It's time to start planning folks - I know it's mid November but gifting season approaches and it's never too early to think ahead!
Christmas, this year, seems to be coming around with special circumstances once more. While it’s not for the same reasons as 2020 and 2021 – but who would have seen this one coming either?
This year we have a whole new set of grim realities facing us, namely the terrible war in Ukraine, startling British politics and the increasing cost of living crisis. Sandwiched in all of this is a football World Cup in Qatar, which has had its own set of controversies as well...
It’s easy to want to spend Christmas 2022 with the shutters down and just relax and push the realities of the world out of sight and out of mind for just one day (or a couple days actually). Call it a temporary reprieve if you will and if you are going to do your own lock-in, then you’ll need some great drinks to keep you company!
I’ve therefore selected a couple different spirits that will help transport you somewhere else. Whether that be with evocative flavour profiles, idyllic backdrops, unbelievable back stories or because they enable truly fantastic cocktails that allow you to recreate the good times, start new rituals and create new favourite moments.
Port of Leith’s Lind and Lime Gin is a juniper forward gin with pink peppercorn and lime notes, perfect for when you need that crisp and very large G&T.
When you are two sips in, I would strongly encourage you to look at their plans for their distillery in Leith. It looks crazy cool – and a façade that will no doubt become an icon of the area’s skyline! It’s the first vertical distillery of its kind and making it happen has been a journey I’ve loved watching progress from afar. They even had to crane in the stills before putting in the walls, hosting enormous copper pots stories into the air. The whole thing is a mind-boggling piece of engineering and will make you wonder if that trip to Scotland should come sooner rather than later…
If you’re in the mood to sip on or serve a very seasonal digestif for guests, then I’d recommend Audemus Sepia Amer. It’s bittersweet, earthy and with roasted flavours of chicory. Perfect for when you want to sit in front of the fire, digest and cosy up.
In that same region of tasty treats, if you’re looking for a coffee kick as an after dinner digestif without tons of sugar, check out Algebra Extra Dry Coffee Liqueur. It’s got notes of vanilla and dark chocolate, so it makes for a delicious Espresso Martini before the board games begin.
Tequila is fast becoming an all-year-round drink, not just for parties during the summer. During the winter months, how about making a Tequila Bloody Mary using Tequila, chocolate and/or chilli bitters, lime juice and rim the glass with sal de gusano. It’s an easy way to shake up your Brunch time routines and the perfect choice to serve a gathering on Boxing Day. Alternatively, you could try a winter-y version of the Paloma, substituting grapefruit juice for cranberry and pomegranate juice.
For either of these twists, you’ll want a Tequila that stands up to the fresh fruit juices and for that, my pick would be Maestro Dobel’s Diamante Tequila. The Diamante is a blend of Reposado, Añejo and Extra Añejo but filtered to remove the colour and therefore perfect for mixing while keeping those deep agave flavours intact.
Christmas would be amiss if you didn’t have a quality Rum or Whisky to bring out. Angostura 7 year old Rum and Michter’s Single Barrel Rye Whiskey are my top recommendations because they’re fantastic spirits to enjoy neat or over ice or in Manhattans and Old Fashioneds. They never fail to make great drinks and even neat, have often been met with an ‘ooh’ on more than one occasion – and it’s that versatility that I love about them.
Flavours aside, they can also transport you to two different places and fill your mind with a sense of wanderlust. Angostura hails from Trinidad & Tobago, perfect for daydreaming about that Caribbean beach holiday while Michter’s is based in Kentucky, the home of American Whiskey and the Kentucky Bourbon Trail – perfect for your next adventure…
Last but not least, get set for a last hoorah for nostalgia and to mark a changing of the guard. The King’s first Christmas speech will be a moment where the eyes of the nation will once again be glued on the Royals.
In many ways, that’s no different to usual - Her Majesty’s yearly address was a big part of many people’s Christmas day celebrations (even if some are asleep for it!) and while that familiar voice and message of hope and compassion might be different this year, the new address will be a moment worth having a glass in hand for.
Why not get a cheeky glass of Dubonnet and raise a glass to Ma’am one last time? Add some gin for a great drink aperitif, or soda for a long but drying concoction. With it, please ask a few questions. Namely why is this drink relegated to being a royal anecdote and why don’t we drink it more often - It tastes great?! And what does Charles drink so we can be glass appropriate come the coronation in May?
Whichever spirit you choose - be it Gin, Rum, Whisky, Tequila or other - we'll have lots more suggestions to come in our in-depth Christmas Gift Guide but I hope this gets you thinking ahead and that you're all looking forward to what treats await and what you want to place under the tree this year.