You do not have to spend a fortune on different spirits or liqueurs or have to build up a drinks cabinet to rival a 5 star Hotel Bar to create something exiting at this year’s festive season.
You might already have some of these things already in your cupboards, larder and fridge and freezer.
For as long as I've worked behind a bar I have been making my own fruit juices, purees and simple Syrup or sugar syrup wherever possible.
For Sugar Syrup: Take 1kg of white sugar and mix with 1 liter of water, bring to the boil and let it reduce by half. Let it cool; be very careful not to get the hot syrup on your skin as it is really, really hot. Once it is cold fill into a bottle that can be tightly closed and keep it in your fridge or in a cool place and it will last you a while if you don’t use much of it at a time.
And for fruit purees: You can make your own fruit purees with frozen fruits. The advantage is that you can do small portions at one time and keep the rest frozen. Defrost however much fruit you need and blend with some of the sugar syrup in a food processor, kitchen blender or hand blender into puree.
Now put them to use...
Make your own Rossini by pouring a little Strawberry puree in to a champagne flute, add a small amount of Prosecco and stir then fill up with more Prosecco - fill it slowly as as it will foam up.
I will leave the good old plain Gin and Vodka aside this time. Pretty sure most of you will have that anyway sitting in the house. Why not be a bit more adventures this Xmas and Hogmanay.
How about a Daiquiri made with Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva. Big word but the most delicious dark rum I have ever come across. Made in Venezuela and matured in 1st fill Bourbon Barrels. Amazing!
Mix in a shaker with some ice cubes. 50ml of Diplomatico, 20ml of freshly squeezed lime juice and 10ml of your home made sugar syrup. No Shaker in the house I hear you saying! Use a 330ml cola bottle but you have to crush up the ice a bit and don’t forget to screw on the lid! Serve in a Martini Style Glass if you have one.
For a variation, make a strawberry or raspberry Daiquiri with some of your fruit puree, just adjust the amount of syrup you add as you have already some in the puree.
Another of my favorites is a slightly forgotten but great pre-dinner drink, the Old Fashioned, but make this one with a little variation of the spirit. Instead of the Bourbon or Rye Whisky use the Diplomatico again.
Add a couple of drops of Angostura bitters onto a sugar cube or if you don’t have cubes, half a teaspoon of white granulated sugar. Put the sugar in an old fashion style glass (Tumbler) a few Ice Cubes and 25ml of the Rum. Stir everything for a minute or two until the sugar starts to dissolve. Cut a zest from an Orange and a Lemon and squeeze them over the glass so that the oils in the skin are falling over the ice. Add the peels to the glass and stir a bit more. Add another 25ml of the rum, a few more ice cubs and another stir and you have a great tasting aperitif. Garnish with a Cocktail or Maraschino Cherry if you have.
You can exchange the Rum with our 5 year old Bank Note Blended Scotch or some Michter’s American Whiskey to make the more traditional version.
Dark and Stormy
What could be nicer this time of the year then to sit on a white beach under palm trees in the Caribbean and sipping on a nice big Dark and Stormy? OK, I cannot get you to the Caribbean but you can pretend to be there while you fill a long drink glass with ice, fill with Ginger beer and top it up with some of the Diplomatico.
You add a little Lime Juice and a dash of the Angostura Bitters and transform your D&S into a variation of a Moscow Mule.
The long cold winter evenings ask for a nice bottle of Sloe Gin like our Sloe Gin from Morrison and MacKay. It is such a versatile drink. You can have it neat, over ice, with Lemonade or Soda water. You can also tune your White wine, Prosecco or Champagne with it by adding just a few ml to the glass.
So let’s go and be a little adventure this Christmas and Hogmanay!
Cheers, Salute and Prost, Merry Christmas, Buon Natale and Frohe Weihnacht,
Happy New Year, Felice Anno Nuovo and Frohes Neues Jahr