Dec 7, 2021
A MERRY LIST OF CHRISTMAS COCKTAILS
A Responsible Take on Classic British Cocktails Perfect for Christmas
We all love a bit of merrymaking in the holiday season, so we've put together a list of traditional, alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktail options that will keep the traditional Christmas vibe alive.
Traditional Christmas Cocktails
Traditional British cocktails are often based around parties. Lord knows us Brits love a traditional toast with a boozy beverage. We began mixing our drinks by making big bowls of shared celebration drinks like punches and flips. After that came a fashion for sundowners developed by colonial travellers. Then finally, when America chucked out all their bartenders because of prohibition, who then resettled in Europe, we got glitzy cocktail bars in our city centres. To mark this evolution, here are five of the very best traditional British Christmas cocktails.
We all like a steaming vat of mulled wine at Christmas time, and it really is a quintessential punch. Traditional British punch uses a wine or spirits base mixed with sugar, spice and citrus. Mulled wine came to Europe with the Roman invasion, and each country has their treasured recipe. In fact, most people in the UK claim their own family recipe.
Recipe: Here's a tip, make your mulled wine in a slow cooker. Add a large stick of cinnamon, a bottle of red wine, two star anise, four cloves, two strips of lemon zest and four tablespoons of vanilla-infused sugar* the night before and keep it on a warming heat for 12 hours. This steeps all of the spices over a longer period without burning off any alcohol allowing all the flavours to really infuse and marry together. Then when your guests arrive, bring it to serving temperature by changing the slow cooker setting to low and use a slotted spoon to remove any floating bits. Ladle into heatproof cups or glasses to serve.
You can make this drink non-alcoholic by using a decent cranberry juice instead of wine.
Flips are just like punch but have the addition of egg as an ingredient. Although the Americans seem to have taken over when it comes to talking about Eggnog, it's actually a classic British cocktail. Its lineage can be traced back to early mediaeval Britain and a drink called a Posset, made with eggs and figs. The rich ingredients were associated with wealth, and therefore Eggnog was often used to toast prosperity and good fortune. Taste-wise, it's essentially a spicy, boozy custard.
Recipe: Whisk six medium-sized egg yolks in a bowl (saving the whites for later) with 100g of castor sugar, then add 500 ml of whole milk and 400 ml of double cream and grate in a bit of nutmeg. Add in 350 ml of either rum or bourbon and stir. Put the mixture in the fridge until you're ready to serve. Just before your guests are thirsty, whisk the egg whites until they're foamy (like you would with a meringue), slowly adding 50 g of castor sugar as you go. Fold in the chilled custard mix and ladle into punch cups or rocks glasses and serve with a little dusting of nutmeg and maybe even a Flavour Blaster nutmeg scented bubble.
If this all sounds too fancy for you, grab a bottle of Advocaat form your nearest off-licence and make yourself a Snowball. Less fuss and just as tasty. Make a non-alcoholic alternative by adding a tablespoon of maple syrup instead of your spirit.
Sundowners include drinks like the Gimlet, Pink Gin or Gin and Tonic. All of whom were invented by seafaring men who needed two things; one, to stay alive, and two, to cheer themselves up when they were away from the bosom of their families. The Gimlet uses Roses Lime Cordial, which helped sailors stave off scurvy. The Pink Gin contains Angostura Bitters, a stomach settler for queasy Navel Officers, and the Gin and Tonic famously contained quinine, proven to protect colonials in India from malaria. As you can see, gin is the common denominator. To make a truly Christmassy sundowner, use either a homemade or shop-bought gin infused with seasonal hedgerow sloes, blackberries or damsons.
Recipe: You'll need a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Add to it 50 ml of hedgerow gin, 25 ml of freshly squeezed lemon juice and two teaspoons of sugar syrup*. Shake all your ingredients hard until the outside of the cocktail shaker frosts, then strain the liquid into a nice, tall highball glass. Top the glass up with chunky cubes of ice, fill it with soda water, give it a little stir, and add a blackberry, a wedge of lemon, and a straw to serve. Try adding a blast of Flavour Blaster elderberry flavour aromatic smoke for a touch of drama.
You can create a virgin version of this drink using either a homemade sloe cordial or a shop- bought one like the Sloe and Juniper cordial from Bottlegreen.
This cocktail is named after London's Buck's Club where it was invented in 1921. The original recipe is a secret gone to the grave with the club's first bartenders. Although some older recipes suggest grenadine as an additional ingredient, both the UK Bartender's Guild and the International Bartender's Association agree that the formula is two parts champagne to one part orange juice.
Recipe: The key to making this drink really tasty is using freshly squeezed juice and arctic-ly cold fizz. Put a modern twist on it by using clementines rather than oranges. Fill every flute glass a third full with your fresh-pressed juice, then top it slowly with your ice-cold champagne. This drink goes beyond a boring Christmas breakfast tipple when topped with a smoke-filled citrus bubble.
Although this is already quite a low alcohol option, you can use Nosecco or non-alcoholic champagne to re-create the same flavours.
Now, whether you prefer to spend the holidays relaxing, socialising or spending time with your family, there's a traditional drink for every occasion.
How To Make Extra Homemade Ingredients?
- To make vanilla-infused sugar, add a spent vanilla pod to a mason jar and top it up with caster sugar. Once a day, give it a shake to let all the sugar contact the bean pod. After 4-5 days, it will be ready to use. Remove the vanilla pod to make it last longer, as this will begin to perish before the sugar.
- You can make the sugar syrup at home by blending 100g of sugar with fifty millilitres of water. Just make sure all the sugar dissolves before using it in a cocktail.