The big day is almost upon us, so are some cocktails to bring some sparkle to the festive season.

What do you serve when your guests arrive?  A glass of fizz is a favourite, but a cocktail is fun and will get everyone in the party mood a lot quicker.  The main problem with cocktails is that it is difficult to match the superb cocktails available in the cocktail bars in town.  With complicated recipes and hard-to-find ingredients, some cocktails seem a step too far.

But for home cocktails, simplicity wins. For a start, don’t imagine that you need a cupboard full of ingredients, loads of specialist equipment and the ability to whip up a foam at a moment’s notice. If you are serving cocktails at home, don’t even try to run a cocktail bar, just offer one or two tried and tested recipes.   With the right glasses and garnish they will look as professional as they need to be.

Gin has been the success story of recent years and Yorkshire has several local spirits, many of them incorporating local ingredients.  York Gin has just been awarded a Gold Outstanding medal at the International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) which is widely regarded as the Olympics of spirits judging.  Old Tom, the 42.5% strength spirit from York Gin beat 700 international gins to win this award.  Blended with the help of Andrew Pern from York’s Star in the City and Michelin-starred restaurant Star Inn, Harome, this gin is made with a herb-infused syrup which includes ingredients foraged from local hedgerows and the White Alba Rose, the Yorkshire Rose.

York Gin has been designed to be smooth and classic and so it shows best in traditional cocktails such as gin and tonic, Tom Collins and Gimlet, recipes below.

As well as the Old Tom, there are several other gins in the range.  York Gin London Dry won Silver in the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and is a particularly balanced style.  With botanicals that include juniper, coriander, cinnamon, orris root, angelica and cardamom, this is perfect for a thirst-quenching Gin and Tonic.

The Outlaw is a 57% proof powerful gin that is named after York’s notorious outlaws, including Guy Fawkes. This won a Double Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and it is a full-flavoured, juniper-led, peppery style of gin.

If you are not sure which gin you like, from York or from around 100 other gin producers then you need to head off to The Wright Wine Company in Skipton, where they have 100 gins open and ready for you to taste.  The whole collection at Skipton is around 400 gins, from all corners of the earth.  ‘Flavoured gins are still very popular,’ said Julian Kaye owner of The Wright Wine Co. ‘but we are noticing a steady return to the standard, unflavoured gins with just a few botanicals.’

Northern supermarket Booths has also done well in the IWSC awards.  Named as Spirits Supermarket of the year, spirits buyer Pete Newton has built a range that includes over 100 gins, 100 whiskies, with a particular emphasis on producers local to Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cumbria.  Pete has selected some of his favourite drinks, recipes below.

If you are looking for particular ingredients for your cocktails then the tiny shop that is Latitude in The Calls, Leeds has a vast range of spirits, vermouths and mixers. Used as a supplier by most of the Leeds bars, you can be sure that if you need a particular ingredient, they will have it.  They also stock a huge range of miniatures so that experimental drink making won’t cost a fortune.  Call into the shop to pick up recipe sheet listing some of their favourite cocktails from some of their favourite bars.

So with your cocktail shaker to hand, lots of ice, and a few essential ingredients, here are some Christmas cocktail recipes to help your party go with a swing. Many cocktail recipes call for sugar syrup which you can buy, but I make my own with 300g of caster sugar in 150 ml of water, gently heated until dissolved.  Keep in the fridge.

Gin and Tonic

A good slug of York Gin London Dry, ice, a wedge of lime and Fever Tree tonic.

I prefer Fever Tree Indian Tonic with York Gin and Mediterranean with Old Tom.  Serve in a big glass, but don’t drown the gin with ice.

Tom Collins

50ml York Gin Old Tom

25ml lemon juice

25 ml sugar syrup

125 ml soda water

fresh lemon to garnish

juniper berries optional garnish

 

Build the drink over plenty of ice in a tall glass, stir gently and garnish with a slice of lemon and a couple of juniper berries.

Gimlet

50ml York Gin London Dry

30ml Rose’s Lime Cordial

a dash of soda water

ice

garnish with a wedge of lime

Pour all the ingredients (apart from the garnish) into a long glass over ice, stir well then strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with the wedge of lime.

Warm Cranberry and Orange Cider Punch from Booths

500 ml Apple Cider

500ml cranberry juice

500ml orange juice

half bottle sparkling wine

Slices of apples, oranges and dried cranberries

Warm all the ingredients over a medium heat and serve with slices of fresh oranges and dried cranberries.

 

Gin and Jam Cocktail from Booths

50ml  The Lakes Distillery Gin

30ml sugar syrup

1 teaspoon of raspberry jam

5 raspberries

ice

raspberries and a sprig of mint to garnish

Place the gin, syrup, raspberry jam and raspberries  in a cocktail shaker with ice cubes and shake well.  Pour over ice cubes in a glass.  Top up with soda water and garnish with mint and raspberries.

This is a cocktail mix that scales up well to pour for a party.  Just make it in a jug and pour over ice into glasses.

From Leeds Rum Festival(go to Latitude for special ingredients)

45ml Ron Diplomatico Planas

10ml Lime Juice

15ml Falernum

10ml manzanilla

4 dashes Yellow Chartreuse

pinch salt

egg white

Shake all the ingredients together, first without ice, then again with ice. Serve in a cocktail glass.

All Jazzed Up

Cognac makes a terrific cocktail base.

45ml Frapin Cognac 1270

15 ml Triple Sec

15 ml Amaro

15 ml Demerara Syrup (made from half water and half sugar)

30 ml cold-brewed coffee

top up with tonic

ice

Shake ingredients together and strain into a tall glass.  Top up with tonic.

About The Author

Christine Austin

Christine is a wine writer, broadcaster and a wine judge for several international wine competitions. She has a technical background and spent five years as a buyer for a major supermarket before moving to wine writing.She writes for The Yorkshire Post Magazine and organises the York Festival of Food and Drink. She has won both the Lanson and the Roederer prizes for wine writing.

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