Anyone can make great cocktails at home this festive season.
Much like a cook keeps a reasonably well-stocked kitchen cupboard, preparing your booze cabinet or shelf in advance means those parties – impromptu or long planned – will be a doddle to host.
How to make Christmas cocktails: your guide
1. Stock up on one light and one dark spirit
I love scotch, but I appreciate not everyone shares the same devotion to the amber spirit. As a rule keep at least one clear spirit like gin, tequila or vodka along with one darker spirit like brandy, rum or whisky on standby so you have the option to make two distinctively different drinks for your guests.
2. Get inventive
Next think about adding a layer of complexity. The easiest way to do this is to buy a bottle of Campari bitter along with classic Angostura bitters. Now you've expanded your repertoire of drinks you can start to play. Throwing a party is the ideal excuse to purchase gems such as Sacred English Amber Vermouth, made in North London, and the irresistible King's Ginger. Meanwhile an aquamarine bottle of Italicus, the bergamot liqueur from Italy, isn't essential per se, but it makes a stylish addition to any festive gathering.
3. Mix things up a little
My own failsafe cocktail for parties is an oolong tea, whisky and spice punch, a tipple that ticks all the boxes of sweet, sour, smoky and bitter – and with its deep coral colour is a cheering sight any time of the year. Otherwise a sherry cobbler makes a refreshing change from wine or gin and tonic.
4. Add your own twist to mulling
If you must mull something, consider introducing a little Scandinavian flair by adding cherry juice and cherry Heering, a luscious cherry brandy which adds depth to gløgg. If you're tempted to switch up your mulled wine, try my triple-cherry version.
5. Think about the booze-free options
As a considerate host, always make sure you've put some thought into the non-alcoholic alternatives. Finally, while there is nothing wrong with a glass of chilled elderflower pressé, we're spoiled for choice when it comes to fermented kombuchas, unusual iced teas, tonics and zero proof spirits such as Seedlip, Aecorn and Everleaf. Think like a cook and apply the same principles of balancing sweet, sour, smoky and bitter flavours to your booze-free offerings and your sober guests will thank you.