At this time of year, mixologists turn into alchemists, by waving their magic wands over the usual,voilà, a Christmas Cocktail is born. Their brief is “make it festive” and that’s what they do. It’s not just mulled, Glüh-ed or Glögg-ed anymore!
As the 12 days of Christmas have already started, the festivities are in full force. I’ve rounded up my favorite 12 tipples in the city I call home and, hopefully these select few, will brighten up your yuletide celebrations!
Start the music, feel free to sing along, and sip festively! Let the countdown to Christmas commence!
See if you can spot my use of festive in every description!
12 Drummers Drumming
The Drummer’s are drumming due to having a wee Dasher’s Dram too many at Brown’s Hotel! This mix of Glenfiddich 15 mixed with Antica Formula Vermouth, Grand Marnier infused with fresh ginger, Becherovka bitters and Aztec chocolate bitters could make any musician go wild. It’s also festively served in a glass tea cup sitting on a glass box filled with pine, cinnamon sticks and red berries!
Eleven Pipers Piping
Callooh Callay on Rivington Street has whipped up the pipers into a frenzy with their take on the standard festive Christmas standard, Eggnog. The twist is the Jamesons Select whiskey, Hennessy Fine de Cognac, Crème de Banane, cinnamon-infused demerara sugar, cream, egg, Angostura bitters and chocolate bitters. They had me at Crème de Banane!
Ten Lords a Leaping
Who wouldn’t leap at The Gallery‘s Hot Buttered Bourbon? Hot Buttered anything is dynamite but Bourbon, well, that takes it to another festive level. Here we have Maker’s Mark, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, unsalted butter – which will warm the cockles, if nothing else!
Nine Ladies Dancing
I literally can guarantee you will see at least nine ladies dancing after tasting the Gin Blazer at Graphic. Just setting fire to a drink is fun enough, but the caramelised marmalade is the je ne sais quoi, in this festive beverage, along with the other divine ingredients: G’vine Floraison Gin, Blackwoods 60% Gin, lemon juice, and cinnamon powder.
Eight Maids a Milking
I don’t know how many cows it will take for these maids to have enough milk to make all the Christmas Collins I plan to drink. Wringer & Mangle is the new kid on the block in trendy London Fields and with this festive combo of Chairman’s Spiced Rum, orange rind studded with cloves, fresh grated nutmeg, star anise, ground cardamom and dried raisins, I hope they will be around a long time.
Seven Swans a Swimming
We swanned into Bunnychow in festive Soho and sampled all their hot drinks. The Invictus wins every match with its combination of all-spice, cinnamon, star anise, chilli, lime and ginger, served hot with spicy rum!
Six Geese a Laying
All the geese have flown south for their festive winter holiday, leaving us to sun themselves by the pool. Thank goodness, there is Mr Fogg’s Hendrick’s Winter Botanical Garden’s Gindeavors for the Winter Weather, made with Hendrick’s Gin infused with English Breakfast tea, homemade spice syrup, Briottet Beramotte liqueur, Cocchi Barolo Chinato fortified wine, apple juice, fresh lemon juice, honey, red dates and tea marmalade.
Five Gold Rings
How much more festive can a cocktail be when it’s sprinkled with gold? Duck & Waffle‘s Three Wise Men is not only chic, but combines cognac, salted caramel, truffled cacao, hay infusion, distilled frankincense and myrrh. Like the Christmas star, this drink will lead me right to East London!
Four Calling Birds
Calling Birds are actually Blackbirds – did you know that? I didn’t but was informed of this fact when sipping White Cloves of Dover at Cahoots Bar off very festively decorated Carnaby Street. A hip Soho-styled concoction of clove-and-orange-infused Pampero Añejo Especial rum, Amontillado sherry, homemade cinnamon syrup, lime juice, cranberry juice and raspberries.
Three French Hens
I just couldn’t decide which of these three drinks was the best, so I included them all. The bartenders at the Conrad London St. James didn’t think one festive Christmas cocktail was enough so they created all three: Santa Baby: vodka, strawberry liquor, sugar syrup , lemon juice , double cream egg white and a splash of strawberry purée; Jingle Bell Rock: rum, apple liquor, apple juice, cinnamon syrup, lime juice, splash of blackberry purée; and Hard Candy Christmas: vodka, chocolate liquor, Frangelico liqueur, Disaronno Amaretto, double cream. I bet you can’t decide either.
Two Turtles Doves
“Are we in London or St. Moritiz?” I asked myself, while pulling the cashmere blanket a little tighter around my shoulders. Actually both…a little Badrutt’s Palace at the Goring Hotel! The St. Moritz Ski Bar has found a home in Belgravia. The cocktail recipes are the brainchildren of the Badrutt’s barman himself, Andrea Delvo, and recreated for this festive holiday season! I had to have two: the San Moritzino: Russian Standard Original Vodka, Cointreau liqueur, Orzata Fabbri almond syrup, lemon juice, and the Suissesse: Absinthe Green Velvet 340, Orzata Fabbri almond syrup, lemon juice, egg white, and sugar.
Partridge in the Pear Tree
Cocktail Trading Company’s Citizen Cane is the pièce de résistance of the year. Served in its festive snow-globe, you can’t help but love it immediately. Their Christmas present to us is the delicious recipe!
Served in a snow globe
2 parts Cachaca
1 dash rosebud tincture
1 part cardamom-vanilla infusion
1 part lime juice
2 parts Sauvignon Blanc
Shake and serve over ice
Strain into a chilled snow globe
Toast to your good health and drink safely!
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Best Bits: Travel Cheat Sheet
- Brown’s Hotel, 33 Albemarle St, Mayfair, Greater London W1S 4BP
- Callooh Callay, 65 Rivington St, London EC2A 3AY
- The Gallery, 190 Broadhurst Gardens West Hampstead London NW6 3AY
- Graphic, 4 Golden Square, London W1F 9HT
- Bunnychow, 74 Wardour St, London W1F 0TE
- Wringer & Mangle, The Old Laundry Building, Sidworth St, London E8 3SD
- Mr. Fogg’s, 15 Bruton Ln, London W1J 6JD
- Duck & Waffle, Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, London EC2N 4AY
- Cahoots, 13 Kingly St, London W1B 5PG
- Conrad London St. James, 22-28 Broadway, London SW1H 0BH
- The Goring Hotel, Beeston Place, London SW1W 0JW
- Cocktail Trading Company, 22 Great Marlborough Street, London W1F 7HU
*All of the photos were provided by the bars.