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hot buttered apple cider

Makes 1 drink.
This one tastes like melted toffee.

What you need:

  • 1 cup apple cider, heated
  • 1 1/2 oz. butterscotch schnapps
  • Whipped cream, unsweetened
  • Apple slice, for garnish

Pour very hot apple cider into an Irish coffee glass. Add butterscotch schnapps, then top with whipped cream. Garnish with an apple slice.

Excerpted from: Holiday Cocktails by Jessica Strand (2003, Chronicle Books).

winter weddings - cocktails

Winter Weddings: Winter Cocktail Hour Ideas

To set the tone for the evening, show off your personal style at your cocktail hour.

Photo: Rita Maas

Find the Perfect Drink

Spruce up your cocktail hour with flavors of the season like peppermint, butterscotch, and cranberry. Try a peppermint-infused martini garnished with mini candy canes for a decidedly December wedding. Or try a cranberry cosmopolitan garnished with tiny dried cranberries. For a drink that's sophisticated yet unique, serve pear champagne cocktails garnished with frozen pear wedges or mint sprigs. Are you having your wedding in a really cold climate? Warm everyone up with cups of hot chocolate and hot buttered apple cider (check out the recipe below). If you think your guests might not be up for a warm, rich drink before dinner, serve the drink after the cake-cutting.

Choose a Menu

When you're selecting your cocktail hour hors d'oeuvres, choose flavors that mesh well with your signature drink. You might love mini quesadillas, but sipping a peppermint martini at the same time could leave an odd aftertaste.

Talk to your caterer about making sure the hors d'oeuvres match the libations, and let seasonal ingredients be your guide.

Like your cocktails, opt for savory winter bites infused with seasonal foods and flavors, such as rosemary, almond, and warm cheeses. Try a menu of mini shortbread tarts, cheddar herb rolls, and white chocolate pretzels. Or go for spinach-cheese phyllo triangles, sausage-stuffed mushrooms, and crackers topped with a walnut-date spread. Talk to your caterer about making sure the hors d'oeuvres match the libations, and let seasonal ingredients be your guide.

Deck out Your Space

One clear way to make sure your cocktail hour reflects the season is with the decor. Adorn your space with shimmery silvers, sleek winter whites, and glowing candles. Try floral arrangements with twinkling lights mixed in, such as white pomanders hung with ribbon and miniature Christmas tree lights.

Beyond the flowers, lighting is key to create the right mood for your cocktail hour space. Consider hiring a lighting team that can wash the space in a soft blue light, or pinspotting to illuminate the centerpieces and add a sense of drama. Or cover the room in glowing votive candles to create a warm, romantic atmosphere.

-- Anja Winikka

See More: Winter Weddings