Make merry with these rich, spiced and warming cocktails – whether for a Christmas party, or to enjoy in your reindeer PJs in front of a film.

Christmas is a time for all norms to be flung merrily out of the window. Fancy staying in your PJs all day? Sure. Lunch at 5pm? Why on earth not. Outbreaks of morning drinking? Don’t mind if we do. It’s Christmas, after all.

On the latter point, if you are going to make merry before (or indeed after) the hour strikes midday, do make sure it’s with a cocktail that’s worthy of the endeavour. To help you, we’ve rounded up a selection of our tried-and-tested favourites from around the web; beautifully spiced, they make the house smell of Christmas – some are even purported to be good for your digestive system – and lift the spirits no end. Cheers to the season of merriment and joy.

Gingerbread and Espresso Martini

Olive Magazine


The Christmas cocktail is all about the warming kick, and this one has it in spades. It takes ten minutes to prepare, requires just four ingredients and is sure to keep everyone merry in every way. Liquid gingerbread: what’s not to love?


Hot Buttered Rum

Jamie Oliver


There are certain things that are permissible only at Christmas, and this glorious cocktail is one of them. At no other time of year would we consider lacing our rum with butter, but it seems apt, and so ridiculously comforting, right now. Plus it has the faint whiff of Harry Potter-ish ye olde tavern imbibing to it. The recipe suggests that cloves are optional; we say they’re imperative.

Mulled Wine

Gimme Some Oven


No list of drinks that deliver a hearty dose of comfort and joy would be complete without delicious-smelling mulled wine. Perhaps the most well-known Christmas drink, it goes by many names – glühwein, vino caliente, glögg, vin brulé, bisschopswijn, vin chaud, candola or vinho quente – but the basics remain the same. Take some (inexpensive) red wine, oranges, cinnamon, spices of your choice and sugar or sweetener. Simmer for fifteen minutes and say hello to a drink that not only tastes like Christmas, but makes your house smell of it too. Fancy a little top up? Feel free to add brandy or another favourite spirit. Ooof.

Mulled Cider

River Cottage


Coming up the rear and even threatening to overtake hot wine this year is mulled cider, which seems to be on every cosy pub’s 2019 menu as a matter of course. We’re not complaining; it’s slightly lighter than its counterpart from the grape, wonderfully warming and not too sweet (unless you want it to be). The River Cottage take on the affair recommends adding some sloe gin, oranges and honey – and serving immediately, preferably by a log fire.

Clementine Pisco Sour

Delicious Magazine


This is a refreshing and sophisticated drink for Christmas parties (as opposed to for lolling about watching Elf for the seventeenth time). Highly drinkable, the clementines, studded with cloves, give it a light festive touch. It’s easy to make and easy to drink, but suitably unusual to be impressive at soirees.


Christmas Gin Fizz

Great British Chefs


This one comes from Nebojsa Kutlesic, the mixologist at the uber-fancy Skylon Restaurant on London’s South Bank. Sure, it’s one you have to have prepared for – few of us are likely to have gomme syrup knocking around in the store cupboard – but this is a cocktail worth a little planning ahead for. Served in a champagne flute, it looks resplendent and spectacular at this most wonderful time of the year.

The Hanky Panky

Serious Eats


A cocktail with heritage, the Hanky Panky was invented at The Savoy’s world-famous American Bar. Made using an Italian spirit named Frent Branca, along with sweet vermouth and gin, it is ‘bracingly bitter’ and full of botanicals including cardamom, chamomile, saffron and rhubarb. It’s worth the bite: as well as having an – albeit acquired – Christmassy flavour, it is also a digestivo, meaning it’ll help counteract the effects of overindulgence. Ideal for this time of year.

Christmas Punch

BBC Good Food


Who doesn’t love a big bowl of punch at a laid-back festive Christmas bash? This rosemary-topped number, with prosecco, sloe gin, Jägermeister and apple juice, clementine and ginger hits the festive spot every time. Best of all, guests can help themselves so no topping up duty for the hosts. It’s also great for a Boxing Day extravaganza, to accompany Bridget Jones-style turkey curry, for which reindeer jumpers are a requirement.

Eggnog

BBC


Eggnog, the favoured festive drink of our cousins across the pond, is a source of fascination to us Brits. What, exactly, is it? Does it actually contain eggs? The answer to the latter is a resounding yes, along with double cream, rum, milk, nutmeg and sugar. It’s rich, yes, but this is Christmas, so why ever not?

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By Nancy Alsop
December 2019