It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas (Perry Como, Bing Crosby or Michael Bublé? Opinion is divided here at Juliettes). Christmas is almost upon us – in fact, this is the last weekend for all your preparations. So, to take some of the pressure off, we’re sharing a few of our favourite Christmas cocktails. We also have a selection of festive mocktails so that designated drivers don’t feel left out (there’s nothing worse than watching everyone else quaffing champagne cocktails whilst clutching a somewhat sad orange juice). And if you’re still panicking about gifts for difficult people, we have a few ideas of last-minute gifts that look as though you’ve put plenty of thought in. They can all arrive in time for Christmas as long as you get a move on.
Last Minute Gifts – Don’t Delay!
So, take 10 minutes out of your hectic schedule, work out which ones you fancy and pop everything on your shopping list or your To Do list (better still, just click on the links, buy the last minute gifts straight away and that’s one more worry off your mind). And hey presto! Stress-free entertaining and your presents all wrapped up. If this gives you time on your hands this week, check out our favourite Magical Christmas Places to visit. Guaranteed to get you in the Christmas spirit.
So, let’s start with 3 of our favourite Christmas cocktails. These are all easy to prepare and fabulously festive. The only equipment you need is a cocktail shaker.
No prizes for guessing what’s in this one. This has all the flavours of Christmas. We particularly like it with Wild Island’s new Sacred Tree Gin, infused with autumn fruits such as crab apples, rosehips, brambles, rowan and elderberries. It is a real winter warmer with its fantastic fusion of flavourful gin, ruby port, clove cordial and cranberry juice. Dress it up or down depending how sophisticated or kitsch your party is likely to be.
- 30 ml Wild Island Sacred Tree Gin
- 20 ml ruby port
- 5 ml pink clove cordial
- 20 ml Demerara sugar syrup
- 30 ml cranberry juice
- Stir ingredients over ice and strain into a martini glass
- Garnish with mint, a sprig of rosemary, cranberries threaded onto a cocktail stick – or go all out and serve in a frosted glass with a mini candy cane perched over the edge
How Christmassy does this look? A snow white cocktail with a chilly, frosted rim. This is a cocktail for those with a sweet tooth. Serve from a tray decorated with mini silver baubles, snowflakes (or even a white feather boa, should you happen to have one hanging around).
- 90 ml white chocolate liqueur
- 60 ml vanilla vodka
- 2 tbsp double cream
- Lemon wedge
- White caster sugar
- Use the lemon wedge to wet the rim of a martini glass. Dip into the sugar until rim is coated
- In a cocktail shaker, combine the white chocolate liqueur, vodka and cream
- Fill the shaker with ice and shake well
- Strain the mixture into your frosted glasses and serve
With just two ingredients plus a garnish, this has to be the easiest Christmas cocktail to make. Perfect if you already have enough to do. Why not ring the changes this year and swap the crème de cassis (blackcurrant) for Chambord (raspberry), crème de mûres (blackberry) a cranberry or pomegranate liqueur – or even a violet liqueur if you’re feeling adventurous. All are easy to find online or at any good retailer.
- 15 ml crème de cassis/Chambord/any other festive liqueur
- 180 ml champagne or sparkling wine
- Pour the liqueur into a champagne flute
- Top up with champagne
- Garnish with fruit to go with your liqueur (blueberry, raspberry, blackberry, cranberries, pomegranate seeds or even mint leaves)
Designated drivers, children, teenagers who want to feel a bit more sophisticated or anyone who wants to alternate between cocktails and a non-alcoholic option – mocktails are the answer. Every host should have a couple of ideas up their sleeve.
Ginger, Basil and Grapefruit Mimosa
A real winter warmer with the heat of ginger, the fresh herbal notes of basil and a citrusy zing from the grapefruit. Even dedicated alco-philes will love this one.
- Juice of 1 grapefruit (or 60 ml bought pink grapefruit juice)
- 3 x 330 ml cans of ginger beer
- 60 ml basil simple syrup (see below)
- Fresh basil leaves and grapefruit slices or twist of rind to garnish
- Fill a pitcher half way with ice
- Add juice, ginger beer and simple syrup
- Mix well
- Garnish with grapefruit slices and basil leaves
Basil Simple Syrup
- 250 ml water
- 200 g sugar
- 1 mugful loosely packed fresh basil (leaves and stalks)
- Place water and sugar in a small pan and heat until all the sugar is dissolved. Take off the heat and add the basil. Allow to steep for 15-20 minutes. Strain and discard the basil. Pour syrup into a glass bottle or jar and chill until needed. Will keep in the fridge for up to one month.
Orange and Rosemary Fizz
Another lovely blend of citrus and herbs with just a hint of warming cinnamon. Not too sweet (although you could use tonic instead of soda water – or even lemonade for your younger guests)
- Half an orange, cut into 2 wedges
- Large sprig of rosemary
- Soda water
- 1 tsp pomegranate seeds
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Put the orange and half the rosemary into a highball glass. Muddle really well then fill with ice.
- Top up with soda water and garnish with pomegranate seeds, the cinnamon stick and the remaining rosemary.
Pineapple Coconut Fizz
A non-alcoholic Piña Colada with lashings of extra fruit. Because of the fresh pineapple, this one is sweet and, therefore, beloved of children and anyone with a sweet tooth.
- Half a pineapple, peeled, cored and chopped. Reserve 1 slice with skin still on, cut into wedges to garnish
- 200 ml pineapple and coconut juice drink
- Handful of fresh mint, chopped, some leaves reserved to garnish
- Crushed ice
- Soda water
- Crush the pineapple in a bowl with the end of a rolling pin, then tip into a jug
- Add the juice and mint
- Fill 4 glasses with crushed ice then divide the pineapple mixture between them
- Mix well and top up with a little soda water
- Serve with small pineapple wedges and mint leaves
Last Minute Gifts
It happens to us all, even the most well-organised. Christmas seems ages away then, all of a sudden, it has galloped up on us and we have no time left to browse the shops for the perfect gift. Worry not! There are still plenty of last minute gifts online – and you can shop in comfort with your feet up.
Could be a West End show, a spot of Shakespeare or a local pantomime. You know your recipients best so choose something you think they would really enjoy. The Juliettes team recently donned their Christmas jumpers and went to see The Boy in The Dress at the RSC in Stratford upon Avon. It was fabulous – a superbly enjoyable evening and highly recommended. Combine this with a pre-theatre dinner and a short stay in one of Stratford’s many hotels for a perfect, relaxing break.
There are lots of options out there with companies such as Red Letter Days and Virgin Experience Days. Would your recipients love to be behind the lens, learning the art of night photography? Or out front and fabulous after a spectacular makeover? Our team favourite is a Pet Photoshoot with Virgin – who wouldn’t love a professional photo session with their beloved pets? There are many offers to be had right now too.
Personalised Stamp Destination Print
Need a gift for an avid traveller? This wonderfully understated print by Betsy Benn at Not on the High Street celebrates all those destinations they’ve loved – or it could be their destination bucket list as a reminder of all the places they haven’t yet visited. If 9 destinations are not enough, they also do a 16 stamp version. The framed option is not available in time for Christmas but you can still order a mounted print, with your choice of colourways, countries and cities.
Well, we hope we’ve solved just one or two of your holiday headaches this season. Wherever you are, we hope you have a fantastic, stress-free Christmas. We’ll see you in the New Year!