Wednesday, April 23, 2014 · 7:28 a.m.

Party planning: Holiday edition

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It’s hard to believe, but the holidays are officially here. It’s Friday, and many of us are awaiting the descent of friends and family into our homes to celebrate. With so many people coming and going over the next few weeks, the questions remain: What am I going to serve them? How do I stock my holiday bar for people of so many different tastes?

Making a haul of cider goodies from Fairmount Orchard on Signal Mountain. (Photo: Staff)

This time of year has everyone stretched thin on time and money, and the last place you want to spend your Christmas Eve is rushing around to stock the bar for every guest’s individual needs. It’s time to take a look at classic holiday cocktail recipes that will warm even the most Grinch-like of hearts.

I’ll state the obvious first, eggnog. Eggnog was not something that my family kept around the house regularly during the holidays, and it actually took me several years to come around to the idea as an adult. I never understood what all the fuss was about until I had eggnog that was made by hand with a lot of love and attention. While many people did grow up with it as a family tradition, few know that the concoction is thought to have been around since medieval times. It wasn’t until the 1700s that the recipe made its way to us here in the states, where farms that supplied us with milk and eggs were abundant—and rum was plentiful.

You can find a great eggnog recipe by Dale Degroff here. Although it will take a little extra time, I think the end result is worth the time it takes to whip a few eggs. Degroff’s recipe is also a little lighter than many I’ve run across, letting you dip into the punch bowl a little more often. If you don’t finish it all, store it! Eggnog can last you through the holiday rush if made with alcohol ahead of time. Nonalcoholic has a much shorter life span (sorry, kids).

If eggnog still is not your thing, I would turn to a great apple cider recipe. I think we can all agree that there are few scents more representative of the holiday season than a batch of apple cider on the stovetop. It has been years since I have sat on my friend’s couch and savored his Irish apple cider we drank so much of in college, but I crave it every year. The other great thing about cider is that you can tailor it to fit you and your guests. You can go crazy or keep it tame, spike it ahead of time or let the kids in on the fun, too. Here is one of my favorite cider recipes, made with Honeycrisp apples and bourbon.

The beginnings of a delicious batch of homemade apple cider. (Photo: Staff)

Looking for something a little off the beaten path? Imbibe Magazine supplied us with a great, easy recipe for horchata, a fun, nonalcoholic treat that pairs well with holiday flavors. You can also turn to warm punch, like this hot holiday cranberry punch. I think it is important to have nonalcoholic options around this time of year. As you can see, having a bottle of spiced rum or bourbon around has its perks, but remember that even if you can’t cater to everyone specifically, it is important to have something to fit their needs.

Happy holidays! Imbibe safely!

Laura Kelton is a recent graduate of UTC and currently runs the bar program at Easy Bistro & Bar. Feel free to reach out to her by email with any questions, comments or requests. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.

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