Monday, December 22, 2008

Top ten holiday cocktails

It's summer, it's the stupid season (also, the lazy and lounging season), a lot of people are on holidays, and it's Christmas. Therefore, one requires several things to gracefully glide through December and January unscathed: a comfy pair of togs, a great dress, a good book, a easy-care haircut and... cocktails. They don't have to be alcoholic, just delicious, classy, and appropriate for both raucous late-night gatherings and a solo afternoon by the pool.

The list does tend towards the bitter-based cocktails, as these are my personal favourites. I've also chosen drinks that can be relatively easily mixed at home.

Here are my top ten holiday cocktails for 2008.

10. Bloody Mary
Down the bottom of the list, not because of any un-deliciousness, but because it can be tricky to make at home. You need tomato juice, vodka, Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, and possibly celery salt, lemon juice, celery garnish, horseradish, cayenne pepper, etc. A bit fiddly for my liking, but certainly fantastic and has the added bonus of all those free-radical fighting antioxidants in the tomato juice, thereby cancelling out the alcohol. No, really.

9. Caipiroska
A Caipirinha made with vodka (much easier to buy) instead of cachaca, the Brazilian distilled sugarcane spirit. If I could, I'd drink these on the beach. Probably easier to just drink them on a verandah OVERLOOKING the ocean, at about 5pm on a Saturday. Buy a bottle of vodka, a bag of limes and a packet of palm sugar, and your holiday packing is done. Maybe throw in a hot bikini as well...

8. Special Iced Tea
Not a Long Island Iced Tea: this is my version of a bitey, yet slightly sweet cocktail with that tasty tea flavour. Make your own favourite batch of iced tea (I like to use grapefruit or lemon as the flavouring), sweeten to taste and refrigerate overnight. Next day, at drinkin' time, add some vodka and ice cubes. The flavoured fruit vodkas (blackcurrant, lemon, etc) from Absolut go perfectly with the tea.

7. Mint Julep
Great if you've got a mint bush growing by the pool: then all you need do is cart out an esky of ice water, bourbon and some sugar. Well, hush my mouth. Frosty, fresh goodness.

6. Vodka and Cranberry
Oh, it's so seasonal. Lots of ice cubes, some proper cranberry juice, a splash of orange juice if you like, vodka straight from the freezer and topped up with soda. Santa would totally drink this.

5. Lemon, Lime and Bitters
Not drinking? Still, look good and get some bittery tastiness into you with the super old favourite.

4. Kir Royale
A beautiful French classic. Blackcurrant syrup is cheap and easy to find in supermarkets, and not a bad substitution for the original creme de cassis. Use local sparkling wine to make your own variant, or go all out with real champagne. Also, the kir framboise uses raspberry liqueur / syrup and fresh raspberries (which are in season!) Imagine your New Year's soiree, your guests sipping softly raspberry-perfumed bubbles...

3. Caribbean Citrus
This is my name for my own cocktail invention: Mount Gay rum and chinotto. It's sweet, but not too sweet. Better than a Cuba Libre.

2. Gin & Tonic
Can't really get much better than a G&T. One of the mixer brands now makes a tonic that's flavoured with either lime or lemon. Ice cubes, Tanqueray and cold tonic. Tropic perfection.

1. Americano
Campari, soda and sweet vermouth. Easy to mix, tastes great over ice, ingredients are relatively cheap. An old-school favourite that's perfect for hot climates, whether that's Cuba or Queensland.

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