'Tis The Season To be Creative With Christmas Drinks!
Only six more sleeps till Christmas Day! Is it just us or is everyone else getting in the festive mood now?! We hope the rush of buying last minute gifts won’t wear you out too much to enjoy these final few days of pre-Christmas celebrations. We’re getting in the Christmas spirit quite literally here, with a few sassy sips, for having the neighbours, family & friends round in the next few nights or during the Christmas holidays. A selection of cocktail ideas, featuring the very best of Irish artisan craft gins and exclusive mixers, to fill your glasses. Plus a range of craft brews with a story to tell.
Bertha's Revenge Irish Milk Gin
Ireland’s craft spirits distilleries have come on in leaps and bounds in the last couple of years. Ballyvolane Spirits at Ballyvolane House is the first Irish distillery to produce a gin from Irish milk whey alcohol. Bertha’s Revenge Small Batch Irish Milk Gin has a very fitting name, since the word Ballyvolane means ‘place of the springing heifers’!
Bertha’s Revenge was created in honour of Bertha the Droimeann dairy cow, from Sneem in Co. Kerry. She was the oldest dairy cow recorded in Ireland when she passed away in 1993, just three months short of her 49th birthday.
Bertha held two Guinness World Records to her name, for her age and for lifetime breeding, due to the fact she bore 39 calves in her years. The spirit of Bertha lives on in this beautiful gin, which has won many awards since its introduction to the world. Justin Greene of Ballyvolane House, together with old school friend Antony Jackson, worked on perfecting the recipe for their unique gin for many months, prior to the launch. The gin carries a ‘grass to glass’ ethos, with whey alcohol made from Irish milk as the base spirit. This is then distilled with 18 natural botanicals, many of which are locally grown or foraged on the Ballyvolane estate. The final ingredient is the pure spring water from the well at Ballyvolane House.
Try Bertha’s Revenge Irish Milk Gin in this classy cocktail recipe, taken from the Ballyvolane Spirits website
Justin and Anthony say ‘Bertha works really well in The Gimlet, as the spice botanicals marry perfectly with the lime juice and sugar. It’s a lovely fresh, boozy cocktail and is very easy to mix. Getting the balance of citrus to sweetness right is the key and after much trial and error, we decided on the following recipe.’
- 60ml Bertha’s Revenge Gin
- 30ml fresh lime juice
- 20ml sugar syrup
- 4 to 5 lumps of ice
Put the contents into a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously for 60 seconds. Strain the contents into a chilled cocktail glass. Sip and enjoy!
Rademon Estate Shortcross Gin
North of the border in Co. Down, Rademon Estate Shortcross Gin is produced on the picturesque Rademon Estate. Launched in 2012 by Fiona and David Boyd-Armstrong, this micro-distillery is on site at the 500 acre estate owned by Fiona’s parents. The name Shortcross is derived from Crossgar, the area where the estate lies. ‘Gar’ is an old Irish word for ‘short’.
This historically linked gin is made to a secret recipe by Master Distiller David Boyd Armstrong.
Flavoured with wild clover, elderflower and elderberries foraged on the estate by David and Fiona, plus typical botanicals like juniper, cassia and orange, to give that crucial aromatic and lively gin taste. Rademon Estate Shortcross Gin is Northern Ireland’s first premium craft gin, a truly artisanal product that reflects its place of origin. A superb gin to liven up your Christmas drinks party this year. Try this cocktail to wet your whistle!
The Shortcross Cocktail Cabinet
The Boyd Armstrongs have been working with esteemed bartenders and cocktail mixologists from around the world, to create cocktails with Shortcross Gin. This recipe, from the Rademon Estate Shortcross Gin website, was created by Alan Glynn of 37 Dawson Street, Dublin. A re-imagination of a classic Clover Club cocktail.
The Cross Club - Recipe & Method
- 40ml Shortcross Gin
- 20ml Raspberry Puree
- 10ml Pineapple Syrup
- 25ml Lemon Juice
- 3 leaves Chocolate Mint
- 1 egg white
- Dehydrated Pineapple, Mint leaf and Lemon and Raspberry Mist to garnish
Add ingredients to shaker and reverse dry shake, serve in a coupe style glass
Mixers are just as important as sprits for exciting drink ideas. We have some great cordials, syrups and shrubs that make fantastic additions to your Christmas drinks repertoire.
A darkly delicious cordial, made from pure blackcurrants grown and harvested at the farm of Des Jeffares in sunny Co. Wexford. Full of the tastes of summer, this cordial contains nothing but pure blackcurrant juice and Stevia, a natural plant based sweetener. An absolutely brilliant cordial for the cocktails menu. Try the following ideas:
- Add a dash of Mr Jeffares to flute glasses, before topping up with Prosecco. Float a few fresh cranberries in the glasses for Christmas colour and seasonality plus a little bite of acidity to sharpen the senses.
- Create this wonderful cocktail with one of the Irish craft gins above, and Mr Jeffares Blackcurrant Cordial. Taken from the Mr Jeffares website, where you’ll find more cocktail ideas.
- 30ml Gin
- 30ml Mr Jeffares Irish Blackcurrant Cordial
- 120ml Soda Water
- Twist of Lime
Fill glass with ice cubes. Add gin and then the blackcurrant cordial. Top it off with soda water stirring until just combined. Garnish with a twist of lime.
Richmount Cordial Company is the brainchild of Martina and David Burns. The native Irish elder tree (Sambucas Nigra) grows in abundance on their farm, a plant shrouded in myth and legend, with the credit of being the “medicine chest of country folk”. Inspired by this legendary wild tree, the Burns produce Richmount Elderflower Cordial and Richmount Elderberry Cordial from new elder trees they are cultivating on their land.
Richmount Elderflower Cordial is light and floral, capturing all the flavours and fragrances of the early Irish summer. Richmount Elderberry Cordial is made from the juice of the elderberries that develop after the blossom dies off. It’s a dark and intense syrup which reflects the natural tastes of these heritage berries. Both cordials are superb for cocktail making.
Both cordials can be added to sparkling wine or Prosecco for a fizzy cocktail.
- The elderflower cordial makes a fantastic ‘mocktail’, topped up with sparkling water and served in champagne flutes, for the non-drinkers or designated drivers at the party.
- Richmount Elderflower Cordial won the Cocktail of the Festival at Bloom in 2016.
Try it yourself this Christmas, with this recipe taken from the Richmount Cordial website.
- 1 part Vodka
- ½ part Richmount Elderflower Cordial
- 2 parts soda water
- Cucumber Shavings and Strawberry Slices
- Mint Sprigs
- Ice cubes
Place the ice, cucumber shavings and vodka into a glass and stir. Add strawberry slice and cordial and stir again. Top up with soda water and stir to mix. Finish with mint sprigs and a straw.
Wild About Syrups
Friday night is cocktail night at the home of Fiona and Malcolm Falconer of Wild About in Co. Wexford! Which is partly why they came up with a whole wardrobe of syrups to mix your own cocktails at home. They grow or forage most of everything they use in their range of preserves, chutneys and syrups. It’s all seasonal so when you taste a product, you get the flavour of spring, summer, autumn or winter, depending on when it was created.
Nettle syrup is full of springtime buzz, while mint syrup is the essence of summer. Rhubarb Syrup has the crisp touch of late winter and earliest spring days. Cinnamon Syrup is all Christmassy. They all make great cocktails. As a cocktail lover, Fiona has created a whole heap of recipes for you to try this festive season! Check out this recipe from the Wild About website:
This one features the hugely popular seasonal nettle syrup made from wild nettles grown at the Falconer home
- 1 part Tequila
- 1 part Wild About Nettle Syrup
- 1 part fresh squeezed lime juice
Mix all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker over ice. Strain into salt rimmed coupe glasses. ‘Unbelieveably good’, says Fiona!
The ‘Wildies’, AKA Sharon and Gordon Greene, are known for their wonderful range of preserves, syrups and shrubs, made from wild foraged ingredients which grow on the land around their farm. Gordon is the forager and Sharon the preserver. She makes a full range of syrups that have numerous uses, from drizzling on dessert to creating great dressings. All the Wild Irish range is made with heritage recipes and methods, bringing a little history to your cocktail glass!
This super recipe featuring Elderberry Syrup and Dandelion Preserve, was created by a customer. As Sharon says, ‘the elder tree is known for its fragrant flowers and berries, which are abundant in antioxidants. The elder is not a new herbal fad but a plant steeped in history and folklore. Archaeological discoveries date the use of the elder tree back to the Neolithic age (2000 B.C.).’
Dandelions grow happily anywhere, as most gardeners know only too well! They are considered to be weeds but they have many uses, including eating the leaves in a salad or making preserves from the bright yellow flowers.
Wildies Elderberry & Dandelion Gin
Sharon Greene says ‘This cocktail recipe was sent to us by a customer, thank you Catherine.’
What you need:
- 3 Tablespoons. Gin
- 1 Tablespoon. Elderberry Shrub
- 4 Tablespoons Ruby Grapefruit Juice
- 1 Tablespoon Dandelion Flower Preserve (mixed up with 1tbsp water)
- 1 dash Maraschino Liqueur
Combine all of the ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into an ice-filled tall ‘Collins’ glass or chubby ‘rocks’ tumbler. Garnish with a grapefruit slice and / or cherry.
Get The Beers In!
You need a few beers in the house at Christmas. There will always be that one person who doesn’t want a cocktail or a glass of wine, but is quite happy to settle for a beer. With Brehon Brewhouse beers, they won’t be ‘settling’ at all. They will be enjoying one of Ireland’s premium craft beers, which has a huge historical and literary story to tell.
Patrick Kavanagh’s poem Stony Grey Soil inspired the name of the first beer brewed at the Brehon Brewhouse. The poet was born just a few miles from the brewery, located on the McMahon family farm in Dunelty, Inniskeen, Co. Monaghan. Brewery founder and owner Seamus McMahon sought to create craft beers that were connected to the family home where his grandparents raised eleven children including his father, and where Seamus was also born. The brewery takes its name from the ancient Brehon laws of old Ireland.
The range includes Stony Grey, an Irish Pale Ale style beer, great for casual sipping. Brehon Blonde is bottle conditioned to produce a pale golden beer with a rich malty finish. Will please the beer buffs! Killanny Red is an Irish Red Ale hand crafted to give a malty, nutty flavour, good for red meat winter stews. Ulster Black is an Oatmeal Stout made from malted hops, barley and oatmeal. Full, robust and dark, this rich creamy stout is great with Christmas game and red meats.
Shanco Dubh Porter harks back to the traditional porter style ales brewed in an Ireland of long ago. Dark and toasty in flavour, with hints of liquorice. If you’re having oysters this Christmas, this is the one!