It’s nearly time to open the first chocolate in your advent calendar! It’s not just me who still gets one, right? And that means the sometimes dauntingly boozy festive season is upon us, but what the fuss can you rustle up in terms of Christmas party drinks, both boozy and non-boozy? Beer and wine is all fine, but Christmas is the perfect opportunity to experiment with some different concoctions that warm the cockles when it’s wet, dark, and wet again.
Firstly, eggnog. It’s taken me many of my years to erase the image of scrambled egg that comes in to my head whenever somebody says eggnog, and replace it with ideas of American families in Christmas jumpers having a shitty Christmas a la National Lampoon. And what exactly is ‘nog’*? Is it just a made up word to make a lousy non-rhyme with egg? The important thing is that eggnog is basically custard with booze, and you can make it by doing this:
Put the following in a saucepan:
2 pints of milk, or a little less and make the rest up with cream, go on.
50g of caster sugar
Vanilla (essence, or pod if feeling fancy)
Heat all those bad boys up. Then, pour in to drinking vessels. Little Irish coffee mugs would be cute decorated with cocoa around the rim (dip rim in egg white and dip in cocoa) like a Pinterest dream, but mugs of the stuff will do. Then add brandy if you would like booze. You can experiment with different kinds of drink like cherry brandy, or maybe even fancy cordials if you want an alcohol free option. Go wild, and don’t forget the Christmas jumper!
If the idea of that sweet eggy creamy stuff makes you want to hurl, have a bash at using refreshing Campari in your cocktails. The 70s label is alone enough to make it feel like Christmas as there’s always a bottle at the back of the drinks cupboard that gets ransacked around the festive season. The Telegraph suggests you drink Campari with Cava, but of course they do. The less solvent amongst us can whip up an easy cocktail that is equal parts Campari, vermouth, Prosecco and some orange peel. It feels a bit special, as it sparkles, and what better time to have some sparkling wine than party time. You can also serve the above with it with lovely gin instead of Prosecco.
Finally, a hot drink which is more refreshing than the ‘nog: mulled gingery cider. You can replace the alcohol with non-alcoholic counterparts for alcohol free deliciousness. It’s also nice to have this in a big vat and serve in cute little tankards. I love tiny tankards.
2 litres of cider (please don’t use Frosty Jacks, use apple juice for non-alcoholic version)
500ml alcoholic (or not) ginger beer
A couple of oranges, peeled and segmented, with the peel cut in to chunks
6 cinnamon sticks
6 star anise (Use less if you’re not keen of course, but a little does add a nice dimension)
A thumb’s worth of grated fresh ginger
Boil it all up in a pan. The longer you boil, the less the alcohol content.
You can replace the booze component with wine and gin or wine and sloe gin.
I hope the above has given a few ideas for alternative party drinks that can’t help but make you feel Christmassy and cosy.
*So apparently, the nog is either from noggin, which meant a small wooden mug used to serve drink, or from egg ‘n’ grog, merged in to eggnog. Mystery solved.