Mulled white wine – Finally, a toddy for white wine drinkers! Just like white sangria is the lighter and much less common cousin to red sangria, white mulled wine is the logical alternative to an intensely aromatic mug of mulled red. Only thing is, it's almost impossible to find -- but with this recipe by mixologist Jane Elkins, you can now make a delicious version at home.
Regal Glow 6 drops bourbon vanilla extract .5 oz cinnamon syrup .75 oz PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur 2 oz Dry Riesling 1 oz water Star anise pod, discarded orange zest
Directions: Mull over a low heat.
CADE Estate Cabernet Sauvignon – The dinner party red You can't talk politics or religion in polite company, but you can certainly argue over wine all night long…so present your guests with this excellent, elegant Howell Mountain Cabernet label by CADE (a newish, highly acclaimed label from the PlumpJack group) and kick-start a healthy debate about Old World vs. New... or perhaps, Mountain vs. Valley.
Archery Summit Pinot Gris – The dinner party white This inaugural vintage from a critics-choice Willamette Valley wine producer is another win for Oregon…and a win for white wine drinkers as well. It's under $22 a bottle, comes from a winery already known for great Pinot Noir, and will appeal to people who want something new but still familiar: It's lively, fruity, clean, and pairs excellently with Christmas fowl of any kind.
Fonseca Port, Bin 27 – Veddy, veddy British So traditional, so proper, and so sweet you'll feel it in your back teeth. You have to have a bottle of port on hand at the holidays, if only to appease the white-beards in the family tree. And the just-released 2011 vintage was a very good year – so much so that experts predict it'll sell out fast. If you're not a connoisseur, fall back on Bin 27, which is inexpensive, from one of the great old families, and available in a "half bottle" (375 ml).
Cruzan Velvet Cinn – The eggnog substitute Eggnog's position may be in jeopardy, and it's all thanks to horchata, a beverage that's been around for more than a thousand years. Only recently, product creators at a couple liquor companies, including Cruzan, had the idea of launching a "rum horchata" category. I.e. mixing the popular Latin American agua fresca (made variously from milk, nuts, seeds, vanilla, cinnamon and other ingredients depending on the country) with rum; and bottling it up as a ready-to-drink liqueur. Silly name aside, this new entry from Cruzan is surprisingly delicious, and quite a bit lighter than eggnog.
CIROC Roman Candle – New Year's Eve on the beach Everyone has That One Friend: While everyone else is freezing their bits off and slipping in snow puddles, That One is posting selfies from their Hawaii beach condo. This is the drink they'll be toasting with on New Year's, as you shiver through the local fireworks display. (And if you ARE that friend, congrats. Everyone is mad at you, and wants an invite to your condo.) ROMAN CANDLE 1 oz. CÎROC Red Berry .5 oz. Simple Syrup .5 oz. Lemon Juice 1 Strawberry Muddle fruit with Simple Syrup. Add remaining ingredients. Shake, strain, and serve in a flute, topped with 2 oz sparkling Rose wine. Garnish with a strawberry slice
PAMA – May your 2014 be fortuitous Chinese considered the pomegranate a symbol of fertility; in Jewish culture, it's auspicious for a fruitful new year; and in its native country of ancient Persia (now Iran), warriors who ate pomegranate gained invincibility. Plus, the color of PAMA, the new pomegranate liqueur from Heaven Hill Distilleries, is a beautiful red almost exactly the color of…poinsettias! All in all, it's a tasty, festive and hopefully luck-bringing 12th drink to round out this list and usher in a joyful New Year.