If you ask us, London is one of the cosiest places to spend the Christmas holidays. Our snug little pubs and bars – many accompanied by the requisite roaring fireplaces – are as warming as can be. And when you’re sipping Christmas gin cocktails alongside, well. . .it’s hard to feel more festive.
In honour of the season, we reached out to bartenders at four of our favourite cosy enclaves, each of whom has shared their recipes for Christmas gin cocktails with us. Toast the holiday, then: with a Christmas cracker in one hand and a tipple in the other, you simply can’t go wrong.
For those days when a “weather bomb” is hovering – and it looks like it may actually snow – it’s best to raise the heat on your cocktails. And find somewhere warm to wait out the storm. The bar at the newly opened South Place Hotel is just such a candidate – and bar manager Vadimas Cap has the companion drink in mind:
Sipsmith Winter Warmer
35ml Sipsmith Sloe Gin
15ml vanilla syrup
Half a cinnamon stick
50ml apple juice
50ml hot water
Heat all the ingredients to around 60/65 degrees and pour them into a mug (discard the cinnamon stick).
Slice the orange in to 0.5 cm wheels and dry it over a few days (or a few hours in your oven at 80 degrees Celsius, if you don’t have the luxury of time). Dip half of the orange wheel into the melted chocolate and let it chill in the fridge for 15-30 minutes while the chocolate cools. Don’t forget to take little nibbles of the garnish as you sip.
Don’t forget: just because it’s winter, that doesn’t mean you have to hunker down in a windowless little speakeasy. Skylon in the Royal Festival Hall on the South Bank has Thames views – and Christmas gin cocktails aplenty. For their Santa Cup, they take a creative approach and lend Sipsmith Summer Cup a more wintery appeal.
60ml Sipsmith London Cup
20ml raspberry puree
15ml cinnamon syrup
60ml cranberry juice
In a large, ice-filled shaker, combine all ingredients and shake until well chilled. Strain into a Collins glass. Garnish with mint, raspberries, and a bit of icing sugar for an extra Christmassy look.
For those hoping for a white winter, there’s unfortunately no guarantee. Thanks to Phil Docherty at Chotto Matte – a London bar-restaurant that specialises in hybrid Japanese-Peruvian Nikkei cuisine, as well as craft cocktails – there’s at least the certainty of a well-mixed wintertime pour.
10ml syrup sugar
20ml fresh lemon juice
Build in a rocks glass with cube ice and stir. Top with crushed ice, a crème de mûre float and a blackberry garnish.
Let it Sloe
40ml Sipsmith Sloe Gin
15ml Maraschino liqueur
15ml Crème de Violette
20ml lemon juice
Sour cherry jelly, to garnish
In a large, ice-filled shaker, combine the first four ingredients and stir until blended and well chilled. Strain into a coupette and garnish with a scoop of sour cherry jelly, if you so desire.
Few London bars can compete with Hoxton’s Happiness Forgets when it comes to the “cosy drinking den” category: the candlelit, small space is half-hidden down a flight of stairs. Inside awaits a warming ambiance and equally restorative drinks, like the Dartmoore.
30ml Sipsmith Sloe Gin
15ml Dry Curaçao
20ml lemon juice
15ml egg white
In an empty shaker, combine all ingredients and shake vigorously. After the dry shake, open the shaker and add lots of cold ice; shake again until the mix is chilled. Strain into a coupette.
Last but certainly not least amongst our Christmas gin cocktails, we have an addition from bar manager Alex LoSardo at Ronnie Scott’s. It’s only fitting that the old-school jazz den has chosen an equally classic drink for the festive period.
Feature images © Chotto Matte, Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Thinkstock