When we think of the astounding variety of foods, desserts, candies and chocolates that we, in the name of tradition, will stuff our faces with this holiday season, our minds turn to the well-known staples of the giddily-gluttonous Christmas feasts of years past: gingerbread, mashed potatoes, puddings, cookies and a turkey so large that it must have left a crater where it fell from the sky.
What we often neglect in our yuletide lists are the ever-important Christmas drinks. These drinks, often associated with the holidays (and in the case of at least one of them, an increase in holiday spirit/indecent exposure arrests), are the invisible bringers of liquid Christmas cheer, working tirelessly in the background to make every party, every meal and every lonely holiday evening into a joy-filled, humbug-stomping holiday event.
These are the brief histories of Christmas drinks and the finest examples of each that can be found in our humble valley. The next time you sit and enjoy one of these bold beverages, contemplate how they have defined your holiday spirit in performing their invaluable work within the stony silence of your nostrils and taste buds.
Apple Cider – Traditionally called either apple cider (if it is non-alcoholic) or hard cider (if it is fermented), the holidays have long treated this pressed apple drink as a cold weather mainstay. Heated to just below boiling and often mixed with mulling spices, this tangy treat from the orchard is a “cold night, hot date” favorite. Also, it attracts carol singers like gangbusters, so have your favorite yuletide weapon ready in case you need to hand out some “season’s beatings.”
Best Local Variety – The Coffee Pod, a sweet little café located in Provo, has a delightful “caramel apple wassail” available for those of you who would like to explore a fresh take on this familiar favorite. Do you have 10,000 taste buds and a heart? Then you’ll certainly love this.
Hot Chocolate – This comfort drink, served in most countries throughout the world and slightly different in each, originated from our neighbors to the south, The Mayans. Our modern, sweetened variation derives from a bitter recipe which the courts of Montezuma ravenously drank to the tune of 2,000 cups a day (50 of which were consumed by the emperor himself). Today, hot chocolate can be found in a variety of flavors and consistencies, and is the caffeine buzz of choice for coffee-avoiders and holiday merrymakers alike.
Best Local Variety – Brought in especially for the holiday season, Station 22 is offering a rich hot chocolate that goes perfectly with their large selection of pastries.
Egg Nog – The quintessential holiday beverage and the only one on this list to be served cold, “the nog” is a sweet, delicious “cup-o-cholesterol” that will satisfy your stomach and, with years of focused effort, put your body in the ground with its face frozen for eternity in a look of smug self-satisfaction. Combine milk, sugar, eggs, spices, and just a dash of irony, and you too can be a working-class American enjoying what was once a delicacy reserved for the European elite. Man, those bourgeoisie just can’t catch a break.
Best Local Variety – Sammy’s Café in Provo (known locally for their delectable pie shakes) has got their egg nog shake, a cool and tasty variation of this holiday delight, available later this week. Make a new tradition out of an old one, and give an egg nog shake a try!
The Coffee Pod
426 West 1230 North
Station 22 Café
22 West Center Street
Sammy’s Pie Shakes
27 North 100 West