5 ways to channel your inner cocktail connoisseur this Christmas!

Christmas is a time for entertaining, relaxing, eating, drinking and being merry. Delicious mixed drinks are a great way to celebrate special occasions but much like Christmas dinner, deciding on Christmas drinks, cocktails and mocktails can be a source of stress. There’s a lot that goes into making the perfect Christmas drink but thankfully, it’s easier than one would think. Below, mixologists from the Radisson Hotel Group share tips on how to achieve the perfect cocktail this Christmas. With the help of these essential tools and ingredients in your home bar you’ll be able to impress your friends, loved ones and Instagram followers this festive season.

Get the ratio right
For a perfectly flavour-balanced cocktail, follow the mixology golden ratio of 2:1:1. This equates to two parts spirit, one part sweet, and one part sour. To achieve the golden cocktail-making ratio you’ll begin with two parts of your spirit of choice: vodka, tequila, gin, rum – whatever you have. Add this to a mixing tin with ice. Measure out one part of a sweet ingredient: simple syrup, vermouth, triple sec, etc. and add that to your mixture. Finally, measure out one part of something sour: lime juice, lemon juice, or sour mix, and pour into your tin.

Naughty or ice?
Whether your guests enjoy a naughty neat cocktail or nice iced one, it’s important to understand when and when not to add ice to your homemade drink. You may think ice is solely used to chill your cocktail or slowly water it down, but iced-down cocktails can be quite controversial. As the ice melts, it dilutes your beverage which affects the flavour profile of your beverage. Whilst some cocktails, like citrusy ones, are best enjoyed when chilled, others, particularly, dark-liquor cocktails require little to no ice at all.

Choose the right glassware
Selecting the right glassware is equally as important as perfecting the mixology. To achieve your perfect cocktail, serve it in the proper glass. This is because glass can affect the taste, aroma, and temperature of your drink. While there are many different cocktail glasses, the most popular (and arguably most important) are:

Martini Glass: Not only is it stylish but it’s also designed to keep the drinker’s hands off of the glass and on the stem. This prevents the drink from becoming warm.

Copper Mug: Copper Mugs are typically used to keep drinks icy cold. This is because copper is a great temperature conductor.

Rocks Glass: Perfectly sized for 60ml of liquor, ice, and a garnish. This is the perfect glass for cocktails that aren’t mixed with many ingredients.

Highball Glass: This is similar to the rocks glass only taller and perfectly sized for cocktails made with the golden ratio in mind.

Hurricane Glass: This fun glass is synonymous with a seaside summer vacation. These are usually the largest glasses in a bartender’s arsenal and are used to hold more liquid (and more liquor).

Have fun with aromatics Spice up your Christmas by adding whole spices and fresh herbs to your cocktails. Don’t limit your creativity when adding aromatics. Rosemary, thyme, basil, and lavender are just as delicious as the old favourite, mint.

Some flavour combinations to try are:Strawberry or watermelon + basil
Lime + mint
Citrus + lavender
Lemon + rosemary
Blackberry + rosemary
Blackberry + black pepper
Lemon + honey + thyme
Cucumber + lime + basil
Cinnamon + apple
Aniseed + orange
Cardamom + bitter orange

Garnish and enjoy!

Finally, the last step to craft the perfect cocktail, garnish. Every great bartender knows that the garnish is meant to not only enhance appearance but also flavour. A thin slice of orange peel brings out the aroma in an old-fashioned, a marinated olive pairs perfectly with a dirty martini and a paper umbrella compliments the daiquiri. Garnishes can determine the difference between a regular Christmas cocktail and the perfect Christmas cocktail.

If you don’t know where to begin, try the below cocktail recipe from Malcolm Johani, Lead Food and Beverage at Radisson RED V&A Waterfront to get you started.

Oh So Jolly!
50 ml Appleton Jamaican Rum
25 ml Grand marnier
50ml Wild berry tea
10ml Honey.
Add all ingredients in a shaker, followed by ice and fresh rosemary and shake well.
Pour the liquid into a French coupe glass, garnish with rosemary and orange and enjoy.

Looking to enjoy a booze-free Christmas?
Look no further. This recipe, and most cocktail recipes in fact, doubles as a non alcoholic beverage with the below ingredients:
50ml Orange essence (grand marnier substitute)
50ml Wild Berry tea
10ml Honey