I'm not going to lie to you. There is some effort involved this month. But once you've put in a bit of work making a versatile syrup, it's all easy. I have three (yes three!) cocktails for you based on the same syrup. You will be flouncing around looking fabulous and drinking cocktails in no time.
The syrup that ties this cocktails together is made from pomegranate and fresh orange juice. I decided it was a step too far to juice pomegranates myself so I bought pomegranate juice with no added sugar from the health food shop. The exact instructions are in the recipe below. Once reduced, the pomegranate syrup is the most fantastic deep purple colour and has an intriguing sweet but bitter, slightly spiced fragrance.
The first cocktail is based on my classic sour recipe. I hope you've memorized the formula by now. 4 parts alcohol: 2 parts sour: 1 part sweet. I spiced up the gin I'm using here by adding a cinnamon stick, a vanilla pod, a star anise and a cardamom pod to the gin bottle and leaving it to infuse for a week or two. The spices are still in there, infusing away until Christmas. The recipe below serves one but simply multiply the proportions and make in a jug if you have lots of cocktail drinking guests.
The second is a fizz based cocktail, extremely simple and perfect for when visitors call in. It's not too alcoholic either so you could have a good few of these without getting too messy.
The last cocktail is non-alcoholic. Perfect for children or anyone who has to drive. In fact it is also excellent when recovering from a Christmas hangover. It is extremely refreshing due to that slightly bitter tang from the pomegranate combined with the sweetness and the fresh citrus. It is actually quite addictive. This could also be made in a large jug ready to pour out.
In addition to the recipes given below you can find other Christmas cocktail recipes on my older blog: a Christmas pudding vodka cocktail, a Christmas apple punch and a spicy rosehip, rhubarb combination.
pomegranate and orange simple syrup
pomegranate juice (no added sugar) 500mL
freshly squeezed orange juice 500mL
zest of one orange
Combine all of the ingredients in a large saucepan. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and then simmer until reduced by approximately half the volume. Allow to cool and then strain through a muslin (or clean J-cloth) lined sieve into a jug. Decant into a sterilized bottle and store in the fridge if not using immediately. I put mine in a conical flask for show because I have one and I'm a big chemistry nerd.
spiced pomegranate sour (serves one)
freshly squeezed lime juice 30mL
pomegranate and orange simple syrup 15mL
3-4 drops cranberry bitters (if you have them)
Combine all of the ingredients in a large glass or cocktail shaker. Add plenty of ice. Stir until chilled. Strain into a prepared cocktail glass. Garnish with lime zest.
pomegranate fizz (serves one)
pomegranate and orange simple syrup 20mL
pomegranate seeds and orange twist to garnish
Add the syrup to a champagne flute. Carefully top up with your choice of sparkling wine. Add pomegranate seeds and a piece of orange zest to garnish.
pomegranate refresher (serves one)
pomegranate and orange simple syrup 40mL
juice of 1/2 a lime
pomegranate seeds and orange slices to garnish
Add the syrup and the fresh lime juice to a large glass. Fill the glass 3/4 full with ice. Add the pomegranate seeds and orange slices before filling with sparkling water.
You can hear me talking about these Christmas cocktail on the Flavour programme (Cambridge 105) at 12 noon today (Saturday 13th December).