Toast the holidays with a cup of good cheer
TWhen you celebrate the holidays with a special toast this year, do it with a signature cocktail that can become your new tradition. But leave the squeezing of citrus fruits, the boiling of simple syrup, and the shopping for multiple ingredients behind with the old year. Instead, serve those signature cocktails in a wonderful ambiance that is easy and convenient for you too.
That's the philosophy of TV Food Network personality and cookbook author Sandra Lee. Known for her "Semi- Homemade" approach to cooking and entertaining - using prepared food and drink in creative ways - Lee likes to make holiday entertaining easier as well.
"The best gift of all is the gift of time - time to enjoy your family and friends," says Lee.
When you want to invite family and friends over for a cup of good cheer, here are ways to make sure both you and your guests keep that holiday spirit.
Create an Intimate Ambiance
Arrange chairs cozily close and up the tempo with your favorite holiday music.
Showcase the drinks table with a single-color tablecloth and clear glassware. Place a large clear glass bowl in the center of your table and let it overflow with fresh fruit.
Arrange a variety of storebought nibbles on decorative plastic silver trays.
Set a stack of small plates and color-coordinated paper napkins next to the tray of food.
Surround with unscented votive candles in clear glass holders or small water glasses. For easy cleanup, pour half an inch of water into each candle holder.
Mix Up a Signature Drink
Use "ready-to-pour" cocktails that require only a few accoutrements or garnishes.
Heat apple cider and pour into each glass cup or mug. Add a jigger of ready-to-pour spiced rum and garnish each cocktail with a cinnamon stick stirrer.
Pull out the blender ahead of time to make a batch or two of Jingle Bell Margaritas with cranberry, pomegranate or blood orange juice and a squeeze of
fresh lime juice. Start with restaurant quality, ready-to-serve Jose Cuervo Golden Margarita, which is already blended with the rich orange flavor of Grand Marnier. Then mix in the juices to taste. Golden Margarita is also great served frozen or on the rocks.
Serve a holiday chocolate martini from ready-to-pour mixes. Drop a chocolate "kiss" or a few chocolate chips in each martini glass.
Offer warm apple cider or chilled sparkling water and pomegranate juice for non-alcoholic "mocktails." Then get creative with the garnishes - a dusting of freshly grated nutmeg and a slice of oven-dried apple for the cider, small wedges of citrus fruit threaded onto a fresh lemongrass stalk for the sparkling water, fresh cranberries threaded onto branches of sugared rosemary for the pomegranate juice.
For more information on mixing up a signature holiday cocktail, visit www.cuervo.com.
-Jose Cuervo reminds its consumers to drink responsibly-
Courtesy of Family Features