Christmas is coming and the proverbial goose is getting fat. As November moves into December, the focus naturally shifts to the festive party season and what to drink. Need something to spice up the office party, brighten up New Years Eve, or warm up the Christmas carols? We have some suggestions for Christmas drinks to try at home.
We kick off with this real winter warmer. This fantastic yet simple drink has American roots, originally using rum from the Caribbean colonies. It was first recorded over 150 years ago in a mid-19th century book by bartender Jerry Thomas called How To Mix Drinks.
Any rum can be used, and it’s warmed up with a generous amount of butter and hot water (or cider, if you’re feeling particularly ‘festive’). Pimp it up further with a selection of spices such as all-spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, star anise and cloves.
A classic drink synonymous with Christmas and especially popular in North America. Theories about its origin are discussed and range from a Scotch egg drink served with nugg (a warmed beer) to egg-n-grog, a drink developed by American settlers and made from eggs and rum, which was called grog in the 18th century.
Today, the popular drink can be consumed hot or chilled and is made by mixing eggs, sugar, cream, milk, rum and a good grater of nutmeg. If you don’t have rum, a decent brandy or whiskey can be used.
The Festive Negroni
The Negroni – a combination of gin, bitters and red vermouth – is considered one of the world’s best cocktails. The trio of ingredients work great together, but this can be tweaked for a festive drink that packs a punch.
Simply replace the gin with a spiced or Christmas pudding gin or gin liqueur (there are several brands that make this). Then stir equal parts of your gin of choice, Campari (or similar bitters) and red vermouth with ice and serve with a slice of dried orange and a bay leaf. Delicious, spicy and decadent.
The Hot Toddy
Not just any cold and flu remedy, but one of the iconic whiskey cocktails for winter and the holidays. Toddies were all the rage among the mid-Victorian British nobility and that’s how most drank their whiskey. The name has colonial origins as ‘toddy’ is a fermented Indian drink made from palm juice.
To make yours, simply combine blended Scotch, a dollop of honey, and a squeeze of lemon and top with boiling water in a mug or grog glass if you have one. Add extra festive flavors with cloves, cinnamon sticks and fresh ginger.
This timeless classic will give you an instant Christmas hit. Imagine walking into a pub on a cold winter’s day with the smell of mulled wine filling the air. Mulling is an Old English term meaning to warm wine or beer, but similar drinks exist elsewhere – glögg in Scandinavia and mulled wine in Germany, for example.
Important tips to remember for best results: only use wine you’d like to drink (so often it’s poorly made with cheap plonk); use fresh herbs; and make sure to simmer it gently instead of boiling.
An elegant and stylish cocktail that will be the perfect welcome drink for any festive gathering at your home. Named after the popular Christmas plant, this drink reflects its red and green foliage.
Make sure your glass is chilled in the freezer (a flute, coupe, or martini glass is best), then fill it halfway with cranberry juice, plus a splash of triple sec (Cointreau is the best-known example of this). Add champagne or another sparkling white wine for a wonderful effervescence.
Garnish with a fresh bay leaf or sprig of rosemary. Perfection.
Few drinks evoke Christmas memories like sherry does. Whether it’s the glass left out for Santa when you were a kid or sharing a sip with Grandma on Christmas afternoon when you’re older, this Spanish fortified wine is a winner.
Most will think of sweet cream sherry, but there are other varieties worth exploring. Maybe try some nutty Oloroso, rich and sweet Pedro Ximenez or rare and elusive Palo Cortado? Most work well with cheese, chocolate and other festive treats. So pour yourself a glass, grab a mince pie, put your feet up and enjoy.
The Sloe Gin Fizz
Sloe gin is making a comeback and is a British classic traditionally made each autumn with sloe berries picked from the hedge and soaked in gin. This uplifting cocktail is said to have been invented in America in the early 1900s when bartenders discovered this deliciously sour gin style.
Simply shake the sloe gin, lemon juice and sugar syrup with ice, then pour into a glass. Top up with champagne (or Prosecco for a budget option). This vibrant pink offering is sure to impress your friends.
Time to go retro with the underrated Snowball. This largely forgotten cocktail had its heyday in the 70s and 80s, but always seems to resurface this time of year.
It’s so easy to make: fill a tall highball glass with ice and fill it halfway with lemonade and freshly squeezed lime juice. Then add eggnog – a Dutch liqueur made from egg, brandy, sugar and vanilla – and stir gently so as not to lose the bubbles of the lemonade.
For a real retro feel, garnish with a maraschino cherry and stick on some of those classic old Christmas tunes.
If you’re bored of mulled wine as we approach the Big Day, this delicious warming drink is a great alternative.
Simmer some decent cider (don’t cut and buy the cheap stuff for this), cinnamon sticks and lemon zest in a pan, and enjoy the Christmas flavors that fill your kitchen. Then add a splash of rum or brandy (Calvados is perfect because it’s also made from apples) and serve in mugs with an apple slice.
Season it further with fresh red chili if you like. Also try a good crunchy pear wine instead of cider, which is equally tasty.