The festive season is upon us, and what better time to channel your creativity and be inventive with cocktails and wine pairings? Whiskey-Cola, Gin and Tonic and Shiraz-Cab may suffice for the rest of the year, but now is the time to spice up your parties and get-togethers. And it needn’t be difficult or overly expensive!
Nothing brightens up a gathering like bubbly! And while Champagne may be a budget-breaker, consider these sparkling alternatives:
Yellowtail Moscato (Australia)
There is nothing like that light, perky fizz and natural raciness to make things feel good. Freshness is key and this Moscato has it in spades. Crushed green grapes, hints of peach and a little lift of tropical fruits to round out the soft palate, but the real hero are the delicate ‘frizzante’ bubbles.
Zonin Prosecco (Italy)
A lively, sparkling wine that is essential to having fun, Italian style. Dry and food-friendly, it adds an element of festivity to any gathering or meal. Prosecco’s fresh and fruity flavour profile make it easy to pair with any kind of food and also makes it a delightful aperitif.
Viña Maipo Brut (Chile)
An intriguing blend of Chardonnay, Riesling and Chenin Blanc, this fresh sparkling wine has pineapple notes that give way to a lightly tart finish. With an aromatic mix of quince and green apples, this is a perfect companion to fish, seafood or as an aperitif.
If you want to add a personal touch to your sparkling wine, consider this easy-to-make Sparkling Sangria:
Sangria De Cava
Fill a pitcher with 750ml bottle sparkling wine (almost any brand will do) and add 15ml each of brandy and orange liqueur. Combine with the juice of an orange and a lime.
Should you prefer making cocktails for the holiday season, here are some that are fun and far from the norm:
This sweet highball drink begins with a blend of strawberries, pineapple and vodka and is topped with lemon-lime soda for a refreshing holiday cocktail. It’s topped with a mint garnish that adds a little cheer to the final presentation and is a great all-around holiday drink for two.
- 4 fresh strawberries
- 1 1/2 oz vodka
- 2 tsp superfine sugar
- 5 oz pineapple juice
- 7-Up (or other lemon-lime soda)
- Mint sprigs for garnish
- In a blender, whiz the vodka, strawberries, sugar and pineapple juice together.
- Pour the mix equally into two highball glasses.
- Top with 7-Up.
- Garnish with a sprig of mint.
You may be dreaming of a white Christmas and the kids of all the great presents that Santa is going to drop off, but for many of us the dream of the holiday season is just a little peace. That is where this calming cocktail comes in. The mix of fruits combines beautifully with Zen Green Tea Liqueur and cream for a soothing cocktail to help you zen out.
- 1 oz Zen Green Tea Liqueur
- 1/2 oz Midori Melon Liqueur
- 3 oz mango juice
- White pepper
- 2 oz cream
- Mint leaves for garnish
- Grated nutmeg for garnish
- Pour the ingredients into cocktail shaker filled with ice.
- Shake well.
- Strain into a Champagne flute.
- Garnish with mint leaves and a dash of nutmeg.
Warm up your holidays with this wonderful punch recipe. It’s also fun to make because it involves flaming the drink, which is always a spectacular sight, but in this case it’s an entire punch bowl. This punch has a dark rum base that is enhanced by the flavours of red wine and tea. The recipe is for 27 servings, making it a great holiday party punch.
- 750 ml bottle dark rum
- 750 ml bottle dry red wine
- 3 cups strong, brewed tea
- 2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- Season fruits for garnish
Method one (no flame):
- Heat, but do not allow to boil, all of the ingredients in a saucepan or chafing dish.
- Stir well, ensuring all of the sugar is dissolved.
- Pour the heated mix into a heat-proof punch bowl and add seasonal fruits like orange slices and cranberries.
- Serve warm.
Method two (flamed):
- Heat, but do not allow to boil, the wine, tea, lemon and orange juices in a saucepan or chafing dish.
- Pour the heated mix into a heat-proof punch bowl.
- Place as much sugar as possible into a large ladle and any excess sugar into the punch bowl.
- Saturate the sugar in the ladle with rum.
- Ignite the rum and sugar in the ladle and pour it into the bowl while still aflame.
- Stir well and extinguish the flames.
- Pour the remainder of the rum into the punch.
- Stir well, ensuring the sugar is completely dissolved.
- Serve warm.