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El Segundo Eats: The True Handbook of Holiday Cheer

Personal chef Jenifer Antonelli found a vintage cocktail guide—filled with warm cocktails and dry wit—that once belonged to her grandmother, and she’s shared some of the recipes with us. Stay warm this winter with one of these retro nogs, punches, or toddies.

By Jenifer Antonelli

Since most of us will be spending the December holidays at home and ringing in the New Year at home, also, we’ll need to bring the holiday cheer home this year as well. Luckily for me, I happened to recently stumble upon a random faded guide extravagantly titled The TRUE Handbook of Holiday Cheer: Being a Compendium of Nogs, Grogs, Punches, Toddies and Other Timely Tipples, Drinks Hot & Cold, Long & Short, Mild & Strong; To Which Have Been Added Various Nostrums & Curious Cures for the Comfort of Those Who Celebrate to Excess Plus a Choice Selection of Non-Spiritous Fizzes, Punches & Ades for the Delectation of Convivial Teetotalers. I have no idea where this relic came from, other than I found it tucked into page 134 of my grandmother’s 1950s tome The Official Mixer’s Manual, which I inherited.

I have not yet made any of these recipes, but the idea of trying some of these vintage cocktails at home this winter makes me smile. Maybe you’d like to try making these, too, this holiday season? No time like a pandemic to hunker down and experiment with retro booze creations! Presented here are a few festive cocktails from the Guide to raise your holiday spirits:

Easy-Does-It Yule Nog

Combine 2 parts dairy-prepared eggnog mix with 1 part whiskey, rum, or brandy. Dust with nutmeg. Accept all compliments but refuse to divulge “old family recipe.” Your friends need never know.

At left: Pages from The True Handbook of Holiday Cheer

The Blazing Bowl Game of Flaming Delights! Punches Pyromaniacal!

Cheery Christmas Rum Punch

6 oranges

1/2 gallon sweet cider

1 bottle Jamaica rum

Sugar (to taste)

Whole cloves

Ground cinnamon and nutmeg

Dot oranges with cloves and bake until soft. Place oranges in bowl; add rum and granulated sugar. Set rum aflame, and enjoy the spectacle for a few minutes. Reassure the fearful. Slowly add cider to extinguish flame. Stir-in spices, and keep hot while serving. Author’s note: This went completely unmentioned in the guide, but please use extreme caution and a fireproof bowl or pot while preparing this recipe.


(Old Swiss ski-lift special)

2 lumps sugar

1 clove

1 piece cinnamon

1 piece orange peel

1 piece lemon peel

1/2 pint claret (red wine)

Remove skis and heat mixture in a saucepan, taking care not to boil. Strain and serve with a yodel.

Hot Buttered Rum

1 pound brown sugar

1/2 pound butter

Pinch of salt

Nutmeg, cinnamon, clove

Puerto Rican rum

Hot water

Cream butter and sugar. Add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon each of the nutmeg, cinnamon, clove. Add a pinch of salt. Preheat mugs. Into each, drop 1 heaping teaspoon of batter. Add jigger of rum. Stir, and top with hot water.

Hot Toddy

2 oz. liquor of choice

1 tsp. sugar

2 oz. boiling water

Mix and stir in a mug or coffee glass.

Irish coffee

1 cup strong, black coffee

Sugar (to taste)

1 jigger Irish whiskey

Whipped cream

Mix in a warmed, stemmed glass. (Place silver spoon in glass to avoid cracking.) Top with whipped cream.

Cheers to a happy, healthy, and safe holiday season!

Jenifer Antonelli is the owner of Vino and Viand Personal Chef Services. Visit her online at and @vinoandviand on Facebook and Instagram.

Editor’s note: Let us know if you make any of these cocktail recipes! Email a photo of your creation and what you thought of it to, or post to Instagram and tag #theelsegundoscene and #hotcocktail.

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