Sunday, 6 December 2015

Christmas cocktails

I love a good cocktail and homemade ones are so much better than shop bought. These also make great presents when decanted into pretty bottles.

We had friends for an Xmas party and served up several of the following.

Winter Cosmopolitan

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This went down an absolute storm.

Mix together 500ml of vodka with 500ml of ginger wine and 1litre of cranberry juice.

Add slices of stem ginger (keep the juice to bake with) and the juice and zest of 5 limes.

Store sterilised jars for a couple of days to allow the flavours to mingle. Then serve over lots of ice.

Watch out- it packs a punch!

Cranberry vodka

This has a real feel of Xmas in a glass. It is great that you can prepare it in advance and looks great sparkling in glasses under the Xmas tree!

Mix together 175g of sugar with 1 litre of vodka and 250g fresh cranberries (pierce each one before you put it in the jar). If you use frozen cranberries they don't need to be pierced.

Store in a sterilised jar for about two weeks and shake several times a day.

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Serve in shot glasses or over ice. You can also experiment and add in mixers if you want to water it down.

Irish cream liquer

Much better than anything commercial. I get regular demands to make this for friends and for parents functions at my children's school. It is delicious and goes well in coffee or over ice cream for something different.

Mix together a tin of condensed milk with 250ml of single cream, 350ml of Irish whiskey and 1 tsp vanilla.

For the coffee/chocolate hit you can either mix 2tsp of high quality coffee powder (NOTgranules) with 2tsp of high quality cocoa powder and 2 tbsp of cream and add this to the mix.

Or you can use 1tsp of coffee essence. Add to this 3 tsp chocolate sauce or you can melt together 75g of good quality dark chocolate together with 2 tbsp of cream and blend and then add this to the mix.

Blend everything together for a few minutes and then store in sterilised containers in the fridge for up to a month. Serve over ice. People will beg you for the recipe!

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Blackberry Martini Fizz

A real crowd pleaser! This was our welcome drink and I had to make additional batches throughout the evening since it went down so well.

Mix together 350ml of martini rosso and 150ml of gin and store in a sterilised container until needed. When your guests arrive put 0.5 tsp of icing sugar in a champagne class and a 3-4 frozen blackberries. Pour over a measure of the martini/gin mix and top with prosecco or champagne.

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Cranberry orange cocktails

Acquired from an American friend after Thanksgiving:

1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1 cup cranberry juice
2/3 cup granulated sugar or sugar substitute
Juice and zest of 1 orange
1 (750 ml) bottle Prosecco, champagne, or sparking white wine

Combine cranberries and cranberry juice in a food processor or blender. Blend until berries are roughly chopped.

In a small saucepan, combine the berry mixture, sugar, and orange juice and zest. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10 minutes, or until syrupy. Using a fine mesh strainer, strain syrup into a small bowl; let cool to room temperature. Do not refrigerate.

Just before serving, add 1 tbsp of cranberry syrup to each glass. Top with sparkling wine and serve.

The great thing about this is you can substitute lemonade for the wine and make it a mocktail- great for tweens who want to feel grown up (or even adults!)

Toffee vodka

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A massive crowd pleaser and so simple. Take a bottle of vodka and add in 2-3 packets of werthers original toffees. The toffees will dissolve in the vodka- give it a good swirl now and again. Leave for about two weeks and serve shots over ice. Delicious. There is a bizarre dishwasher method that you can use for this but to be honest you don't need to do this- though it does make a good story!

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You can use the same idea to make skittles vodka. Separate out the different colours and put each colour set into a jar and fill with 500ml vodka. You'll end up with a great range of coloured vodkas that taste of sweets!

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Elderflower gin

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OK so this is really a summer cocktail but I can't discuss cocktails and not mention this. In the summer we have an elderflower tree and I like making desserts and drinks from the flowers. This recipe is so simple. Take 6-8 heads of elderflower and shake out any bugs. Place in a large jar together with some lemon peel and 1 tbsp sugar. Add 500ml gin and leave to infuse somewhere cool for at least 24 hours (covered).

Drain through kitchen paper into a clean jug and serve with good quality tonic (or neat over ice). Absolutely delicious. This has got my thinking of other great summer cocktails- Sangria, Pina Colada, rum punch......

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