their liquid in a blender and blend until smooth. Strain the puree through a fine mesh strainer, catching the juice in a bowl. Pour the cherry juice through a funnel into a clean 2-liter soda bottle (do not use glass, as it may break under the pressure of the fermentation process). Add water to the bottle to fill almost to the top, leaving at least 1 inch of headspace between the top of the juice and the cap. Taste and add more lime juice, sugar, or vanilla as desired. Add the yeast to the bottle. Screw on the cap and shake to distribute the yeast. Let the bottle sit at room temperature out of direct sunlight until the bottle feels rock solid when you press against the sides. This carbonation process usually takes 12 to 48 hours: check the bottle periodically to avoid over-carbonation and a potentially bursted bottle. Once the soda is carbonated, place it in the fridge to slow the carbonation process. Open very slowly over a sink the first time you serve it, to avoid bubble-ups. Serve cold. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

To make the cocktail
Add the soda, chocolate extract, and bourbon to a glass with several ice cubes in it. Stir gently, then serve immediately.

Hot Chocolate

Melted Hot Chocolate With Sea Salt Whipped Cream

WHAT YOU’LL NEED

For the sea salt chocolate whipped cream
• 1 cup heavy whipping cream
• 1 tbs sugar
• 3 tbs cocoa powder
• ¾ tsp sea salt

For the melted hot cocoa
• 8 squares (4 oz) dark 100% cocoa baker’s chocolate
• 2 squares (1 oz) semi-sweet baker’s chocolate
• 2-4 tsp honey
• ¾ Cup Whole Milk (at room temperature)

HOW TO MAKE IT

To make the sea salt chocolate whipped cream
Begin by preparing the sea salt whipped cream. Beat the cream and sugar in an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment at medium high speed until the cream holds a very soft peak. Gently whisk in the sea salt and cocoa powder until incorporated. Cover and set aside.

To make the melted hot cocoa
Melt down the chocolate pieces in the top of a double boiler, stirring constantly. Add the honey and milk and continue stirring until it’s one fluid mixture and becomes very warm. Evenly distribute the cocoa between two serving glasses and top with the whipped cream and a pinch of sea salt for garnish. Serve immediately.

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