Apart from imminent bankruptcy thanks to gift purchases, the festive season also spells parties. Lots of them. For us lucky few who fail to compute the stress of throwing a party at home, the Christmas stretch will see guests knocking at the doors to our inner sanctum, ready to invade for one night of festive revelry. This doesn’t faze you if you’re a natural Martha Stewart, with the capacity to be the hostess with the mostest ingrained in your DNA, but the rest of us regular joes tend to deep-dive into a pit of stress right before the first guests arrive.
Will they like the food, will they like the activities, will they have jibes about your home décor of choice and thus require a forced ejection? Anxiety abounds, but you can easily mitigate that and fake your best Martha Stewart front until you make it with the help of some well-made Christmas cocktails.
Far from stereotypically Christmassy in flavour (we’re eschewing eggnog, don’t worry), these refined cocktails double the bonus by being incredibly easy to put together, requiring minimal ingredients and tools. Impress your guests, but also take the liberty to enjoy some in the name of recipe testing. Here are some tried-and-true Christmas cocktails, from us to you.
RUM OLD FASHIONED
Rum is all the rage these days, and it doubles up by being easier to appreciate for guests who aren’t big on whisky. The spirit’s sweeter profile mellows the bitters, alleviated by the touch of citrus from the oils in the peel. Though bitters are the one slightly fussy ingredient that isn’t the easiest to locate, any bar supply store (think EC Proof) has your back. Other Old Fashioned hacks include: If you don’t have a bar spoon for this, just switch to a teaspoon; use big ice cubes if possible too.
2 parts dark rum
2 dashes bitters
1-2 tsp of sugar
A splash of water
Orange peel to garnish
Add the sugar and bitters into a glass with the water. Stir the mix until the water has muddled the sugar.
Add the ice, then the rum and stir well.
Garnish with orange peel.
Pineapple is something we associate with Chinese New Year, but given that we’re in a tropical country, it can be part and parcel of Christmas too. We’ve adapted this from a festive punch bowl recipe given to us by bartender Adam Bursik of Origin Bar, and found it to be quite a hit. Scale it down and serve in individual glasses, or click here for the original recipe with all the trimmings.
1 part gin
2 parts pineapple juice
A squeeze of lemon juice
Sparkling wine to top up
Sweetener to taste
Add gin, pineapple juice and lemon juice to the glass. Mix well.
Add ice. Taste, and add simple syrup if too tart.
Top it up with your sparkling wine of choice.
Okay, we promised no stereotypically Christmas flavours, but for mulled wine, we make the exception. This one-pot cocktail is easy to make, smells delicious, and you get to pretend that you’re tucked away in some romantic wooden lodge in the mountains, warm in front of a roaring fireplace, instead of slaving away at the stove for your guests. Turning your air-conditioning up a notch helps the fantasy, but not too long, because #sustainability.
1 bottle red wine
1/4 cup honey
1 orange, sliced
2 cinnamon sticks
3 star anise
Put all the ingredients in a saucepan and heat till boiling.
Once it has boiled, reduce heat to low and let it simmer for 10 minutes.
Makes 8 cups.
CRANBERRY MOSCOW MULES
A Moscow Mule is as crowd-pleasing and as foolproof as it gets. For festive parties, we recommend jazzing up the two-ingredient cocktail with a splash of cranberry juice — take it as an addition that is both Christmassy, but also reminds everyone of their youth spent on the dancefloors of dingy clubs. Nothing like reckoning with age to end off your another year.
1 part vodka
2 parts ginger beer
1 part cranberry juice
A squeeze of lime juice
Mix all ingredients together in a glass, top up with ice and serve.
Hot Toddy is pretty much the alcoholic equivalent of honey-lemon beverages served at Chinese medicinal halls, and we’re down with that. While many espouse this warm cocktail’s benefits against nasal ailments, we just think this simple drink feels like the perfect nightcap after an onslaught of feasting. Accentuate the mood by donning your best ugly Christmas sweater.
1/4 cup boiling water
1 tbsp honey
2 tsp lemon or orange juice, fresh is preferred
1 shot of bourbon, brandy or whisky
Mix all ingredients in a glass until the honey is dissolved. Serve.
This story first was first published in Lifestyle Asia Singapore