BACK IN the days of yore, they didn't have cable television, chicken wings, and most important of all, they didn't have central heating.
Why do you think they had all those fancy, hot drinks around Christmas time? This was the approved approach to installing "personal central heating."
Today, nobody but misguided joggers and schussing skiers really needs these pyrotechnical drinks, but over the centuries we have built them up as part of the yuletide celebration.
Why not get ready for the raft of relatives and friends who are certain to descend upon you during the holidays by whipping up a few Christmas recipes?
HOT MULLED PUNCH
2 bottles dry red wine
2 cups cider
1 cup water
1 lemon, sliced thinly
12 whole cloves
1 1/2 cups honey
4 sticks cinnamon
Mix all ingredients, except the wine, in a pot and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in wine. Serve in mugs with a sprinkle of nutmeg.
1/2 gallon red wine
1 pint port
1/2 cup dry vermouth
1 cup blanched almonds
1 cup seedless raisins
1/4 cup dried orange peel
6 cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon whole cloves
2/3 cup sugar
1 pint vodka
1 pint brandy
1 pint rye whiskey
Mix red wine, port, dry vermouth, almonds and raisins in a large bowl. Fill a cheesecloth bag with dried orange peel, cinnamon sticks and whole cloves. Put bag into pot, add sugar and simmer a few minutes.
Remove from heat and add vodka, brandy and rye whiskey. Return to fire and bring to near boiling point, remove bag, cover and keep warm over low heat. Just before serving, remove cover, ignite the fumes and let blaze for a few seconds. Return cover to extinguish flames; serve with raisins and almonds in mugs with spoons.
If all of this heats up the place too much, mix an eggnog or a Poinsettia, a refreshing Christmas drink with a champagne base.
3 ounces cranberry juice
1/2 ounce Cointreau or triple sec
Chill a large champagne glass, mix cranberry juice, and Cointreau or triple sec in the glass and fill with Brut Champagne.
12 eggs, separated
1 1/2 pints heavy cream
1 pound sugar
1 bottle port wine
1 pint brandy
In a bowl, beat the yolks of a dozen separated eggs to a froth; slowly stir in heavy cream and sugar. Gradually add port wine and brandy, stirring constantly. Beat egg whites and fold into mixture.
Ladle mixture into mug until half-full. Heat milk and fill mugs. Stir gently; grate nutmeg on top and serve. Don't let the milk get too hot or the eggs will curdle.
1 can (6 ounces) lemonade concentrate
1 large can pineapple juice
2 bottles dry white wine, chilled
1 bottle sparkling wine
In a large bowl, mix lemonade concentrate, pineapple juice and white wine. Add orange slices, strawberries and a tray of ice cubes. Stir until chilled. Just before serving, add sparkling wine.
Have a question about wine? Write William Murray in care of The Buffalo News, P.O. Box 100, Buffalo, N.Y. 14240. Questions of general interest will be answered in his column.