Ah tis * almost * the season, and with that comes some fantastic festive drinks as well as delicious food. I particularly enjoy the contrast in flavours to summer recipes. Winter food and drinks have much more flavour than their summer counterparts, which allows me to explore deeper into rich ingredients and combinations to create heart-warming concoctions.
There are some obvious flavours that we can all use, like nutmeg, cinnamon, cranberry, but lately there has been a step towards creating ever more ingenious drinks using more and more inventive ingredients. I have a couple of favourite winter drinks myself. The first is what I call a warm rum, and its derived from an 18th Century recipe I stumbled upon a few years back. It uses Rum in much the same way as red wine in a mulled wine, introducing herbs and spices while gently heating up, and rounding off with a touch of orange juice and cranberry juice (or just by putting some orange slices and cranberries into the mixture to infuse), and a light dusting of sugar (a small mountain in my case). Now the trick is to be very careful when heating it up, since the alcohol content is higher, the alcohol is likely to evaporate quite quickly. So just by putting it on a low heat, being careful not to let it simmer or boil and keeping a lid on it to keep in all the flavours will ensure you end up with a delicious warm rum.
A delicious Christmassy Warm Rum
My other favourite is what I call a Yule Mule. Its a twist on a Moscow Mule and it has to be one of the best Christmas Cocktails ever. All you have to do is pour your vodka, lime juice, ginger beer, and a splash of cranberry juice over the top, to give it a Christmas twist. The best thing about this drink is that because of the special combination of ginger beer and cranberry juice, you will be able to add up to 4 shots of Vodka before the alcohol taste kicks in. The result? A blissful Christmas (because everyone will be asleep in no time). Leaving you with the remote all to yourself so you can watch The Great Escape in peace.
Dan Thomson is manager at the amazing Zenna Bar in Soho and award-winning mixlogist.