Hot Holiday Cheer

By: Denise Romeo

The weather has finally turned colder making it feel like it really is December and the season for celebrating the holidays with friends and family. With everyone’s busy schedules it can be difficult to find a time when everyone can get together. And, let’s face it, while it is always wonderful to see everyone at holiday parties, the usual party fare can get a bit tiresome. If you have seen one cheese log, you’ve seen them all, right? So why not try something a bit different this year?  Perhaps an after-dinner party with desserts and warm drinks with everyone gathering around a fireplace?

With this idea in mind, I popped into Urban Cottage to peruse their collection of cookbooks and to find some festive serving pieces. After a wonderful stroll through their treasure trove of goodies which are an eclectic mix of vintage and well-placed new items, I found some sturdy goblets perfect for cold or hot drinks as well as napkin rings, and pretty linens. A few doors down at Festivity, I picked up a cheese tray and knives to complete the ensemble.

Now what to serve? Normally, we would start the evening with cocktails; a favorite being gin and tonic. So in an “Ah-Ha” moment, we decided on “Gin Toddies” a sophisticated spin on the seasonal Hot Toddy to go along with artisanal cheeses (from Alon’s Bakery) and spreads (from Bella Cucina Porta Via) and some homemade pizzelles, torrones and amaretti.



Hot Gin Toddy:

1 teaspoon sugar

½ cup boiling water

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 ½ oz. favorite brand of gin

Put a teaspoon of sugar in a heat proof glass or mug and add boiling water. Stir briefly to dissolve sugar and then add gin and lemon juice. Stir to combine and garnish drinks with your choice of cinnamon sticks, cloves, cardamom pods, star anise, or lemon slices.

It is not too late to get your party supplies or pick up the ideal hostess gift at one of our wonderful neighborhood shops and remember to eat, drink and shop locally on Thursday, December 20th at “Holidays in Virginia-Highland” with special promotions at participating shops and restaurants. For more information about the event, contact Jessica at

Local food blogger Denise Romeo has lived in the Virginia-Highland area for 23 years. She and her husband Dom enjoy spending time together cooking and entertaining. They’ve tried to instill their love for cooking and culinary exploration in their two teenage sons. You can read more from Denise on her award winning blog at We Like To Cook!


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