If your December typically looks like a whirlwind of sparklers and parties and festive cocktails and ugly Christmas sweaters and endless, endless, endless repetitions of ‘Cin-cin!’s into early mornings, this year must have felt a little different. A lot different.
Your watering hole may very well be closed for the foreseeable future, but that’s no excuse for a spirit-less holiday. So, wipe clean that DIY mixologist kit you’ve bought and promptly forgotten about; we’re bringing Hong Kong’s best festive cocktails straight to your kitchen island this Christmas.
Boticario’s Mulled Wine
Ah, the humble mulled wine. The cold-weather sangria. The drink-of-choice that wafts — not unlike the opening thirteen sleigh-bell rings of Ms Mariah Carey’s holiday classic — into the very first hints of the festive season. Boticario’s version is inspired by, like so many things this time of year, ghosts of Christmases pasts; in this instance, words of wisdom from an Italian chef that Navneet Kumar, Beverage Manager of Boticario, worked with previously.
‘The chef mentioned that mulled wine recipes can be quite different from region to region all over Europe,’ said Kumar. ‘This recipe is similar to the classic mulled wine from his hometown in Northwest Italy.’
- 2 red apples, diced
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 4 whole star anise
- ½ orange, wedged
- 12-15 cloves, poked into the orange wedges
- 3-5 strawberries, halved
- 2 bottles Shiraz red wine
- 90ml apricot liqueur; or, 50 grams of dried, halved apricots
- 90ml Giffard Banane du Brésil Premium Liqueur; or, dried banana
- 1 pod vanilla
- Set up your mise-en-place by slicing, dicing and wedging the fruits.
- Add all the ingredients into a pot and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes at around 60°C.
- Ladle and serve (optional: Serve it with gingerbread cookies, as is done at Boticario).
Caprice Bar’s Kléber Old Fashioned
Imagine. You and your favourite person, wrapped up warm in knitted scarves and mittens. Standing, heads tilted towards the gargantuan Christmas fir, basking in warm, twinkling lights against the gentle hum of seasonal carollers. A trip to Place Kléber in Strasbourg may not be in the cards this year, but a treat for the senses that’s just as transportive? Caprice Bar beverage manager Lorenzo Antinori’s twist on the old-fashioned, inspired by the Strasbourg Christmas Market and made anew with unexpected notes like miso and Alsatian Riesling.
50ml gingerbread and miso bourbon:
- 700ml bourbon
- 65g white miso
- 80g brown butter
- 10g fresh ginger
7.5ml honey syrup:
- 2 parts Acacia honey
- 1 part hot water
- 1 dash Angostura bitters
- 3 dashes Alsatian Riesling
- 1 mandarin peel
- First, make the gingerbread and miso bourbon and honey syrup.
- Gingerbread & Miso Bourbon
- Brown the butter in a pan, strain out the solids.
- In a vacuum bag or sealed container, combine all the ingredients and cook them in a water bath at 45ºC for 60 minutes.
- Cool down the mixture. Afterwards, place the bag in the freezer in order to solidify the fats.
- Strain the liquid from the fat and bottle it. The fat can be discarded.
- Honey Syrup
- Combine the ingredients and whisk properly in order to dissolve the honey uniformly in water.
- Bottle and refrigerate up to three weeks.
- Gingerbread & Miso Bourbon
- Stir all the ingredients — see: Gingerbread and miso bourbon, honey syrup, dashes of Angostura bitters and Alsatian Riesling — together and strain them into a sipping glass
- Garnish by releasing the oils (squeezing and twisting) of a mandarin peel on the surface of the cocktail. (Optional: Caprice Bar goes the extra mile by straining the cocktail in an organic beeswax-coated sipping glass.)
The Diplomat’s Irish Coffee
Coffee… but make it fun. If you’re of the opinion that December is a month for no-holds-barred decadence, then the standards for your morning — or, mid-day; or, before-bed — cup of joe should be no different. The Diplomat’s best-selling Irish Coffee ups the ante with Martell VSOP Cognac on top of the typical splash of Irish Whiskey; topped off with a dollop of cold cream for that final touch of ultra-silky indulgence. Founder-slash-star mixologist John Nugent reckons this is the perfect cocktail to sip on while opening gifts come Christmas morning.
- 30ml Jameson Irish Whiskey
- 15ml Martell VSOP Cognac
- 15ml Demerara sugar
- 120ml hot coffee
- Cold whipped cream, to taste
- A build-in-glass sequence, start with the Irish whiskey and work your way down the recipe.
- Finish with a dollop of cold whipped cream.
The Poet’s Mum Says No
Christmas: A time for family. Friends. Saying ‘Yes’, ‘Please’ and ‘I love you’s’, typically. The Poet’s cheeky festive tribute ‘Mum Says No’ is a twist on the classic Gin Alexander, switching out the typical crème de cacao liqueur with a fresh mint-infused chocolate cream instead. No doubt a misnomer, we think this cocktail would be better represented as ‘Mum Says Yes; Please, One More’.
- 45ml gin
- 30ml mint chocolate cream
- 15ml Fauchon Black Tea Liqueur
- Fresh milk foam, to taste
Shake all the ingredients together with ice, strain into a chilled sipping glass and top it off with frothed milk foam.
(Optional: No run-of-the-mill ice cubes for The Poet. If you’re a consummate myrmidon, use mint tea ice — freshly brewed mint tea, frozen into cubes — instead of regular ice cubes when shaking.)
No matter what time of year it is, that specific shade of hunter green paired against a heart-warming holly red will immediately evoke those Christmassy feelings. Inspired by the colours and flavours of the festive season, Duddell’s Mistletoe is light, refreshing and deliciously spiced; a drink salon manager Mario Calderone thinks will serve beautifully as a welcome cocktail for (socially-distanced and responsible) Christmas gatherings.
- 20ml Red berry mix (strawberry & raspberry)
- 10ml Falernum liqueur
- 125ml Ruinart Rosé
Strain and mix with the Cuban Rolling method — by which you’re pouring the ingredients between two halves of the tumbler, one strained with ice and the other empty — for five to six passes before serving.