Winter warmers: three Christmassy cocktails
Our trained mixologists inject some festive cheer into your cocktail shaker
Spice up your repertoire of festive cocktails with these toasty aromatic brews, as recommended to Sylvie Docherty by drinks experts from Glasgow and Edinburgh
It’s chilly out, and few things could be more pleasing than cupping a mug of hot, aromatic booze at this time of year. Are you having folk round for drinks soon and finding you’re a bit low on new party pieces? Perhaps you want an addition to the Christmas dinner menu for the big day? Whatever the occasion over the festive season, it can’t hurt to have a recipe for a new alcoholic melange under your belt to wow your guests. Help is at hand thanks to three of Scotland’s cocktail-mixing professionals. Let the experts take the hassle out of festive pick-me-ups: stock up your drinks cabinet, bookmark this page and follow their cracking festive hot cocktail recipes. (Remember to leave a beverage out for Santa, too).
The Bon Noël
Suggested by Will Cox at The Bon Vivant, Edinburgh.
25ml sweet vermouth
25ml hot water
dash of aromatic bitters
‘This is such a simple recipe with easily obtainable products. All the ingredients are just mixed together with a dash of bitters to finish. The thinking behind this drink was for it to be warming and festive, and to taste like a spiced baked apple!
Rather than going down the usual hot toddy route with lemon, honey and whisky, we wanted to use products that are often overlooked in place of whisky or brandy. National Calvados Week took place a few weeks ago, which inspired us to use this delicious apple brandy. The sweet vermouth gives colour, sweetness and spice to the drink, and the aromatic bitters add complexity and depth – they act as a seasoning in the cocktail.
The great thing about making drinks at home over Christmas is to be sociable, and this could be easily scaled up to make a hot punch to serve at a big party. All the ingredients can be slightly altered if you run out halfway through the night – for example, the Armagnac could be replaced by Cognac, and the Calvados by applejack.’
Suggested by Danny Whelan at The Kelvingrove Café, Glasgow.
30ml fresh apple juice
20ml Chairman’s Reserve Spiced Rum
10ml homemade falernum
3 dashes of Peychaud’s bitters
cardomom, star anise, cloves and cinnamon
‘Muddle cardamom, star anise, cloves and cinnamon before mixing in the rest of the ingredients and heating with a steam wand. Serve with a twist of grapefruit peel.
Though typically reserved for refreshing, light, summer cocktails, with their herbaceous backbones, many aperitif wines also lend themselves to the warmer, darker flavours typically associated with winter drinks. Widely considered the benchmark of summer aperitifs, Aperol has a citrus base that’s supported by a variety of warming roots and spices, which work as an ideal base when mixed with a good-quality spiced rum, falernum (a Caribbean syrup made from cloves, almonds, vanilla and lime – see chow.com for DIY recipes), apple juice and bitters, and served hot. Once you get past the initial bitterness, the complexity and depth of aperitifs like Aperol create endless opportunities for amazing winter drinks.’
The Holly and the Ivy
Suggested by Joanna Nethery at Distill Bar, Glasgow.
50ml Chairman’s Reserve Spiced Rum
25ml freshly pressed James white organic apple juice
10ml runny honey
knob of unsalted butter
top up with boiling water (around 125–150ml)
‘Place all the ingredients in a glass with the boiling water and stir. The ingredients dissolve and mix themselves. Garnish with an apple fan, freshly grated nutmeg and a cinnamon stick to stir. Serve in a glass teacup (or a rocks glass).
This wee cocktail is one of our bestsellers in the winter months. Spiced rum, cinnamon, nutmeg and hot apple don’t really need much justification – they are made for each other and are synonymous with Yuletide.
We’re a rum bar; we all love rum. It’s a great weakness to have, though, especially in the winter, as it can warm your cockles regardless of how ice-cold it is on the streets. To date we house the largest rum collection in Scotland, so for those of you who think you don’t like rum, I’m sure we can find you something. It’s magically complex with a flavour range that far surpasses that of most other spirits.
This Christmas my mum and I will be helping out at a soup kitchen in the morning before counting our lucky stars, making a huge batch of hot buttered rum and watching the kittens freak out over the wrapping paper. Simple things.’
Distill are also holding a joint birthday party/fundraiser for the Phillippines on Sat 29 Nov – check out their Facebook page for more info.