Three Wise Men and a Snowball lead the way in Christmas cocktails

When Ginger Met Ruby Brockmans Gin

With Christmas upon us, Mark Ludmon looks at a selection of what bars are serving up this winter

Three Wise Men and a Milky Bar Snowball are on the menu at Duck & Waffle, part of Sushi Samba at the top of London’s Heron Tower. They are among four tasty cocktails for the festive season from Rich Woods, head of spirit and cocktail development. Inspired by the nativity story, the Three Wise Men brings flavours of frankincense, myrrh and hay plus a gold-hued cognac and truffled dark chocolate. Twists on the classics see a Snowball enhanced with Milky Bar-flavoured Advocaat and distilled lemon along with vodka and egg and a prosecco spritz. There is also a Chocolate Orange Negroni and a Christmas Spiced Champagne Cocktail, made with the bar’s own mince pie liqueur and spiced orange bitters.

Milky Bar Snowball Duck & Waffle

Warnincks Advocaat comes into its own as a vital ingredient of a classic seeing a revival, the Snowball – one of the recipes being promoted by brand owner William Grant & Sons this Christmas. Others include a Yuletide Eye-Opener made with Hendrick’s Gin, clementine juice, lemon juice, mulled wine spiced sugar and Cointreau.

Jerry Loves Ginger
50ml Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum
Squeeze in two lime wedges
Top up with ginger beer
Build and serve in a highball glass with a wedge of lime to top it off.

Yuletide Eye-Opener
25ml Hendricks Gin
Juice of 1 clementine
1tsp Lemon juice
1tsp Mulled sugar (mix 1 sachet of mulled wine spices with 500g of sugar)
1tsp Cointreau
Shake all ingredients, pour into champagne flute and top with sparkling wine.

Honey Fizz
25ml Three Barrels Honey
Top up with champagne or a dry sparkling wine
Stir and serve in a champagne flute, garnish with lemon zest.

Warnincks Advocaat’s Snowball
50 ml Warninks Advocaat
25ml fresh lime juice
Shake Advocaat and lime juice together and then top up with lemonade. Pour over ice in a highball glass, garnish with a glacé cherry.

Diageo GB has launched a festive campaign under the banner of “#LetsCocktail” across its portfolio alongside campaigns such as “It’s not Christmas Without You” promoting indulgent Baileys serves. “With one in three customers open to trying something new at Christmas, the festive period is the perfect time for licensees to make the most of their spirits offering and really take advantage of a time when customers are looking to treat themselves,” explains Janel Fatania, commercial planning and activation executive for the on-trade.

A Funkin Berry Christmas

Simple festive ideas are being promoted to bars and pubs by Funkin using fruit purees, syrups and cocktail mixes from its Pro range reflecting current flavour trends. Twists on favourites include the Ginger Bell Rock Colada and the Mistle-sloe.

A Funkin Berry Christmas (pictured above)
100ml Funkin Hollywood
25ml Blue curacao
25ml Raspberry vodka
Churn over crushed ice serve long.

Funkin Ginger Bell Rock Colada
100ml Funkin Piña Colada
50ml Ginger liqueur
Serve long, churn over crushed ice.

Funkin Mistletoe Passion
100ml Funkin Brazilian
25ml Crème de banane
25ml White rum
Churn long over crushed ice.

Funkin Brew-dolph
25ml Funkin Huckleberry Purée
25ml Apple juice
25ml lemon juice
Top with beer
Serve long over cubed ice.

Funkin Mistle-sloe
25ml FunkinPro Spiced Syrup
25ml Sloe gin
25ml brandy
25ml Funkin Passion Fruit Purée
Churn over crushed ice.

Funkin Snow Ball
25ml Lime syrup
25ml FunkinPro PurePour Lime Juice
25ml FunkinPro Strawberry Purée
50ml Warnincks Advocaat
Shake hard and strain over ice.

Bartenders have created many of their own ingredients to bring seasonal flavours to the menus at Mothership Group’s bars Patterns in Brighton and Queen of Hoxton, The Book Club and Stories in London. New cocktails include Fear and Clove-ing, made with Zubrowka bison-grass vodka, Eager Orange Juice, clove syrup, orange syrup and lemon, and The Ginger Nephew, combining a gingerbread “pain au spice” syrup with coconut milk, Wray & Nephew Overproof rum, Koko Kanu coconut rum, lemon juice and crushed ginger snaps.

At Heddon Street Kitchen in London’s West End, bartender George Simmons has created a Christmas Pudding Hardshake (pictured below) as part of the bar’s festive menu, mixing up Bacardi Oakheart spiced rum, Pedro Ximenez sherry, orange zest and gingerbread with vanilla ice cream.

HSK Xmas Pudding Hardshake

At Rocket restaurant and bar in Old Broad Street in the City of London, they are offering Tinset Tot shotails – 50ml shots of maraschino liqueur, Mozart Black Chocolate Liqueur, fresh cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

At Javier de las Muelas’ bar Dry Martini at London’s Melia White House hotel, a festive spin on a popular classic is the Scented Negroni made with Tanqueray No Ten Gin, Martini Rosso and Campari plus an infusion of rosemary droplets. “The consumer mind-set is still focused on drinking better and, during the festive period, people are willing to trade up and pay more for something special,” says Nick Temperley, head of Reserve Brands GB at Tanqueray owner Diageo.

An innovative serve at the Cocktail Trading Co bar in Smithfield in London, called Citizen Cane, captures a winter scene in an actual snow globe, filled with cachaça, a cardamom-vanilla infusion, lime juice, sauvignon blanc and their own “rosebud tincture” – inspired by classic film Citizen Kane whose character yearns for his childhood sledge, Rosebud.

Citizen Cane

It is also the season of pop-ups, such as The Tree House at Skylounge – an “enchanted woodland” on the rooftop of the DoubleTree Hilton at Tower Hill in London. Running to the end of February, the cosy space offers cocktails such as a Rum and Plum Old Fashioned and hot or cold Spiced Toddies made with Chairman’s Reserve Spiced Rum and cider topped with cream. Other seasonal drinks at Skylounge include the Rum & Raisins with Diplomatico, Brugal and Pyrat rums plus cherry brandy, sugar and rum-soaked raisins.

At the rooftop Coq d’Argent in the City of London, the Lodge d’Argent has returned until the end of February, creating a “magical” Alpine-themed winter wonderland. New cocktails from bar manager Pawel Rolka include the Avalanche (pictured below): Hennessy Fine Cognac infused with apricot and earl grey tea, apricot brandy, peach puree, lemon juice and egg white.

Avalanche Lodge d'Argent

The outdoor terrace at London hotel The Goring has been transformed into a pine-scented St Moritz Ski Bar, inspired by old photographers of owner Jeremy Goring’s grandfather and great-grandfather – who previously ran the hotel – skiing in St Moritz. The cocktails are from family-owned hotel Badrutt’s Palace in St Moritz such as the San Moritzino made with Russian Standard vodka, Cointreau, Orzata Fabbri almond syrup and lemon juice.

Christmas cocktail recipes have been created for Brockmans Gin, including a Brockmans Hot Collins for welcoming guests on a cold winter night.

When Ginger Met Ruby (pictured top)
40ml Brockmans Gin
20ml Ruby port
Ginger ale
Pour over large ice cubes into a short glass. Garnish with grapefruit zest or a grating of nutmeg.

Brockmans Hot Collins
50ml Brockmans Gin
25ml Lemon juice
15ml Agave syrup or honey
100ml Boiling water
Mix all ingredients and pour into small mug or thick, heat-proof glass. Garnish with grapefruit zest, a cinnamon stick and cloves.

40ml Brockmans
25ml Cranberry juice
15ml Cointreau
1 dash Lime juice
Shake all ingredients together with ice and strain into a chilled coupette. Garnish with a singed star anise and a lime wedge.

Alongside mulled wine, mulled cider is set to be bigger than ever this year, supported by new launches such as Rattler Mulled Cider from Healeys, Sheppy’s and Henry Westons Mulled Cider as well as dry apple ciders from C&C such as Ye Olde English, Blackthorn or Addlestones. Another alternative is mulled tea – an idea promoted this winter for Sweet Sally Spiced Tea, mixing it with American whiskey.

A mulled Ribena Winter Spice is a favourite of bartender Michael Stringer of events and drinks consultancy Blackleaf Events, combining the cordial with hot water, cloves, orange wedges and a whisky such as The Macallan Amber. However, it is a cold drink, the Christmas Cake Manhattan (pictured below), that is Blackleaf Events’ signature serve this Christmas.

Christmas Cake Manhattan
35ml Red Stag by Jim Beam
2 barspoons Christmas Cake Curd (by Marks & Spencer)
15ml Belsazar Rose vermouth
5ml Courvoisier VSOP
Shake ingredients hard over cubed ice and double strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with a skewered cherry.

Christmas Cake Manhattan

Alcoholic hot chocolate drinks are set to be popular this winter as consumers seek to treat themselves with “indulgence”, says Stuart Westwood, marketing manager for spirits and RTDs at on-trade supplier Matthew Clark. Ideas include a Spicy Hot Choc, adding 50ml of Jagermeister to hot chocolate, topped with whipped cream.

Pernod Ricard UK is promoting the Malibu Hot Choc this winter, supported by a digital campaign offering a voucher for people to claim one for free at over 180 bars and restaurants such as Las Iguanas on the four Saturdays before Christmas. The serve of 50ml of Malibu, hot chocolate and whipped cream was a big success as an exclusive at Las Iguanas last year, with recommended garnishes such as mini marshmallows, chocolate sprinkles, desiccated coconut, edible glitter or mini Bounty bars. “Christmas tends to be the time when everyone indulges and goes out a little more than usual,” adds Stuart at Matthew Clark.

Malibu Hot Choc Mini Bounty

A version of this feature, without all the recipes, appeared in the December 2015 print edition of Bar magazine.

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