‘Tis the Season…To Drink and Be Very, Very Merry
Celebrating this time of year hasn’t changed too much since the Pagans celebrated the Winter Solstice. Christianity may have assigned some heavy religious tones to it, including installing the Nikoloas of Myra (formerly Greek, now modern-day Demre in Turkey) as the patron of secret gifts and the revered saint of Coca Cola as well as removing some more, let’s say, carnal elements of the revelries, yet two of the main components have remained; lavished gift giving and over-indulging in a variety of potent concoctions. Both of these conventions bring warmth to my otherwise ice encrusted heart, but if I were forced to choose which luxury I would embrace over the other it would almost certainly be the latter.
But what’s most apt for the festive occasion? While many would argue for either ‘everything’ or ‘anything’, I like to believe there’s a certain etiquette to adhere to when drinking on Christmas Day. By all means keep the taps perpetually pouring beer on Christmas Eve and let wine flow like water in the run up towards the big day, but tradition is tradition when it comes to Christmas Day. Or at least, it is somewhat. As delightful as they may be, drinking nothing but prosecco, Baileys and mulled wine every year can seem a bit too predictable, which is exactly why I’ve taken to creating my own behemoth beverages, the likes of which contain so much alcohol they could take down a…well, a behemoth.
As aforementioned, it is the season for gift giving, and though Gourmet Society is able to assist with that (seriously, a year’s membership with a free gift – which can be anything from a wine tasting experience to an Open Fairway membership – is one hell of a stocking stuffer) sadly it can’t do too much in the way of filling the bar at home. But with supermarkets selling booze cheaply around this time of year there’s never been a better excuse to stock up and experiment with invigoratingly new drinks. There’s a dizzying amount of possibilities when it comes to crafted cocktails, so I thought I’d share some of my own beautiful monstrosities.
Open the presents with a…
Gourmet Fizz aka We Wish You a Mimosa Christmas
½ Prosecco/Champagne (my personal picks for these would be Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut Cava/Piper Heidsieck Champagne Brut)
½ Passion Fruit juice
A splash of Cranberry juice
(Optional, for an aesthetically pleasing flash of colour) A splash of Chambord
I always assumed that my small family gatherings were incredibly luxurious affairs, the likes of which even those standing at the highest social echelon would feel a tinge of envy towards, yet it would seem that most families start Christmas with a bang emanating from an opened bottle of prosecco or champagne.
This knowledge has helped assuage any snooty guilt I may have once felt, and it makes me feel better recommending what I call the ‘Gourmet Fizz’. Not just your average Mimosa or, for those pouring with a heavy hand, a Bucks Fizz, my Gourmet Fizz kicks things up a little with a more wondrous twist as well as an extra elegant touch for those who want to start the day with an extra kick to the liver.
Start cooking the feast with a…
Egg-xemplary-nog aka Thank Nog It’s Christmas (recipe for 4)
240ml (or three/four shots/just below half a cups worth of) Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum/Red Leg Spiced Rum/O’Haras Spiced Rum*
400ml of Whole Milk
200ml of Baileys Pouring Cream
60g of Granulated Sugar
½ a Vanilla Bean Pod (Vanilla Extract will also suffice, two tbs should do)
1 Cinnamon Stick (if you’re not too big a fan of cinnamon, throw in more vanilla)
A few pinches of Nutmeg
Now, this one will need some assembly, as any self-respecting nogger will know (yes, that is a real word, moving on). Sure, you can buy some Advocaat, but you might as well fill your trolley with Carling and call it day. But if you really want to enrich that Christmas experience then you’d do yourself and your family a favour by brewing up some of your own eggnog. Normally made with bourbon or straight up rum, I prefer to keep things a bit spicy, and as the suggested spirits are quite sweet/vanilla rich they’ll make quite the drink.
Creating the nog is a somewhat longer process than simply mixing some ingredients together, but it essentially follows a few steps of throwing everything in a saucepan, save for the alcohol, and boil it, before adding the sugar, egg yolks and booze into the mix and letting the fridge chill it out for a few days. There are plenty of in-depth explanations online and it’s a relatively simple process!
*Side note from myself, if you can then just buy a bottle of this stuff. Seriously, it’s the greatest spiced rum ever made. I would gladly drink nothing but it for the rest of my days if I could.
Combat the booze absorbing calories with a…
Chrismopoliton aka Wonderful Cosmopolitime
1 part Absolut Mandarin
1 part Absolut
1 part Kwai Feh OR Limoncello
1 part Cranberry juice
1 twist of Mandarin
How dare I tamper with a Cosmo? Is what you surely must be asking, but hear me out before you smash a martini glass and wave shards of glass in my face. Christmas is all about indulgences, right? And what, other than booze, are all homes awash with during this time of year? That’s right; chocolate and sweets. With every tooth in most people’s mouths being predominately sweet, why not cater to them in an equally sickly fashion?
Ergo, this twisted Cosmo. The zesty mandarin will excite the taste buds, whereas the choice of either lychee (Kwai Feh is a lychee liquor) or lemon (courtesy of the Italian Limoncell) will add a sweet or sour tinge to the beverage. Certainly not for the light drinkers, this potent monster is sure to keep things merry, even amidst the piles of potatoes and several kinds of stuffing.
Mellow out after the culinary conquest with a…
Creamy Beige Russian aka I’m Dreaming of a White Russian (recipe for 2)
1 part Vanilla Smirnoff
1 part Baileys Coffee
1 part Semi-Skimmed Milk
1 part Whole Milk
A dollop of Baileys Pouring Cream
(Optional, for a more authentic/smooth drink) A splash of Kahlua/Baileys Original
Another timeless classic torn apart by my callous tinkering, I would normally leave the sanctity of the White Russian intact if I didn’t feel like it needed some extra attention at this time of the year. Velvety, strong and delicious, the Creamy Beige is merely an excuse to incorporate that oh so quintessentially festive drink Baileys into the mix, and trust me when I say it works surprisingly well.
Perfect as a light drink to sooth the pacified, yet unpredictable, stomach growling in your gut, this beauty will tide things over peacefully and keep the buzz alive while you’re enduring one of the handful of ‘Christmas Classics’ on TV.
When the party’s not over, but really the party is over and you should probably think about going to bed, settle down with a…
Festive-ish Coffee aka Coffeebeans Roasting on an Open Fire
½ Hot Coffee (best with fresh ground, medium strength Columbian beans)
¼ Wild Turkey (or Jamesons)
¼ Baileys Coffee (or Baileys Original)
2 tbs Baileys Pouring Cream
1 tbs Brown sugar
(Optional, or obligatory because come on, it’s Christmas) Adorn with Whipped Cream
The perfect way to conclude any day is in a comfy chair, feet up, with a good coffee. It helps sharpen what’s left of the day’s wit for any thoughts that need to be addressed before resting, and frankly, tastes brilliant. Christmas, however, demands that its subjects be forever wasted, and thus this somewhat enhanced Irish Coffee is the answer to wrapping up the festive spirit.
Quick note, I don’t recommend Wild Turkey just because I adore Hunter S Thompson, but because it delivers one hell of a kick. Even if it has more or less the same proof as Jamesons it just seems to punch the back of the throat that little bit harder, and when it’s masked with that liquid silk known as Baileys (especially riding the wave of the Baileys Pouring Cream) the taste is divine. Though Jamesons is the go-to whiskey in my eyes, Wild Turkey supplies that unorthodox twist that simply beckons for another taste.
And those were my own, personally conceived creations that are going to absolutely ruin me this Christmas! If you’re feeling adventurous why not give them a taste? And if you have any particularly tantalising cocktails you think could liven up other people’s Christmas why not let us know about them via Facebook or twitter?
Whatever poison you pick to add a little extra joy to the festivities, remember not to overdo it, and be sure to be your most pleasant self to all of those around you on this most wondrous of days. Trust me, getting into an argument with your family when drunk can result in some sticky situations..and possibly a PS4 controller being thrown at you.
Let us know what you think about these potent concoctions the comments section below or via Facebook or Twitter! And of course, be sure to check out the rest of the gourmet goodness on the Gourmet Society blog! Merry Christmas, and an intoxicated New Year!
By Tom Simpkins
(Quick note, I’d had one too many of these creations when it came to taking photos, ergo I was left with a lot of blurry, unusable images!)