Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a few festive tipples, and my tipple of choice is always gin. Earlier this year I posted some ideas for summer gin cocktails; now I want to share some winter-themed variations that are perfect for seasonal celebrations (or just a Friday night in, if you fancy treating yourself!).
To help, the kind people at Dartington Crystal sent me one of their fantastic ‘Gintuition’ sets – a trio of glasses designed to enhance different kinds of drink. There’s a classic highball (whose height keeps tonic water fizzy for longer), a stemmed copa (whose bowl shape encourages flavour infusion) and a Martini glass (ideal for smooth drinks). They’re all made from sparkling lead-free crystal and come in a smart box with a booklet of recipes – a great gift for gin lovers everywhere.
On to the cocktails themselves. All the below are simple to make and don’t require many ingredients, but it’s definitely worth investing in good-quality gin (Sipsmith, Hendricks and 6 O’Clock Gin are my favourites) and tonic water (you can’t beat Fever Tree).
Sloe gin and orange
My parents make sloe gin using sloes from the woods behind their house, and tasting the results has become a bit of a Christmas tradition in my family. This twist on the classic G&T has hints of fruitiness but isn’t too sweet – ideal as an aperitif.
- London dry gin
- Sloe gin (Sipsmith does a great one if you can’t make your own)
- Tonic water
- A fresh orange
Add ice cubes to a highball glass, pour over a measure each of the dry gin and sloe gin, squeeze in a few drops of juice from the orange, and top with the tonic water. Finish with an orange slice.
Ginger and lime
This drink is zesty, warming and slightly spicy – perfect for chilly nights!
- Ginger liqueur (The King’s Ginger works well)
- Ginger ale
- A fresh lime
Pour one measure of gin and one measure of ginger liqueur into a copa glass, add ice cubes, and top up with ginger ale. Squeeze in a little juice from the lime, and then add a lime wedge to garnish.
Cranberry and thyme
Cranberries aren’t just for your turkey – they also work well with gin! This cocktail offsets their sweetness with herby notes, creating a lovely flavour combination.
- 200g fresh cranberries, plus extra to garnish
- 150g white granulated sugar
- 250ml water
- Fresh thyme
Make cranberry syrup by simmering the cranberries, sugar, water and a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme in a saucepan for 15-20 minutes, then strain the mixture to get rid of the skins and thyme leaves. Cool the syrup in the fridge for a few hours, then pour into a Martini glass (about half way up the glass should do it) and add a measure of gin. Top with a splash of tonic water, and finish with fresh cranberries and thyme. If you want to cheat, you can use cranberry juice rather than syrup, but it’s not quite as tasty.
Photography by Abi Dare
Dartington Crystal kindly provided the Gintuition set for this post, but all words and opinions are my own.