Ten Christmassy drinks to enjoy over the festive period
The Christmas drink is as venerable a part of the festive season as present-gifting and the jolly guffaws of Santa Claus himself.
Every individual and family approaches Christmas drinking in a different way. Some are content simply to crack open the Carling, others look to fizzy drink in the earliest hours of Christmas Day and still others can’t resist a cognac over a card game with their elders.
Choosing just ten great Christmassy drinks, then, is a seriously tall order. Taking up the challenge, here are some drinks – complete with links to further information – that we reckon you simply must rustle up or spend your money off vouchers on this winter season.
We’ll start with the recipe for a non-alcoholic drink that, while great all year round, is nonetheless a great refreshing Christmas party drink on account of its warming ginger and zingy lemons.
You can create it by putting finely sliced, unpeeled fresh root ginger into a pan with caster sugar, six whole cloves and the zest and juice of one and a half lemons. A pint of cold water is added, the whole thing is heated to dissolve the sugar and it is then strained into a jug through a fine sieve, before being topped up with a litre of soda water. Viola.
The Chancellor is hardly the best known of cocktails, much mystery prevailing as to where it even comes from. Oddly, such a seemingly inscrutable nature somehow extends even to the taste experience itself.
It is a dry little number that will probably put you in mind of a Perfect Manhattan, consisting of two ounces of blended Scotch whisky, one ounce ruby port, half an ounce of French vermouth and two dashes orange bitters.
On that note, how could we not move straight onto the Manhattan itself, which has been described by Esquire as “the only cocktail that can slug it out toe-to-toe with the martini” – albeit, only “when properly built”?
Nonetheless, a true Manhattan, with its rye whisky, Italian vermouth and Angostura bitters, wins acclaim from the same source as “bold and fortifying, yet as relaxing as a deep massage”. JP Morgan was among its historical appreciators.
We might be in slightly more down-to-earth territory with this recipe for mulled cider, which nonetheless couldn’t be a better choice if you are in the mood for something hotter and spicier on your winter and Christmas evenings tucked up indoors.
You can make it yours by stirring good dry cider, light brown sugar, bay leaves, star anise, cloves, a vanilla pod, cinnamon sticks and one sliced orange together in a large pan, heating it all and then leaving it to infuse for five minutes. The job is done by pouring the result into heatproof glasses or mugs.
Alternatively, if you would rather not hand-make your festive cider and also happen to have some M&S voucher codes to spend on your favourite beer, cider and ale, this little number could suit nicely.
A good match to Brie, pan fried duck breast and dark chocolate, this aromatic cider offers all of the sharpness, fruitiness and bitter-sweetness of sloes, elderberries and cider apples respectively. As its name partly implies, it is made by Devon-based Sandford Orchards.
Dry sherry will always be a mainstay of Christmas drinking, so we simply had to include this distinctive fino, which you can source from Lea & Sandeman.
There are various reasons why this isn’t just another fino, including the grapes that are sourced from a single vineyard in High Jerez, as well as the traditional fermentation, which takes place in mammoth 600-litre American oak barrels. The result, in the words of The Wine Merchant, is a sherry with “a wonderful weight of flavour with lots of body, fresh acidity and a really clean finish”.
For evidence that you don’t need to accept a drop down in quality in your festive drinking even if you are simply picking up a little something from the supermarket, look to “the original Special dry London gin”, which has been distilled right here in Great Britain since 1769.
There aren’t too many inappropriate times to revel in this classic long mixed drink. Garnished with lime and enjoyed in the company of friends of any adult age, there’s surely nothing better.
A distinguished tribute to the Emerald Isle itself, Ireland, the Emerald consists of two ounces whiskey, one ounce vermouth and one dash orange bitters. Described by Esquire as “delightfully smooth and mellow”, it is far from the poor relation to the Manhattan that one might expect.
To prepare an Emerald, simply stir the ingredients well with cracked ice, before straining into a chilled cocktail glass. Naturally, we recommend the most Irish whiskey that you can find.
There can be few more time-honoured Christmas combinations than white wine from the legendary Languedoc Roussillon region that is responsible for about a third of all French wine production, so this amber nectar inevitably caught our eye.
A blend of grenache blanc, gris and macabeu that has spent 17 years in cask at the mercy of the elements produces a rich and concentrated wine that couldn’t be more apposite for festive “sweet tongues”.
Of course, we had to round off our list with something healthy that nonetheless shares with the aforementioned options a suitably celebratory, festive feel. It’s a smoothie that is simply crammed with vitamins to make up for some of your less helpful Christmas Day slurping and scoffing.
It’s created by peeling and roughly chopping a mango that is then placed with cranberry juice into a blender or food processor. One minute of blending should be enough to turn it smooth, after which, you will be able to add yoghurt to blend in yet more. The resultant smoothie is to be served proudly chilled.
Never presume that you lack options for Yuletide drinking! Try out the above delectable options or be inspired to select something different to make sure you are always sipping on something a bit special this 25th December.
The editorial unit