I met up with my expert bartendress friend Natalie again to discuss the tipples of the season. Recently a reigning champion for Laird’s Applejack, Natalie returned from a trip to Virginia with even more knowledge on the fruit of the colonial era: apples. The winning cocktail, the Jack Barnes, was inducted into a list of the best cocktails of 2013.
The title was inspired by Hemingway, an avid drinker, lover of the Caribbean, and one of our favorite curmudgeons. I can imagine him sitting at home, cocktail in hand, feet in bucket--what a perfect way to relax!
We decided on two recipes that can be used in a mug or a bucket, are super-easy, and are great for your feet and your soul: apple cider and hot chocolate, two of the most ubiquitous holiday drinks that are great all winter long! But have you ever thought to soak your feet in either? Me either.
The idea came about when I recalled one of the best spa treatments I ever had. A few years ago, Natalie and I had the pleasure of being treated to a trip to Negril, Jamaica, at the Rockhouse Hotel and Spa. I have had my share of spa treatments, but the "Welcoming Ceremony" here was on the next level.
First, you change into a little spa robe and are guided into a meditation garden bursting with tropical flowers. You are put in a rattan chair with a cup of tea for your mug and another bowlful for your feet. The foot tea was full of Caribbean spices such as allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and thyme. It was beyond relaxing. We were pretty much asleep by the time they beat us up with roller sticks and hot stones and sent us back to our room in wheelchairs. JK, we walked lazily over the cliffside path and straight to the pool bar for Dirty Bananas.
Recreating that feeling in the cold, crappy Northeast isn’t an easy feat, but 1.5 ounces of overproof Applejack can sure take the edge off of our longing for the tropics.
Spiced Hot Chocolate
Firs,t mix spices if already ground; if fresh, use a microplane and eyeball amount:
•1 tsp chili powder
•1 tsp cinnamon
•½ tsp cardamom
•½ tsp ground ginger
•½ tsp clove
•½ tsp nutmeg
In saucepan, heat 8 oz whole milk (but do not boil), whisk in 1.5 oz grated bittersweet chocolate--use at least 70% cocoa for a rich taste and more healthy chocolate compounds. Add spice mix and stir until incorporated, remove from heat.
Pour 1.5 oz coffee liqueur into a mug, top with hot chocolate mixture, garnish with whipped cream and sprinkle fresh grated nutmeg and chilli over the top. (For a non-alcoholic version, leave out the coffee liqueur.)
For the foot soak, Add a ½ cup of spiced chocolate mixture to a vessel big enough for both of your feet. Add 1 cup whole milk and a few drops of either peppermint or cinnamon essential oil--or both!
Fill with hot water that is not too hot for feet and soak for at least 25-30 minutes while enjoying your yummy drink. This made my feet feel energized and relaxed at the same time, and they were very soft for the entire day!
An Apple A Day
Another classic holiday drink: Mulled Cider. When paired with Applejack, which is a historical spirit distilled in the original 13 colonies with colonial apples, you can put up with any family member’s crap.
First, make mulled cider:
•3 cups apple cider
•4 star anise pods
•½ tsp allspice berries
•1 tsp whole cloves
•1 cinnamon stick
•4 cardamom pods, cracked
•2 orange wheels, quartered
•2 lemon wheels, quartered
Heat all ingredients on low and strain. Pour 1.5 oz Laird’s Applejack and ½ oz cinnamon syrup into a mug. Simple syrup is equal parts water and sugar heated to a slight boil, add a few cinnamon sticks to flavor it. This can also be done with maple syrup. Top with mulled cider, garnish with whipped cream and grated nutmeg.
To make the cider into a foot bath, add 1 cup of mulled cider to a vessel, add 1 tbs apple cider vinegar and a few drops of cinnamon essential oil. Top with tolerably hot water and soak for 20-30 minutes.
Pro tip: Slather feet with coconut oil and cover with socks before AND after this soak to really trap in the treatment’s benefits.
Happy holidays from the xoCocktail Elves (and from our photo elf JA Caldwell)!