ON SPARKLING FORM
One of the easiest cocktails (both to drink and make) is an old classic. It first won us over in the 1860s – references to champagne cocktails abound in old newspapers, novels and books like The Bartenders’ Guide of 1862 – and champagne is still ideal for any kind of celebration, especially at Christmas.
Ingredients: Champagne or sparkling wine / Sugar cube / Angostura bitters / splash of cognac (optional)
Soak the sugar cube in Angostura bitters and drop into a champagne flute. Add bubbles, and cognac if you so wish. Be warned – that little addition packs quite the punch and is probably not recommended for a festive breakfast.
MULL IT OVER
The smell of mulled wine alone is enough to give us that Christmassy feeling – make a vat of your own at home and enjoy during a long, cosy evening with friends, food and Secret Santa.
Ingredients: Bottle of red wine / 2 cinnamon sticks / 6 cloves / 1 sliced orange / 100g brown sugar / Brandy to taste (optional)
Put all the ingredients into a saucepan and simmer gently for 6-8 minutes, without boiling. Serve in heatproof glasses or mugs.
JINGLE BELL CHOC
Give the mince pies a rest and end your festive feasts with a drink. Specifically, a drink that masquerades as a pudding in a glass, combining three of our favourite things; rum, chocolate and salted caramel.
Ingredients: 25ml dark rum / 2 teaspoons dulce de leche or caramel / 150ml whole milk / 50g chopped milk chocolate / Pinch of sea salt
Mix the rum and dulce de leche in a small bowl until it’s smooth. Warm the milk to a simmer in a saucepan, remove from the heat, add the chocolate and stir. When it’s melted, put back on the heat and warm it, before adding the rum concoction and a pinch of salt.
THE CAT’S WHISKEYS
We like the theory that the word cocktail originated, in the early 19th century, from the fact that it was a morning drink, made from water, sugar, booze and bitters. Turn the water to ice and add whiskey – this drink becomes a mighty fine Old Fashioned. Don your smoking slippers, sit by the fire and set the world to rights.
Ingredients: Sugar cube / Angostura bitters / 1 litre soda / 50ml rye or bourbon whiskey
Wet the sugar cube (or 1–2 teaspoons of loose sugar) with two or three dashes of Angostura bitters and a short splash of water or club soda. Crush the sugar with a wooden muddler (if you’re into your cocktails and have one) or a sizeable spoon, rotate the glass so that the sugar and bitters line it, add a large ice cube and add the whiskey. Stir and serve.