What I love to Drink This Time of Year

2023 has been an amazing year for all of the great opportunities with TEXSOM, National Restaurant Association events along with interacting with all of you.  I cannot believe looking back on how much writing I’ve accomplished, and I hope that you enjoyed it all.  As I close out this year, I’m looking forward to a bit of a break, but this is when I love experimenting with new cocktails and drinking some of my favorites wines and cocktails.

The big question is what to drink?  Of course, if I go to one of the big retailers such as Total Wine, I easily get lost in all of the selections and opportunities.  Yes, I still pet the bottles as I walk through remembering the good times I’ve had with each one.  However, I’ve always said that I can not afford my taste buds so the question remains what should I drink?  Well, there are a few favorites that I always turn to that I love.  Let me share these with you.

The Lemon Drop

This is one of my favorite cocktails that brings back fond memories of when I first tried this in Dallas, TX.  The classic recipe is as follows:

  • 1 oz fresh lemon juice (Meyer lemons if you can find them)
  • 2 oz vodka (Dripping Springs preferred)
  • ½ oz simple syrup (one to one ratio)
  • ¾ triple sec
  • All of this gets poured into a shaker with ice and I shake hard for 20 seconds to have super cold. Strain into coupe glass.

Now I love this for its simplicity, but I have a new take on this.  During this year, I made lemoncello, raspberry infused liquor and blueberry infused liquor.  All of these were vodka based (Deep Eddy Vodka) and came out fantastic.  Therefore, my twist of the above cocktail is:

  • 1 oz fresh lemon juice (Meyer lemons)
  • 2 oz lemoncello or the infused vodkas above
  • ½ oz simple syrup (one to one ratio)
  • ¾ triple sec

After two to three of these as they go down very easily, all of your troubles seem to go away. 😊

There are several other cocktails that I make during this time such as:

All of them are great options, easy to make and to enjoy while we have fresh citrus.

White Port

Now hear me out on this one.  If you never had white port, you need to try some.  Yes, I typically drink this in the summer months with fresh fruit (such as peaches and apples) being available.  It’s a real treat to have a glass of this alongside or pour a bit over sliced peaches/nectarines and enjoy.

Why do I drink this during the cold months?  It’s different and calming for me.  I love red port and have a broad selection at my disposal at home.  However, drinking a port to me sometimes is a meal.  They are heavy and can be sweet.  Paired with the right dessert (anything chocolate) and it’s amazing to sip on a small glass.  However, when it’s cold outside, it’s amazingly refreshing.  The amazing aroma of citrus rind gives me many options for pairing or just enjoying on its own. 

Yesterday, I was holding the famous chocolate orange that you smash for segments.  I plan to make more chocolate crinkle cookies with a touch of orange extract this time.  This would be amazing to relax too.


I’ve discussed this one previously in another article.  I love it for a few reasons:

  • Banfi is a wine company near and dear to my heart.
  • I don’t have to think about why I’m drinking it – I’m drinking it to chill while I cook, decorate, etc.
  • And a great price ($7 per bottle, 12 for the magnum).
  • Did I mention it has bubbles?

Just a simple wine to drink and enjoy.

Brian -Which Wine do I pick?

This is a loaded question.  Not in a bad way but what should you pick?  We have to look at the following points:

  1. How much do you want to spend?
  2. Are you pairing the wine with dinner?
  3. Red or white preference?

The list goes on and on.  What I can do is this quick reference that I remembered over the years.  If someone asks me for a suggestion, here’s what I will go to:

  • For beef, buffalo (which I had this week and was amazing) or red meats in general, I’ll recommend a Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot, or a blend of these.
  • For Pork Dishes (crown roast for example), I would suggest Zinfandel, Merlot, Pinot Noir, a heavy oaked Chardonnay, or my favorite Tempranillo or Mourvèdre.
  • For Duck, I suggest Mourvèdre, Petit Verdot or Merlot.
  • For chicken, I suggest lighter reds (pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Grenache, etc.) or Chardonnay, Riesling, and Chenin Blanc.
  • Fish and Seafood, I suggest Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Alberino, Riesling, and Gewurztraminer.

Now with this base, I examine what is available to me with a price point in mind and make my selection.

For example, I’m making a southern seasoned Shrimp carbonara, I would look at an off dry Riesling, a Chenin Blanc, Alberino, or a Sauvignon Blanc.  Then I want to spend $20 maximum so I would look at what’s available with these options in mind.  Yes, I’m a bit of an expert but I would always turn to suggestions from the wine shop I was at for additional options.

Remember the following:

  • As long as the wine is not faulted or bad, you are learning and having fun doing it.

A Mimosa for Breakfast

No, not everyday but on Christmas morning, a mimosa just seems right.  I’m an enthusiastic fan of Trader Joes as they have tangerine juice freshly squeezed for a good price.  However, I can juice my own to get a unique blend of juices (especially when the blood oranges appear).  In either case, I love to have a glass of this while making breakfast (cinnamon rolls, French toast or chicken fried steak and gravy).

I always look for Cavas since they are an incredible find made in the Champagne style but from Spain.  The other option is Cremant which means Champagne style production but not made in the region of Champagne.  My favorite right now is the Veuve Ambal Brut from Burgandy that I can find at Costco for $16.  It’s a great flavor profile but when mixed with the fresh juice elevates it to another level.

Final Thoughts

We have so many options available to us that it makes it difficult to navigate and find something to try (including mocktails).  I get it, especially with money being tight for everyone that you are hesitant to experiment (me too).  I always have said that I can not afford my taste buds.  However, we have enough stress during the holidays picking out gifts, decorating, family drama, etc. 

My suggestion is to pick out something and try it.  You may just like it.  Let’s all just enjoy the holidays the best way possible. 😊Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

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