Christmas Gifts: The Cocktail Lovers GuideBy Rosie Crossman
Christmas Gifts: The Cocktail Lovers Guide. I fondly remember a time when hours of meticulous Christmas wrapping lay shredded on the floor in a matter a minutes. Many an hour was spent scoffing chocolate coins, building Lego houses, and grazing our knees trying to conquer the Pogo Stick.
One year something dreadful happened. The Christmas in question my sister was given a Nokia 3210 and she remained glued to the jelly buttons, tapping away at Snake until bed time. Still reeling from this brutal assault on my childhood, this year I want to bring back the fun. It is time to give the gift of cocktails!
Well-loved journalists Ben McFarland and Tom Sandham have compiled a guide to help booze lovers drink less, but drink better- excellent encouragement for ‘Dry January’ bores. This encyclopaedia of merriment is dedicated to 15 different drinks. Propelling you ‘A over T’ on a intrepid voyage, stopping off in the agave fields of Tequila, the rugged, whisky drenched coastline on the Outer Hebrides and bringing you back with a thud to ‘Mother’s Ruin’ in London.
As a present to myself I have wrapped up a copy and plonked it under our slightly anaemic looking Argos Christmas tree. Come the 25th I will be getting my own back on my sister, spending the day immersed in the illustrations and quirky historical facts.
My cocktail shaker pre dates me. A couple of years ago I dusted it down, reincarnating the little devil after years of thirst, abondoned in my parents dresser. Everyone loves a selfish gift and giving your love interest, housemate, or goldfish this three piece cocktail set is a one-stop-shop to ensuring a harmonious 2015.
This merry Moscow Mule machine, will be a vessel to fuel celebrations, a hand-hold after a rough day, and the mixing bottle to lead you to blind oblivion when said goldfish dies.
The clever folk at Southern Comfort have compiled a gift set, which includes Southern Comfort, a jar of apricot jam, a stirrer and a jam jar to make cocktails in. A hole-in-one for any tipplers busting to try something new, but will likely be a little too pie-eyed after the Christmas champers to whack out the shaker.
£25, available in Tesco from 15th December
Christmas Day Cocktails
Once you have a cocktail shaker in the bag, get mixing. If you are nipping to see your great aunt, or your grandma and her new squeeze this Christmas, be sure to have The Bitter Truth Traveller’s Set in your handbag. A dash or two of the Celery Bitters, will jazz up any G&T that is made with a hefty splash of £15 pound a litre Gordon’s and a slug of flat tonic water.
Use you new Bitter Truth Orange Bitters, to concoct festive simplicity:
THE CLASSIC – THE MANHATTAN:
If you are a whisky sceptic, try this classic. It seems only fair to end a year in which we have applauded Duck & Waffle and Artesian for their mind boggling, multi-sensory drinks, with something simple. It is time to escape the capital and press reset.35ml Hudson Bourbon 35ml Belsazar Vermouth Dry (Master of Malt, £24.45) 2ml Sugar Syrup 2 Dashes of Bitter Truth Orange Bitters
Chuck all of the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice, shake well until condensation forms on the metal exterior and serve in a Martini glass.
The Citrus Explosion that is Tanqueray No. Ten is something that we couldn’t get enough of in our ‘Summer Cocktails’ roundup. Joining the art deco glam bottle in the gift set, are two Martini glasses. We love Tanqueray mixed with a little grapefruit juice and sugar syrup, but with a new bond film on the way, it would be a disloyal to not mix up a MARTINI!
MAKE – THE MARTINI:
I am big believer in the stir tactic when it comes to Martinis, shaking causes unnecessary dilution. One thing’s for sure, whether shaken or stirred, a warm Martini is about as abominable as Nigel Farage on News Night, so make sure you put the gin (or vodka) in the freezer.50ml Tanqueray No. 10 3 dashes Noilly Prat Extra Dry Vermouth
Stir the gin and vermouth together with plenty of ice and strain into your new Martini glasses. Garnish with lemon peel or an olive.
HOMEMADE – MINCED MEAT INFUSED VODKA MARTINI:
Let’s be honest very few of us have been organised enough to make a Christmas pudding and ‘feed’ it, because most of us have been too busy feeding our own hangovers. All is not lost, get involved in the festive delirium and make Mince Pie Vodka.
Make your favourite tippler a bottle of Christmas Vodka, so that they can make Kevin Knee’s (Maze, Gordon Ramsay) Christmas Martini:
To prepare the Vodka:750ml Vodka Zest of 1/2 an Orange 4 Cloves 1/2 a Cinnamon Stick 1 Slice of Ginger 1 Nutmeg Cracked 20ml Maple Syrup
Pour a bottle into a clean bowl and add the spices, cling film and leave in the fridge to infuse for a week, strain into the bottle.
The Cocktail:50ml Christmas Vodka 15ml Amaretto 1tsp of Ginger Syrup 2 Dashes Bitter Truth Orange Bitters
Add all the ingredients into a mixing glass, stir with ice and strain into chilled Martini glasses, and garnish with orange zest.
WARM UP – BREW DOG MULLED DOGMA:
Craft brew extraordinaires, BrewDog, have put together something a little different, for all those who like their festive drinks warm and malty.3 x 330ml Bottles Dogma Beer 1 Bought Muslin Spice Bag, or Mulled Wine Tea Bag 1 Tbsp. Honey 1 Halved Orange 250ml Fresh Orange Juice 50ml Rum
Place the spice bag into a large saucepan, with enough orange juice to just cover it. Bring up to simmer on a low heat and add the beer and rum. Add the remaining orange juice, juice from the orange and honey and warm through for 5 minutes (don’t boil)!
The beefy, bitter Negroni continues to be the ‘it’ cocktail. Frank’s in Peckham, was stonking last summer and the newly opened Bar Termini, Old Compton Street, offers four variations on the classic. So put on your flashing Christmas badge, squeeze into your party frock and add a little sparkle to your mood. Ask someone to get you the richy spiced Ophir Gin, which is infused with Black Pepper and Cubebs and make a Sparkling Negroni.10ml Ophir Gin 15ml Martini Rosso 10ml Prosecco Prosecco or Cava Squeeze of Orange + a Slice of Orange
CLASSIC – CHAMPAGNE COCKTAIL:
Come Christmas day, you will likely need something sparkling to please every generation. Root around in the back of the cupboard to give the Angostura bitters it’s annual outing. Be warned, one of these is fine, but if you are on turkey duty, and go for a second, it may cause you to singe your eyebrows and hurl the poor old bird across kitchen.
For each:Sugar Cube 2 Dashes of Angustora Bitters 20ml Cognac Champagne
Place the sugar cube in the base of the champagne flute, add the cognac and bitters and top up with the fizz.