Whether you're looking for an adult stocking filler or a cheeky tipple to sup while you cook Rejina Sabur-Cross has selected the 10 best Christmas drinks guaranteed to bring some festive cheer.
As the season of scoffing, boozing and generally making merry is finally upon us, it's time to ditch that tired old mug of mulled red and spruce up your festive sipping with something a bit more exciting instead. Here's a low down on the top ten for 2011.
The King's Ginger
It doesn't get more Christmassy than this spicy little number. It's said that King Edward VII used to indulge in a reviving snifter during morning rides in his Daimler. Gorgeous neat, a slosh of this in your mulled wine will supply the perfect regal twist. Berry Bros & Rudd have been producing the zesty liqueur since 1903, and this year they've teamed up with chocolatiers Charbonnel et Walker, to produce some dark chocolate truffles as part of a gift pack. Pretty much guaranteed to help you get up and glow.
Gekkeikan Plum Wine and Peach Wine
For something a smidge more exotic than the usual dessert wine, this sweet fruity spirit served hot or cold, pairs gorgeously with Christmas pud. Available online from the Japan Centre, it comes in a set with peach liqueur (to mix a "tipsy ninja" cocktail mix a hefty splash of plum liqueur and Japanese health drink Calpis before topping up with hot water). With added rejuvenating collagen and hyaluronic acid it's designed to put the colour back in your cheeks in more ways than one.
Courvoisier mini punch bowl
To really get everyone in the spirit of things why not mix up a classic punch bowl? To kick-start your party, stir up 50ml of Courvoisier VS with 750ml of lemonade and about 20 dashes of Angostura aromatic bitters and garnish liberally with chunks of ice, cranberries and lemon and satsuma wheels.
If you prefer your drinks slightly more old-fashioned, you could always simmer up Charles Dickens' favourite tipple, a gin punch instead. Heat Hendrick's Gin with Madeira wine, cloves, grated nutmeg, cinnamon, brown sugar, lemon and orange twists, a fresh pineapple and honey for 20 minutes or so. Distilled in Scotland, in miniscule batches, Hendrick's has been made with infusions of cucumber and rose petals since 1886 and is still controlled by the fifth generation of the William Grant family.
Sipsmith Sam Damson Vodka
A warm, fruity blend of Sipsmith vodka and Dartmoor damsons, this seasonal spirit should ease the chill now that we're into the parkier months. To create Christmas in a glass (otherwise known as a Damson Royale) pour 25ml of chilled damson vodka into a flute and top up with Champagne.
Chase Marmalade Vodka
For a seriously decadent Christmas breakfast, why not mix yourself a Breakfast Martini using this unique marmalade vodka? Also smashing with grapefruit juice and a dash of grenadine. Chase Vodka is marinated with the finest Seville orange sticky stuff and then infused in Alambic Copper Pots to create this most excellent marmalade experience.
Elements 8 Spiced Rum
Keep it tropical with this complex, multi-dimensional tipple. It's just the thing for spicing up an Old Fashioned or simply mixed with hot apple juice for the ultimate savour of Yuletide in a glass.
The result of 18 months of development and winner of various gold awards, Elements 8 Barrel Infused Spiced Rum is a blend of completely natural fruits and spices, which are all indigenous to St Lucia.
Bateman's Rosey Nosey Beer
Sultanas, plums and bonfire toffee are all adjectives used to describe this copper-hued nectar. Yet with a balanced, not too-sickly sweet finish; and brewed with pale and crystal malt, wheat malt and English Goldings hops, this winner amongst Christmas beers is the perfect way to wash down a turkey dinner.
Fortified Bleasdale The Wise One Tawny 10 Year Old Langhorne Creek, Australia
Crammed with toffee, fudge and Christmas spice flavours, this fortified wine makes for an ambrosial match with a nice mince pie or bowl of plum pudding.
The Somerset Pomona 20%
You can drink this top secret blend of juice and cider brandy from the vintage orchards of Kingsbury Episcopi in much the same way you would an after dinner port... with a good chunk of cheddar. Aged for a couple of years in oak barrels, the rich and mellow flavours are of the top notch standard you'd expect from West Country specialists Diana and Julian Temperley.
Use your tipple in one of our Christmas drink recipes. Cheers!