Three Party-Appropriate Cocktail Recipes
Throwing a Christmas or New Year party? Here are our go-to crowd-pleasing cocktails.
It sounds so swell, doesn’t it, to invite all one’s friends and lovers over for a cocktail party? Who wouldn’t wish to sip old fashioneds and white ladies while making repartee around the Christmas tree?
The problem is – for those of us who don’t have a platoon of waiters and mixologists at our disposal – it’s ruinous and chaotic making multiple cocktails in a domestic set-up. You will spend most of your party in a Cointreau-sticky frenzy without the prospect of a tip at the end of it. This is why most house parties revolve around those old standbys of beer, wine and amyl nitrate.
Nonetheless, it’s still advisable to ply your guests with hard liquor. You just need to put some forethought into it and make things as easy as possible on the night. Don’t think about taking bespoke orders. Instead, batch-mix a crowd-pleaser or two and serve from a jug or punch bowl. It’s also handy to slice a few lemons, limes, etc, in advance for garnishes and, most importantly, to have vast quantities of ice on hand. Freeze water in every suitable container you have, hacking up the larger pieces of ice into manageable sizes. Here are three of the best party-appropriate cocktails, and how to make them.
The negroni is composed entirely of booze, which presents a two-fold advantage to the host. First, you can mix it in advance without the risk of spoilage. And second, it raises the spirits like nothing else. Sacred, a matchless micro-distillery run by Mr Ian Hart and Ms Hilary Whitney in Highgate, north London, makes a Christmas pudding-infused gin that is ideal for festive purposes. The following quantities will do 10 people, but you can, of course, multiply.
300ml Sacred Christmas Pudding Gin 300ml sweet red vermouth (eg Martini Rosso) 300ml Campari Two or three cinnamon sticks 1 tsp coriander seeds 1 star anise Orange peel Lemon slices to garnish
Two or three days before your party, combine the gin, vermouth and Campari in a capacious container and add the spices and orange peel (ensure there is no white pith). Allow them all to mingle in a cool, dark place. About five minutes before your first guests arrive, strain the contents into a jug filled with copious amounts of ice and stir. Normally, I’d serve a negroni down (ie, over ice), but here I’d recommend serving it in martini glasses. It gives that classic cocktail-party feel while saving you the faff of replenishing everyone’s ice, although you might drop a little quarter lemon slice into each glass by way of garnish. Ensure each guest has one of these within seconds of walking in the door and the rest will follow.
This old-English-via-New-Orleans classic takes some fairly involved prep, but it’s so worth it. Your guests will not believe that the principle ingredient is milk and the principle booze is dark rum. Once strained, it comes out a beautiful translucent golden colour and slips down like winter sun. All of the components are variable. Feel free to use, say, bourbon instead of rum, camomile tea instead of green, and to replace some of the sugar with honey or liqueurs such as Cointreau, cherry brandy or Bénédictine. This serves 10, with seconds (which everyone will demand).
Peel of two or three lemons, plus zest twists to garnish 500ml dark rum 100ml brandy 500ml hot green tea 100ml lemon juice 50g golden caster sugar 500ml milk Dash of absinthe
Add the lemon peel, rum and brandy to a pan, gently warm and then pour in the hot tea. Add the lemon juice and gradually add the sugar (and/or liqueurs), tasting for balance. It should be neither too sweet nor too sour. In a separate pan, bring the milk to the boil. Once it starts to froth up, pour it into the lemon-spirit-sugar-tea pan. It will curdle and look completely disgusting. However, if you pass this mess through a muslin cloth (or clean tea towel) two or three times, the curds will filter out the whey, leaving you with a delicious silken punch. Serve in a punch bowl with lemon zest twists and plenty of ice. A tiny misting of absinthe sets it off nicely.
Kir a la mode
You can generally rely on a few friends to bring fizz to the party. If it’s decent champagne, drink as is. If it’s prosecco or similar, transform it into something more elegant by adding a shot of liqueur. Cassis (blackcurrant) is the traditional accompaniment in Burgundy, France – this is known as a kir royale – but you can use pretty much any fruit liqueur. St Germain elderflower, Gabriel Boudier Crème de Pêches and Enamor's wonderful Yuzu liqueur are my go-tos. Do ensure the liqueur is nice and cold. Store in the fridge or use an ice cube or two.
15ml fruit liqueur 75ml sparkling wine
Pour a small glug of liqueur into the glass and top up with fizz.