What do you think of when you think of Baileys cocktails? Heavy, creamy concoctions? Or maybe just pouring some into a coffee at the end of a meal? Well, yesterday evening I was treated to three delicious and wonderfully luxurious Christmas cocktails created especially by Dav Eames, Bar Manager at The Gilbert Scott at the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel in London.
As I walked up the steps, It was certainly a fine, grand setting for such an occasion, but after going to reception, I was surprised to be directed downstairs, through the edge of the kitchen, to a table neatly situated at the far end, with a superb view of the start of the dinner service.
Over the next hour or so, we got to try three custom-made Christmas cocktails, all combined with wonderful canapes from the kitchen, including what is easily the most delicious, melt-in-your-mouth mince pie (with a slightly chewy, caramelised top) I have ever tasted. But, throughout, the stars of the show were really the cocktails; here’s what we tried.
A Walk in the Woods
35ml Baileys Original
25ml Mozart Dark Chocolate Liqueur
15ml Kirsch Eau de Vie
One piece of orange zest and some cloves
Stir or shake over ice and strain.
The garnish on this drink was pretty impressive: firstly, the glasses had been kept in the freezer, decorated with a sprig from the Christmas tree and ribbon, all sprayed with silver. The rim of the glass was wiped with an orange, then dipped into a dish of granulated sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg with just a little bit of edible gold dust.
The result was a truly luxurious Christmas cocktail. The sugar and spice encrusted rim added a sweetness and an interesting texture to start. The cocktail itself was fruity to start, with the Kirsch coming through like dark, alcoholic gateaux with cream, followed by a real freshness of the orange. The finish was a combination of creamy chocolate, cinnamon and orange. Absolutely superb.
30ml Baileys Original
20ml Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur
25ml Bols Genever (infused with prunes, sultanas, orange and a few other Christmas-y ingredients from the kitchen – Dav suggested experimenting at home with whatever you might have to hand; DTS has made many a delicious cocktail using gin or vodka that have been infused with mincemeat)
Build in a glass, add ice and stir. Garnish with a twist of orange.
This had a particularly fresh, orange nose, with ginger and oats. The texture was creamy, but not heavy, with a smooth, maltiness to it. Light notes of Christmas cake are accompanied by notes of ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and milk. The finish was of ginger and prunes.
Every sip of this cocktail was slightly different, with another spice or fruit note coming through a little more – marvellous!
35ml Baileys Original
35ml Cognac infused with Earl Grey tea (add 2tsp of tea [or 2-3 tea bags] per 350ml of Cognac and leave in a warm place for at least 48 hours)
Mix (in a teapot, if you’re so inclined) and serve at room temperature.
Lovely and warming. This is an excellent, but unexpected combination of flavours; the Earl Grey notes, usually heavy, were feather-light and came through first, powerful and aromatic, followed by a creaminess from the Baileys and a real, hearty warmth from the Cognac.
These cocktails opened my eyes to combining Baileys with new flavours, as well as reminding me that the cream liqueur can be used to great effect without weighing the drink down. I was torn between all three, but think the second one just scrapes through as my favourite; I loved how every sip brought forth a slightly different, but equally tasty flavour of Christmas. An excellent cocktail to enjoy as you sit down during all of the hustle and bustle of the holidays.
– Mrs. B.
A Postscript – introducing the Felder Felder bottle for Valentine’s
Just before we left, we were all the lucky recipients of a bottle of flavoured Baileys – I chose Baileys with a hint of coffee. These limited edition bottles were designed along with Felder Felder, and will be available next Valentine’s Day.