Christmas cocktails

Words by Simon Difford

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Christmas is a time for overindulgence and so Christmas cocktails tend to be rich in every sense of the word. In America, it's the creamy Eggnog that dominates the festive cocktail scene where in the UK we have the Snowball, a lighter drink that also appears creamy and is based on advocaat. However, there are a myriad of Christmassy cocktails with which to indulge.

Traditionally a Snowball is simply advocaat mixed with lime juice and English-style lemonade (7-Up also works). Made well, with freshly lime juice and served in a tall ice-filled glass, the Snowball appears creamy but is surprisingly light with the lime and lemonade freshening and invigorating the creamy advocaat.

So I thought I'd kick off this offering of festive cocktails with my own Champagne Snowball. After all, why use lemonade when you can use champagne? The other cocktails below use Christmassy flavours such as ginger, cranberry, nuts, raisins, sherry, port, mincemeat, cream. You'll also notice the use of plenty of advocaat and tenuous names.

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Champagne Snowball
This riff on the classic Snowball uses fino sherry to dry and freshen the drink while champagne lifts and lightens the thick creamy egg yolk.

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General Harrison's Nogg
Named after General William Henry Hartison, the American President to hold office for the shortest period we were sent this Egg Nog recipe by King Cocktail, Dale DeGroff.

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Tom & Jerry
A boozy, warming and filling festive meal in itself. Make for 2 or 20 - once you're made the base batter, this is quick and easy to serve to a crowd.

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Rapscallion
Created in 2012 by Adeline Shepard and Craig Harper at Ruby, Copenhagen, Denmark, this cocktail featured smoky island malts tamed by the Christmas pudding flavours of Pedro Ximénez with absinthe adding notes of enlivening anise.

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Fish House Punch
One of the most famous of all punch recipes, one of the stories behind the origin of the Fish House Punch has it that the drink was first made in 1848 by Shippen Willing of Philadelphia to celebrate women being allowed into the Fish House for the first time for a Christmas Party.

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The Reindeer
a festively spiced champagne cocktail created in 2016 by Dave Beatty.

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Whisky Butter
Fino sherry again dries this creamy and complex Christmassy cocktail with scotch whisky providing backbone and character while advocaat adds dairy-like creaminess.

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Christmas Cheer-re
Jenever provides the yuletide spirit base, sweetened and flavoured by cherry liqueur. Chinato adds wine notes while gin freshens and adds botanical complexity.

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Gingerbread 'Martini'
A 'wet' Vodka Martini made soaking wet with a festive dose of almond and gingerbread syrup. Simple and somewhat 1990s but very tasty.

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White Russian Christmas
With all the songs about a White Christmas, I couldn't help this play on words with this Christmassy White Russian given a festive feel by mincemeat and gingerbread syrup. I should explain for those not familiar with "mincemeat" that it is not 'meat' but a very English pie filling containing chopped apple, dried fruits, candied peel and mixed spices. Christmas is not Christmas without mince pies!

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Christmas Special
A perfect after-dinner cocktail at any time of year but particularly appropriate over the festive period due to its ingredients - Pedro Ximénez sherry (which tastes like English Christmas pudding), mandarins and walnuts, which are best cracked whilst watching a Christmas special.

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Christmas Velvet Alexander
Combining advocaat, London dry gin and fino sherry, this is the ultimate stereotypical Christmas English granny's cocktail.

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Golden Ivy
Cognac stirred with rich berry flavours of muscat wine along with the relatively dry berry flavour of cranberry.

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Creamy Vanilla Colada (a.k.a. White Christmas)
Creamy yoghurt married with aged rum and richly flavoured with vanilla. Created back in 2011 with the then newly available yoghurt liqueur.

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Randy Old-fashioned
Port and brandy (rhymes 'Randy') are traditionally consumed at Christmas and used to be a popular British pub combo. I've used maple syrup in place of brown sugar syrup to lightly sweeten this festive after dinner combo. The Sazerac was the inspiration for the choice of bitters and use of absinthe.

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Saison l'Hiver
Rich wintery flavours of sloe gin and honey are balanced by lemon juice with clove providing seasonal spice and rosé champagne invigortating and refreshing.

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Sir Charles Punch
From a recipe in the 1949 Esquire's Handbook for Hosts, which suggests this drink should be served at Christmas.

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Christmas Margarita
The Cosmopolitan meets the Margarita in this gloriously pink cocktail - I was aiming for a Christmassy red hue.