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Blessed greetings! I pray you have all been well this week and that those of you up here in the North East where I am have been staying warm as the temperatures have dropped. The end of the year is approaching and people of all faiths and backgrounds are preparing to celebrate their various winter holidays and usher in the New Year. Is it really about to be 2010?! I remember when the world was anticipating the changes everyone thought would take place with the coming “Y2K” and now, its 10 years later and if anyone had told me then that I’d be where I am now... I’d never have believed them. Mojuba (I give reverence to) Orisa!

This time of year brings with it a lot of celebration in the form of holiday parties and get-togethers. I love that aspect of the winter and look forward to end-of-the-year gatherings with my family and friends. While I don’t partake in the “spirits” anymore, Ogbe Alara, one of the odù Ifá that I have a strong connection with, speaks of serving drinks and making merriment so, in following with that theme, I want to share some of my favorite non-alcoholic winter cocktail recipes with you! Enjoy!

Virgin Egg Nog ‘Tini
1 oz. (1 shot) water
2 drops vanilla extract
3 oz. (about ½ cup) egg nog
Cinnamon sticks (optional)

Shake water, egg nog and vanilla in a shaker with ice. Strain into a martini glass that has been sprinkled with nutmeg. Garnish with more nutmeg and a cinnamon stick, if desired.

Gingerbread Cookie
2 oz. (2 shots) hazelnut milk
1 oz. simple syrup* made with brown sugar
4 oz. ginger beer 
Gingerbread cookie (garnish)

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice, shake and strain into a highball or large martini glass. Garnish with cookie. Click here for a history of gingerbread and a recipe to make your own!

* Simple syrup is 2 parts sugar, 1 part water. Bring water to a boil, dissolve sugar in boiling water, stir and remove from heat. Cool before using.

Festive Cider
Sparkling apple cider

Add 3-4 drops grenadine to champagne glasses and fill with sparkling cider. For a more festive touch, rim glasses with colored sugar.