What drinks to serve at Christmas?

Festive food is part of the magic of Christmas. From the nibbles served to your neighbours, to the canapés on Christmas Eve and of course, the main feast – Christmas Day dinner, there’s so much to consider it can be easy for your refreshments to be a second thought. However, pairing the right cocktail with your canapés, or a sherry with the ever-so-loved cheese board, will set your taste buds tingling and take your dishes to the next level.  With so many food and drink connoisseurs in attendance at our Christmas Fair this year, we’ve taken full advantage and sharing their top tips for drink pairings here.

Party Cocktails with Dom Jacobs 

Christmas Cocktails are fun and sure to get you in the party spirit! They needn’t take up too much time or effort either. Serve these delicious drinks with your favourite nibbles this festive season and enjoy some time-saving tips too!

Smoked salmon blinis are a Christmas classic. Serve yours with chilled martinis. This clean crisp cocktail cuts through the oiliness of the smoked salmon. Take a bottle of Williams Chase Elegant 48 Gin, pour yourself 2 large gin and tonics and drink them before your guests arrive! Not just for medicinal purposes, you’ll need the space for your other ingredients. Add back into the bottle, 25ml of dry Vermouth for a dry martini, 75ml of dry Vermouth for a wet martini or for something in the middle add 50ml dry Vermouth. My preferred Vermouth is Belsazar dry white but you can experiment. Then add 100ml of spring water and put the lid on the bottle. Shake it well and put it in the freezer for at least 45 minutes. This will serve up to 10 martinis so when your guests arrive, you will have perfect martinis to go! Prepare olives on sticks and lemon zests to customise your martinis to your guests’ preference for dirty or with a twist. If you are feeling really accommodating do the same with a bottle of Chase vodka too

Pigs and blankets, pork pies and warmed sausage rolls are hearty party nibbles. The wild botanical infusions found in gin, such as Williams Elegant 48 Gin, works in perfect harmony with the flavours of many pork based bites. Try the following:

50ml Williams Elegant 48 Gin
2 sprigs Fresh thyme
1 sprig rosemary
1 sage leaf
25ml cloudy Apple juice
10ml honey
5ml lemon juice

Muddle the herbs with the other ingredients. Shake and double strain into a martini glass and garnish with fresh thyme, rosemary and sage.

If you want to pair with venison – add a spoonful of red currant jelly to give it more depth.

Imran Nathoo’s Festive Alcohol-free Drinks

For those of us preferring to go alcohol-free at Christmas, there’s still plenty of fun to be had. My cardamom and saffron tonic is a real hit at my supper clubs and is a delicious accompaniment to smoked salmon as it is robust enough to stand up to the potent flavour.

A mix of the king and queen of spices producing a heady and decadent drink, it comprises of a spiced sugar made up from 2-3 tablespoons of caster sugar, 8-10 whole cardamom and a large pinch of saffron toasted then all ground up in a pestle and mortar (be sure to remove the husks from the cardamom first!) Place a heaped teaspoon of the sugar in a large wine glass with lots of ice, top up with good quality tonic and stir well. Would also work well with lemonade for a sweeter finish!

Delicious served with warm mince pies, my mulled spiced apple juice is a crowd pleaser! Warming, comforting and delicious. Fill a large saucepan two thirds full with good quality apple juice and warm on a low to medium heat. Add 1-2 cinnamon sticks, 1-2 star anise and 2-3 cloves. Gently heat through to infuse the spices into the liquid. Bring to a simmer then reduce the heat to keep it warm.

Serve in a classic whisky glass with a slice of crisp Granny Smith apple and a slice of orange too!

Merry Sherry Christmas with Owen Morgan

Whether it’s a mixed board to share, or pairing with single cheeses, sherry is your best friend. As a general rule, the stronger the cheese is, the browner the sherry to go for. That’s not a hard and fast rule, but definitely a good start.

Classically something like a chilled Fino will go with mild hard cheeses like young manchego, mild cheddar, comte or the like. Fino is the worlds’ driest wine, savoury with bready and almond notes. Served from the fridge it sits perfectly with these types of cheese.

Amontillado is fantastic with softer, more pungent cheeses. The nutty but delicate toasted dry flavour works best with truffled cheeses, stinking bishop, ripe brie, and the famous gooey torta style cheeses.

Pedro Ximenéz – the dark, rich, sweet, sticky wonder of the sweet wine world! Having notes of figs, raisins and dates in most examples, plus lots of sugar, it can stand up to some monster cheeses. Your biggest blues such as Cabrales from Asturias, strong Roquefort or stilton are your natural partners here.

But if you’re looking for the for the Rolls Royce of the sherry world, Palo Cortado is graceful, elegant and much sought after. Enjoy with a luxury cheeseboard this Christmas or a wonderful glass on its own in front of the fire.

You can join Dom Jacobs for his Christmas Cocktails workshop on Saturday 9th December or learn more about what sherry to serve at our tasting workshop on Sunday 10th December.