I’m not really used to wintery celebrations. Last year when I traveled through Texas in mid-December, it was 85˚. At home it was in the 70s. Later this week, it will approach 70. But right now, it’s cold. That has me wondering what sort of drinks I’ll serve on New Year’s Eve if the weather outside is frightful.
In 2020, my most popular drink was half passion, half green, unsweetened iced tea served in tall glasses over Sonic ice. I offered a wide variety of hot tea, hot chocolate, wine, champagne, and liquor. But as midnight approached, everyone preferred the slightly red, tangy tea.
I’m not sure if the color was part of the appeal, but red drinks seem festive, and bubbly is a New Years tradition. That makes a cranberry or pomegranate mimosa seem like an easy choice. But a cold drink when it’s -15 ˚ doesn’t sound nearly as appealing as something warm.
If I pull out the slow cookers, I can offer Red Hot Cider spiked with rum or spiced rum and a pot of Mexican Hot Chocolate. Since both feature cinnamon, it should be easy to choose snacks that will work with either drink. A pitcher of the 2020 tea and champagne for toasting will round out what I need.
The cider can be made on the stove or in a slow cooker. I find serving from a slow cooker less distracting than running back and forth to check a burner when I’m entertaining. If you have lots of guests coming, you may want to have an extra batch or two waiting on the stove to refill the slow cooker.
Red Hot Cider
Combine ½ gallon of apple juice or apple cider with ½ cup red hots. Heat on medium until the candy dissolves and the drink turns red, stirring occasionally. You don’t want to let the mixture boil or it will turn into syrup. Stir in 1 ½ ounces of rum or spiced rum.
Mexican Hot Chocolate
Combine 4 Abuelita™ hot chocolate drink tablets and 16 cups of milk in a large pot. Heat over medium-high heat whisking constantly until the mixture begins to boil. Remove from heat and place in slow cooker to keep warm for serving. This can be mixed in advance and stored in the refrigerator for two or three days then reheated to serve. For the adult version, add Kahlua or peppermint schnapps before serving.
I plan to serve the hot cider in clear glass punch cups so we can enjoy the color as well as the flavor. If you don’t have glass cups available, Smarty Had A Party stocks clear plastic coffee/tea cups. They also have white and black disposable mugs that would work nicely for hot chocolate. In fact, they’re my go-to when I need elegant disposable anything.
Now that I have a hot drink plan, I feel warmer already. And putting a menu together is always easier when you have a starting point. I’ll be ready for a wintery celebration just in time for New Year’s Eve!
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