Naming cocktails is an arbitrary business, hence the many fraudulent concoctions – Rudolph’s Revenge, anyone? – that are as ‘Christmassy’ as novelty socks (not very). For proper Christmas credentials it’s the ingredients that count, not the name, which is why I turn to cranberry and pomegranate juice, nutty liqueurs such as amaretto (almond) or Frangelico (hazelnut) and Cointreau.
- 500ml chilled cranberry juice
- 125ml triple sec (Cointreau or Grand Marnier)
- Chilled sparkling wine
To my mind, a Christmas cocktail should be, wherever possible, as red as Rudolph’s celebrated nose. The suitably red Poinsettia is long and sparkling, great with Christmas leftovers. Pour 500ml chilled cranberry juice into a jug, add 125ml triple sec (Cointreau or Grand Marnier), then top up with a chilled bottle of sparkling wine.
Amaretto Cranberry Kiss
- 50ml vodka
- 245ml amaretto
- 50ml cranberry juice
- Dash of orange juice or blood orange juice
An Amaretto Cranberry Kiss provides a shorter, stronger cranberry fix. In a shaker with some ice, rattle the bones of 50ml vodka, 25ml amaretto, 50ml cranberry juice and a dash of orange juice, preferably blood-orange juice for a more festive shade. Strain this into a Martini glass and garnish with a clementine segment on a cocktail stick. Sticklers for nomenclature can call it a Christmas Kiss and hang the consequences.
- 200ml cranberry juice
- 200ml Pimm's No 1 Cup
- 250ml soda water
- 250ml lemonade
Mix 200ml or pomegranate juice with 200ml Pimm’s No 1 Cup in a jug with ice, top it up with equal parts soda water and lemonade (about 250ml each) – bracing shots of gin optional. Garnish with thin slices of orange and cucumber, a few mint leaves and perhaps a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds. Supply cocktail sticks with this delightfully named drink – PimPom – for elegant harpooning.
- Dry white sparkling wine
- 12ml Chambord (raspberry liquer)
- 500ml pomegranate juice
Revellers sitting down for the inevitable Christmas specials might appreciate a Ruby Duchess; a bottle of dry fizz mixed in a jug with 125ml Chambord (raspberry liqueur) and 500ml pomegranate juice.
- 30ml Campari
- 30ml gin
- 30ml red vermouth
- Chilled Prosecco
A classic Negroni (30ml each of Campari, gin and red vermouth shaken with ice), provides a stylish red apéritif, but seeing as it’s Christmas, you could top this up with chilled Prosecco in a highball glass. This is known as a Negroni Sbagliato (spah-lee-atto), meaning ‘mistaken’. It was created, allegedly, by a Milanese bartender who mistook a bottle of Prosecco for gin. I say, keep the gin as well.
- 50ml gin
- 25ml Cointreau
- 25ml lemon juice
Another classic not blessed with a festive name but which fits the occasion is the White Lady, a perfect balance of sweetness and sharpness. Shake with ice 50ml gin, 25ml Cointreau and 25ml lemon juice and strain into a cocktail glass.
- 30ml Countreau
- 30ml Cognac
- 30ml lemon juice
A sidecar is always the best way to travel home from a Christmas drinks party. Shake equal parts (30ml) of Cointreau, Cognac and lemon juice with ice.
Burnt Toasted Almond
- 50ml vodka
- 25ml Baileys
- 25ml Tia Maria or Kahlua
- 25ml amaretto
Of course, Christmas provides an amnesty for those guilty pleasures lurking at the back of the cupboard. Dust off the bottles and shake, with ice, 50ml of vodka, 25ml each of Baileys, coffee liqueur (Tia Maria
or Kahlua) and amaretto with an optional slug of double cream. Garnish with ground nutmeg or a crumbled chocolate flake and serve with almond biscotti.
This seven-deadly-sins of a cocktail has the unsatisfactory name of Burnt Toasted Almond. I might call it Nut in My Name.