‘Tis the season to be jolly! And what better way to get that festive feeling flowing than with a cheeky cocktail or three? Whether it’s the yearly overload of work parties, family functions and group gatherings or a simple nightcap before Christmas, here are some of our favourite concoctions teeming with plenty of Christmas spirit(s)!
Winter warmers from around the world
Literally translating to “the bomb” in Italian – this drink has a lot to live up to! The unofficial winter drink dished out at ski resorts, it’s very similar to eggnog. Served hot, its key ingredient is Advocaat (an alcoholic Dutch drink made with eggs, sugar and brandy), topped up with rum or brandy and crowned with whipped cream.
According to legend, the Bombardino was dreamt up by a man looking to give skiers a quick fix as they came in from the cold. Now beloved across the Italian Alps, skiers travel far and wide to taste the signature drink. Like all the best recipes, over time the Bombardino has been perfected and is now traditionally dusted with cinnamon.
Vin Chaud (Mulled Wine), France
Okay, so this one is popular all over Europe – but it seemed only fair to give the title to the French! There’s little else more festive in France than a seasonal glass of steaming Vin Chaud served at Christmas markets and bars up and down the country. During winter the delicious hot spicy wine warms the cockles faster than you can say “oui, s’il vous plait”. Intoxicating smells of cinnamon, orange, cloves and star anise are hard to resist. Plus it’s impossible to catch a whiff and not feel instantly Christmassy!
This winter warmer has been adapted and perfected the world over, with modifications made depending on the fresh local produce available. Here in the UK we call it mulled wine, the Germans and Austrians have a shared creation in glühwein, while in Scandinavia it’s glögg or gløgg. Bulgaria, Poland, Serbia, Croatia and Hungary all make their own with special spices – as do the Canadians. In Quebec they even add maple syrup and call it Caribou. Wherever you travel, no glass will ever be the same!
Agua de Valencia, Spain
The basic ingredients of the boozy beverage are champagne (Cava), orange juice, vodka and gin. Usually it’s served in pitchers between friends and families – which makes it perfect for sharing! Although not exclusively a ‘Christmas’ cocktail (or winter warmer for that matter), this concoction is the perfect way to welcome in the New Year!
No Spanish Christmas would be complete without copious amounts of Cava either. So move over Prosecco, there’s a new kid on the block. The equivalent of French champagne, it’s another New Year classic that’s actually not such a ‘new kid’ after all.
DIY tasty tipples
The perfect excuse to indulge in those party favourites that ooze with booze, here’s some festive inspiration for your favourite tipples reimagined. Because who isn’t dreaming of a white Christmas (mojito)?
Seasonal Sangria, Spain
2 cinnamon sticks
100g fresh cranberries (or frozen and thawed)
2 bottles fruity red wine
120ml orange-flavoured liqueur
1 apple, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1 slightly under-ripe pear, cored and thinly sliced
1 small orange, halved and thinly sliced
1 tangerine, halved and thinly sliced
40g pomegranate seeds
Ice for serving
Mix all the ingredients in a large pitcher and stir well. Chill for at least 4 hours overnight, and stir again before serving. (You might need a pair of tongs to hand to extract some of the fruit for your guests!)
Serves: approx. 4-5 glasses
Sorrel Punch, Jamaica
50g dried sorrel calyxes
2 1-inch cubes of peeled fresh ginger, finely chopped
3 whole cloves
350ml amber rum
2 cups ice cubes
Lime and orange slices for garnish
In a heat-proof bowl combine the sorrel, ginger and cloves. Boil the equivalent of one litre of water and pour it over the sorrel mixture. Let the mixture steep for 4 hours (or overnight). While the mixture is steeping, boil the remaining 250ml of water and sugar in a small saucepan. Stir until the sugar is dissolved, and let the syrup cool. Strain the sorrel liquid into a pitcher (discarding any solids) and stir in the sugar syrup, rum and ice cubes. Garnish the punch with lime and orange slices.
Serves: 8 glasses
White Christmas Mojito, USA
The quickest and easiest of the three, this Christmas take on a classic can be whipped up in ten minutes! Perfect for those last-minute holiday house visits.
Juice of 1 lime
3 mint leaves
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons white rum
1 tablespoon coconut rum
60ml canned coconut milk
Sparkling water for topping
Pomegranate arils for serving
In a glass, mix the lime juice, sugar and mint leaves until the leaves have broken down. Fill the glass half way with ice. In a blender, combine the white rum, coconut rum and coconut milk and pulse until smooth. Pour over the ice and stir. Top with sparkling water, mint and pomegranate for an extra special finishing touch!
Serves: 1 glass