Christmas is all about indulgence. It’s the ultimate midwinter cheat day, and the one time of the year it’s perfectly acceptable to pour yourself another glass of something delicious boozy, and relax safe in the knowledge that there’s no work to do tomorrow, other than perhaps some more washing up and heading out to cast your eye over the post-Christmas sales.
It’s also the one day of the year when you get the chance to bring together your nearest and dearest, and show off your gastronomy and mixology skills in the kitchen or at your home bar. Shaking up a Christmas cocktail is the perfect way to show that you mean business when it comes to entertaining – the more indulgent and decadent, the better!
One of the great things about coming up with Christmas cocktails is that this holiday, more so than perhaps any others, comes with its own set of flavours and aromas. During the festivities, we love sipping on drinks which have a deep and warming kick to them, and which feature the fruit-and-spice profiles that you simply cannot get away from at this time of year. With that in mind, we’ve picked out five classic and contemporary Christmas cocktails which are brilliantly easy to mix for your friends and family, and which really hit the spot as either an aperitif before Christmas dinner, or as a signal that the evening celebrations are already well underway.
With these recipes under your belt, you’re sure to make a massive impact this December the 25th, and your guests will be revelling in your generosity, your exquisite taste in drinks, and your ability to spread more Christmas cheer than ever. Enjoy!
Cranberry Gin Fizz
Maybe it’s the deep red colour of these tart little berries. Maybe it’s the fact that few things pair better with a roast turkey, or with the kind of spices and flavours which Christmas dinners provide by the bucketful. Whatever the reason, there’s no getting away from the fact that cranberries are about as Christmassy as red-nosed reindeer and sleigh tracks on your roof. This fun and festive cocktail is sure to be a winner, not least because it includes plenty of gin – this year’s undisputed champion of the spirits scene.
- 250ml quality gin (we like Bombay Sapphire, but any decent gin will do)
- 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 2 tbsp orange juice
- 500ml cranberry juice
- 1 litre of tonic water
- Cranberries, to garnish
Get yourself a decent-sized bowl, and pour in the gin, following by the sprigs of thyme. Muddle the thyme to bruise the leaves, and to get them to release some of their flavour. Remove the leaves with a slotted spoon, and discard.
Pour the fruit juices into the gin, followed by the tonic water. Pour the whole lot into a punch bowl or big jug, drop in some ice cubes, and garnish with plenty of fresh cranberries.
It was impossible to go anywhere this summer without coming across adverts, bars, or promotional activations revolving around Aperol Spritz. The Italian bitters cocktail was the drink of the hotter season… and this gorgeous winter reimagining is one for those who fell in love with the vivid orange thirst-quencher during 2018.
- 50ml Aperol
- 75ml Champagne (or Prosecco)
- Ginger beer, to taste
- Orange slices and basil leaves to garnish
Into a glass filled with ice, pour the Aperol and some fizz. Top up with ginger beer (the firier the better) and garnish with the orange slices and basil leaves. Simple!
Chocolate Coffee Bourbon
Chocolate, coffee, and quality Bourbon whiskey. What could be a better combination on a chilly winter’s evening than that? This elegant and deeply indulgent cocktail has proven to a real hit in some of Europe’s colder countries this season, and it really brings out the best in those sweet, tempting Bourbon flavours. Serve steaming hot in a kilner jar, and you’ve got a simple, effective, and massively impressive cocktail to keep the cold outside this Christmas.
- 1 tbsp chocolate extract
- 100ml freshly brewed espresso
- 700ml Bourbon whiskey
- 150g caster sugar
Simply mix all of the ingredients together, gently stir to dissolve the sugar and combine the flavours, and pour into a large kilner jar or wide-necked bottle. Serve hot in individual jars or whisky tumblers – it’s really up to you!
Gin and Ginger
When it comes to Christmassy spirits, few can compete with a quality spiced gin. There’s something almost Dickensian about a decent bottle of Mother’s Ruin (as gin used to be called), and it’s the drink that can warm the cockles of even the biggest Scrooge in your entourage. This classic and elegant cocktail has a real kick of heat to it from the ginger – perfect as a digestif after a hearty Christmas lunch.
- 50ml spiced gin (we like Opihr Oriental)
- 0.5 cm thick slice of fresh root ginger
- Good quality tonic water
- Orange peel, to garnish
In the bottom of a highball glass, muddle the slice of fresh ginger to release the oils. Fill the glass with ice, pour in the gin, and top up with tonic. Garnish with your orange peel, and enjoy.
Orange and Cardamom Martini
The powerful and aromatic flavours of cardamom and orange in this creative twist on the classic Martini make it an incredible exotic and evocative wintry delight. This is the ultimate Christmas party drink to really impress your guests with, as it’s effortlessly sophisticated and beautifully seasonal, while also boasting a kick of alcohol that’s sure to get the dancefloor moving.
- 12 cardamom pods
- 6 tbsp Seville orange marmalade, plus more to serve
- 400ml quality vodka
- 125ml Cointreau
- 4 tbsp lemon juice
- Ice, to serve
Take a pestle and mortar (or a bowl and wooden spoon, if you don’t have one) and give the cardamom pods a good bashing until they split and release their seeds.
In a pan on a low heat, melt the marmalade, and stir in the vodka. Add the crushed pods and seeds, and let it warm through for a couple of minutes (don’t let it boil!). Take off the heat, leave to infuse for 20 minutes, then strain into a jug or similar. Add the Cointreau and lemon juice, then stick it in the freezer to chill right down. Serve in a martini glass with a small blob of marmalade in the bottom, and with a cardamom pod floating on the top.