In last Sunday's New York Times, drinks writer Jonathan Miles relates the story behind Nick Fauchald's sad discovery one recent Christmas: after years of serving his guests a hot, mulled wine upon their arrival, he realized that nobody ever came back for more. Fauchald's realization? "It's hot wine [...] it's not that good."
The holidays are a time when all kinds of special recipes get trotted out for an annual airing, and like those red-and-white sweaters with little reindeer buttons, some of them should be tossed out along with that string of lights that no longer works. Everybody has their own issues with certain seasonal dishes--I, for one, have never understood the desire to consume cranberry sauce--and the same goes for seasonal drinks.
Mulled wine is but one example. Many varieties of the drink exist, from the Nordic glogg to the English bowl of Archbishop; some are better than others, but for many seasonal imbibers, a few sips are enough to hold them over until the next year. Eggnog is another polarizing beverage; granted, most of us had our eggnog baptism at a young age, drinking carageenan-thickened 'nog from a green-and-red carton from the store, but old taste preferences die hard. There are certainly some extraordinary eggnog recipes out there, but for many people the comment, "Wow, I actually finished the cup!" is about the highest praise they'll be able to summon.
I'm a dedicated devotee of most holiday drinks, though a down-at-heel mulled wine does tend to make me yearn for the arrival of January. What about you? What seasonal drinks have you been served at holiday parties that absolutely make you cringe? Or do you secretly look forward all year to the next time you can pour a bottle of Bordeaux and a sachet of spices into a Crock Pot? Let's hear it.
About the author: Paul Clarke blogs about cocktails at The Cocktail Chronicles and writes regularly on spirits and cocktails for Imbibe magazine. He lives in Seattle, where he works as a writer and magazine editor.