Brandy is the favorite spirit for the UK Christmas season, according to Nathan Cunningham of the Warwick’s Depart of Statistics. Cunningham used the standardized search volume methodology to choose the spirit. The method involved subtracting respective means and dividing respective standard deviations.
"I found it interesting that there's been such a consistent surge in searches for spirits around the festive period, and wanted to find out which one, more so than any other, we associate with Christmas above and beyond any other time of the year,” said Cunningham.
Brandy is a spirit distilled from fermented juice or fruit wine without skins, stems or pulps. Grapes are the standard fruits used in making brandy but there are others which can be used as well, such as apples, cherries, peaches, pears, and plums. Brandy is aged in oak casks for up to two years to be considered mature. The final brandy product usually contains 35 to 60 percent alcohol volume.
In the study by Cunningham, other spirits were also included like gin, rum, vodka, and whiskey. For each spirit, Cunningham gathered weekly search volume from Google Trends in years 2012 to 2016. Each week in those years were aligned manually until the week of Christmas. Brandy topped the charts in the five-year result from Google Trends, likely because of its association with many food products for the season, such as puddings and mince pies
Typically, people drink brandy as an after-dinner digestif, an alcohol served after filling a meal. Compared to other popular spirits, brandy works with almost all kinds of food in terms of cooking. It also doesn’t need to be expensive to use brandy in cooking meals. A small amount of the spirit can be a secret ingredient in seafood sauces, cream-filled sweets, and rich custards, such as Christmas puddings.
In addition to its aroma, flavor, and essentiality in cooking, brandy has some benefits to health. Small to moderate amounts of brandy can help relieve some respiratory problems, such as a cough and sore throat, because of its anti-inflammatory properties. It also boosts the immune system to fight the common cold or flu, due to its warming properties. The antioxidants in brandy can help maintain a healthy heart, reduce the effect of aging, and may prevent abnormal cell growth, according to Organic Facts.
The Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Research analyzed what type of drink and how much people consume in many parts of the globe. About 54 percent of all alcohol consumed in the United States and Canada was beer, while 28 percent were spirits. In countries in Western Europe, wine accounted for 44 percent of total alcohol consumption. Asia was found dominated by liquor, with 83 percent of alcohol consumption accounted for by all Asian nations, while 61 percent of that population was in China.
Eggnog is a traditional drink served in the American Thanksgiving, Christmas, and until the end of the holiday season, in the US and Canada. It is a creamy, rich, and sweetened dairy-based beverage made with cream, milk, whipped egg whites, egg yolks, and sugar; and is best served chilled. The drink also became popular in Australia, Venezuela, and Trinidad.
The majority of eggnogs are homemade and includes the use of raw eggs. The addition of alcohol acts as a bactericide to kill bacteria. Raw eggs that are clean and uncracked may still contain salmonella, a pathogenic microorganism that can cause food poisoning. According to a food safety expert at North Carolina State University, Ben Chapman, eggnogs sold in stores are likely pasteurized to kill any microorganisms and reduce agents that cause spoilage.
For people hosting Christmas events with plans to make eggnogs, Chapman advised using pasteurized eggs rather than regular ones to avoid the risk. Alternatively, bringing the temperature of the eggnog base to 72 degrees Celsius also pasteurizes it. Alcohol content in eggnogs can be derived from use of brandy, rum, whiskey or bourbon.
According to a report from CNN, the 19th-century version of the American eggnog recipe has a large amount of alcohol – three dozen eggs, half a gallon of domestic brandy, and a half pint of French brandy. Drinkers should be careful when consuming eggnogs, particularly spiked ones.
Tequila was a spirit that did not make it to the review by Cunningham. It is also a distilled drink made from the cooked and fermented juice of the blue agave, a spiky Mexican plant that looks like a cactus. The spirit contains ethanol and often produces a 38-percent alcohol volume. But it can be produced with alcohol volume between 31 to 55 percent.
Even though tequila was not included in UK’s top Christmas spirits, tequila remains useful in many ways. In 2011, researchers at the Oxford University suggested tequila as a biofuel source, while research in 2008 demonstrated the use of tequila combined with silicon to form diamond films, films that can be used in commercial applications.