The snow is falling, the fire is roaring, the sleigh bells are ringing…
Ok, we admit that not every romantic notion of Christmas time is necessarily true, but there are still some things that never fail to get you into the festive spirit. Spending time with family, a loved one, friends or chosen family are important at this time of year, as is finding the time and space to relax a little.
It’s also the time for gift-giving. However it’s also important to remember that you work hard too, and you deserve to have a little something for your efforts! Father Christmas may be able to sustain himself on mince pies and carrots, but some of us might prefer a little more luxury.
With that in mind, we’ve collected some of our favourite festive cocktails, based around (of course) gin! While wintertime temperatures are often associated with darker, sweeter drinks - think brandy or rum - the staunch botanicals and sheer versatility of gin makes it a compelling option. Juniper has a naturally astringent, almost menthol quality to it, which is perfect for cold weather, and these recipes bring out all of gin’s resinous, spicy notes and deep herbal qualities.
If you (like us) have some good gin sitting around the house, and need something tasty in your glass, then read on for our festive gin cocktail ideas -
This recipe is adapted from the fantastic recipe on The Gin Queen’s blog - we’ve added a touch of maple syrup to bring the recipe together in an even richer way. Traditional eggnog would be made with either brandy or rum, but using gin gives a lighter, botanical touch that will still be immensely comforting. The very definition of a winter warmer.
250ml Whole Milk
125ml Single Cream
2 Egg Yolks
75g caster sugar
1 tbsp maple syrup
Pinch of cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
First, take a bowl and whisk the egg yolks together with the sugar. Next, add the milk, cinnamon and nutmeg to a pan and heat gently for a few minutes - you don’t want it to bubble and boil, but you do want it to be hot and steaming. After a few minutes, add the egg mixture and fold it in gently - you do not want the yolks to set, so stir constantly at this point and don’t allow the heat to get too high. Once combined, add the cream, then the gin, stirring as you do it. Serve in a mug or latte glass, with an extra sprinkling of cinnamon and nutmeg.
Santa Cloves: The Negroni
One from our own stable, and available from our website as a premixed cocktail, this winter wonder combines the classic bittersweetness of a Negroni with rich winter spices. We recommend infusing some of your favourite gin with cloves, cinnamon and citrus peel for this very occasion - however given our penchant for the Japanese palate, we’d have to insist on yuzu… In a pinch, an Ayurvedic herbal tea bag will do the job nicely!
35ml Hidden Curiosities Gin - infused with cinnamon, cloves, ginger, cardamom and dried/candied yuzu
35ml Cocchi Torino Vermouth
Measure the ingredients into a large glass and stir. Pour your Negroni into an appropriately heavy tumbler, over a large block of ice. Garnish with a piece of yuzu peel, or if that’s unavailable, a twist of clementine. A classic Negroni, matched with unbeatable Christmas flavours.
In the niche between the Martini and the Manhattan, you find the Martinez, one of our very favourite blends. With sweet cherry flavours from the maraschino, and vibrant herbal notes from the vermouth, this is a balanced glass with a beautiful flavour - if you’ve never had one, you owe it to yourself to try this.
35ml Sweet Vermouth - we like Antica Formula
5ml Maraschino Liqueur
Dash of Angostura Bitters
First, get a coupe glass, and put it into the freezer about half an hour in advance - as with a Martini, temperature is everything. Measure your ingredients out into a mixing glass with plenty of ice. Stir together until the drink is well chilled, then strain into the now-ice cold coupe glass. Garnish with a twist of orange, or if you prefer, clementine.
The Hanky Panky
This blend of gin, vermouth and fernet is an absolute delight, purring with deep herbal flavours and an unctuous texture. If you’re not familiar with fernet, it’s well worth getting a bottle - it’s both powerful and versatile, and makes for an incredible twist on classic cocktails. Aranami gin here provides enough punch to stand up to it.
35ml Sweet Vermouth - we like Cocchi Torino here
5-10ml Fernet Branca, depending on taste
Fill a mixing glass with plenty of ice, then measure your ingredients into it. Stir carefully and well, making sure you get the drink down to temperature. Strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with a twist of clementine, for a festive flourish.
In short, gin can provide a perfect match for the warm, spicy, woody flavours of winter, and the inherent botanicals of a good quality gin adds interest and intrigue to familiar combinations. If you need a change from the usual sweet and sticky Christmas tipples, mix a good gin into your glass, and give your palate a lift.