A Nightcap for Santa

No Christ­mas is com­plete without a warm drink to end your night.

Ho! Ho! Ho! ‘Tis the sea­son of mer­ri­ment, mirth and ma­gic. It’s a time for wish­ing and hop­ing and be­liev­ing. It’s a time for chil­dren, a time to feel child­like, a time to wish all the world well. It’s a time for holly, jol­lies, jingle bells, candy canes, mistle­toe, cook­ies, fruit­cake, Hot Spiced Cider and Hot Mulled Wine.

Hot Spiced Cider fills the house with a won­der­ful, spicy aroma. Take a deep breath. You’ll know that it’s Christ­mas. Good for the senses and good for the soul, this is a warm, spicy drink that the whole fam­ily can en­joy. Add a little rum (use your dis­cre­tion), and it be­comes a hot cock­tail. Either way, this drink will warm the cockles of your heart.


1 gal­lon apple cider

½ gal­lon cran­berry juice

12 whole cloves

3 cin­na­mon sticks

1 dash all­spice

1 cup sug­ar

-Com­bine in­gredi­ents and heat. Cool and re­heat. 

-Best when made the day be­fore. Be care­ful to re­move all cloves be­fore serving.

Mulled Wine is heated and in­fused with spices and cit­rus. Ori­gin­ally called hip­po­cras, it was named after the Fath­er of Medi­cine, Hip­po­crates, and was thought to be medi­cin­al. Mulled Wine was the in­spir­a­tion in me­di­ev­al times for the cre­ation of Span­ish san­gria. This hot drink is the win­ter­time ver­sion of san­gria. Called Vin Chaud in France, Gluh­wein in Ger­many and Aus­tria, and Glogg in the Scand­inavi­an coun­tries, this warm, spicy, fra­grant wine of­fers a wel­com­ing treat.

At Christ­mas, we wel­come fam­ily and friends to our home with a tray of cook­ies and a glass of “good cheer.” Hot Cider or Hot Wine would cer­tainly qual­i­fy. The fol­low­ing re­cipe can be doubled for a lar­ger crowd. Cheers!  


¼ lem­on, sliced

½ cup sug­ar, di­vided

1  750 ml bottle in­ex­pens­ive red wine

1  or­ange, squeezed for its juice

½ or­ange – stud­ded with ½ Tbls. cloves (about 20)

2  cin­na­mon sticks

½ tsp. nut­meg

¼ tsp. car­damom

½ tsp. ginger (or a piece of can­died ginger)

¼ cup brandy (op­tion­al)

-Mix the lem­on slices and ¼ cup of sug­ar in a small sauce­pan.  

-Add a few ta­ble­spoons of wine to the pan and stir in­to the lem­on/sug­ar mix­ture.

-Al­low to boil for 2 or 3 minutes, stir­ring oc­ca­sion­ally.

-Stud the ½ or­ange with the cloves.

-In a large, non-alu­min­um pot or a crock pot, add the lem­on/sug­ar mix­ture, wine, or­ange juice, clove-stud­ded or­ange, ¼ cup sug­ar and the spices, but not the brandy.

-Al­low to come to a sim­mer or, if us­ing crock pot, no high­er than me­di­um set­ting.

-Sim­mer for ½ hour on stove or a few hours in crock pot on me­di­um set­ting.

-Do not boil.

-Dis­card cloves and lem­on/or­ange rinds.

-Add brandy, if de­sired.   

-This drink is best made a little be­fore­hand and al­lowed to sit so the fla­vors will mingle and blend.  

-Note: Cloves can be placed in tea in­fuser or wrapped in cheese­cloth.  

-Mix­ture can be strained.

-Make sure to re­move and dis­card cloves be­fore serving.

-Even if you first make the Hot Wine us­ing a sauce­pan, a crock pot is handy to keep the drink warm so every­one can help them­selves.

I’ve just heard that Rudolph’s proven com­pet­ence and re­peated abil­ity to guide the reindeer and Santa’s sleigh, even un­der the worst con­di­tions, have earned him an ap­point­ment as Santa’s des­ig­nated driver. So, if your house is Santa’s last stop on Christ­mas Eve, you can leave him cook­ies and Hot Cider or Hot Wine this year, as a spe­cial treat. You will rest easy know­ing that Rudolph with his nose so bright will guide Santa home safely that night.

I wish you a very happy hol­i­day, seasoned abund­antly with peace and con­tent­ment. May you be blessed with the best gifts of all – those that come from the heart.

Merry Christ­mas!

Eat well, live long, en­joy!

(Ques­tions or tips can be sent to Donna Zit­ter Bor­de­lon - Whats­cook­in­NEPhilly@gmail.com or in care of the North­east Times, 2512 Met­ro­pol­it­an Drive, Tre­vose, PA 19053)

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