Christmas time is always hectic and sometimes we need to multitask to get everything done between all the Christmas parties, gift wrapping and shopping. It can get a bit overwhelming, but if you get organised early, the Christmas period will end up running smoothly.
I have created a list of Christmas essentials, anything from bottles to cocktail and food-pairing ideas, to take some of that stress away and get you organised. Believe me, I already placed my food and drink order for Christmas about a month ago so that it’s ready to arrive on the 23rd!
What to drink during the Christmas holidays?
There are a few go-to drinks for Christmas celebrations. Mulled wine, for starters; no one can live without mulled wine during the Christmas season! Whether it is non-alcoholic or boozy as hell, it will keep us warm and bring those Christmassy scents that makes us feel all jolly.
Then there is Buck’s Fizz – everyone needs their Christmas morning fix, usually Champagne or Prosecco mixed with fresh OJ. I love the pulp in mine, but it’s not for everyone. I find that investing a little extra in your Prosecco will make a huge difference in flavour. I’ve stopped buying Prosecco from the supermarket when I’m in the UK as I feel the quality of the bottles has been poor. Go to your local bottle shop and ask what they have in stock – there are great deals on top-notch Proseccos in these shops, especially around Christmas. If you do prefer to shop in the supermarket, I recommend getting Cava instead.
Wine is a must during lunch or/and dinner – basically, most of the day in our household. A light red to start with and something fuller bodied and spicier for later. After dinner, a little port is always nice, or a Christmassy dram, something with dried fruits, spices and slight sweetness. Perhaps a sherry cask.
If you’d like to experiment with new flavours, there are various Christmas-inspired bottlings available, such as Christmas Pudding Gin or Christmas Mulled Cup, which makes a great mulled wine when mixed in with fruity red wine.
Festive drink recipes:
Did you know you can also make mulled wine in a slow cooker?
750ml red wine (fruity, but not too sweet)
Bottle of apple cider (optional)
Juice of half an orange
Half an orange sliced
5 cardamom pods
2 cinnamon sticks
2 star anise
Combine all the ingredients except the brandy in the slow cooker and cook on warm for half an hour to an hour (or until hot as time varies depending on the cooker). Add the brandy towards the end of the cooking time. You can stick the cloves into the orange slices to prevent them floating around. Keep the slow cooker on the ‘Keep warm’ setting for a few hours if you are serving it throughout the evening.
Nordic Mulled Wine
2 cinnamon sticks
2 star anise
Small piece of ginger
Peel of half an orange
1 cup of sugar (less if the juice is very sweet)
1.3 cups of blackcurrant juice (if not available, you can use cranberry, redcurrant or apple juice or even a mix of all three)
A bottle of red wine
Vodka (this can be replaced by rum, port or cognac)
Mix all the spices together in a pot with sugar and the juice. Heat up and let it boil until the liquid becomes slightly thicker, syrupy – approximately ten minutes. Take the pot off the hob and add the red wine and stir well. Remove the spices and add a little vodka. Heat the mixture slightly, but do not boil at this stage. Serve with raisins and almond flakes. If some of your guests don’t like vodka, you can add a shot straight into the glass for those who like theirs a bit stronger.
Other possible ingredients:
- Frozen cranberries
- Pomegranate juice
- Lemon juice, lemon wheels
- Use orange zest instead of peel
- Black pepper
- Replace white sugar with brown sugar, muscovado, honey or maple syrup
- Forget wine and make Mulled Cider
- Replace red wine with medium-bodied white wine
Spicy Red Wine Hot Chocolate
2 cups milk
Dark chocolate chunks*
1 tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp brown sugar
Good red wine
Marshmallows or whipped cream
In a pot over a medium heat, combine milk and chocolate chunks and whisk constantly until chocolate has melted. Add spices and red wine. Keep on the heat until hot throughout. Taste and add spices where needed. Top up with marshmallows or whipped cream and chocolate shavings.
*You can replace dark chocolate with 3 tbsp of unsweetened cocoa powder.
Cinnamon Apple Cider Mimosa
Apple cider of your choice
Sugar and cinnamon for rim
Rim the glasses with sugar and cinnamon mix, combine cinnamon and cider together before topping up with Prosecco.
Buttered Rum – see recipe here.
White Wine Sangria
A bottle of white wine
Pear, orange, pomegranate, cinnamon sticks
Combine all in a punch bowl or large jug. Leave it to sit in the fridge for at least one hour. Make sure you cover the sangria properly to avoid getting ‘fridge’ flavours in it. Add ice before serving.
25ml lime juice
25ml berry syrup* (I used raspberries and redcurrants)
Shake gin, lime and syrup. Strain over ice and top up with ginger beer.
*To make the syrup simply add sugar, water and your chosen berries to a saucepan and muddle the berries. Bring to boil and stir until sugar has dissolved. Take off the heat, cover with a lid and leave to sit for an hour. Strain and let it cool. You could use various spices to make the syrup more Christmassy.
A sprig of rosemary
Peach schnapps (optional)
Combine all straight into a Champagne flute. Alternatively, you can premix the pomegranate juice, lemon juice and soda in a jug. At the time of serving, just put seeds, a rosemary sprig and schnapps (if used) into each glass, add half a glass of the juice mixture and top up with Prosecco.
Food pairing ideas
Christmas time is for eating, so the fridge door will go non-stop. Whether you are enjoying pre-dinner nibbles or showing off with your dessert, pairing these foods with whisky or other drinks will make a great addition to the evening. Below are some delicious pairing ideas.
Speyside single malt pairs well with camembert, mince pies, gingerbread, mature cheddar, dark chocolate and ginger biscuits.
Strong peaty single malt is best matched with gouda, strong blue cheeses, haggis or hot smoked salmon.
Light fragrant single malts go nicely with soft creamy cheeses and smoked salmon.
Bourbon is complemented by sliced ham or pigs in blankets with mustard. Or for dessert try a slice of apple pie.
Mezcal goes with dark chocolate – try slightly spicy chocolate.
Port goes well with a selection of blue cheeses.
Mulled wine is best paired with savoury foods, such as duck and orange paté, a selection of cheeses and crackers or blue cheese with gingerbread cookies.
French-style rum brings out the best in goats cheese or brie.
Rum can also be used in cooking and baking. Add it to a Christmas pudding, dry cakes or banoffee pie.
Have a lovely Christmas!