Welcome to round six of Spouse vs Spouse

holiday cocktail smackdown Eatocracy

Welcome to round six of Spouse vs. Spouse, a series in which a couple of married food freaks, CNN TMs Brandon and Kristy Griggs, square off in their Atlanta kitchen for culinary bragging rights ” and invite you to weigh in too.

In each installment, Kristy and Brandon each make a creative variation on the same ingredient or dish ” everything from pasta to seafood to cocktails to desserts. We serve both versions anonymously to our friends, who then judge which one they like better and why. We walk you through our kitchen process, bring the husband-and-wife smack talk and, of course, keep score. We also share our recipes here so that you can try them for yourself.

Kristy: Sure, most people love the holidays. But let face the truth: it the drinking part that makes it extra merry. Between office Christmas parties, fighting crowds at the mall, wrapping presents and family some of us are practically drooling with anticipation at the sweet clink of ice cubes into a glass. (OK, maybe not drooling, that be weird.)

So after trying our hands with holiday appetizers the less said about that, the better Brandon and I attempted to make cocktails that say ho-ho-ho and ease some of that holiday stress. You won see any champagne in flutes with cranberries hanging out at the bottom-Martha Stewart has her own blog, I think.

Unlike my appetizer semi-disaster, I came up with a cocktail idea pretty easily. I knew I wanted it to be refreshing and simple, but something that tasted amazing and captured the essence of the holiday season. What says that better than candy canes?

So I decided to rim a tumbler (a double old-fashioned glass, if you picky) with crushed up candy canes – margarita style toss in some ice cubes and add a lovely mixture of gin, elderflower liqueur and some homemade rosemary-and-lemon simple syrup (light on the sugar).

Knowing what Brandon was dreaming up, I felt fairly confident I pull out a win.

Brandon: I the first to admit I don know much about winter cocktails. I a summer-drink kind of guy. So when I started thinking about cold-weather holiday drinks, my mind ran through all the usual suspects: spiked eggnog, hot spiced cider, hot buttered rum. Tasty enough, but – yawn.

I realize that for many drinkers on a cold day, it TMs hard to improve on a good bourbon, brandy or Scotch. They TMve got flavor to burn, they warm you up and unlike eggnog, you can drink more than one without feeling sick. But unless I was going to set up a distillery in our two-bedroom apartment, that kind of drink wasn TMt going to work as something original. Here TMs your glass of Hennessy! I poured it myself!

Then I remembered a New York Times recipe I TMd saved from last December but never tried. It was for a milk-based drink, which sounded risky but intriguing. So I played around with it, changed a few ingredients, and – blammo – I TMd made, well, a risky milk drink.

Basically, it TMs milk with dark rum, a spoonful of maple syrup, a splash of mint and a sprinkle of nutmeg. To reinforce its white, wintery look, I served it with ice cubes made of milk, which bobbed in the glass like little marshmallows. I called it a Snow Day.

Judging: The judges loved Kristy TMs Candy Cane, giving it the highest score of the night. Our friend Dori said, œlove the rosemary flavor – very original and festive, while her husband Richard who said he doesn TMt normally like gin drinks said it œbecame better with each sip.

Brandon TMs Snow Day also went over well, with judges complimenting the milk ice cubes. Lindsay said, œit felt like something I TMd be served in a sled, wrapped in furs. But Dori said she would have preferred it as a dessert drink and Lindsay TMs partner Rich thought it œlooked like a glass of milk.

Overall score to date: Kristy pulls ahead with 3, Brandon has 2, and there 1 tie

Brandon: It TMs hard for me to admit this, but hers was better. Great job, baby. Your food-photography skills are improving, too ” last time your cherry tomatoes looked like they were hiding behind your salmon cake because they were too embarrassed to be seen with that thing.

Kristy: Ha, ha. Very funny. I was courting trouble serving a glass of spiked milk to grown-ups. If I had served it warm instead of over ice, we all might have been ready for a nap.

Kristy: Good thing there was more of my Candy Cane on hand to combat the fatigue.

Crush candy cane into fine powder (I found that a mortar and pestle works best). Spread candy cane powder evenly on small plate. Using your index finger, wet the rim of each glass with water and dip the rims into the candy cane like you would for a margarita.

Combine water and 4 rosemary sprigs in a small pan and bring to a boil. Add lemon juice and reduce heat to medium. Let cook five minutes and taste to make sure both the rosemary and lemon flavors come through. Add more of either if needed.

Add 1/4 cup of sugar and cook until dissolved. Taste to determine how much more sugar to add. You don want it to be too sweet candy cane will take care of that. The sugar should compliment the rosemary and lemon, not detract from them.

Remove syrup from burner and let cool at room temperature or, if you in a hurry, pour into a container and chill in freezer.

Ladle 1/2 cup of rosemary/lemon syrup into glasses. Pour 1 ounce gin in each glass. Top with a splash of Elderflower and a sprig of rosemary.

If someone says thank you to an acohol containing beverage this holiday season, please just accept their decision.

I am an alcoholic, I have also been sober for 16 years. Please don pile on by hassling me about why I not drinking.

There are a thousand reasons why people don drink and can / won have one Offer once (twice in Minnesota if you have to be polite) but then back off and be ok with their decision. It is not a reflection on you in any way.

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