Top 10 Christmas Drinks

‘Tis the season, after all.. & if you’re going to do it, you mayaswell do it well. With appropriate thirst & abandon. Herewith JFT’s Top 10 festive quenchers. Comments, additions & heckles welcome.

 

Mulled Wine 

But of course.. Everyone’s favourite sticky cup or ladle; nothing quite encapsulates the Christmas smell like it. Drink in bulk before carols. With a mince pie or 6. Tastes have (thankfully) evolved over the years, from a pestle & mortar heavy medieval gruel; to Victorian Mrs Beeton’s abstemious addition of a large cupful of water to every pint of wine; to a staggering £60 a glass at the St Pancras Hotel. (& it doesn’t even have any gold in it. Yet)

Try: Delia’s modern day classic. WITH the brandy.

 

Grog 

This season’s lemsip. And for good reason. The original combination of heated water, rum, lime & sugar was used on long seafaring voyages. Coined by a particularly charismatic Vice-Admiral who wore a well-weathered grogam cloak, and so was known as “Old Grog” which far belittles grogam’s silk, mohair & wool constitution. Much like the powers of grog itself. Add in a splash of brandy if you’re feeling brave/particularly in need; measures are traditionally by the compass, due North being neat rum, West pure water.

Did you know: Nelson’s body was preserved in a barrel of rum after Trafalgar. Legend would have it sailors then drank the contents, giving rum it’s nickname, Nelson’s Blood. Oh grog most gruesome.

 

Sherry

Just like a good moustache or prawn cocktail (well, nearly), this fortified wine from Cadiz is back in all it’s Granny & vicar warming glory. AND it just happens to be a most versatile number: sup as an aperitif, or with your tapas or with your cheese; or EVEN a digestif. Ticking every Christmas box & some. Not titillating your tastebuds, try cooking with it, your moules will thank you.

Try: Perching on a barrel & matching plates to glass at London’s original sherry bar http://barpepito.co.uk/; there are 19 to get through. (all in the name of research)

 

Bubbles 

Celebrations wouldn’t be celebrations without the customary popping of corks & well, Christmas feels as good a cause as any. Whilst traditionalists might opt for champagne’s big houses, (& why not, who in their right mind would turn down a glass of Krug, or indeed Dom Perignon!?) there’s also wealth of of sparkling wines to get in a fizz about. French cremants, Italian proseccos, Spanish cavas, sparkling Sussexs, to much further afield; cork popping is (fortuitously) a global pastime.

Pop some trivia: Winston Churchill was Pol Roger’s greatest ambassador, “in victory, deserve it; in defeat, need it”, or just drink & be merry with neither.

 

White 

Whilst the season generally conjures cosy log fires & red wine, a good white can go a long way at a party. & depending on what you’re eating on the day itself, something light & delicious with course 1 (& that you can potentially come back to); we say drink both! AND you’ll need something sweet with that brandy-doused pudding, a casual Chateau d’Yquem should do the trick.

Fact: in 2011 Yquem made headlines by being the most expensive bottle of white ever to be sold, an 1811 for £75,000.

 

 

Red 

Well, for starters it’s THE colour of Christmas. Along with gold. Which Yquem ticks off nicely. Red can also be full of the fruity, gently spiced & warm flavours we associate with Christmas. And delicious with goose. AND turkey. Almost needs a credential top 10 in it’s own right! All hail the pinot noir, & if you’re packing the traditional punch, burgundy it has to be. A little acidity will help cut through all that heavy food & hopefully stave off snoozes until the sofa. Now for how good have you been this year, Grand Cru, Premier Cru or Villages? Aim angelic with a Domaine Romanée-Conti, can but ask!

Labour of love: There are over 600 ways to label burgundy due to a very rigorous appellation system, so worth doing your homework!

 

 

Port

Father Christmas’ favourite tipple needs no introduction: compliment your cheese, or indeed Christmas pud. Delicious, sweet & VERY moreish, port initially became popular when the English were at war with France, & therefore aligning yourself with ANY of their produce was effectively high treason. Well, thank the manche they did, stilton, cheddar & chocolate can now sing from that precariously balanced bunch of mistletoe.

ALWAYS: pass port to your left, else you may be faced with being asked whether you know the Bishop of Norwich. & no one likes their trivia being tested at this stage of proceedings. Rolling on to the day after the night before…

 

Bloody Mary

A drink that sounds like it might be named after a particularly gallow-happy queen might not seem the obvious choice for an already pounding head (unless it really is THAT bad), but the combination of stomach settlers, vitamins, salt, kick & booze really does work. Or reacquaints you with your thirst at least. Best recipe..? On our wish list; generous slugs of vodka, little slug sherry, fresh tomatoes, Big Tom, Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, lemon juice, salt, pepper & celery. In no particular order. Or try Craft of the Cocktail for more precision on the matter.

A dram of a dare: At last year’s Tabasco annual Bloody Mary competition, one of the winners went for a Tequila & Mezcal base, topped off with a Lagavulin 16 year old malt.

 

A festive ale

Sometimes you just can’t beat a good ale. In a good pub. Maybe some peanuts. Not ones to shy away from the seasons wants, the brewery’s have come up trumps with some wonderfully festive brews to oh ho ho us off our stools. The Belgian leading the merry way, of course: St Bernardus Christmas is spice infused, dark & alluring. AND comes in at a particularly merry 10% ABV; close to home Bateman’s Rose Nosey is a copper-coloured ode to all things yuletide. More readily available than it’s Belgian counterpart. (AND a good half less alcoholic too)

Beer for a wine lover: Try Dogfish Brewery’s Noble Rot, where botrisysed grape (that make the likes of Sauternes) juice is infused twice during brewing. Lightly spicy & subtley sweet. Wonder whether it goes with cheese?

 

Christmas Punch 

Arguably saving the best til last, and for good reason. Christmas punch is a license to really go to town. Sweep the cupboards & fill the ladles. Much like Granny’s secret Christmas cake recipe, you don’t need to necessarily share EVERYTHING that goes in. Bars & bloggers can do that for us. Pimms works just as well winter-warmed & spiced as it does with lawnside croquet & cucumber sandwiches. Or for something a little more off the beaten track, US blogger Jen really goes to town with her concoction. 

Over a cuppa: Punch came over with the teamen from India & is a loanword from Sanskrit. What would Judy say?

 

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