Today, I sat down to finalize the Christmas menu before going to the market. “Simplicity” is the name of the game this year, so the menu looks something like this: The star of the dinner table will be a very traditional American baked ham with a maple glaze and spiced orchard fruits like apples and pears. The ham will be accompanied by a few of my French favorites like potato gratin with hickory-smoked gruyere, Brussels sprouts lardons (Ina Garten’s recipe, and my kids’ favourite way to eat them!) and, of course, crispy sourdough bread. For dessert, I will make the Bûche de Noël from my last blog post.
Dinner will be very low-key, starting at 2:00 (give or take an hour) and lasting well into the evening, punctuated by a long break between dinner and dessert when the kids will open their gifts and the adults will play cards, or our favourite party game, Mrs. Byrne’s Dictionary (I will tell you about this absolutely hilarious game in another post). I’m planning for 10 – 12 guests, though if it happens to snow it could be fewer. Family will be coming in from out of town Christmas morning, bringing friends whom we have never met. I love to welcome company with a glass of Champagne or a simple cocktail at the front door. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it does need to be very easy to prepare. It’s just one of those little things, like a warm fire in the fireplace, a card game in the living room, or a generous cheese plate, that puts everyone at ease – and when my guests are relaxed and happy, so am I! So this year I’m serving these lovely White Christmas cocktails. They remind me of the thick, velvety mountain snow which hasn’t yet made its way down here into town and probably won’t until after Christmas. They’re creamy with sweet vanilla liqueur and just a tingle of mint. The perfect little holiday indulgence, whether this Christmas is white or not. Cheers!
White Christmas Cocktail
for two drinks
3 oz. high quality Vodka
2 oz. Raw Vanilla Liqueur (Dr. McGillicuddy’s)
1/2 oz. Crème de Menthe
2 oz. heavy cream
vanilla sugar (optional, for the rim)
2 mint sprigs (optional)
If rimming the glass, spread the sugar on a plate. Lightly dampen the rims of two cocktail glasses. Dip the rim of each glass in the sugar and allow to dry before making the cocktail.
In a shaker with ice, add the vodka, vanilla liqueur, crème de menthe and cream. Shake vigorously until very cold. Strain into the two glasses and garnish each with a sprig of mint.