Christmas in a cup: festive drinks to jingle your bells

With cocktail parties, family dinners and work functions around every corner, the festive season brings with it endless opportunities to indulge in a tipple or two. And why stick to the same wine, beer or mixed drinks that are available all year round when more festive themed drinks are on offer?

What’s Hot has found three easy Christmas concoctions that will add a hint of nostalgia to any get-together this season.

Jamie Oliver’s mulled wine

A glass of mulled wine amongst other Christmas treats

Christmas would not be complete for many without a warm cup of mulled wine. Jamie Oliver has a ‘super easy’ recipe for this spicy warming beverage which makes enough for 10 and can be whipped up in 20 minutes.

Ingredients

  • 2 clementines
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 lime
  • 7 ounces caster sugar
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 fresh bay leaves
  • 1 whole nutmeg, for grating
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 2 bottles Chianti or other Italian red wine
  • 2 star anise

Method

Peel large sections of peel from the clementines, lemon and lime using a speed-peeler.

Put the sugar in a large saucepan over a medium heat, add the pieces of peel and squeeze in the clementine juice.

Add the cloves, cinnamon stick, bay leaves and about 10 to 12 gratings of nutmeg. Halve the vanilla pod lengthways and add to the pan, then stir in just enough red wine to cover the sugar.

Let this simmer until the sugar has completely dissolved into the red wine, then bring to the boil. Keep on a rolling boil for about 4 to 5 minutes, or until you’ve got a beautiful thick syrup. This allows the sugar and spices to infuse and blend well with the wine and create a wonderful flavor base. It’s important to make a syrup base first because it needs to be quite hot, and if you do this with both bottles of wine in there you’ll burn off the alcohol.

When your syrup is ready, turn the heat down to low and add your star anise and the rest of the wine. Gently heat the wine and after around 5 minutes, when it’s warm and delicious, ladle it into heatproof glasses and serve.

SORREL

Sorrel drink is a seasonal tradition in Cayman and and many other Caribbean islands and is made with the tangy perennial herb Sorrel, a member of the Hibiscus family. Cinnamon cloves, sugar, orange peel, and more often than not a dash or two of rum are added and this bright red drink is usually served over ice.

A pot with sorrel being made in it, with ingredients scattered around the outsideFood blog “Simply Caribbean” gives their version of the drink, which is synonymous with Christmas time in many Caymanian homes.

Ingredients to serve 12-16

  • 4.5 – 5 ounces dried sorrel
  • 2 – 3 cups sugar or sugar substitute
  • 1 small piece of fresh ginger (about 2 inches)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 – 8 whole cloves
  • 4-inch piece orange peel, (optional)
  • 1 gallon of water (16 cups) plus 4 more cups
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or mixed essence

Method

Bring 16 cups water to a boil. Add cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, bay leaves and ginger.

Stir continuously while boiling for one minute. Cover and allow to simmer on low for 30 minutes.

Add sorrel, sugar, orange peel and remaining four cups water. Continue on simmer for another 30 minutes.

Remove from stove.

Let steep for about four hours or overnight, covered.

Using a sieve, strain and squeeze sorrel flowers, then discard.

Add vanilla, taste for strength and sweetness. If it is too potent, add water, if it’s too tart, add some more sugar.

Pour into glass jars or bottles and store in your refrigerator until ready to use.

Vegan eggnog

Two glasses of eggnog on a trayEgg Nog is another firm favorite in many households over the Christmas period. BBC’s “Good Food” has a lovely vegan version which utilizes dates, cashews, apricots, almond milk and brandy to make this creamy concoction which serves eight people.

Ingredients

  • 1 ounce pitted dates
  • 1 ounce cashew nuts
  • 1 ounce dried apricots
  • ¼ teaspoon mixed spice
  • 3.4 fluid ounces brandy
  • 1 vanilla pod, seeds only
  • 34 fluid ounces sweetened almond milk
  • ice, to serve
  • nutmeg, to serve

Method

Soak the dates, cashews, apricots and mixed spice in the brandy overnight.

The next day, tip the mixture into a blender and add the seeds from the vanilla pod and the almond milk. Blitz until smooth, then pour into eight tall glasses (use a sieve, if you like) with ice and grate some nutmeg on top.