Bars ready to serve up cocktails with a Christmas twist

Fig Negroni

To tie in with the feature on Christmas drinks in our November print edition, Mark Ludmon presents cocktails lined up by bars around the UK, including recipes

This year will be the first Christmas for Pecking Order, the restaurant and cocktail bar that opened in Stanmore in north-west London earlier this year. But, with summer barely over, its festive cocktail menu was already being planned. Drinks set to be on the menu will include a Mince Pie Martini, made with Havana Club rum, Grand Marnier, pineapple juice, fresh lime juice, sugar syrup and mincemeat. Also on offer will be the Turkey and Pine Old Fashioned and the Cranberry Sauce Fizz.

At Aqua in London’s West End, bar manager Luca Missaglia has created a seasonal cocktail combining rum, cacao, cherry liqueur, egg white and double cream – “all lovely rich wintery flavours reminiscent of Christmas cakes and candies” – which is garnished with Parmesan. “The salty, umami-rich flavour of the cheese really accentuates the sweet cake aromas of the cocktail,” Luca explains.

A retro classic is making a comeback at TwoRuba, the bar at London Hilton Tower Bridge hotel, where they are creating a bookable space called the Snowball Snug. They will offer a menu of Snowball cocktails, using egg and brandy liqueur Advocaat, featuring different twists made with lemon curd, cinnamon, and raspberry puree. “Much of Christmas revolves around tradition and memories so we thought what better way to celebrate this than with the classic Snowball,” explains bar manager Carlos Vilao.

Seasonal twists on older classics will be on the menus at Big Red Teapot’s bars Treacle, Hamilton’s and The Blackbird in Edinburgh including a Negroni using a fig-infused gin (pictured top), a Beetroot and Thyme Smash, a Redcurrant Crusta, and a Cherry and Ginger Sling (pictured below).

Cherry and Ginger Sling

Cherry and Ginger Sling
37.5ml House batch spiced rum
12.5ml Cherry brandy
20ml Blood orange juice
20ml Fresh lemon juice
15ml Sugar
Ginger ale
Add all ingredients apart from the ginger ale to a shaker filled with ice and shake vigorously until chilled. Double strain into a sling glass over cubed ice and then top with ginger ale. Garnish with fresh cherry and orange slice.

To make the house-batch spiced rum
Bottle of golden rum
2 vanilla pods
3 star anise
Zest of 1 large orange
12 cloves
3 cinnamon sticks
2tsp of brown sugar
Add all the dry ingredients to a bottle of golden rum. Leave to infuse for a minimum of one month, strain and rebottle.

Fig Negroni
25ml Gin infused with five fresh figs for at least a week
25ml Campari
25ml Sweet vermouth
Add all ingredients to a rocks glass, add ice and stir until diluted. Garnish with an orange twist and fig quarter.

Redcurrant Crusta
40ml Cognac
10ml Grand Marnier
10 Redcurrants
25ml Fresh lemon juice
1 Whole lemon zest
12.5ml Sugar
Cut a lemon in half. Pare the full peel off half and squeeze the juice from the lemon (retain for later). Prepare a glass by moistening the rim with lemon and dipping it in sugar, then carefully curling the lemon peel around the inside of the glass. Muddle redcurrants in bottom of shaker then add all other ingredients over ice and shake until chilled. Double strain into small chilled stemmed glass over crushed ice, garnish with a small bunch of redcurrants.

Beetroot and Thyme Smash
50ml Bourbon
Small handful of roast beetroot
25ml Fresh lemon juice
25ml Cloudy apple apple
12.5ml Thyme infused agave syrup
Smash beetroot in a shaker with a wooden muddler. Add all other ingredients over ice then shake vigorously until chilled. Double strain over cubed ice into tall glass. Garnish with a small wedge of fresh beetroot and a sprig of thyme.

The cocktail list at London’s Dirty Martini bars will feature twisted classics such as the spiced Xmas Old Fashioned (pictured below), the Bellringer, the Winterberry Beamer, the Winter Tiramisu and the Grinch.

Xmas Old Fashioned

25ml Blood orange syrup
25ml Cranberry juice
10ml Amaretto
75ml Prosecco
Pour ingredients except the prosecco into a shaker, shake and strain into a flute and top with prosecco. Garnish with redcurrants sprinkled with icing sugar.

Winterberry Beamer
35ml Jim Beam
10ml Manzanilla sherry
5ml Pimento dram
15ml Pomegranate juice
15ml Fresh lemon juice
10ml Egg white
2 Fresh blackberries
1 spoon Vanilla sugar
Muddle blackberries and sugar, add remaining ingredients shake and double strain into a Nic & Nora glass. Garnish with one blackberry, two pomegranate seeds and a mint leaf.

Xmas Old Fashioned
40ml Jim Beam
10ml Pimento dram
10ml Ginger syrup
4 Cloves
2 Star anise
Stir in a Japanese mixing glass, double strain over cubed ice into a Bach rocks glass. Garnish with half a dehydrated lime, a star anise, cloves and currants alongside a mini bottle of a cinnamon and Lagavulin mixture.

Winter Tiramisu
10ml Absolut Blue
10ml Kahlua
5ml Martell VS
15ml Mozart White liqueur
20ml Crème de cacao
20ml Double cream
Shake all ingredients and serve in a martini cocktail glass. Garnish with a chocolate powder line.

Dirty Grinch
5ml Crème de menthe
15ml Havana 3 Year Old rum
25ml Crème de cacao
5ml Butterscotch schnapps
35ml Cream
5 mint leaves
Shake and double strain into chilled whiskey sour glass. Garnish with an After Eight served on the side and chocolate shavings.

Launching in time for office Christmas parties, “Festive Fizz Bowls”, shaped like giant baubles and supplied by Pernod Ricard UK, will be on the menu at Slug and Lettuce bars around the country. They will be used for drinks such as the Coco-Noel, combining Malibu, Absolut Kurant, and cranberry juice, and the Winter Apple with Havana Especial rum, Absolut Vanilia and apple juice, garnished with a cherry. “Christmas is a key time for us, and it’s time to ensure our serves are as fun and innovative as can be,” explains commercial director Suzanne Baker. “The Christmas baubles were a huge success last year – so much so, customers started taking them home to adorn their own trees.”

Spiced Royale is a new seasonal signature serve for Chambord – part of the Bacardi Brown-Forman Brands portfolio – which will be seen on menus this Christmas at bars such as Hotel du Vin, Q Hotels and the Athenaeum in London. It is a twist on the simple serve of a Chambord Royale – 10ml of Chambord topped up with champagne with a raspberry garnish – which uses a spiced syrup made from Chambord, red wine and mulled wine ingredients which bars can make in advance. With a dash of cranberry juice, this new serve is recommended for serving with Lanson champagne – ideally in Chambord’s quirky new flamingo-inspired coupes.

Bacardi Brown-Forman Brands is also promoting festive serves for Southern Comfort, such as The Snowman, the warming Comfortable Christmas Toddy (pictured below) and All I Want For Christmas.

Southern Christmas Toddy

Comfortable Christmas Toddy
35ml Southern Comfort
15ml Ginger wine
20ml Fresh lemon juice
10ml Scottish heather honey
50ml Apple juice
Dash Cocktail bitters
Gently heat ingredients until piping hot but do not boil. Pour into a Southern Comfort mug. Garnish with a slice of orange, cinnamon and redcurrants.

The Snowman
40ml Southern Comfort
20ml Port
20ml Sugar
25ml Double cream
1 Egg
Add ingredients to a Boston shaker and shake hard. Strain into a Southern Comfort mason jar or highball glass. Garnish with chocolate, a cherry and sprinkle of icing sugar.

All I Want for Christmas
35ml Southern Comfort
20ml Red wine
20ml Cranberry juice or PomWonderful
10ml Passion fruit syrup
10ml Lime juice
Shake all ingredients and strain. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and redcurrants. Serve straight up in a mason jar or in a highball over cubed ice.

Bartender Jake Burger of west London’s Portobello Star has turned up the heat to create recipes for their Portobello Road Gin. Using guidelines given by Mr Micawber in Charles Dickens’s David Copperfield, he has created the Charles Dickens Hot Gin Punch, while sherry and cider mix with the gin for another favourite, a Hot Buttered Gin (pictured below).

Charles Dickens Hot Gin Punch
For 6 glasses based on a medium-sized wine glass
Half a bottle of Portobello Road Gin
Quarter of a bottle of Madeira
Boiling water
100g Brown sugar
3 Lemons
Teaspoon each of cinnamon, clove and grated nutmeg
Peel into a saucepan the rinds of three lemons, cut very thin, and with as little as possible of the white coating between the peel and the fruit attached. Add the brown sugar, gin, madeira, cinnamon, clove and nutmeg. Simmer on a low heat until it starts to bubble. Squeeze in the juice of the lemons. Stir well, cover for five minutes and stir again. If not sweet enough, add more sugar as needed. Sieve through a muslin cloth. It can be prepared in advance and stored in the fridge for reheating later. Serve in a heatproof glass or punch cup. Dilute with an equal measure of boiling water.

The Hot Buttered Gin
50ml Portobello Road Gin
75ml Cider
50ml Water
Teaspoon of brandy butter
5ml Sweet sherry such as Pedro Ximenez
Pinches of ground nutmeg, clove, cinnamon and allspice
5 Juniper berries
A large twist of orange peel
Stir it all up in a saucepan on a low heat until it is steaming then serve in a heatproof mug or cup. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and orange zest.

Buttered Gin

Winter warmers will be added to the menu at Pond Dalston in north-east London as part of the three-month residency by The Manhattans Project team. Their Chartreuse Chocolate adds Chartreuse and Cherry Heering liqueur to a mug of hot chocolate, while the Boozy Hot Ribena is a mix of gin, Ribena, St-Germain elderflower liqueur and a malic acid solution (or lime juice), topped up with hot water.

However, it is not essential to use a water boiler or make up your own spiced syrup to offer a Christmas cocktail list. At Pernod Ricard UK, they suggest simply renaming familiar classics with festive names such as Mojito Ho Ho, a Jingle Bell Julep and Mrs Claus Colada. Cellar Trends is promoting a range of recipes using Finest Call mixes and purees for Christmas menus such as Mistletoe’s Calling and the Christmas Mojito.

Mistletoe’s Calling
25ml White rum
25ml Archers peach schnapps
100ml Finest Call Margarita mix
50ml Finest Call Raspberry puree
Shake, strain and serve in a tall glass over ice, garnish with lime wedge.

Christmas Mojito
50ml Jägermeister
50ml Finest Call Passion Fruit puree
100ml Finest Call Mojito mix
Shake, strain and serve in a tall glass over ice, garnish with mint.

For busy bars at Christmas, the simple celebratory serve of a Sloe Fizz is being promoted for Hayman’s Sloe Gin – a dash of sloe gin topped up with prosecco in a flute. Other ideas are a classic French 75, combining gin with simple syrup, lemon juice and sparkling wine, or adding a touch of elderflower cordial to Hayman’s Old Tom and topping it up with prosecco or another sparkling wine.

Drinks group Hi-Spirits is offering ideas for party serves for its brands such as Angry Balls – 25ml of cinnamon and whiskey-flavoured Fireball liqueur topped up with cider over ice. Christmas drinks lists need to suit the audience, whether people are looking to treat themselves with premium brands or out for a good time on a more limited budget, says managing director Dan Bolton. “Unless outlets genuinely have staff with the skills – and just as importantly – the time to make complex cocktails, the focus has to be on simple serves in order to keep queues at the bar to the minimum during the peak party season.”

A longer version of this feature without recipes appeared in the November 2015 print edition of Bar magazine.

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