It’s the most wonderful time of the year – the winter holidays. Family comes together, friends visit from abroad, decorations and festivities abound. Whatever you’re celebrating and whoever you’re spending time with, one thing is certain – there will be food and drink. This winter, make the most of the holiday spirits for all your special occasions.
Office holiday party
This is the one party where you really need to behave if you want to avoid embarrassment for all of 2016. Be responsible and stick to something light and fun. Beer is a good, safe option and there are plenty of Lebanese varieties to choose from. You can’t go wrong having an Almaza with your boss while striking up a conversation about their latest clever advertisement.
Every year it’s another episode of my big, fat Lebanese Christmas, so in the spirit of bonding and sharing, why not make a big friendly bowl of punch. It’s easy, delicious, entertaining – and makes for a beautiful centerpiece. Rum – a dark one like Bacardi Carta Negra or one of the spiced varieties of Captain Morgan – is the perfect spirit for a punch. Many classic recipes call for seasonal fruit like oranges and pomegranate, while other punches are served warm with cloves, cinnamon and even melted butter. It’s the perfect cup to cozy-up with next to those you love.
The presents have been opened, excitement fills the air and hunger is upon you. Whether you’re out for lunch or the chefs of the household are cooking up a storm, undoubtedly one of the best drinks to have at Christmas lunch is wine. You can start with a light white, like the trendy, much-talked-about Ixsir Altitudes and progress to a lovely red like Ksara’s award-winning Cuvee du Troisieme Millenaire.
Drinks with visitors
Wintertime in Lebanon is filled with double – maybe triple – the traffic as usual. It’s not only the rain and growing potholes we’ve got to blame, but also the floods of visiting friends and family. Happy singles from the Gulf, couples with their newest babies and cousins from different hemispheres flock in for their much-needed dose of Lebanon. Treat them to a drink and a chat over some superb whiskeys. The Macallan needs no introduction as one of the most exquisite whiskeys on the market, but Japanese whiskey seems to be all the rage in recent years so you could also try the award-winning Yamazaki.
This year both Christmas and New Year’s eves are on a Thursday, so that leaves the Sunday between the two holidays for one of those famous family feasts. There will be mountains of food and unrealistic expectations as to how much you can eat, and there’s only one drink to have on a Sunday with Jeddo: arak. Try the outstanding Arak Brun by Domaine des Tourelles.
The “–1” night-before-New-Year’s-Eve parties have become wilder than NYE itself, so one must oblige. Your visiting friends and family are probably joining, so find the biggest, loudest, funnest party, and since you won’t be doing much talking, it’s drinking time. Lebanese hospitality demands bottles on the table and an array of shots: “doodoo”, Jäegermeister and Patrón Cafe, to name but a few. But remember: lots of water in between, and take an Uber home.
Nothing says New Year’s Eve like champagne. This is the occasion to pop open the best bubbly and toast 2016 with a magnificent bottle of Dom Pérignon.
The first hangover
This year get it right. If you’re hungover on the first morning of 2016 it’s time to keep partying. Make yourself a classic hangover cocktail: the Bloody Mary. The tomato juice replenishes your body with vitamins and minerals while the Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco give you just the kick you need. Use only good quality vodka, like the ultra smooth Stoli Elite, and extend the celebrations.