Lifestyle & opinion

Six Christmas cocktails to add a touch of glamour to the festivities

Nothing beats a great cocktail to get the celebrations going, from a dash of something fruity in a glass of fizz to a Gatsby-worthy showstopper. We asked the team to put their mixologist hats on and suggest some drinks to get the party started, including some tips for stylish finishing touches to make your cocktails look the part.

Hot buttered rum cocktails on a tray

Hot Buttered Rum

If you'll be taking the party outside then a glass of something warming is a must. This is a perfect mix of classic Christmas spice and buttery richness with a good glug of Caribbean tipple for good measure.

  • A pat of unsalted butter
  • 1.5 teaspoons of brown sugar
  • 0.5 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 0.5 teaspoon ground ginger
  • A grating of nutmeg
  • 50ml rum
  • Orange peel
  • 1 stick cinnamon

Melt the butter, sugar and spices over a very low heat, before removing from the hob and adding the rum. Top up with hot water to taste and garnish with the orange peel and a cinnamon stick.

Recipe: Sarah Knowles MW, Buyer

English Garden

When Christmas excess is getting too much, bring some English summertime to the party with this elegant elderflower concoction, livened up with some fresh cucumber and a twist of lime.

Mix together and serve in a short glass with plenty of ice.

Recipe: Lesley Clark, Marketing Analyst

French 75

French 75 cocktail on a tray with lemons

Created at Harry's New York Bar in Paris in 1915, this iconic Champagne cocktail was once said to have been so powerful that it felt like being shelled with a field gun. Here's our more refined version that still retains its bite.

Mix all the ingredients in a Champagne flute and garnish with lemon peel (in a curl if you’re feeling fancy).

Recipe: Sarah Knowles MW, Buyer

Sidecar

Sidecar cocktail

The Sidecar is a wonderful antidote to festive food, cutting through the richness with clean, citrus lines and Cognac’s spicy fruitiness.

There are as many Sidecar recipes as there are stories about how the drink got its name, but the one below is the classic version. For an even fruitier twist, try substituting the Cognac with 50ml of Calvados (Château du Breuil Calvados du Pays d'Auge VSOP would be ideal).

Pour all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker, along with two generous scoops of ice. Shake for 20-30 seconds, then strain into a sugar-rimmed chilled coupe glass. Garnish with the orange.

Recipe: Stuart Peskett, Content Manager

Very Berry Martini

Very Berry Martini cocktail

I love a Margarita and became a bit obsessed with making it with foraged blackberries this autumn. Remembering I had a big bag of frozen summer fruits (which work well in place of ice for G&Ts, by the way), I decided to come up with a cocktail that mirrored the sharpness that I love in a Margarita in a Martini-style drink. The basil gives a lovely savoury edge and the redcurrants the tartness I look for in my drinks. If you prefer your cocktails a little sweeter, add more honey/sugar syrup and you can also add tonic or soda to make a longer version.

  • A good handful of frozen summer fruits
  • A couple of basil leaves (or mint or rosemary)
  • 1 tsp honey / sugar syrup (optional)
  • 1 measure of The Society’s Vodka
  • ½ measure of Triple Sec
  • Squeeze of lemon
  • Tonic or soda water for a longer version

Put the berries and basil leaves in a cocktail shaker and muddle well. Add the honey/sugar syrup and stir. Throw in a couple of ice cubes, add the vodka and triple sec and squeeze of lemon. Shake well. Strain into Martini glasses or pour into tumblers and add tonic/soda water for the longer drink. Garnish with some of the fruit in the shaker and sprigs of basil.

Recipe: Joanna Goodman, Senior Editor

 

Windfall

Windfall cocktail
  • 50ml Calvados
  • 200ml apple juice (cloudy or clear, the choice is yours. Clear looks nicer but tastes less appley)
  • 100ml Earl Grey tea-flavoured sugar syrup (see below)
  • 25ml fresh lemon or lime juice
  1. Making the Earl Grey and cinnamon syrup is simple, and this recipe will make more than you need but is handy stored for future cocktail use. In a saucepan over a medium heat dissolve 150g caster sugar in 75ml of water. Once the sugar has dissolved and has come to a gentle bubble, remove from the heat and add an Earl Grey teabag or a similar quantity of loose tea and leave to steep. Once the syrup is flavoured to your taste and has been given a deep golden colour, remove the teabag and strain the syrup into a small jar, bottle or jug and set aside.
  2. Put a handful of ice cubes into a cocktail shaker or jug, add the Calvados, apple juice, syrup and lemon juice and shake well until ice cold.
  3. Serve. If you have some crisp, dried apple slices they would be good for adding a decorative touch to the rim of the glass, as would cinnamon-spiced sugar. A stick of cinnamon makes a tasty stirrer if liked. I used Martini glasses.

Instead of the Earl Grey syrup you could use maple syrup, a spiced syrup with cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg (the spice rack is your plaything here), or some honey. Also, in addition to all the other ingredients, and to make a longer drink, stir in some chilled dry Normandy cider like the Cidre Biologic Bouche de Normandie from the same family-owned Dupont estate in the Pays d’Auge as one of the lovely Calvados in our range.

Recipe: Steve Farrow, Wine Information Editor

Top tips for cocktail creations

Assorted Cocktails

Emma Briffett from our Tastings team shares some hints for sprucing up your drinks and giving them an extra flourish.

Citrus oils – for Martinis and gin-based cocktails we often peel some citrus, get a really fine slice and then hold it for a few seconds over a flame to release the citrus oils into the drink.

Gin garnishes – most gins now have their own particular garnishes depending on what has been used as the mixer and the dominant flavours/botanicals used in the cocktail. For juniper-led gins, garnish with citrus fruit - try pink grapefruit or dried kumquat for a more exotic finish.  Herbs like rosemary, thyme and lemon balm are good in citrussy versions and try spices with floral, scented gins – pink peppercorns or star anise, maybe.

Mocktails – even for non-drinkers, adding an interesting garnish can really elevate the drink – so a slice of orange (if you freeze it first even better, as it acts like another ice cube)’ just gives an orangey lift to the drink.

Dried fruits – we have tried slicing up and drying fruits like apple, pear (use a mandolin) and orange, and then dry in a low oven and add to your drinks for extra interest.

Coffee beans – three on top of an Espresso Martini looks great or add to any cocktail involving coffee.

Citrus curls – cut a quarter-inch slice from the middle of your lime, lemon or orange. Cut into the centre then around the edge to remove the fruit segments then trim excess pith (you need a bit to keep rind together). Twist around a cocktail stick, skewer or chopstick and mould with your hands gentle. Pin the curl and leave for five minutes.

Joanna Goodman

Senior Editor

Joanna Goodman

Part of our Marketing Team for over 30 years, Jo has been editor of Society News for much of that time as well as contributing to our many other communications.

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