Last year I put the decision between Christmas pudding or mince pie bourbon to a Twitter vote and Christmas Pudding Bourbon came out on top. It was tasty, super sweet and full of festive flavour.
This year then, it is the turn of the humble mince pie to be boozified. I’ve decided to infuse it into Cognac instead of bourbon and over the next four weeks I will use this to showcase four Christmas cocktail recipes.
As I suggested last year, the mince pie infusion is much easier to make, but in an attempt to help create a clearer, more easily filtered infusion, I have decided to follow a sous vide recipe.
Add 500ml of good quality Cognac and 200g of store-bought mincemeat to a ziplock bag. Expel all of the air and seal.
Heat the sealed bag at 45°c for one hour (see my Sous Vide Syrup recipe for my home sous vide technique).
Once the hour is up, place the sealed bag in the freezer overnight.
Next morning strain and filter the mix and bottle. Yum!
This recipe came to me via @thecocktailgeek. His enthusiasm for it was so palpable: “the best drink I’ve had all year” that not only did it convince me (an averred mulled wine avoider) to purchase a bottle of Professor Cornelius Ampleforth’s Christmas Mulled Cup and add it to pretty much every drink I made this month, it also drove me back into the arms of a trusty old favourite – the Vieux Carré.
A short #FridayOldFashioned post for the Friday before Christmas – traditionally a day when carnage is wreaked up and down the High Streets of Britain as office workers go wild with stick-on antlers and snowman deeley-boppers.
Personally I’d rather be at home in the warm in a reserved Christmas jumper enjoying a warming whiskey cocktail than out in an overly chintzy decorated chain pub downing lager or ‘draft’ mulled wine by the bucketload, so here’s a simple recipe if you’re of a similar mind:
Combine a barspoon of gingerbread syrup*, two ounces of whiskey and a sploosh of bitters in a mixing glass.
Add ice and stir well for sixty seconds.
Strain into a chilled old fashioned glass, over ice.
* You can make your own by adding ginger and cinnamon to a basic simple syrup recipe (follow Nigella’s recipe here) or use the pre-mixed Starbucks or Monin versions that are reasonably easy to find in the shops at this time of year.
For me, nothing evokes the joy of Christmas like the smell of a Christmas tree (that and the smell of the Christmas box that stores my parents’ decorations for eleven months of the year, though I haven’t worked out how to bottle that yet).
The easiest way to capture aroma in a drink is to create a tincture – an alcoholic extract of a plant, or an intense and high (80-100% proof) alcohol infusion.
So once we’d purchased our Christmas tree this year I relieved it of one good size branch and then:
Combine 60ml vodka in a small jar and add a handful of Christmas tree needle branches.
Leave to infuse for 3-4 days.
Remove the branches and bottle the tincture in a diffuser.
The finished tincture can be used to rinse glasses or glass stems or as a light spritz over the top of a finished drink – don’t over do it though, too much pine can be poisonous.