I took a trip to our local Morrisons, which was looking suitably festive, with the aim of making two cocktails: a warm one for the cold winter nights and a cold one that could be served with Christmas dinner.
The first thing I picked up, to be used in both cocktails, was the Bacardi!
So many of the smells and tastes associated with Christmas come from spices, so I headed to the spice aisle next and picked up some cinnamon sticks and some mulled wine spices. If you were feeling particularly adventurous you could try and make your own blend with cloves, cinnamon and dried fruit but if you're like me you'll have no time for that at this time of year and these sachets are just as good and twice as easy.
Some sugar: brown goes best with the hot drink.
Some fruit juices: cranberry and cloudy apple. Sweet and Christmassy.
And since Christmas is all about being decadent and indulging yourself, some whipped cream.
Since it was a cold night I came straight home and started making the hot cocktail!
Hot Mulled Apple Bacardi (makes 4 servings)
For this I heated up 1 litre of the cloudy apple juice in a pan and, once it started to boil, added one mulled wine sachet, which is pretty much a Christmassy teabag! We like cinammon in this house, so I threw in two cinammon sticks too and the juice and zest of half an orange.
I let the apple juice simmer for a few minutes to infuse and craftily put 50ml of Bacardi into a mug.
Once the sachet and sticks had been in the simmering apple juice for 5 minutes I poured 1/4 of the liquid (roughly 250ml) on top of my Bacardi and gave it a stir.
As I said we like things cinammonny in this house, so as a festive garnish I served with a cinnamon stick in the drink and topped with whipped cream.
Straight away the drink is so warming; firstly it's obviously hot but the warmth you get from the spices could heat you up by itself.
For the cold cocktail I went for a sweet and minty martini: The Candy Cane!
Stick a generous handful of ice in a cocktail shaker (and some in a martini glass to chill it)
Frost the rim of the martini glass by wetting it and turning upside down into a saucer of white sugar.
Add 50ml cranberry juice, 37.5ml Bacardi and 25ml Creme de Menthe Blanc* to the shaker and shake for 7 seconds. (Top trick to shaking cocktails, if you can't be bothered counting you can judge by feeling the side of the shaker, once it's fully mixed the side will get colder as the ice deteriorates.)
Strain into frosted martini glass and serve. It tastes like a candy cane, sweet and pepperminty!
*Creme de menthe blanc isn't necessarily the easiest spirit to find but there are alternatives. Normal creme de menthe would work but the green colouring kind of spoils the look. You could substitute for peppermint vodka. How do you make that?
Pack of these:
In a bottle of this:
Leave over night then strain!
The cocktails are really different but still both Christmassy. I can see the hot mulled apple cocktail being something we could enjoy on cold nights throughout the whole of December and I'm looking forward to trying the Candy Cane on my family at Christmas dinner.
What is your favourite Christmas cocktail?