Wednesday 23 December 2020 3:33 pm

Festive cocktails, whether you're fully stocked or the cupboard's bare

Dom Jacobs is Wine Director at The Fitzdares Club

What a short-lived foray back into the great restaurants, bars and pubs of London that was!

Like many restaurateurs and publicans across the country, I don’t mind being told to close my venue for the good of the nation (although there is still no evidence that hospitality contributes significantly more than other sectors to the spread).

What I and many others in the industry have issue with is closing with 24 hours’ notice ahead of the busiest week of the year, with no additional support announced. It is enough to make one want to throw in the towel. 

I have great belief in all of the phenomenal businesses and the individuals within the UK who have done their best to adapt in the crisis that has enveloped the country since March this year. Whilst there will undoubtedly be hospitality casualties in the New Year, I look with great pride at the steadfast commitment to guests, the adaptability and sheer determination displayed in every direction in our sector. 

The impacts of Tier 4 for the foreseeable and a Christmas cancelled in all but name are not limited to hospitality. Indeed, the most recent last-minute decision by the government has left many households in the UK in a similar position to hospitality venues: either finding themselves with far too much food which will go to waste; or unable to get their supermarket delivery slots in in time. 

Having gone through both ends of this spectrum too many times this year I can sympathise, so in this week’s article I am sharing some top tips and two alternative options for cocktails you can make at home – whether you are a stocked up Supermarket Sweeper or Tier 4 and Turkey-less I have you covered with these easy festive cocktails 

Marmalade Mule 

Chase Distillery, renowned for their single estate spirits in Herefordshire, have a range that would be welcome in every household this Christmas. Their GB Gin is my go-to gin and tonic, whilst their Elegant 48 Gin does what is says on the tin – a delicate elegant ingredient wonderful in cocktails. 

However it is their Marmalade Vodka that gets a special mention this time of year. It has been developed over the years into its current form, which is now barrel-aged, giving it a richness and depth which keeps the cold at bay. It is such a simple drink and always warms you up this time of year, whether neat or in a cocktail with ginger beer and bitters.

Look out for the special release version of this vodka which has been aged in cognac casks – it is an intriguing and enchanting spirit, perfect for sipping by the fire as an alternative digestif after dinner and the ultimate hip flask addition!

Supermarket Sweeper

50ml marmalade vodka 

Top with ginger beer

4 dashes angostura bitters

Serve over ice in a Colin’s glass and garnish with lime

Tier 4 and Turkey-less 

50ml of any gin or vodka

3 teaspoons of marmalade (or the remnants left in the jar)

Fill jam jar with the spirit and some ice, shake it up with the lid on.  

Top with ginger beer and add a few dashes of bitters, if you have them!

Reindeer’s Neck Martini

Our Horse’s Neck Martini is a trademark at the Fitzdares Club and is a brilliant zesty aperitif as well as a settling digestif. Whilst it is a push to suggest that our key ingredient of cold-pressed ginger brings profound health benefits, we like to think it is at least one of your five a day! 

However at this time of year, we replace the Horse’s Neck Martini with a Reindeer’s Neck Martini, which takes it one step further with a cinnamon twist as a festive alternative.

Supermarket Sweeper

30ml Hennessy VS Cognac

20ml Stones ginger liqueur

10ml cinnamon honey syrup (heat cup of water wine with half cup honey and 4 cinnamon sticks for 10 mins)

20ml cold pressed ginger and apple juice

20ml lemon juice

Dash of Angostura Bitters 

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake hard. Strain into a Martini glass and garnish with lemon zest.

Tier 4 and Turkey-less

40ml any brandy

Nugget of stem ginger with teaspoon of syrup

20ml lemon juice

15ml apple juice

1/2 tsp cinnamon powder

Dash of bitters

Add all to cocktail shaker (or empty jam jar with lid) middle the stem ginger in purée, then shake hard with ice and fine strain into a Martini glass with tea strainer.

Sloe Gin Sour

Most people have a bottle of sloe gin kicking around, either purchased from a established gin producers (again Chase Distillery gets a worthy mention here!) or last year’s homemade gift from a proud friend which you didn’t quite manage to finish. Thankfully, even less-accomplished sloe gins can easily be pimped up to make a refreshing and delectable Christmas drink

Supermarket Sweeper

50ml Chase Distillery Sloe Gin

20ml lemon juice

15ml honey syrup infused with thyme (heat half a cup of honey with a cup of water and fresh thyme for 10 mins)

1 egg white

Add all ingredients to cocktail shaker and shake hard with ice. Strain into rocks glass over ice and garnish with sprig of thyme and a few dashes of Angostura Bitters.   

Tier 4 and Turkey-less 

50ml any sloe gin 

20ml lemon juice

15ml sugar thyme syrup (heat half a cup of sugar with a cup of water and dry thyme for 10 mins)

1 egg white, or 20ml chickpea water

Add all to cocktail shaker (or empty jam jar with lid) and shake hard with ice. Strain into rocks glass over ice and garnish with a few dashes of bitters.

Grapefruit and Sage Sgroppino

A Sgroppino is a slightly more interesting version of a Buck’s Fizz, which is essentially a flavoured sorbet topped up with fizz. Whilst it looks complicated, the work is all done before hand, so on the day all you do is add fizz. 

Winter is actually when grapefruits are at their best and, if you can spare a little bit of sage from your stuffing, this combination is a very good way to kick- off your day of indulgence. If you fancy something a little more exciting add a capful of Campari at the end!

Supermarket Sweeper 

For the sorbet: 

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

1 cup strained fresh grapefruit juice 

6 sage leaves

Simmer for 5 minutes until sugar dissolved then leave to cool. 

Once cooled, put in ice cream machine until smooth (around 8-12 minutes) then put in airtight container in the freezer.

When ready to serve, add a scoop of sorbet into coupettes and pour over chilled cava, prosecco or crémant (save the champagne to be drunk on its own!)

Tier 4 and Turkey-less

For the sorbet:

1 whole grapefruit peeled and pith removed

1 cup grapefruit juice (works with oranges too)

100g sugar

1 cup water

Add all to a blender and blend until smooth purée. Put in airtight container in freezer. 

A few hours before serving drink, take out of freezer and chop into blocks before blending again until smooth then refreeze for about an hour so it can be scooped.

When ready to serve add a scoop of sorbet into coupettes and pour over with chilled cava, prosecco or crémant.


Whatever your situation this Christmas, whether you are over-stocked or scrambling for the last turkey in Tescos, we within the hospitality know the feeling and hope you can add some festivity to your day with the above. recipes. 

We look forward to welcoming you all back sometime in the New Year, whenever that may be. 

Until then, a very Merry Christmas!