Capital Grille Executive Chef Michael LaDuke
said the holidays are a time for indulging in the very best food and beverages.
“I take it up a notch and serve and drink an even better wine than I normally do,” Chef LaDuke said. “I might regularly drink a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc
, but at this time of year I might try a more complex South African white.”
He also recommended a couple of mixed drinks. “When you’re decorating, watching movies and wrapping gifts, an Old-Fashioned
, made by muddling sugar with bitters and adding whiskey or brandy and a twist of citrus rind, is perfect. On the actual holidays, Manhattans
, which contain whiskey, vermouth and bitters, hit the right note.”
Most of all, Chef LaDuke said, “Go with what you know and don’t be afraid to break the rules. If you like Cabernet Sauvignon
and you’re having scallops, and you want to have Cab with your scallops, do it.”
Each year he hosts a large Christmas party, and each room has a different theme for decorations, food and beverages. “For example, the den – or the ‘man room,’ as I call it – could be like a gastropub, cool and upscale, with soft pretzels or truffle deviled eggs.”
Capital Grille Executive Chef Keith Hanks
said that when he was a child, his Christmas dinners were Italian-American.
“My grandmother and mother grew up in New York’s Little Italy. They serve antipasto, lasagna and big Italian red wine. My wife’s English-Irish family serves prime rib and Yorkshire pudding. Now our family prepares lasagna and prime rib. A new family tradition has evolved. That is the great thing about the melting pot of American holiday traditions.”
With holiday dinners, our family “drinks red wines all the way, but we never forget about Champagne. The kids love to make homemade eggnog on Christmas Eve.” Here is his recipe:
12 egg yolks
½ cup sugar
3 cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 cup milk
Bourbon to taste (optional)
- In a mixing bowl, combine egg yolks and sugar and whip until soft peaks are formed.
- In a saucepan, bring the cream, vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes.
- Gently whisk the cream into the yolk mixture. Return combined mixture to saucepot and bring to a simmer. Continue to whisk until mixture thickens (about 3 minutes). Remove from heat and continue to whisk for 1 minute.
- Add milk. Whisk to combine.
- Pass eggnog through fine strainer. Chill.
- Add alcohol to taste (optional) and serve.