Crowd-Pleasing Cocktails for Your Holiday Party

Glass of Christmas Cocktail in martini glass and Christmas ornaments iStockphoto

Festive cocktails are the key to a great holiday party, so skip the store-bought eggnog, and give your guests something special. From an easy homemade punch to spiced wine with a kick, Ray Isle, executive wine editor of Food & Wine magazine, mixed up some cocktails on "The Early Show on Saturday Morning" that are sure to be crowd-pleasers at your party.

"Early Show" Recipes Galore!

1. Punch: Punch Royal
Punch Royal dates back to the end of the 17th century. It was drunk by courtiers, pirates, and everyone in between. This recipe makes about 24 drinks.

Punch Royal

By David Wondrich of Brooklyn, N.Y.

Makes about 24 drinks

One 1-liter bottle Cognac
Large strips of zest from 2 lemons
1 pound panela(Latin American solid sugar) or light brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
8 ounces fresh lemon juice
One-half 750-ml bottle chilled dry German Riesling
Ice, preferably 1 large block
Freshly grated nutmeg, for garnish

1. In a large container, combine the Cognac and lemon zest strips. Let the mixture stand at room temperature for 6 to 8 hours. Discard the lemon zest.
2. In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, cinnamon stick and ginger with 16 ounces of water. Cook over low heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Strain the brown sugar syrup and let cool.
3. In a large punch bowl, combine the infused cognac, lemon juice and three-quarters of the brown sugar syrup; refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours. Stir in the Riesling and 32 ounces of chilled water; add more brown sugar syrup to taste. Add the ice and garnish with the freshly grated nutmeg.

2. Homemade Eggnog
The holidays wouldn't be the same without eggnog. Sure, you can go buy the pre-made stuff, but taking a little bit of time to make it from scratch is worth the effort! This version is made with brandy, dark rum, and bourbon and can be made ahead and refrigerated overnight, so all you have to do is take it out for your guests and sprinkle a little nutmeg on top.

Homemade Eggnog

Active: 30 min; Total: 2 hour
Makes 10 Cups

1 quart whole milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
5 whole cloves
One 4-inch cinnamon stick
1 pint heavy cream
10 large egg yolks
2 large whole eggs
1/2 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup bourbon
1/4 cup dark rum
1/4 cup brandy
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, plus more for garnish

1. In a large saucepan, combine the milk with the granulated sugar, cloves, cinnamon stick and 1/2 cup of the heavy cream. Bring to a simmer over moderately high heat.
2. Meanwhile, set a fine-mesh strainer over a large bowl; set the bowl in an ice water bath. In large heatproof bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, whole eggs and brown sugar.
3. Gradually add two-thirds of the hot milk to the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Pour this mixture into the remaining milk in the saucepan and stir constantly with a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula until the custard thickens slightly and reaches 160˚, about 10 minutes. Immediately pour the eggnog base through the strainer and stir for 2 minutes to cool slightly. Remove the bowl from the ice water bath and stir in the bourbon, rum, brandy, vanilla, salt and 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 1/2 hours or up to 2 days
4. In a medium bowl, whip the remaining 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream to soft peaks. Fold the whipped cream into the chilled eggnog. Pour into a serving bowl or glasses, sprinkle with grated nutmeg and serve.

Make Ahead The eggnog can be prepared through Step 3 and refrigerated for up to 2 days.

For more recipes, go to Page 2.
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