by Weekend Chef Ian Nicholas
The holidays are just around the corner and
there is so much to do. Shop, cook, go to parties and visit family. The
holidays have always been my favorite time of year. Coming from a
traditional Mexican family, the holidays, especially Christmas was always
a time for family, friends, food and drink.
My grandparents would always prepare a
feast on Christmas Eve that seemed to feed the whole family, from
brothers, sisters, cousins, uncle and aunts, not to mention all of our
friends. Their house was always open to anyone that wanted to stop by, say
hi and have some traditional Mexican food (Tamales: recipe for another
article) along with some good drinks.
One of my favorites was my grandmothers
Ponche Navideno. She would always make two different batches. One for the
kids and one for the adults. When I was younger I never knew what the
difference was. However, as I got older I learned grandma's secret. This
was such a popular drink for both kids and adults alike that I thought I'd
share it with you.
Even if you are not from a Hispanic
background you may want to try this recipe one of these days/years at your
family get together, just to spice things up a bit.
Ponche Navideno (from Mexico):
12 quarts water 10 oz tejocotes 6 oz
walnuts 5 oranges 8 guavas 4 sugar canes 10 oz prunes 3 sticks cinnamon 4
cup sugar 1 quart Presidente Brandy (optional, grandmas secret)
Method: Wash the fruit. Cut the sugar cane
into strips. Cut the guava. Juice the oranges. Boil everything together,
except for the sugar. When cooked, add the sugar and brandy.
And.......whala! Ponche Navideno.
In my later years as I became more involved
in food and cooking, I came across many other holiday drink recipes that
I'd like to share with you.
Cranberry Lime Punch (from Canada):
1 bottle cranberry cocktail 2 cup frozen
limeade concentrate 2 cup pineapple juice 1 1/4 cup ginger ale 3 cup soda
water Ice Method
In a punch bowl, combine the cranberry
cocktail, the limeade concentrate, the pineapple juice and the ginger ale.
Just before serving, add soda water and ice.
Note: Makes 28 servings, each 1/2 cup.
Mulled Cider (from Canada):
5 cup cider 1/4 cup lemon juice 1/4 cup
lightly packed brown sugar 4 cloves 1 1/2" piece cinnamon stick 1
1/2" piece dry ginger root Freshly grated nutmeg
Combine the cider, the lemon juice and the
brown sugar in a stainless steel pot. Heat the mixture slowly to the
simmering point. Tie the cloves, cinnamon stick and ginger root together
in a piece of cheesecloth. Add the bag of spices to the simmering liquid
and heat over low heat for 15 minutes. Remove the spice bag.
Serve hot with a sprinkling of nutmeg in
Note Makes 6 servings.
Now this one is a little time consuming and
probably a little to late for this years Christmas. However, it's well
worth the effort.
Christmas Stout (from Ireland):
8 cup Mountmellick Irish stout extract 6
cup Munton & Fison Amber DME 2 cup Crystal malt (60 Lovibond) 1 cup
Black Patent malt 1 oz Bullion hops 1/2 oz Hallertau hops 1 2 cup clover
honey 12 " cinnamon sticks 4 oz ginger root 2 tsp allspice 1 tsp
cloves 4 grated rinds from medium size oranges 1 package Irish stout yeast
Wash, peel and grate the ginger root.
Simmer honey and spices in a covered pot for 45 minutes. Add cracked
grains to 2 gallons cold water and bring to a boil. As soon as boiling
starts, remove grains with a strainer. Add malt extracts and bittering
hops and boil for 55 minutes. Add finishing hops and boil for 5 more
minutes. Remove from heat.
Stir in honey and spice mixture and cool.
Strain into fermenter containing 3 gallons cold (previously boiled) water
and pitch yeast (when cool). After vigorous primary fermentation subsides,
rack into secondary. Bottle with 7 ounces corn sugar or 1-1/4 cups DME
when fermentation completes.
After a week, replace the blow tube with an
airlock. Bottle after a month of fermenting.
And one of my final favorites.
Christmas Coquito (from Puerto Rico):
1 1/2 cup canned evaporated milk 1 3/4 cup
canned condensed milk 2 egg yolks 2 cup fresh coconut milk 1/4 tsp Ceylon
cinnamon (or "Mexican cinnamon" or "canela") 1 cup
Puerto Rican white rum Ground cinnamon to taste Pinch of salt
Place all ingredients in a blender and
process for 3 minutes at high speed until frothy. Store in a glass
container in the refrigerator. Serve chilled, dusted with a little
Here are just a few drink ideas/recipes you
may want to experiment with this Christmas. I hope you enjoy.
Cheers & Salud!
About the Author
Weekend Chef Ian Nicholas, retired chef
from Buona Vita and author of several cooking articles.