- Associated Press - Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas brunch can be a civilized way to celebrate the season, not as frantic as Christmas Eve or as fraught with familial tensions as Christmas dinner.

It’s also an excellent time to break out the light but festive cocktails that can elevate brunch from a cooked breakfast to a real occasion.

Jackson Cannon, owner of the Hawthorne bar in Boston, considers Christmas brunch “the perfect time for cocktails because you’ve survived the present-opening chaos, and the kids will be entertained for hours with all their new toys, so now the attention can be turned back to important matters, like carefully crafted beverages.”

He advises keeping the drinks light because heavy food and sweets are in abundance. Champagne cocktails with a touch of cognac, Calvados or American brandy can give you the flavor of those wintry spirits at an alcohol content that won’t end your day too early.

One drink he likes is yuletide bulles (French for bubbles), which is one part cognac, one part Benedictine, one part fresh lemon juice, one part grenadine and one part cool filtered water.

You prepare this drink the night before, mixing everything together and then pouring it into a pitcher or bottle that is then refrigerated. When you’re ready to serve it, stir the ingredients vigorously for a moment and pour into Champagne flutes, filling each glass halfway. Top with Champagne, prosecco or cava and garnish with a small twist of lemon.

This basic approach will work for a number of cocktails, but with these particular ingredients, you get the holiday bonus of a rich poinsettia color.

At the Fairmont hotel in San Francisco, Christmas is a big deal, featuring a lavish gingerbread house on display in the lobby. This year, the house is more than 20 feet high, made with 7,500 gingerbread bricks and 1,200 pounds of royal icing. It even features a room inside where children can write letters to Santa.

Executive chef J.W. Foster, who is Canadian, has introduced Inniskillin icewine, a dessert wine made from grapes that have been frozen on the vine, made in the Niagara Peninsula winegrowing region. The wine can be served straight or mixed with vodka for an easy martini.

Want to try your own Christmas cocktails? Here are two seasonal recipes.

RUDOLPH’S NOSE

Start to finish: 5 minutes. Servings: 1

Ice

1 ounce vodka

½ ounce triple sec

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