Christmas cheer in a cocktail glass

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Christmas is the perfect time for a cocktail.  There’s something so very bright and cheery about this drink with its colourful liquers, sparkling glasses, fruity additions and quirky adornments such as twizzle sticks and flowery umbrellas.

Cocktail ingredients - photo by Zoe Dawes

Cocktail ingredients – photo by

You could try a Harvey Wallbanger in Harris, a Boilermaker in Belfast, a Screwdriver in St Ives or a Naked Lady in Norfolk.   According to Wikipedia the first know use of the word cock-tail was in ‘The Morning Post and Gazetteer in London’ in 1798, although the Oxford English Dictionary records it as originating in America in The Farmer’s Cabinet’ on April 28, 1803, “Drank a glass of cocktail—excellent for the head …”

Cocktails at the bar - photo by Zoe Dawes

Cocktails at the bar

The dictionary definition of ‘cocktail’ is NOUN: an alcoholic drink consisting of a spirit or spirits mixed with other ingredients, such as fruit juice or cream. Whatever the definition, there is something in the alchemy of a cocktail that brings its very own magic, and therefore makes it the ideal drink for a Christmas celebration.  Again according to Wikipedia, the first ‘cocktail party‘ was held by a Mrs. Julius S. Walsh Jr. of St. Louis, Missouri, held at noon for an hour.  These days you can drink cocktails at any time of the day, though early evening before dinner is the traditional time.

Cocktail Hour at the Velver Manchester - by Zoe Dawes

Cocktail Hour at the Velvet, Manchester

Half the fun of a cocktail is in the performance that goes into its creation. I had a fascinating lesson in making cocktails at the Cavendish Hotel in London.  To make a perfect drink, every element needs to be right.   This includes selecting the right type of gin/vodka/whisky and other alcohol, finding the best non-alcoholic mixer and choosing an appropriate sweet or sour extra, such as a twist of lime, a plump olive or a ripe strawberry.  Then there’s the glass.  Should it be a stumpy tumbler, an elgant flute, a curvaceous bowl or a classic ‘martini’ shape?  Shaken or stirred? Decisions, decisions – but whatever the ingredients, the final drink needs to be one that you sip, relish every mouthful and which leaves you feeling happier after you have drunk it than you were before.  Needless to say, you need to watch the seductive appeal of a cocktail or else you may end up feeling a lot worse!

White Lady Christmas cocktail at the Cavendish - photo by Zoe Dawes

White Lady Christmas cocktail

So, wherever you are over the festive season, make time for a Christmas cocktail – but do bear in mind these words from the immortal Dorothy Parker,

“I like to have a martini,
Two at the very most.
After three I’m under the table,
after four I’m under my host.” 

Cheers and have a very MERRY Christmas!

Berry Blazer Cocktail at the Cavendish Hotel - photo by Zoe Dawes

Berry Blazer Cocktail at the Cavendish Hotel

Zoë Dawes aka The Quirky TravellerYou can read more of Zoë Dawes‘ entertaining articles on her travels around the UK and abroad in her award-winning blog The Quirky Traveller where she shares her favourite stories, tips and photos. Follow her on Twitter @quirkytraveller and ‘like’ her page on Face Book.

More Visit Britain articles by Zoë Dawes

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One Response to “Christmas cheer in a cocktail glass”

  1. Zoe Dawes
    December 23, 2013 at 5:06 pm #

    My absolute favourite is a Champagne Cocktail

    Ingredients
    1 white sugar cube
    2 dashes bitters
    20ml/¾fl oz cognac
    enough champagne to fill the glass

    Place the sugar cube onto a spoon and add the bitters. Drop the soaked sugar cube into a champagne flute and add the cognac. Top up the glass with champagne and serve.

    A Bellini is beautiful. This famous cocktail was invented at Harry’s Bar, Venice, in 1934. The combination of peach juice and fizz is divine

    Ingredients
    2 ripe peaches, peeled, halved and stone removed, or the equivalent using tinned peaches in natural juice
    chilled champagne or sparkling wine
    2 chilled champagne glasses

    Place the peaches in a small blender and purée until totally smooth. This can be done well in advance and kept in the fridge. Spoon half into the chilled champagne glasses and slowly top up with champagne, stirring as you pour. You should ideally have one third peach purée to two thirds champagne. Serve straight away as a pre-dinner drink with the Cupid’s Caviar, leaving plenty of time for a second glass each.

    Merry Christmas x

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