This year, we’ve been thinking about Christmas-inspired drinks for Christmas parties in our part of the world. Because traditional Christmas drinks, which usually have warm spices like mulled wine and creamy textures like eggnog to help keep you warm in the winter, would not make sense in our tropical heat, we’ve come up with the following ways to “personalise” those cocktails for your Christmas party, bearing in mind the purpose of the drink and the occasion. Cheers!
Use local ingredients. Being a Malaysian, I love experimenting with local ingredients – ginger, lime, starfruit, red date, longan, lychee, pandan, lemongrass, gula melaka, etc. There is no doubt that the variety of flavoured liqueurs available here is limited. Why not infuse your own homemade flavoured liqueurs? You can make unique infusions of your own in desired quantities. For Christmas, I love infusing cinnamon in rum. This year, I decided to add red dates to it.
(Quantity as desired)
RECIPE 1. Pour rum into an airtight container. I like to use the airtight glass jars from IKEA. 2. Add a few cinnamon sticks and red dates to the rum. The more you add, the stronger the flavour. 3. Close the lid tight and leave it to infuse in a cool and dark place. Leave it for anything from 2 days up to 2 weeks. The longer it is left, the stronger the taste. 4. When it has reached the desired strength, using a sieve, filter the infused rum into another container. Remove the cinnamon sticks and red dates. Repeat the filtering process to remove as much sediment as possible, as this determines the shelf life of your homemade infusion. 5. Once the rum is completely filtered, the infused rum can be consumed.
This infusion is lovely with Christmas puddings and ice cream. Just pour a teaspoon over and enjoy.
Another infusion I made this year is starfruit infused vodka. Starfruit came to mind when I was designing Christmas cocktails, as I am reminded of the Christmas star. Using the same technique as the cinnamon infused rum, just chop starfruit into slices and put it in a bottle of vodka. Leave for about 5-7 days.
1½ oz. starfruit infused vodka
RECIPE 1. Fill a glass with 5-6 ice cubes. 2. Pour in 1½ oz. of starfruit vodka. 3. Top up with Sprite. Use soda if you prefer the drink less sweet. 4. Garnish with a starfruit slice and serve.
In the tropical heat, guests are more likely to have a cool drink. Consider light flavours that work well in a hot climate. This mocktail would be refreshing and perfect.
2 stalks pandan leaves
2 stalks lemongrass
1 tin lychee fruit in syrup
½ tin water
(Serves approx. 3-4 cups) 1. Put pandan leaves, lemongrass, lychee syrup and water in a pot, and boil for about 15 minutes. Add sugar to sweeten if necessary. 2. Once taste is adjusted, remove pot from heat. 3. Remove pandan leaves and lemongrass from the pot, and let the mixture cool completely. 4. When ready to serve, fill a drinks shaker with ice. Pour in the mixture and shake till chilled. 5. Pour drink out into a serving glass. I used a bright yellow teacup since it is a drink specially made for the teetotalers. 6. Add 4 or 5 lychee fruits and serve.
Use colours associated with your event. Christmas season is also wedding season, so if you are designing a Christmas wedding, try to use Christmas colours. I would do away with winter colours since we are in the tropics, and stick to the traditional Christmas colours – red, green and gold. Similarly, when designing drinks for a Christmas wedding, stick to those colours.
5-6 pcs longan fruit (from tin)
400ml longan Syrup (from tin)
2 tsp wolfberry
1 handful mint
1 tsp rock sugar
1½ oz. vodka (Grey Goose)
(Serves approx. 2 glasses) 1. Similar to making Tong Sui, put longan syrup and wolfberry into a pot of water, and boil for about 30 minutes. 2. After 30 minutes, remove from heat and leave to cool completely. 3. Place mint leaves and rock sugar into a highball glass with a sturdy base. Use a muddler to crush the mint to release the mint oils. 4. Add about 5 to 6 longan fruits into the glass. 5. Fill the glass about ¾ full with crushed ice. 6. Pour vodka over the ice and fill the glass with the cool mixture. 7. Gently stir the ingredients together. Garnish with longan and mint.
You can also enjoy this drink without alcohol simply by omitting the vodka.
Giving a cocktail a special name will make it memorable. You can make it witty or simply obvious. When designing wedding cocktails, I try to give the cocktail a name that combines the couple’s names and the ingredients. Inspired by cendol (a local dessert) and a white Christmas, I designed this, which has a Christmas twist to it.
1 cup coconut milk
1 oz. cinnamon infused rum
1 tsp cendol
Gula melaka (as desired)
1 cup crushed ice
1 egg white
(Serves 1) 1. Dip the rim of a cocktail glass into egg white and then into grated coconut to frost the rim of the glass. 2. Blend coconut milk, cinnamon rum and ice in a blender. 3. Pour mixture into a glass. 4. Add cendol and garnish with a cinnamon stick. 5. Serve with gula melaka on the side.
People enjoy drinking cocktails with flavours that are familiar to them. Familiarity has a homely feel to it. After all, Christmas is about feeling at home with your loved ones. Sticking with ingredients that are close to home, I decided to work with watermelon, ginger and lime in designing this last drink, for a taste of familiarity with a bit of zing.
3 cups seedless watermelon, chopped
¼ cup fresh lime juice (from about 2 limes)
1 tbsp ginger
1 oz. gin
(Serves approx. 4 glasses) 1. Blend watermelon, lime juice, ginger, gin and ice together. 2. Pour into a martini glass. 3. Garnish with lime wheel and ginger slice.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Rose of Never Ending Ideas is an events planner with a passion for drinks mixology. She is often asked by clients to design drinks for them. What makes her unique is her ability to blend multiple ingredients, and her constant desire to create something new.