The beauty of a cocktail is that it can be as ornate or as simple as the event at which it is served. Christmas tradition demands we consume alcohol whenever not eating, going for token bracing walks or sleeping off the excess, so it’s wise to stock the Christmas cupboards with enough mixed drinks to keep a small army going morning, noon and night.
Guide to cocktail glasses
An old-fashioned glass, also called a ‘rocks’ glass, is a short glass. Often square or perfectly round, it is used for many classic highballs. Also comes in double sizes for larger drinks.
The highball glass is very common for serving mixed drinks. Tall and thin, they generally provide the right size for a combination of ice, spirit and mix. It is perfect for highballs, rickeys, coolers, spritzers, or any simple mixed drinks.
Sling glasses are tall, narrow and fluted.
Wine and Champagne glasses speak for themselves.
Mulled wine has been around for centuries, originating as a ‘health’ tonic in winter. It staves off a winter chill and is an ideal drink to serve guests as it can be made ahead of time
Ingredients: (serves 4)
1 bottle of full-bodied, ideally fruity red wine
Nutmeg (to taste)
Cloves (to taste)
Brandy or Cognac (to taste)
Green Ginger Wine (to taste, optional but recommended)
1 cup of granulated sugar
Herbal or citrus-based tea (optional but very good)
Orange juice (optional softener instead of tea)
4 large cinnamon sticks
Cut the lemons and oranges into slices. Pour the red wine into saucepan and gradually heat. Let it simmer; boiling will evaporate the alcohol. Add the fruit slices, cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, cloves and brandy. A dash of ginger wine increases the warming effect and aroma of the mulled wine so it is highly recommended, and orange juice makes a good softener. Once your enticingly bubbling brew is hot to the touch, blend in sugar or water if you wish to. Pour into thick wine glasses or cups and add tea to taste.
Although an effort to make, egg nog is traditional in some households, and you never know you might like it? So, without further ado…
400ml Dark Rum
2 litres Cream, half and half
Mixed spice (pinch)
Cinnamon (2 pinches)
500g brown sugar
2 whole, large, free-range eggs
1/4 cup Vanilla extract
1 pint Whipped cream
Pour the whipping cream into a large mixing bowl, then give it a good whipping until it starts to thicken, at which point you should mix in the eggs. Add a quarter of a pint of the half-and-half cream, and dash in the vanilla and rum. Mix well. Sprinkle in the cinnamon, mixed spice and nutmeg. Mix very lightly at this stage. Pour into old-fashioned glasses and serve.
A delicious, warming, the Mac is an drink ideal for the colder months. The Scots came up with it first, they say, but good ideas like to travel…
1 part Scotch whisky
2 parts Green ginger wine
Ginger Ale (optional top-up)
Pour both of the ingredients into a wine glass or short glass with no ice. This is a robust and also elegant drink – it really doesn’t mind which glass you put it in. It’s equally unfussy as to whether you serve it at room-temperature or on the rocks. Such is its generous nature that you may also turn it into a long drink with the addition of ginger ale.
Gin and Cherry Sling
Instead of serving a G&T as a drink before Christmas lunch, why not try a Gin & Cherry Sling?
2 parts Gin
1 part Cherry brandy
Put some crushed ice in a sling glass. Pour on the gin, followed by the cherry brandy. Top up with soda to taste.
The traditional Christmas drink, the snowball has been around since the twenties at the very least, and if you have a taste for advocaat you’ll argue tradition is best.
2 parts Advocaat
1 part lemonade
1 part lime cordial
Shake a dash of lime juice into the advocaat. Pour into an ice-filled highball glass. Top up with lemonade.
Some would argue that it is possible to eat and drink too much at Christmas. If you do not wish to exhaust your guests, serve them light champagne-based cocktails
1 part Creme de cassis
Add a large measure of creme de cassis to a champagne flute then top up with champagne to the rim of the glass.
A light, strawberry-ish champagne-based cocktail
1 part Framboise or Chambord, as preferred
Add one ounce of Framboise or Chambord to a champagne flute then top up with champagne to the rim of the glass. As with the Kir Royale, serve chilled
A sweet champagne-based cocktail
A dash of Creme de cassis
1 part Cointreau
Pour a measure of Cointreau into a champagne flute. Add a few drops of creme de crassis and fill the glass with champagne. This is a warmer, sweeter approach to the classic champagne cocktails above.
Amaretto is one of the sweetest, warmest liqeuers on the market and its absence at the sideboard of a winter feast would be unforgiveable. However, it is possible to use it as a base for a mixed drink that won’t leave you clenching your jaw from an almighty sugar crash.
2 parts Disaronno Originale amaretto
1 part fresh lemon juice
4 dashes Angostura bitters
1 slice lemon
1 maraschino cherry
Mix it all together in an old-fashioned glass and drink at room-temperature or on the rocks as preferred.
Turning Amaretto into a long drink is a fine way to balance out its sweetness, especially if it’s being consumed after a starter, grand meal, pudding, cheese, coffee and the obligatory small spot of emergency cake. This cocktail also has lime juice which might speed up the digestion.
2 parts Disaronno Originale Amaretto
1 part vodka
3 parts cranberry juice
2 parts orange juice
Mix it all together in a highball glass and drink at room-temperature or on the rocks as preferred.
In the unlikely case of your going hungry around Christmas time – or if you’re cold to the bone after a bracing winter walk – a liqueur cocktail with a stout nature will recharge you sufficiently for you to plot stolidly onwards in your gastric odyssey
1 part Drambuie
5 parts Guinness Stout
1 part Southern Comfort
Combine in no particular order and serve in a red wine glass
‘Jägermeister’ roughly translates as ‘master of the hunt’, and all huntmasters will be aware that you need something more bracing than an anaemic white wine – or, indeed, a standard egg nog – to stave off the bone-deep chill that comes of stomping round the countryside on a cold day.
1 part Jägermeister
1 part Eggnog
Cinnamon (to taste)
Pour equal parts of eggnog and Jägermeister into a highball glass. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
If you must have advocaat, which all would agree is an acquired taste, try balancing it with ginger ale for an unarguably seasonal note.
2 parts Advocaat
3 parts Ginger Ale
Build in a highball glass over ice and garnish with a maraschino cherry. Christmas isn’t Christmas without a maraschino cherry.