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Cocktails & mocktails: Seasonal drinks that spread good cheer

Seasonal festivities got you down? A special drink, regardless of whether it contains alcohol, is a stress-free way to toast the season. Pinterest-perfect cupcakes not required.

In addition to the time-honored tradition of swiping pieces of candy from your kid’s trick-or-treat stash, the day after Halloween designates an important start to the season: a time of joy for some, a time of stress for others. To some, the holiday season, punctuated by Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukah and New Year’s Eve, is seen not as a time for celebration and mirth, but a time for errands and chores.

I get it. Not everyone is cut out to look forward to making Pinterest-perfect cookies in the shape of reindeers or spray-painting pinecones with glitter. Plus, while gifts are fun to accept and receive, they take time, money and effort to buy, compounding the anxiety during the end of the year.

But it’s a shame to simply forgo any celebrations due to stress. In addition to prioritizing sleep, exercising your right to say “no” to baking four different types of cookies for your child’s bake sale, staying active and eating right, a carefully crafted cocktail (or alcohol-free mocktail!) can help you get in the holiday mood.

What is it about the concept of cocktails that seem so appealing during November and December? To me, the holidays are all about slowing down, and spending more time on quotidian food and beverage to make it special, and enjoy with friends and family. This is the time when it’s OK to spend five hours making your great grandmother’s multi-step pastries because it honors her memory, and you can share it with others. But as five hours can be hard to come by, a special, pretty drink can serve as a celebratory stand-in.

Using those sugary, often artificial flavor- and color-laden cocktail mixes is a bad idea. Not only does it eliminate the “craft” part of a cocktail, but also they can leave you feeling worse, bloated or tired. Enter the new cookbook Clean Cocktails: Righteous Recipes for the Modern Mixologist (Countryman, 2017), authored by Beth Ritter Nydick and Tara Roscioli, both holistic health coaches. Working off the theory that alcohol, in small amounts, can be a part of a wholesome diet, Nydick and Roscioli present cocktail recipes made with nutritious add-ins such as fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices, and high-quality organic alcohol. Cocktails and mocktails are quick to make, require few ingredients and showcase some serious holiday spirit, such as this fruity option, recipe below, which uses in-season clementine juice, fragrant whole cloves and bourbon. For a non-alcoholic alternative, swap the bourbon for tangy lemon juice. Pour into a long-stemmed martini glass, breathe, and toast the season.

The Spiced SuBourbon

The taste of fall is the star of this simple cocktail. It’s a little spicy, a little sweet, and downright warming. This cocktail reminds us of cool fall days and hanging with good friends. This recipe is for one serving.

Recommended barware: Martini Glass

¼ cup freshly squeezed clementine juice
1 ounce bourbon (or fresh lemon juice, if abstaining)
2 to 3 whole cloves
Ice
Garnish: Whole clove and clementine peel

Combine clementine juice, bourbon (or lemon juice) and all but 1 of the cloves in a cocktail shaker. Add the ice and shake for 10 seconds.

Strain the contents of the shaker into a martini glass. Garnish with the remaining whole clove and the clementine peel, if using, and serve.

Recipe and image are adapted, with permission, from Clean Cocktails: Righteous Recipes for the Modern Mixologist (Countryman, 2017).

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