Holiday Drinks

This year, it’s a sure bet that holiday gatherings will likely be more intimate, with perhaps more celebrating online rather than around a table. As you cozy up to the chimney…or computer, it’s nice to have a drink in hand either to take the chill off or to make things feel more festive. Unless you’re the lovely Ina Garten, who prefers to make drinks by…

This year, it’s a sure bet that holiday gatherings will likely be more intimate, with perhaps more celebrating online rather than around a table. As you cozy up to the chimney…or computer, it’s nice to have a drink in hand either to take the chill off or to make things feel more festive. Unless you’re the lovely Ina Garten, who prefers to make drinks by the pitcher, individual drinks are a nice way to celebrate more intimate gatherings and you can make just one to two, or scale ’em up to make four or six, if necessary. My hot chocolate recipes (below) can easily be made in advance – in fact, they’re better if they are – then rewarmed right before serving. Marshmallows and whipped cream are optional, but if I’m going to be honest, they’re encouraged.

Here are my favorite and most popular drink recipes on the blog that’ll warm you up, including two types of hot chocolate (there are several others in Drinking French, including a Salted Butter Caramel version), French mulled wine, an apple-based cocktail, and a few libations with cranberries. There’s also a brown-buttery Old Fashioned, a pink Cosmo to brighten things up, a creative Kir, and Jeff Morgenthaler’s amazing eggnog. So no matter where you are, whether you’re at home with friends and family or able to gather out and about, here are some drinks I hope will help make this holiday season more enjoyable…

Vin Chaud

A winter classic in many countries, when they’re open (they’re closed at the moment), cafés in Paris will have the words ‘Vin chaud’ scribbled on a blackboard either inside or out, beckoning people to come in from the cold to have a glass. Patrons are usually huddled around terrace tables or standing at the bar, sipping glasses of warm spiced wine, but this year, mulled wine maison will be in fashion. My version of vin chaud is spiced with cardamom, star anise, cloves, and fresh ginger. And it’s even better if you tip a bit of brandy in it!

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Byrrh Cassis Aperitif

We spent part of our summer vacation in the Languedoc-Roussillon. The region is famous for its wines, especially the reds and rosé (which we sampled – generously…), while it was once the most popular apéritif in the world, selling over 30 million bottles annually, Byrrh is also made in the region but nowadays less well-known. In fact, if you order a Byrrh in France, more…

We spent part of our summer vacation in the Languedoc-Roussillon. The region is famous for its wines, especially the reds and rosé (which we sampled – generously…), while it was once the most popular apéritif in the world, selling over 30 million bottles annually, Byrrh is also made in the region but nowadays less well-known. In fact, if you order a Byrrh in France, more often than not, you might be brought a glass of bière, unless your ear for French is pretty good as it’s pronunciation is close to ‘beer.’ (I once had to point it out on the menu at a wine bar in Paris, as the waiter had no idea what I was talking about.) There’s no beer in Byrrh, but there’s plenty of flavor in this iconic French apéritif.

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Strawberry Spritz

Recently I started reaching for my bottle of Vermouth Blanc more and more. I had opened it to make an El Presidente cocktail, but during an interview on my IG Live channel with Pierre-Olivier Rousseaux, owner of Dolin distillery in France, he remarked that their Chambéryzette apéritif, made in the French alps, could be made at home, anywhere, with fresh strawberries and white vermouth. So…

Recently I started reaching for my bottle of Vermouth Blanc more and more. I had opened it to make an El Presidente cocktail, but during an interview on my IG Live channel with Pierre-Olivier Rousseaux, owner of Dolin distillery in France, he remarked that their Chambéryzette apéritif, made in the French alps, could be made at home, anywhere, with fresh strawberries and white vermouth. So I took the plunge and made a batch myself.

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Daily Live IGTV Instagram Apero Hour (Happy Hour)

As some of you know, since the lockdown (and since my book tour was postponed), I’ve been doing a daily Apéro Hour (Happy Hour) on Instagram Live. At 6pm (CET, Paris time) each day, I’ve been demonstrating a different drink, ranging from cocktails to classic café drinks and apéritifs. Along the way, I’m talking about French spirits and apéritifs, sharing some history and lore about…

As some of you know, since the lockdown (and since my book tour was postponed), I’ve been doing a daily Apéro Hour (Happy Hour) on Instagram Live. At 6pm (CET, Paris time) each day, I’ve been demonstrating a different drink, ranging from cocktails to classic café drinks and apéritifs. Along the way, I’m talking about French spirits and apéritifs, sharing some history and lore about iconic beverages such as French gin, vermouth from Chambéry, gentian liqueur, Chartreuse, Cap Corse apéritif from Corsica, cognac, orange liqueurs…and more! It’s been a great way to stay connected, especially with many of us shut in.

The event is live daily at 6pm CET, which is Noon ET, 9am PT. (You can ask Google what time it is where you live if you’d like to join me live.) If you can’t make it, most of the videos are archived at my IGTV channel so you can watch them later. I’m also uploading them to my Facebook page, too. During the live videos I’ll also be taking questions and will be having special guests from time to time. (Unfortunately, the videos featuring guests can’t be archived due to formatting issues, so you’ll need to watch them live.)

This week’s line-up:

Monday: How to make a Chocolate Frappé.

Tuesday: Making a Cap Corse Negroni.

Wednesday: Q & A with reader’s questions.

Thursday: Lavender Lemonade with Melissa Clark, from her new book, Dinner in French.

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Drinking French is Out!

I’m excited to announce that Drinking French: The iconic cocktails, apéritifs, and café traditions in France, with 160 recipes is out! My latest book features recipes for the iconic beverages of France, from café specialties hot chocolate, tisanes and infusions, and chilled chocolate frappés, to classic French apéritifs, recipes to make liqueurs, crèmes, wines, punches and cordials at home, as well as French-themed cocktails from…

Drinking French

I’m excited to announce that Drinking French: The iconic cocktails, apéritifs, and café traditions in France, with 160 recipes is out!

My latest book features recipes for the iconic beverages of France, from café specialties hot chocolate, tisanes and infusions, and chilled chocolate frappés, to classic French apéritifs, recipes to make liqueurs, crèmes, wines, punches and cordials at home, as well as French-themed cocktails from my favorite bars in Paris. To make sure you and your guests are properly fed, there’s a whole chapter of Snacks for apéro hour, such as a Terrine facile (an easy-to-make, meaty terrine), savory Cornmeal-Bacon Madeleines, bite-size Mushroom-Roquefort Tartlets, a recipe for Duck Rillettes as well as another for Chicken Rillettes (spread), one being quite rich, and the other for those who want to eat a little lighter. Or those who can’t get duck. (Writing the book, I thought of everything…and everyone.) And there’s a Kale Crespèu, a specialty of Provence which is perfect for summer with glasses of chilled rosé.

Drinking French starts out as a typical French morning does; at a café with a small shot of coffee or a more leisurely wake-up at home with a steaming bowl of Café au lait. Later in the day, people enjoy other café favorites, such as Citron pressé, Lemonade, Fresh Mint Tea, and if it’s the summer, to beat the heat, nothing beats a chilled Chocolate Frappé. For those needing a little more of a boost, there’s a Coffee Frappé, as well as one that uses one of the most popular liqueurs in France (which, interestingly, isn’t French), in case you want something cool and spirited. But there are dozens of recipes that don’t have any alcohol, making Drinking French enjoyable to all.

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