Spirited Holiday Cheer

Enjoying a classic Manhattan at High Cotton in Greenville, SC, recently, I took a good 60 minutes to finish my sipping.
During the holidays or at any special celebration, a generous dash of spirits encourages good cheer.  .  For your next holiday party, consider serving up a little spirited cheer, courtesy of one or all three of these classic cocktails.  Offer them to your guests, instead of wine and eggnog.

How about sending out this customizable invitation and dressing things up a bit.  Along with your cocktails, you may want to offer the following hors d’oeuvres.  Recipes should serve 10-12 people with 1-2 bites per person.  No plates or forks required, which is why everything is bite-sized! You will only need nice cocktail napkins and glass barware.  Don't skimp on the barware, even if you have to borrow or rent the correct cocktail glasses--it's important.  .

The following video offers a history of cocktails with a recipe for the classic Old Fashioned at 3:48 minutes.  Two more classic cocktail recipes follow, but I ask you to sip responsibly--these drinks are potent.  Click on the name to watch a video with instructions by experienced mixologists.

2 parts Rye Whiskey (can use bourbon)
1 part sweet vermouth
1 dash bitters

Add ice and stir until very, very cold. The stirring will also serve to dilute the alcohol--this is a good thing. Strain into cocktail glass and finish with a maraschino cherry.  Sip very, very slowly, enjoying that touch of sweetness from the cherry at the end.

2 parts brandy or cognac
1 part crème de cacao
1 part cream
Shake very well with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.  Top with light dusting of nutmeg.  This is a lovely classic cocktail to use instead of a dessert.

Devilled Eggs on Melba Toast
6 hard boiled eggs, peeled
2 T. Duke’s mayonnaise
1 T. Dijon mustard
½ t. white wine vinegar, if needed for extra “punch”
salt and pepper, if needed
caviar (red or black) *
Melba toast (original)

Cut eggs in half and put yolks into a small bowl.  Add mayonnaise and mustard and mix well.  Taste and add the vinegar, salt and pepper, if needed.   No more than 1 hour before the party (to ensure that the toast doesn't get soggy), spread , spoon or pipe a generous amount of the egg mixture onto the toast and top with the caviar.  Set on a platter and garnish with a few long and elegant cuttings of the chives.

*If you cannot find the caviar (or just don’t like it), use any of the following:  capers, thinly sliced slivers of roasted red pepper, anchovy fillets, chopped parsley or chives.

Chicken Salad Filled Tomato Cups
Your favorite chicken salad (about 2 cups)
Campari tomatoes, washed and cut in half.  One package will yield about 16 halves
Boston lettuce leaves
chopped parsley or chives

Fill the tomato halves with chicken salad.  Line a platter or tray with the lettuce and place the tomato cups on top.  Garnish each tomato with the chopped greenery.  Keep in the refrigerator up to 6 hours, but remove one hour before serving.

If you have chicken salad left after filling the tomatoes, gather your teaspoons and fill them with the salad.  Serve them arranged neatly on a plate or serving dish lined with a white napkin.  Garnish with the chopped greenery.  Set a smaller dish beside this.  Each guest will pick up a spoon, eat the chicken salad and place the used spoon in the small dish.

Roast Beef & Horseradish Sauce
½ lb rare roast beef cut into 2 “pieces (a rough square or round)
Rye or pumpernickel bread cut into 2” squares or rounds

Spoon a generous amount of sauce on the bread and top with beef, arranging in a fold.  Prepare 30 minutes prior to serving.

Horseradish Sauce
½ cup sour cream
1 cup Duke’s mayonnaise
¼ t. Dijon mustard
½ T. lemon juice
¼ cup prepared horseradish (Adjust this to suit your taste. Begin with half of the horseradish, taste and add the remainder, if you like)
1 T. fresh dill, chopped

Combine everything and refrigerate.  Stir in the dill just before serving. The bite of the horseradish mellows with age, so you can prepare 3-4 days ahead, if you wish.
You may also wish to serve…
·         A nice mix of salted nuts.  Serve them in an attractive glass or crystal bowl.

·         A mix of feta cheese (cut into bite sized cubes), assorted olives and a few matchstick sized pieces of celery and carrots (peel, string, cut off ends and slice into 4” long matchsticks).  A light drizzle of extra virgin olive oil will add extra flavor and give everything a glistening appearance.