The Fourth Drink of Christmas: The Sugared Plum Fairy.

So it’s Christmas, so I’m hoping for a little forgiveness that my 12 drinks project has fallen by the wayside as I’ve rushed to get home to New Zealand, marry the girl of my dreams and drink some pretty spectacular bottles of Champagne along the way.

The Sugared plum fairy came out of the idea that you could combine absinthe and Umeshu (Japanese sweet plum wine.) I’ve made a number of attempts, none of them even remotely successful. I’d welcome a successful cocktail including these ingredients, but for now, just add an egg white to 60mls of Umeshu, 15mls fresh lemon juice, 7.5mls Ardberg 10 yr old, emulisify and shake hard over ice, serve in a sugar rimmed vessel.

Cocktail, Spirit

The third drink of Christmas: Gin

I’m going to go out on a limb and say Gin gets a bad wrap. Seen by many as a depressant, Gin has languished in a heady iniquity since the Industrial Revolution. At the time, Gin was a drink of the poor, consumed by young and old to numb the senses from the horrors of pollution and poverty. The wealthy and the powerful sipped of malt whisky, further condemning the English spirit through regulated taxation.

Despite these obstacles, Gin has maintained a presence in many historical high notes. The most famous dispensing machine, Old Tom, was located in the same lane whence started the Greate Olde Fyre of Londyn. A coincidence? I think not.

On a more personal note, Gin is Christmas to me, from the tickle of delight on my Nana’s face as she enjoyed a prune that had been soaked in gin, or as the fuel for the Grandad to get through the feast day, the juniperous distillate has been ever present.


One of my neighbours growing up started the day with a 8 ounce glass of neat Gin that he distilled in his back shed. I’m guessing that is a little sharp for many these days, so let’s kick things off with a Corpse Reviver Number Two. Equal measures of Gin (I like Beefeater in this drink, but make your own call,) Lillet Blanc (no substitutions here, Cinzano Blanco just won’t do,) freshly squeezed lemon juice and Cointreau (or Triple Sec in a pinch.) Combine the ingredients in a shaker over ice, shake and strain into a coupe that has been rinsed with absinthe. Repeat until you are revived.

The Breakfast Martini is also worth a lash, add a couple of teaspoons of Marmalade to 60mls of Gin, ice, shake and strain up. I like Rose’s Lime Marmalade for this one, but if you have soem made by a relative that is probably much more appropriate at Christmas.

The Earl Grey Martini too, deserves a mention. It does require a little extra effort. Infuse a bottle of gin with 4 tea bags of Earl Grey tea. Try running the bottle under the hot tap first to warm the Gin and speed the process. You need to go by taste here, too long and the Gin will turn and begin to taste chalky, too little and it just won’t be right. The SOUTH Gin by 42Below works amazingly in this role, and at 27 bucks in duty free it is an economical choice too. 60mls of the infused Gin, 20 mls fresh lemon juice and 15-20mls simple syrup will have a supremely tasty drink on deck.


Gins & Tonic are made for a kiwi summer. 60mls of your favourite Gin, three squeezes of fresh, local citrus in a well iced short glass and between 90-150mls of tonic, Qunia Fina if you’re lucky like me.

Tom Collins for those wanting something a touch sweeter and a lot longer. a decent slug of gin, a shot of lemon and a slug of simple syrup or oleo-saccharin, in one of those tall glasses called a Collins glass after this drink. Top with soda and garnish with wedges of lemon.

I’d also recommend the Negroni (really at any time of day,) The Gin & It for a more refined drink,


The 20th Century Cocktail, The Last Word, The Dry Martini, The Monkey Gland. There are simply too many to choose from. Buy a cocktail book and go nuts.


The second drink of Christmas: Rum

There’s naught, no doubt, so much the spirit calms as rum and true religion.

Lord Byron

Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere is characterised by the long balmy days of summer, and the recent dump of snow of the aptly named Snowy Mountains (really hills) notwithstanding; long, cooling, tasty drinks really are the order of the day.

Rum comes in many different guises, from the clear blancas to the pitch dark blackstraps, the fermented and distilled product of the sugar cane provides plenty of outlets past the rum and coke. If you are going to go down the spirit and splits route, add plenty of ice, a healthy measure of whatever rum you have on hand and squeeze in at least 3 or 4 segments of lime in there.


Rums work with fruits and juices. As such it’s not a difficult one to start the day with. Try Gaugin’s Breakfast 30 ml white rum, 30 ml dark rum, 15 ml passion fruit syrup, 15 ml apricot liqueur, 60 ml pineapple juice, 60 ml cranberry juice, Shake all ingredients with ice, strain in to hurricane glass and garnish with fresh fruit. The Pirate’s Breakfast too, 60mls spiced rum, 20mls honey, 80mls freshly squeezed orange juice, Shake all over ice, strain over ice and garnish with a fruit salad.


Get into the tiki drinks. The Kaiser penguin has a great article comparing Zombie recipes. Start the afternoon working your way through them. Team up Rum with some Olorosso Sherryand make a Jumbo Mumbo. Those of you with a more substantial liquor cabinet might want to try your hands at the three finalists from this years Tales of the Cocktail.


Try your hand at the Bumble Bee cocktail. Add bitters and sugar to a healthy slug of rum over ice and stir up an old fashioned, garnish with citrus peels. The Daiquiri is also a must for summer nights, or days for that matter. Combine two teaspoons of sugar, the juice of half a lime and 60mls of white rum, 100 year old Bacardi, if you are a purist. Add ice and shake hard enough to dissolve the sugar. strain and serve up. Make them small and drink them before they become warm.

Outside of that, Rum is fantastic in Punch. Remember this poem and you can’t go too far wrong whatever you throw in.


This recipe I give to thee,
Dear brother in the heat.
Take two of sour (lime let it be)
To one and a half of sweet,
Of Old Jamaica pour three strong,
And add four parts of weak.
Then mix and drink. I do no wrong —
I know whereof I speak.


Oh, and if you’re buying rum in New Zealand this Christmas, make sure it’s Stolen.

Cocktail, Wine

The first drink of Christmas: Champagne

“Three be the things I shall never attain: Envy, content and sufficient champagne”

Dorothy Parker

Like no other product, Champagne epitomises a collective celebration. Weddings, success and life’s little highlights, the bubbly amalgamation of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier is seen by many as the perfect accompaniment to good old times. What happens however, if you’re lucky enough to have a glut? There are certainly many out there who would believe that there is no such thing.

Regardless, here are a few options to get you underway. These will work just as well, and in some cases greatly improve the product if you’ve got Methode Traditionelle or something else that bubbles.


Perhaps the greatest aspect of the now quasi-religious holiday is that drinking becomes socially acceptable or even expected before the traditional 11 o’clock start point. Hitting the heavier stuff might not be such a grand idea, especially if you’re entertaining an older crew. Cut back the booze with some fruity goodness and get the day started right.

Mimosas & Bellinis

Mimosas mix bubbles and juice together. At the most traditional, use orange juice. I’m always astonished by the number of people who will mix a fifty dollar bottle of bubbles with a two dollar tetrapak of OJ. Show your guests a little bit of love and squeeze the juice fresh. The results will be better than you’ve ever imagined.

1/2 glass Fresh OJ, top with Champagne. For something a little brighter combine 10mls Grand Marnier with 20mls Fresh OJ.

Bellinis call for a puree of fruit. The Italian who came up with the drink used fresh white peaches, if you’d like to do the same, be aware that if you try and make the puree ahead of time it will oxidise and turn a funky brown colour. You could try adding an anti-oxidising agent, like lemon juice, but you’re best just to do it the laborious old fashioned way, to order as they are needed.

1/3 glass White Peach puree, top with Champagne

With both of these, there is huge room for experimentation, use whatever local, ripe, amazing fruit you can get your hands on. The Tokyo Strawberry Bellini is worth a crack too.


Personally, i think lunch is the absolute perfect time for a sparkling glass. But if you must have something that’s been adulterated, let me suggest the Imperial Mojito, The French 75 or perhaps a delicious punch.

The Sparkling Ginger Daisy & The East Hollywood Sparkling Sangria over at Sloshed! also are going to be making it on my Christmas drinks list.


While the classic Champagne cocktail is a great way to start any night, I’d also recommend changing the Gin for Cognac in your French 75. Alternatively, try this:

Ritz Cocktail

22.5mls ounce Cognac (Hennessy), 15mls Cointreau, 15mls Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur, 15mls  Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice,  Champagne (approximately 90mls) stir all but the Champagne over ice, strain up and top with champagne.   Garnish with a flamed orange peel




The 12 Drinks of Christmas

Another year is tearing to its end, in case you haven’t lifted your head from the ledger for the past few weeks, Christmas is upon us.

For booze bloggers it is once again time to post cocktails that fit the holiday spirit, encouraging folks to eschew their fear of raw eggs and try nogs, fluffy sours and maybe even a flip.

Christmas is also a time when new booze comes into your life. Gifts from friends and family, a cheeky bottle of Napoleon brandy from your Nan, a thoughtful bottle of bubbles or maybe just an eleven twenty five of Jack grabbed in a last minute entry from the duty free.

As such I thought I might try a different approach to my holiday postings. I am going to write 12 posts covering what you might consider doing with your newly acquired alcohol collection.

Covering Champagne, Gin, Rum, Tequila, Whisky, Port, Brandy & Cognac, Beer, Bourbon, Vodka, Vermouth and of course those pesky liqueurs. I’ll try and get outside the favourites to the ones that just really work at Christmas, or offer a different way out after you’ve had 34 rum and cokes in a row.

Feel free to link to posts about your own drinks that match the themes, or just bung in a recipe if you’d like to be involved.

Happy Holidays.