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There are only two true Holiday staples - fruit cake and egg nog. And as far as I am concerned, we can skip the cake. However, egg nog is a beverage I could drink all year long! There are numerous recipes out there to make you own or you can just purchase a ready-to-drink carton from the store. QD has a great light version this year.
Egg nog is a mysterious drink with numerous legends tied to it. One of the stories has it that while eggs and milk showed signs of wealth in Jolly Old England, refrigeration was scarce. Adding sherry or brandy to the milk made the drink shelf stable thus eliminating the need to keep the milk/egg concoction cold. Another tale tells of Europeans who would add wine to milk and make a punch. When the settlers came to America, the wine was replaced with rum. Colonial Americans referred to rum as “grog” thus making the punch known as “egg-and-grog” and in turn being shortened to egg’n’grog and eventually just egg nog. Still another take one the origins of egg nog rattles on that it descended from a hot British drink called posset, which consists of eggs, milk and ale or wine.
Whatever the exact beginnings to the drink are, it does not matter for it has traveled well. The basic recipe for egg nog consists of beaten eggs, sugar and milk or cream. It can now be found in places all over the world with cultural variation found in the liquor addition. Britons add ale, Puerto Ricans like rum and Peruvians enjoy the nog with a pomace brandy called pisco. Mexicans add in coconut milk for their flavor. In Germany, they make an egg soup with beer, called Biersuppe. George Washington had his own special egg nog mixture that included whisky, rum and sherry.
Today the US standard makes rum the favorite liquor of choice for egg nog. I recommend an amber rum as it is slightly sweeter than white rum and not as strong as the dark. However, don’t discount sherry, brandy or a liqueur like Kahula.
Nutmeg is the traditional preference for egg nog garnish as its sweet, strong flavor compliments the rich creaminess of the drink. Just a little pinch of the spice is all that is needed. It is best to freshly grate the nutmeg into the cup as the flavor is rapidly lost once grated. Besides nutmeg, egg nog can also be enhanced by garnishes of chocolate curls, cinnamon or peppermint sticks.
Rum is a spirit distilled from sugar cane juice and/or molasses. Most other spirits are made from grain but because rum is fermented from sugar already in its raw state it retains more flavor. Rum is generally not aged in oak barrels unless additional color and flavor is wanted. The spirit ranges from 80 to 151 proof alcohol depending on the style it is made into. The lightest and best used for most cocktails is white or silver rum. This is the most common bar rum such as Bacardi white. Amber or Gold rum is medium bodied with a bit of flavor. This type of rum is barrel aged to give color and taste. Dark rums are made with molasses, are full bodied, full flavored and can linger on your taste buds. Some rums are aged for a maximum of 20 years after which they do decline in quality. There is also a variety of flavored rums on the market - spiced, coconut and several fruit flavors. These are mostly made from white rum with flavorings added. Most rum is made in the Caribbean with better rum house in Jamaica, Barbados and Puerto Rico.
FINALLY THE FEEL
Here we are at the end of our tasting series. We first looked at it, then we smelled it and tasted it and finally we are going to feel it. When I sued the word feel, there are two separate ideas that go along with this. The first is the actual sensation in your mouth. That is, how does the wine feel on your tongue? Is it smooth and crisp, sparkly, dry, mealy, heavy? The way the wine sits in your mouth can give you a sense of pleasure and completeness to the wine or it can be the end to something unbalanced.
The second idea to feel is your mood. I truly believe that wine tastes different depending on your experience with it. One bottle may taste terrific depending on the meal, the company, the atmosphere and your overall emotions towards the environment. While the same bottle of wine may taste completely different on another day with other people. If you have ever visited a winery you can definitely relate. The experience you have in the tasting room while on a vacation is much different to that you have at home after a tough week at work. The wine is really incomparable although the same bottle. The same goes for anyone who has fallen in love over a bottle of wine. That same bottle can become your absolute favorite or never taste the same again. As well, a “bad” bottle of wine could turn “good” in other circumstances. If you are keeping a journal of what wines you taste, remember to add in notes about who was there, what you were eating and how you were feeling. Happy Drinking!
LAST MINUTE FESTIVE SNACKS
People stopping by to wish you some Holiday cheer? Keep these on hand for easy entertaining.
HOMEMADE NACHO CHIPS
Corn Tortilla Rounds - spinach and tomato flavors will give festive coloring
Salt, Pepper, Cumin and/or Red Pepper
1. Cut tortillas into wedges or use your holiday cookie cutters
2. Place shapes on cookie sheet and spray with olive oil and lime juice mix
3. Lightly season with salt, pepper, cumin and/or red pepper
5. Bake for 10 minutes at 350’, turn chips over and bake another 10 minutes. For crispier chips, broil for an additional minute on each side.
Tomatoes - Romas work best
Celery, Carrots, Broccoli, Fresh Mushrooms, Green, Yellow or Red Peppers, Green Onions, Canned Corn, Chili Peppers, Other favorite veggies or fruit mixtures
Salt and Pepper
1. Seed and cut the tomatoes to make your salsa base.
2. Choose the other ingredients according to your own taste buds. Cut into small half-bite pieces.
3. Mix tomatoes and veggies in a bowl and add salt and pepper to taste.
4. Cover the bowl and let sit in fridge for at least 2 hours; although overnight is recommended.
Serve the chips and salsa with the old standby of Corona and lime or try sprucing things up with a Michigan microbrew such as Stoney Creek’s Atwater Hell, Motor City Brewing Lager, Arcadia Brewing Company’s Angler’s Ale, Michigan’s Brewing Company’s Petosky Pilsner or New Holland Brewing Company’s Single Malt Beer. For more on MI Microbrews michiganbeerguide.com
The Beverage Alcohol Report (The BAR) is published on a monthly basis compliments of Liana Bennett. It main purpose is to further the knowledge, appreciation and general enjoyment of all alcoholic beverages. Your comments, questions and tasting stories can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org . Please feel free to share this e-newsletter with your friends or forward their email address to Liana to be added to the list. Thank you and of course, I hope you have enjoyed The BAR and have learned something new!
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