Monday, May 17

The spirits of Christmas: homemade drinkable gifts – recipes | Food

Cordial clementine

This will keep for three weeks in the refrigerator, so it’s not something to leave under the tree in the run-up to Christmas.

Make Approximately 375ml

450ml freshly squeezed clementine juice
50 ml of lime juice
500ml of water
500 g caster sugar

Put all the ingredients in a deep skillet, bring to a boil and cook over medium heat, stirring regularly. Once the liquid has reduced to a quarter of its original volume, turn off the heat and allow it to cool, then pour the cordial into a sterilized bottle (s), which should have a tight-fitting lid.

Gift tag instructions Store in a refrigerator and drink within a week of opening. Mix 25 ml of cordial with 25 ml of cranberry juice and top with cava or sparkling water. Garnish with a slice of clementine or orange.

Chestnut brandy syrup

This should sit for at least two weeks before being consumed. Once in the jar, it will keep for at least three months, and probably much longer, as long as the jars are properly sterilized.

Make 3-4 jars, depending on size

500g of fresh chestnuts
500 g demerara sugar
500 ml brandy
(nothing too fancy)

Mark a cross on the burn of each chestnut, then roast in a high-sided skillet or wok over high heat until they split open, which is a sign that they are done. Remove from the pan, allow to cool and peel.

Put the sugar and water in a large saucepan over low heat. Heat gently until the sugar dissolves, then turn the heat up to medium and simmer until reduced by half. Lower the heat back to the lowest possible setting and allow the syrup to cool slightly, but not completely (otherwise it will solidify).

Add the peeled chestnuts and brandy to the freshly warm syrup, stir well to combine, then decant into sterilized jars, as if you were making jam (Kilner jars it would look especially pretty, if you have any). Leave on for two weeks, turning the jars 180 degrees every day to rotate the contents and make sure everything combines well.

Gift tag instructions Add syrup to coffees, add a touch of old-fashioned or manhattan by adding a teaspoon, or substitute brandy in a classic champagne cocktail. Pour the marinated chestnuts and syrup over Christmas pudding, hot mince pies, vanilla ice cream, or coffee.

Festive punch

This will keep for three weeks in the refrigerator, so be sure to inform the recipient.

Make 750ml bottle

1 cinnamon stick
lace fresh rosemary
200ml dark rum
300 ml of cranberry juice
50 ml apple juice
100 ml of orange juice
50 ml of pomegranate juice

Put the cinnamon stick and rosemary sprig in a sterilized bottle; a flip-top bottle with a rubber-sealed cap is best. Pour in the remaining ingredients, seal and shake gently to mix and infuse. Keep cool.

Gift tag instructions Store in a refrigerator and drink within three days of opening. Pour over an ice glass, stir well, top with sparkling water and garnish with festive fruits.

Christmas spirit

This will keep for at least three months, assuming the recipient does not drink it throughout Christmas.

Make 500ml

1 teaspoon mixed spices
1 small handful
1 long orange zest strip
1 long strip lemon peel
3 teeth
200 g caster sugar
500ml vodka
(nothing too fancy)

Put all the dry ingredients in a sterilized bottle (s), then pour in the vodka. Seal with an airtight lid, shake well to combine, then leave in a cool, dark place for a week, for the flavors to blend, turning the bottle on its head and back once a day.

Gift tag instructions Store it in the freezer, so you can enjoy an icy shot as a stimulant after dinner. It will last almost indefinitely.

Recipes by Claire Strickett and Bert Blaize, authors of Which Wine When: What to Drink with the Food you Love, published by Ebury at £ 9.99. To order a copy for £ 9.29, go to

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *