The festive season is fast approaching: a time for family, friends, food and some fabulous drinks. Somehow the frightful weather outside never seems as bad when you’re curled up on the sofa or in front of the fire, ‘Love Actually’ on telly and a glass of something warming in hand.
Here are my suggestions for the perfect naughty festive tipples. If you can’t indulge at Christmas, when can you? ‘Tis the season to be jolly, and after a few of these, you will be well on your jolly way.
Santa Teresa’s Hot Buttered Rum
While Santa Teresa’s Hot Buttered Rum recipe may be a traditional Thanksgiving drink (since colonial times), I think it would be perfect for Christmas right here in the UK. This is always on my festive drinking list and perfect to serve with groups of friends. Spicy, warming and with delicious notes of cinnamon, it is great for warming from the inside-out and tastes just like Christmas.
Ingredients – For four
200ml Santa Teresa Claro
150g unsalted butter
150g muscovado sugar
800ml clear apple juice/orange juice
2 sachets of mulled wine
1 tsp of ground ginger
Add the butter to a small pan over a medium heat and allow to melt
Add the sugar and apple/orange juice and mix to dissolve the sugar
Heat until hot, but not boiling and add the mulled wine sachet
Keep heating for three minutes Remove from the heat and mix in the rum Serve and enjoy
While a good amaretto sours can obviously be enjoyed at any time of the year, its sharp sweetness tastes especially good at Christmas. People tend to be put off by the egg white, but it gives the drink a much better texture and mouthfeel.
Ingredients – For two
100ml lemon juice
50ml sugar syrup (bought or made by dissolving equal amounts of caster sugar into water)
1 egg white
Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice
Strain into a glass filled with crushed ice and garnish with lemon or a maraschino cherry
Oh mulled wine. The smell of Christmas which has been infused in many a Glade candle over the years. It is a bit like the marmite of December: there are many people who would rather stick cloves in their eyes than sip on a sweet, spicy cup of the mulled stuff. However, team mulled wine are also out there somewhere, fighting the corner every Christmas by drinking nothing else for an entire month. I am somewhere in the middle. This recipe is not too sweet and is perfect to sip on while singing an out-of-tune rendition of ‘Good King Wenceslas‘ around the piano with your family.
Ingredients – For six
1 bottle red wine
1 unwaxed orange
1/2 lemon peel
75g caster sugar
3 cardamom pods
1/2 cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp of freshly grated nutmug
A good glug of ginger wine if you have any
Peel and juice your orange before adding to a saucepan with the lemon peel, caster sugar and spices.
Pour in a little wine, just enough to cover the sugar and heat until dissolved.
Bring the mixture to the boil and continue cooking until you have a thick syrup. This should take around 5-6 minutes.
Turn down the heat and add the rest of your bottle of wine, along with a good splash of ginger wine if you are using.
Heat through and serve.
Go Honey Go!
I had a variation of this cocktail at Henry’s bar in Cardiff. It is a wonderful alternative to dessert if you have stuffed one brussels sprout too many and can’t even face the Christmas pud. The coffee in the cocktail also acts as a lovely little festive pick-me-up.
Ingredients – for two
50ml Kahlua coffee liqueur
50ml Grand Marnier
2 tsp honey
6 espresso beans
Fill two martini glasses with ice and ice-cold water
Brew your espresso
Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice
Strain and enjoy, topping with three espresso beans
Hidalgo Pedro Ximenez Viejo ‘Napoleon’ Sherry
Obviously not a recipe (just pour and drink), but this sherry is Christmas pudding in a bottle and therefore an ideal festive tipple. It has a lovely, deep sweetness with dried fruits, caramel and nut flavours. For me, it is how a sweet sherry should be, complex and morish. Although it is perfect on its own, it also tastes great with Christmas pudding, poured over ice-cream or served with dried fruits.
Consider this an early Christmas present from me. Cheers.