12 festive tipples to tempt punters this Christmas, as tested by me and Father Christmas*
*Not really, he only drinks sherry.
1. Chambord Royale
Bacardi Brown-Forman Brands
If Christmas is the season when (for once) more is more, then there can never be a better time to drink from a glass shaped like a flamingo. We kid you not — earlier this year Chambord unveiled a new glass, a classic Champagne coupe with an off-centre stem, imitating a flamingo standing on one leg. Perfect for the pink signature serve that is the Chambord Royale (Chambord topped with sparkling wine) this party season.
2. Hunter's Tea
Among the hustle and bustle of the festive period sometimes all one needs is a simple cup of tea — and sometimes one requires something a little stronger. For these moments, offer your punters a Hunter's Tea: brew 50ml of tea, add 50ml Jägermeister Spice, 25ml lemon juice, 12.5ml of sugar and 75ml of orange juice. Garnish with orange zest and a cinnamon stick and watch them unwind.
3. Absolut Christmas Cosmo
Christmas is all about "creating serve envy" — a.k.a "I want one of those", according to Pernod Ricard, which has launched a raft of different drinking vessels for this Christmas, from Malibu mugs to copper pineapples. Try this Christmassy cocktail served in whatever takes your fancy: 50ml Absolut Citron, 25ml Cointreau, 25ml lemon juice and 15ml cranberry juice, all shaken over ice.
4. Frobishers Classics
It's OK, designated drivers, teetotallers and abstainers! Christmas 2015 will not be all flat pop and warm tap water, soft drinks have got exciting this year. This is the latest entrant to the posh end of the market, a three-strong range of "delicately carbonated juice drinks" from Frobishers.
5. Rimbaud Champagne
Jascots Wine Merchants
This is a totally new
Champagne brand launched last month, just in time for the party season, and will only be available via the on-trade. Jascots joined forces with Champagne Volleraux to create the new fizz, which is described as "floral, citrussy and mineral." Delicious, darling.
6. Élevé Pinot Noir Vin de France
Solving the perennial "what to serve with the turkey" conundrum is this lovely French Pinot Noir, which has a slightly savoury note to help boost flavours of the festive bird. About a third of the blend is aged in oak, which gives a touch of spice on the nose, and it is "ridiculously good value, at less than seven quid a bottle," according to Matthew Clark.
7. WKD Frostbite
With 18 to 24-year-olds looking for accessible cocktails, licensees catering for this market could do worse than offering a few RTD-based sharing cocktails. "The ingredients are a staple in any bar and the WKD jugs will add extra pizzazz," says Debs Carter, managing director for alcohol at SHS Drinks. Try this version, a merry mix of two 275ml bottles, WKD Blue, 50ml port, lemonade & ice.
8. Schweppes Sparkling Juice Drinks
At just 20kcal per 100ml, this new soft drink option will appeal to anyone looking to mitigate all those sneaky mince pies and with one in five adults now teetotal (according to the Office of National Statistics) it should also appeal to a new generation of "straight drinkers", says CCE.
9. J2O Midnight Amber
This new addition to the J2O portfolio will, it is claimed, "bewitch the senses, charm the taste buds and sprinkle some magic on adult soft drink sales this winter." The orange, lemon, mandarin & winter spice flavoured limited edition is exclusive to the on-trade and can be served on its own, or as part of a cocktail or mocktail.
Whether it's served on the rocks, warmed in a hot chocolate or over ice cream, few drinks say Christmas like Baileys — indeed 6.5 million people enjoy a Baileys in December, according to Diageo. As people look to treat themselves during December the focus is likely to be on the luxury version, Baileys Chocolat Luxe.
11. Angry Balls
This is a simple mixed drink that cleverly combines two of the biggest trends in drinks — flavoured American whiskeys and craft cider. It's made with a 25ml shot of Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey, topped with Angry Orchard Hard Cider (an American craft cider) and served over ice.
12. Go Rudolph Go!
Spirits sales go stratospheric during the Christmas and new year period (an additional 30 million serves, according to CGA figures), so if you haven't offered cocktails before, now is a good time to do so.
Keep it simple while it's busy, however, and use one of the pre-mixes on the market, such as Finest Call, to make a sharing cocktail like this one: a tropical punch made with Malibu, Southern Comfort, Finest Call peach purée, orange and apple juice. Garnish with a cherry.