13 December 2017 | Schwartz
’Tis the season to be jolly, and while we of course advise moderation, what better way to get into the festive mode than with some Christmas spirits? You may not know it, but a shake of this and a sprinkle of that is the perfect way of elevating your yuletide tipples to something really special. And as it’s the time of year when the cupboard is filled with all your favourite Christmas spices, there couldn’t be a better time for a bit of experimenting. Create a simple twist on the classic gin and tonic with star anise, or an indulgently creamy cocktail warmed with cinnamon – there’s no end to the incredible number of flavours you can get from your signature drink.
Thanks to its beautifully botanic taste, gin fever has swept the nation. As gin is made from juniper berries, aromatic spices naturally enhance its flavour – pretty star anise adds a refreshing menthol kick, peppercorns provide a delicious heat, and extra juniper berries gives it an even stronger gin taste. Just add ice and tonic for the perfect quick and easy cooler. You can even save time at your Christmas party by infusing ice blocks in advance with a generous sprinkle of your favourite spices.
After something traditionally festive? One Christmas cocktail, coming up! Add our Mulled Wine seasoning to a mix of dark rum, red wine and cider for a rich mulled wine cocktail. Piney juniper berries and fruit slices add a light overtone to this deeply delicious drink, and you can add more honey if you prefer a sweeter treat. Make it a party showstopper by serving up in a heat-resistant bowl and garnishing with bright red cranberries and orange circles.
Mix up an indulgent winter warmer with a spiced hot chocolate cocktail – this creamy blend is the perfect foundation for warming spices and liquor. Firstly, add cloves, cardamom and a just a pinch of chili to spice things up. Once the mixture has started to simmer, remove it from the heat – it’s essential to do this before adding your booze, as it will burn off otherwise. A splash of sweet brandy gives a wonderful depth, or rich dark rum is sure to warm you up from your head to your toes. Finish this wonderful velvety concoction with a cinnamon stick to stir it all together. Bliss!
While 007 may have preferred his martini dry, adding sweet lychee, zingy lemongrass and tart juniper berries would have given him a far tastier tipple. Making your own sugar syrup with lemongrass and juniper berries gives this cocktail a wonderfully fresh taste. Once the sugar has completely dissolved in the pan, strain the syrup and cool. Then – to make sure your martini is shaken, not stirred – fill a cocktail shaker with crushed ice, the infused sugar syrup, lychee juice, pomegranate juice and vodka. This mild-tasting spirit is a perfect canvas to handle sweeter citrus flavours.