Mulled Wine

Holiday drinks to enjoy this season + their farm connections

Whether you’re hunkering down this holiday season or making plans for socially distanced get-togethers, there are countless traditions you can still enjoy. One example: holiday drinks that will really get you into the spirit.

While farmers’ day jobs look a little different than yours, and their holiday wish list might include some items you’ve never heard of, they still enjoy many of the same traditions. It’s also easy to forget the food, drinks and other holiday favorites we enjoy often start on the farm. Yet, providing nutritious, affordable food for your family and theirs is at the core of what they do – especially during the holiday season. So, we’re sharing some farmer favorite holiday drinks, plus their farm connections. Cue the festive music, and enjoy one (or all) of these holiday drinks this season.

Cranberry Moscow Mule

This is a favorite for Illinois beef farmer Alison McGrew, and it’s about as festive as it gets. While cranberries aren’t typically grown in Illinois, our neighbors to the north in Wisconsin produce about 60% of the cranberries grown in the U.S. Cranberries are harvested from mid-September through mid-November, making them a very local, very seasonal addition to your holiday drink. Try this recipe, shared from Alison!

How to make it

  • 2 oz vodka
  • 4 oz cranberry juice cocktail
  • ½ tablespoon lime juice
  • Ginger beer
  • Lime wedges, fresh cranberries and rosemary springs for garnish (optional)
  1. Fill copper mug with ice.
  2. Mix together the vodka, cranberry juice cocktail and lime juice in the copper mug.
  3. Top with the ginger beer and stir.
  4. Garnish with your favorite toppings!

Alison and her husband run McGrew Cattle in west central Illinois, in addition to maintaining full-time jobs off the farm. They raise a herd of 40 cows, and of course, their two children, Payton and Nolan.

Bourbon Milk Punch

Move over, eggnog. There’s a new festive drink in town, and it’s made with locally grown and distilled bourbon. Whiskey Acres, located right in Chicago’s backyard, grows corn that is harvested, crushed, cooked, fermented and distilled into Illinois-grown bourbon and other spirits. Pass the (spiked) punch, please.

How to make it

  • 1.75 oz Whiskey Acres bourbon
  • 4 oz whole milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Cinnamon and nutmeg, if desired
  1. Add all ingredients into cocktail shaker and shake well.
  2. Pour over ice and top with cinnamon and nutmeg.

Whiskey Acres is located on Walter Farms in DeKalb, IL, and is proud to be Illinois’ first farm distillery. Father and son team Jim and Jamie Walter, and fellow farmer Nick Nagele, partner to utilize grains grown on-site to distill into award winning bourbon, rye and vodka. Click here to find your closest retailer.

Hot Chocolate

This classic is good for any cold day, but Illinois farm girl Rosalie Trump shares some tips for “dressing” it up for the holidays: Make it with whole milk, top with a big dollop of whipped cream and sprinkles for the kids, and Bailey’s Irish cream for the adults. All of these dairy additions are as local as it gets. Illinois dairy farms provide fresh milk to stores within 48 hours of it leaving the farm. Most other dairy products also stay local because of their expiration dates. Let’s say “cheers” to local with some hot chocolate. You can’t go wrong with pre-made hot chocolate, or make a batch from scratch.

How to make it

  • 4 cups milk (preferably whole or 2%)
  • ¼ c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ c granulated sugar
  • ½ c bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate bar
  • ¼ tsp pure vanilla extract
  1. Place milk, cocoa powder and sugar in a small saucepan. Heat over medium/medium-low heat, whisking frequently, until warm (but not boiling).
  2. Add chocolate chips and whisk constantly until the chocolate chips melt and distribute evenly into the milk.
  3. Whisk in vanilla extract, serve immediately.

Recipe from Celebrating Sweets.

Rosalie grew up on a farm in northern Illinois, growing corn and soybeans. Today, she and her husband are raising their two kids right next to grandma and grandpa’s house, helping out with the family farm and their newest venture into pasture-raised beef, Pasture Grazed.

Mulled Wine

Glögg, glühwein, vin brülé, vin chaud – whatever you like to call it, don’t miss out on mulled wine this holiday season. And with 165 Illinois wineries to source your red wine from for this recipe, you can’t go wrong. Visit a winery like McEachran Homestead Winery that makes its own exclusive recipe, or try this one at home.

How to make it

  • 1 (750 ml) bottle of dry red wine
  • 1 orange, sliced into rounds
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 star anise
  • 2-4 tablespoons sugar, honey or maple syrup to taste
  1. Add wine, orange slices, cloves, cinnamon, star anise and sweetener to sauce pan. Stir briefly to combine.
  2. Cook the mulled wine on medium-high heat until it just barely reaches a simmer. (Avoid letting it bubble – you don’t want to boil off the alcohol.) Reduce heat to low, cover and let wine simmer for at least 15 minutes or up to 3 hours.
  3. Using a fine mesh strainer, remove and discard the orange slices, cloves, cinnamon sticks and star anise.
  4. Serve warm in mugs.

Recipe from Gimme Some Oven.