CARAMEL MULLED CIDER

This really is the scent of Christmas captured in a mug. Mulled cider is my go-to drink when I need something to make me feel instantly safe and cosy. Rather than throw a load of overly sweet sugar into the cider, I first make a caramel, which sweetens everything in a more complex way.

Ingredients - makes 3 litres

  • 125g caster sugar 
  • 6 cloves 
  • 4 cardamom pods 
  • 1 cinnamon stick 
  • 3 dried bay leaves 
  • 4 star anise flowers
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg 
  • 3 litres cider 
  • 1 orange, diced
  • 1 apple, diced 

Method

Heat a large casserole over a high heat and immediately add the sugar. Allow the sugar to melt and turn into a dark caramel - it will melt on its own in the heat of the pan without stirring, but feel free to give it a stir once it's almost entirely melted, especially if it looks as though it is colouring unevenly. 

As soon as the caramel is a dark amber colour, add the spices and stir to heat them, then throw in the cider and chopped fruit and bring to a boil. As soon as the mixture boils, reduce the heat to its lowest setting and allow the cider to sit and mull for as long as you require (it'll be ready to serve after 30 minutes). 

LEMON MERINGUE MARTINI

What more do I need to say about this? The sharp lemony alcohol balanced with the sweet, marshmallowy meringue is refreshing and addictive. 

Ingredients (per portion)

  • 40ml fresh lemon juice 
  • 20g caster sugar 
  • 40ml limoncello liqueur 
  • Sparkling water and ice 

For the Meringue (per portion)

  • 1 large egg white 
  • 65g caster sugar

Method

For the cocktail itself simply stir together the lemon juice and sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Put into a cocktail shaker, or jam jar with tight fitting lid, with ice and the liqueur. Shake vigorously until well mixed. Pour into a champagne saucer or martini glass, and top up with sparkling water (though do leave some room for the meringue).

For the meringue, whisk the egg white until stiff, then slowly add the sugar whilst whisking constantly - a handheld electric mixer is best for this. Pile the meringue on top of the cocktail. Using a chef's blowtorch, gently char the top of the meringue. 

PEACH ICED TEA COCKTAIL

Nothing reminds me more of my childhood holidays than Peach Iced Tea. Though sadly the ones from back then were never laced with copious amounts of alcohol. This, on the other hand, certainly is. Enjoy. 

Ingredients (makes about 1ltr)

  • 415g can peaches in syrup 
  • 200ml cold tea 
  • 150ml cointreau
  • 50ml vodka 
  • 100ml sugar syrup
  • 100ml fresh orange juice  
  • Ice 

Method 

Simply blitz the entire contents of the can of peaches into a mush in a food processor. Add the other ingredients, except the ice, and blitz together. Pour into a pitcher, over ice. Serve in sugar-rimmed tumblers with ice. 

 

LEMON THYME & CHAMPAGNE COCKTAIL

This is something I'm proud of. A refreshing cocktail, with a gentle summery warmth from the thyme. This requires a lemon and thyme cordial which is also detailed below. A perfect drink for with a lemon roasted chicken dinner. 

Ingredients for the cordial 

  • 200g lemon juice 
  • 200g caster sugar 
  • Small handful thyme (use lemon thyme or broad leaf - not that horrible leggy stuff) 

Method

Dissolve the sugar in the lemon juice and bring to the boil in a small saucepan. Boil for just a minute until slightly thickened, then turn off the heat and add the thyme. Allow to infuse until completely cold, then strain into a jar. 

Ingredients (per cocktail)

  • 20ml lemon and thyme cordial (above) 
  • 20ml vodka 
  • Champagne to top (or just a cheap, dry prosecco)  
  • Thyme to garnish 

Method

Shake the cordial and the vodka together over ice in a cocktail shaker or jam jar with tight fitting lid. Strain into a champagne saucer or flute, and top with the champagne. Add a sprig of thyme to garnish. 

 

 

WHISKY SOUR

I bloody love whisky, but I love a whisky sour even more. Monkey Shoulder is my favourite: it is smooth and creamy, but bold enough to hold its own when mixed. 

Ingredients (per cocktail) 

  • 25ml fresh lemon juice 
  • 25ml sugar syrup 
  • 50ml whisky
  • 1/2 medium egg white (or 15g pasteurised egg white if you're fussy) 

Method

Shake all of the ingredients in a cocktail shaker or jam jar with tight fitting lid to mix well. Add ice and shake again, then strain into a glass - traditionally a tumbler, but I prefer the elegance of a champagne saucer. 


PEAR CIDER BAKEWELL

My Bakewell Collins cocktail was such a hit with readers, but for the warmer months I wanted something a little lighter (and more alcoholic). 

Ingredients (per cocktail) 

  • 35ml cherry brandy 
  • 35ml amaretto liqueur 
  • 1/2 500ml can of pear cider 

Method

Simply shake the brandy and amaretto vigorously over ice in a cocktail shaker or jam jar with tight fitting lid. Strain into a champagne flute and top up with the pear cider. 

AMARETTO AND ORANGE SOUR

My take on a classic. Slightly sour but with a balanced sweetness. 

Ingredients (per cocktail) 

  • 50ml amaretto liqueur 
  • Juice of 1/2 medium lemon
  • Juice of 1/2 small orange  
  • 10ml sugar syrup 
  • 1/2 medium egg white (use 15ml pasteurised if you're fussy) 

Method

Simply shake the ingredients together in a cocktail shaker to mix, add a good helping of ice, shake again, then strain into a tumbler over ice. If you don't have a cocktail shaker, use a jam jar with tight fitting lid.