What does a chilled fizzy cocktail have in common with an ice-cold candy cane concoction or a zesty take on a Martinez? All three made the cut for this year’s best Xmas cocktails across the world.
The list, which includes creations such as Champagne Cosmopolitan and Candy Cane Cocktail, has been released by Diageo Reserve World Class, the group that annually crowns the World’s Best Bartender of the Year.
An important criterion for the drinks that excelled is that they can easily be prepared at home. Using input from hundreds of top bartenders spanning the entire globe, the 2017 version is a mix of old and new and offers the perfect cocktail, no matter the holiday setting.
1. Champagne Cosmo
There aren’t many drinks that look as sophisticated as a champagne cocktail, and this colourful version will please even the most discerning guests. With its deep pink colour, the drink packs in the tart flavour of cranberry and sharpness from the lime, rounded out with a crisp, dry fizz. The orange twist brings a delightful citrus fragrance and a hint of festive flavour.
Expert tip: Ideally, one would use a cocktail shaker to properly combine, chill and dilute the ingredients. However, a crucial point to remember is the champagne does not go in the shaker. Only once the ingredients have been combined and strained into the glass is the fizz brought out to complete the drink.
It’s best served in a champagne flute, as the narrow opening of the glass is believed to help the drink keep its fizz for longer.
Glassware: Champagne flute
- 35ml Cîroc vodka
- 45ml cranberry juice
- 35ml Champagne
- 10ml fresh lime juice
- 1 orange for the twist
- Step 01 – Add Cîroc vodka, cranberry juice, lime juice and ice to a shaker, then shake for a few seconds
- Step 02 – Strain through a fine mesh strainer or sieve into a chilled Champagne flute
- Step 03 – Top with the champagne
- Step 04 – Garnish with an orange twist. To do this, use a vegetable peeler or sharp knife to remove a 1cm-wide strip of peel from the orange (try to get as little pith as possible), twist in opposite directions over the glass to release the oils, then place on the side to serve
2. Candy Cane Cocktail
The beauty of vodka is that it can be infused with almost anything, from sweet vanilla to fiery chilli. Few things evoke the festive spirit like white-and-pink-striped candy canes, making them the perfect ingredient for a seasonal infusion. As the vodka absorbs the sweet, minty flavour of the candy, a splash of cherry brandy added during infusion makes sure to give the festive drink a soft, translucent pink tone.
A rim of crushed candy cane is an optional garnish for this cocktail or, if one prefers theirdrinks a little drier, add a splash of lime juice during shaking to balance the sweetness.
Expert tip: For the flavours to fully seep, prepare in advance as the vodka will require a few (4-7) days and regular shaking to properly absorb the sweet, minty flavour.
Glassware: Martini glass or Coupe
Candy Cane Infusion Ingredients:
- 1 vanilla pod
- 6 six-inch candy canes
- 1 bottle of Ketel One Vodka
- 50ml candy cane vodka
- 25ml of clear Crème de Cacao (plus a little for the rim)
- 1 dash of Angostura bitters
- Splash of cherry brandy for colour (if needed)
- Crushed candy cane for the rim
Candy Cane Method:
- Step 01 – Pour the Ketel One Vodka into a lidded jar.
- Step 02 – Split the vanilla pod lengthways with a sharp knife and add to the vodka.
- Step 03 – Break or crush the candy canes (crush with a rolling pin or use a food processor).
- Step 04 – Add the crushed candy canes to the jar with the vanilla pod and vodka.
- Step 05 – If required, add a splash of cherry brandy for colour.
- Step 06 – Seal and leave in a cool, dark place for around four days (longer, if possible), shaking occasionally.
- Step 07 – When ready, strain to remove the vanilla pod and sediment.
- Step 01 – Place candy cane in a food processor and blend until it’s the consistency of granulated sugar, or crush the candy canes using a rolling pin
- Step 02 – Apply Crème de Cacao to the outer rim of a Martini glass or coupe.
- Step 03 – Coat the rim with the crushed candy cane.
- Step 04 – Pour the candy cane vodka, Crème de Cacao and Angostura bitters into a shaker with ice.
- Step 05 – Shake and strain into a Martini glass or coupe
3. The Martinez
The warming Martinez, with its burnt orange hue and sweet citrus finish is a good choice for fireside nights – or as a post-dinner-party tipple. Traditionally crafted with a sweeter Old Tom gin, the aromatic citrus fruit flavours of Tanqueray No. TEN give the Martinez a zesty take on its original recipe.
The dry almond flavor from the Maraschino liqueur will add depth to the drinks, and, should one ever want to whip up a Manhattan, Aviation or Hemingway Daiquiri, they‘ll have already done the legwork.
Expert tip: Stirring the ingredients with ice will chill and dilute the drink, and for an extra-frosty serve, try putting the glasses in the freezer for half an hour before mixing.
Glassware: Martini glass or Coupe
- 50ml Tanqueray No. TEN gin
- 25ml sweet vermouth
- 5ml Maraschino liqueur
- 2 dashes orange bitters
- 1 orange for the twist
- 1 Maraschino cherry
- Step 01 – Add the Tanqueray No. TEN gin, sweet vermouth, and Maraschino liqueur to a mixing glass with the bitters.
- Step 02 – Add ice and stir for a few seconds until chilled – stop and taste every now and then to make sure the drink doesn’t get too diluted.
- Step 03 – Strain into a frozen Martini glass or coupe.
- Step 04 – Use a vegetable peeler to remove a strip of peel from the orange (try to get as little pith as possible), and twist over the glass to release the oils.
- Step 05 – Garnish with a Maraschino cherry.
4. Classic Single Malt Perfect Serve – Cardhu 12-Year-Old
There are many ways to drink a good whisky – some swear by having it neat, others like it on the rocks, while some prefer to add a little water. A splash of water, either added directly or through ice, is said to change the composition of the drink, unlocking more flavour and aroma, and taking out some of the sharpness.
For this drink, Cardhu Single Malt is recommended, crafted in one of the leading Speyside distilleries in the heart of whisky country. Light, smooth, with a hint of sweet malt and a pale golden shade, it’s not too heavy, so is a gentle option for anyone just starting out with the spirit. A classic choice for cold winter nights, Scotch on the rocks is simple to make and perfect for relaxed evenings by the fire.
Expert tip: Ultimately, there’s no right or wrong way – it’s all down to one’s preference. So, if one chooses to try whisky with water, adding a little at a time is the best way to get the right balance to suit their taste.
Glassware: Old Fashioned Glass
- 50ml Cardhu Single Malt Scotch whisky
- Ice (optional)
- Step 01 – Add a large ice cube (or several standard-sized cubes) to a tumbler.
- Step 02 – Pour 50ml of Cardhu Single Malt Scotch whisky over the ice and serve.
Always drink responsibly, and rest assured that these hand-crafted cocktails, coupled with a celebratory feast will ensure an unforgettable holiday season.