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Holiday Cocktails 

Cocktails Anyone?
by Sheila Swerling-Puritt

The Christmas and New Year's holiday period is more closely associated with drinking than at any other time of the year. Thankfully, those drinks are consumed more responsibly today than in the dark days when holiday get-togethers were little more than an excuse to develop more of a glow than Rudolph. Our present-day moderation means that we can concentrate more on the quality of what we imbibe, with an emphasis on seasonal colours and flavours.

The "Poinsettia" is a fine example. Just be sure not to garnish this delicious drink with the flowering poinsettia sold in abundance over the holiday season. It's poisonous. The cocktail named after it is not, and tastes great besides.


  • ½ oz. Cointreau
  • 2–3 ounces cranberry juice
  • 4–5 ounces champagne (or dry sparkling wine)

Pour the Cointreau and chilled cranberry juice into a champagne flute. Add chilled champagne.

Our next cocktail is the perfect warmer-upper après ski or after any outdoor activity in the Great White North:

Hot Buttered Sherry

  • 2 ounces apple juice
  • 2 ounces cranberry juice
  • 2 ounces dry sherry
  • 3 ounces water
  • 1 tsp superfine sugar
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ ounce butter, softened
  • Nutmeg for garnish

Combine ingredients, except for butter and nutmeg, in a saucepan over a low heat and heat almost to boiling. Serve in a mug and top with pat of butter. Sprinkle with nutmeg.

Hangover Specials

Fortunate among us are those that only face "cocktail flu" once in a lifetime. It's a nasty experience, and one we can learn from. (I know I did...)

I recently read that more than 75 per cent of alcohol consumers have experienced a hangover at least once, 15 per cent have one at least every month and 25 per cent of college students feel symptoms weekly. If you drink enough alcohol to overwhelm your liver's ability to metabolize it, you'll end up with a hangover, dehydration and an excess of sick-making alcohol degradation products.

The most frequent cause of hangovers is excess consumption, more than about three standard drinks for men and two for women (who have smaller livers.) This can also result from drinking on an empty stomach (which speeds up alcohol's entry into your blood stream) or from drinking too quickly.

Unwelcome impurities like chemicals called congeners also increase your risk of waking up in pain. (You can minimize that risk by avoiding the cheap stuff, especially spirits. Think of the extra expense as the cost of staying well.)

Eating carbohydrates and cheese before, during and immediately after drinking will help. The food doesn't blot up alcohol, but it slows absorption into your stomach and may also increase the speed at which your body metabolizes the stuff. All in all, you'll increase your fun if you decrease your volume and speed of consumption.

My dear friend Malcolm Cooper, who just happens to be the world's top wallpaper designer, swears by Fernet Branca as the ideal hangover cure. I really don't know many that absolutely adore this very bitter digestif. Other friends prefer a nice fatty bacon and egg breakfast as the cure of choice. Some just get up, look in the mirror, and go back to sleep.

In my opinion, the best hangover cure is to avoid one in the first place. If that plan fails, drink loads of water and try one of these tasty remedies:

Champagne Pick-Me-Up
(you definitely don't want to use Krug in this cocktail!)

  • 1½ ounces brandy
  • 3 dashes Curaçao
  • 3 dashes Fernet-Branca
  • 1 ice cube
  • 4 ounces chilled champagne

Pour the brandy into an 8 ounce wine glass. Add the Curaçao and Fernet-Branca. Add the ice cube. Stir gently. Top up with the champagne.

Stormy Weather

  • 1 ounce Fernet-Branca
  • 1 ounce dry vermouth
  • 2 dashes of crème de menthe

Pour all the ingredients over ice into a highball filled with ice. Stir well. Garnish with a sprig of mint.

Eating bananas the morning after replaces lost electrolytes, especially potassium. If you can face it, this smoothie might be just the drink for you.

Banana Holy Cow

  • ½ peeled ripe banana
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 3 ounces whole milk
  • 1 ounce rum (try dark or coconut rum)
  • crushed ice
  • sprinkle of cinnamon

Carefully crush ice in blender. Add, banana, and sugar. Mash in blender. Add milk and rum. Blend well. Pour into highball and dust with cinnamon.


For more information, you can contact Sheila at




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