From simple pre-mixed shortcuts to handy tips on choosing the right glasses, food & wine editor Emma Sleight shows you how to master the art of the cocktail so you can get your guests into the seasonal spirit
Quick fix: Nothing gets a party started like a bottle of bubbles. This ready-made Sloe Gin Fizz combines plummy sloes with sparkling white wine – simply serve in long champagne flutes, which helps boost the flow of bubbles to the surface, and drape with a festive sprig of redcurrants.
Do it yourself: The sharp scent of citrus is a quintessential Christmas aroma. For zesty drinks with a difference, mix up a brass monkey (equal parts vodka, rum and orange juice) or give the classic G&T a twist by adding a splash of grapefruit juice to tonic water with a measure of our spiced clementine gin.
Top tip: Keep long drinks cold and avoid watering them down with too much ice by chilling your glasses in the freezer before your guests arrive.Shop now
Quick fix: The party doesn’t have to stop post-meal. Keep festive spirits up and stress levels low with a ready-made digestif such as shot-sized servings of chocolate yule log or sherry trifle cream – time-saving solutions made using the finest dairy cream from Ballyrashane creamery.
Do it yourself: Seasonal drinks aren’t all sweetness and light; visit the dark side with a double measure of our deliciously tempting black forest gateau liqueur. Alternatively, a couple of glugs will give a traditional mince pie mix a hint of black cherry or add a grown-up edge to fruit jellies and sauces.
Top tip: Turn your ice cubes into a tasty talking point by freezing berries or ground spices like ginger and cinnamon into them.Shop now
Quick fix: Heady with boozy fruit and cloves, mulled wine is indisputably the drink of British Christmastime but, stateside, eggnog rules the festive roost. For a sugary shortcut, whip up some runny vanilla custard with a few glugs of cognac, sprinkle with freshly grated nutmeg and serve in a simple tumbler.
Do it yourself: A simmering mug of hot buttered rum is perfect for keeping the winter blues at bay. Stir a knob of butter with two teaspoons of brown sugar in a saucepan. Add two measures of dark rum and some star anise, top up with boiling water and garnish with apple slices.
Top tip: Cinnamon sticks double up as both stirrers and flavour-enhancers in hot drinks. Add at the end for a sweet and spicy kick.Shop now
Photographer: Martin Poole / Food Stylist: Christine Greaves / Prop stylist: Linda Berlin