Samantha Swan shares The Heart of Ardent: Holiday Hooch: Three Christmas Cocktails.
Poinsettia plants are everywhere in the US and Canada right now as holiday decorations — but did you know they’re from Mexico? In keeping with the many recipes I’ve shared with you here for Mexican dishes and cocktails — Ardent people like their booze and food! — here’s a little taste from the festive season.
Here, the plant is named for Dr. Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first US Ambassador to Mexico, who introduced the US to the “poinsettia” in 1828, after he discovered it growing wild in southern Mexico. An amateur botanist, Dr. Poinsett sent cuttings of the plant back to South Carolina. It caught on over the years, and by the 20th century it was a holiday regular.
Why Christmas? One notion is the plant is as a symbol of the Star of Bethlehem, the heavenly body that led the three Magi to the place of Christ’s birth.
A Mexican legend tells of a girl who could only offer weeds as a gift to Jesus on Christmas Eve. When she brought the weeds into a church, they blossomed into the beautiful red plants we know as poinsettias, known as Flores de Noche Buena in Mexico — Spanish for flowers of the holy night.
Aztecs called them ‘cuetlaxochitl’ and used the flowers — actually leaves — to make dye for clothes and cosmetics and the milky white sap was used medicinally. The sap was latex.
Enough Facts, get to the Hooch, Lady!
THE POINSETTIA is a champagne cocktail. It’s light on alcohol and easy to drink.
It’s also great for brunch, and cranberry gives it a nice feel of autumn and winter.
1/2 ounce orange liqueur, like Cointreau or *Controy or Citrónge
3 ounces cranberry juice
Pour orange liqueur and juice in a chilled champagne flute. Stir and top with champagne.
To avoid alcohol, replace champagne with ginger ale.
Make it Harder:
To make it harder, add an ounce of vodka or tequila.
… And a few More Holiday Cocktails….
A blended cocktail that looks ball-of-snow-like in the glass and tastes of cinnamon. It uses a favorite liqueur of mine from Mexico, a tequila crema liqueur. Like an Irish cream which is creamy and chocolate-y and whiskey based, tequila crema is creamy with taste of cinnamon, but is tequila based.
3 ounces 1921 Tequila Cream Liqueur
3 drops of pure vanilla extract
1 ounce of evaporated skim milk
1/2 ounce coffee liqueur, like Kahlua
Pour all ingredients – except for cinnamon – into a blender. Blend for approximately ten seconds, then pour into a wine glass or brandy snifter. It looks especially nice in a snifter. Sprinkle ground cinnamon on top and use the cinnamon stick in the glass for garnish. A stick and a snowball…
THE RED HOT SANTA-TINI
Sweet chocolate and hot pepper together is delicious. The Red Hot Santa-Tini mixes chili pepper infused vodka with chocolate liqueur, whipping cream and a cocoa-chili rim.
2 ounces chili-infused vodka
2 ounces chocolate liqueur, like Godiva
Sweetened whipping cream
One small Thai chili pepper
Mix cocoa powder with a pinch of cayenne pepper, and rim a chilled martini glass.
Shake vodka together with the chocolate liqueur and pour into glass.
Top it off with a big dollop of whipping cream and garnish by resting the chili pepper on top of the cream. It looks great.
*Citrónge and Controy are available in the US. Both are made in Mexico, and Cintrónge is made by Patrón.