Merry Margaritas – Cocktails for Christmas

I’m rather a fan of a Christmas Margarita. I don’t recall why it started as a tradition in our household, but I remember making my very first on Christmas morning nearly 20 years ago and I’ve rarely missed it since. Sometimes it’s had to be lemon juice rather than lime, but it’s always been fresh.

The recipe has varied slightly over the years, but as someone who likes the simple life (and an equal parts Martini), I tend to use an amount of tequila that equals the combined quantities of juice and liqueur.

50ml Tequila Blanco

25ml Fresh Lime

25ml Orange Liqueur

To make, simply shake with ice and strain into a glass. I like my Margarita served “up” (without ice) in a stemmed cocktail glass, although a wine glass will do.

A selection of orange liqueurs tried in a Margarita

Your choice of orange liqueur will certainly make a difference to the final drink; as I had a few on hand, I thought I’d try them out in my Christmas Day Margarita recipe to see how they varied.

Grand Marnier – A richer orange flavour comes through, along with woodiness and floral flavours. It makes a more luxurious drink, but the lime notes seem to be less zingy and the drink lacks the crisp refreshment that many of its fans adore.

Mandarine Napoleon – The lime is rather subdued, as is the drink’s characteristic tartness, but the agave character of the spirit does come through more and the floral mandarin complements it nicely. This wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but it is still a lovely, elegant drink.

Cointreau Rogue – This produces a very typical and classic Margarita. The orange shines through well, complementing the lime and adding a slight zestiness reminiscent of shredless marmalade.

Cointreau Noir – Delightfully elegant. It is crisp, it is sweet, it is slightly salty and there is a lovely ripple of dark chocolate running through the whole thing – very much a high-end Margarita.

Cointreau Blood Orange – This blood orange liqueur has a slightly musty character to it, which means that it clashes a tad with the other ingredients. Not recommended, but can be rescued with a splash of regular Cointreau.

Cognac Ferrand Yuzu Curacao – An exceptionally fun alternative. This has a delightfully creaminess to it, followed by notes of candied peel and delicate floral hints of rose and jasmine, all before a clean, almost lemon-curd-esque tartness. A balanced dessert of a Margarita if there ever was one – sensational!

Margarita with Ferrand Yuzu Dry Curacao

For those who like to try something a little different, I’ve also come up with some festive variations on the Margarita.

Merry Margarita (Christmas)

[60ml Tequila Blanco, 15ml Fresh Lime, 15ml Sweet Cream Sherry, 2-3 dashes Angostura Bitters]

Shake the ingredients with ice, before fine-straining into a glass. Serve with a twist of orange peel and a small square of Christmas cake on the side.

Merry Margarita

Candy Cane Margarita

[50ml Tequila Blanco, 25ml Lime Juice, 15ml Cointreau, 10ml Green Crème de Menthe]

Shake the ingredients with ice and fine-strain into a chilled, stemmed glass. Garnish with a mini candy cane and red cherry.

Candy Cane Margarita

Hot-buttered MargaritaHOT!

[20ml Reposado Tequila, 10ml Lime Juice, 10ml Grand Marnier, 5-10ml Sugar Syrup, Heaped teaspoon of butter, 60ml Boiling Water]

Stir the ingredients (except the butter and boiling water) without ice and then pour into a heat-proof glass. Top up with boiling water and then add the butter and gently stir.

The butter adds a lovely creaminess to the drink, but is neatly balanced out by the sweetness of the liqueur and syrup and the sharpness of the lime juice.

Hot-buttered Margarita

One Minute to Margarita (New Year’s)

[50ml Tequila Blanco, 25ml Fresh Lime, 25ml Cointreau Noir, 15ml Champagne]

Add all of the ingredients (except the Champagne) to a shaker with ice, shake vigorously, and strain into a cocktail glass, before topping up with Champagne. For a gaudy garnish, tape a small cocktail sparkler to the side of the glass and light. Be sure to carefully remove and dispose of the sparkler once it has gone out and before drinking, or you might end up with a singed eyebrow or worse!!

One Minute to Margarita

Hopefully these Margaritas will fill you full of festive cheer – Merry Christmas from Summer Fruit Cup!


Christmas Cocktails with Baileys and Felder Felder


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.

Dav Eames Bar Manager at the Gilbert Scott and our host.

Dav Eames Bar Manager at the Gilbert Scott and our host.

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.

Mr. Eames Rather Fancy Shaker and Accessories

Mr. Eames Rather Fancy Shaker and Accessories

A Walk in the Woods
35ml Baileys Original
25ml Mozart Dark Chocolate Liqueur
15ml Kirsch Eau de Vie
20ml Amaretto
One piece of orange zest and some cloves

Stir or shake over ice and strain.

Walk in The Woods

Walk in The Woods

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.

Spice Route
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.

Spice Route Cocktail

Spice Route Cocktail

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!

Earl Bailey
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.

Spice Route Cocktail

Earl Baileys Cocktail

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.

In Conclusion
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.

Baileys Felder and Felder

Christmas Cocktails with Blue Nun Gold – Sparkling Wine


I am rather an enthusiast for drinks writing and, as such, my scrawlings are not limited to; another website that I scribe for is the Institute for Alcoholic Experimentation and one of the most popular articles there is on J2O’s Glitterberry. What with this and the likes of Marmite bringing out a gold-coloured Christmas variety, it is clear that the British public loves a bit of glitter. So, when I came across the new Blue Nun Gold, I thought that it would be great to write about and experiment with.

BlueNun Bottle

Blue Nun goes well beyond “a bit of glitter”; this sparkling Riesling white wine, bottled at 11%ABV, contains 22 carat gold leaf.

When the bottle arrived, it caught the eye of some family and friends and, therefore, the cocktails were not just tasted by me, but by a panel of eager volunteers.

Onto the taste…

#1) On its own
Nose: Dry grape notes.
Taste: Quite dry, not too sweet, clean and crisp. This isn’t too fizzy – I’d say a medium-high level of fizz – with some tannin and bitterness there, too. There are also lots of fruity notes of apples and grapes; so much so that one panel member said that it reminded them of a dry cider.

Blue Nun Gold

Blue Nun Gold

#2) Golden Afternoon
[15ml Verte Absinthe, 80ml Blue Nun]
A variation on Ernest Hemmingways’ “Death in the Afternoon” from the book “So Red The Nose”. Anise at the forefront, with some fruity, vanilla notes, too. This was sweeter than the wine on its own and more pudding-like. It was well-liked by the panel and considered very easy to drink.

BlueNun DeathInTheAfternoon

Golden Afternoon with Blue Nun Gold

#3) Golden Classic
[Soak a sugar cube in orange bitters, Add a dash of Cherry liqueur,Top up with Blue Nun Sparkling Gold]
Sweet, jammy berry flavours, with some dryness towards the finish. Overall, this was well-balanced and very tasty.

Golden Classic with Blue Nun Gold

Golden Classic with Blue Nun Gold

#4) King’s Gold
[20ml The King’s Ginger, 80ml Blue Nun]
Great – dry, with just the right level of sweetness and spice. Warming and yet still very much in a celebratory theme, this is perfect for the festive season.

King's Goldwith Blue Nun Gold & King's Ginger

King’s Goldwith Blue Nun Gold & King’s Ginger

#5) Golden Gun
[1 sugar lump, 3–4 drops of orange bitters, Juice of ¼ of a lemon, About a measure of gin
Blue Nun Gold]
This cocktail is a variation on the French ‘75 (named after the military field gun) made with Jodhpur Gin. This version had fine flavours and was quite dry. It was also one drink where the gold leaf worked particularly well; it was a hit with many of the panel, including Mumsy, who doesn’t usually like gin!

BlueNun German'75

Golden Gun with Blue Nun Gold & Jodhpur Gin

#6) Millionaire’s Gold
[Add 20ml of Creme de Cassis (I used Beveland Brand) Top up with Blue Nun Gold]
This is a classic drink in which the Blue Nun works really well; none of the ingredients overpower any of the others, clean and crisp with a slight touch of tart berry sweetness from the Cassis. Simple, but lovely.

This is a variation on the Kir Royale evoking memories of the “Millionaire’s Cocktails” that I made for New Year’s Eve 2010. One individual seemed to take issue with this term, however.

BlueNun KirRoyale

Millionaire’s Gold with Blue Nun Gold

In Conclusion

Blue Nun Gold is a fun and affordable way to add sparkle to your Christmas drinks; it is easy to drink, accessible and mixes well with a variety of other ingredients. My favourite drink was either the Golden Afternoon or the King’s Gold.

Blue Nun Gold is available for around £9.59 fo 750ml from

Christmas Cocktails with Tesco Real Food


If you’ve been reading SummerFruitCup for a while, you’ve probably realised that my wife and I are quite partial to the odd cocktail. We’re fortunate enough to have quite a well-stocked cellar, but even we sometimes find cocktail recipes, designed for home-mixing, that call for some obscure liquor or home-made concoction: lychee syrup, home-made violet sugar, some obscure fruit that’s in-season for two weeks every other year…

So I was quite pleased to hear about the new Tesco Real Food Cocktail Finder, a new feature on the Tesco Real Food website and a tool that I hope will make home-mixing much easier.

They kindly sent us a hamper of festive goodies with the aim of us coming up with a Christmas Cocktail for the site. Always one to overdo it, we came up with four.



50ml Smirnoff Vanilla Vodka
25ml Lemon Juice
One Heaped Teaspoon of Mincemeat

Combine ingredients into a shaker and shake vigorously with ice. Strain into a cocktail or small wine glass.*
*If Smirnoff Vanilla Vodka is not available, use plain vodka and add a few drops of vanilla essence.

You might not usually think of putting mincemeat in a cocktail, but this is inspired by the Marmalade Cocktail from the 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book.
This is a rich and flavourful drink, with rich vanilla from the vodka and strong fruit and spice flavours from the mincemeat. The lemon juice balances the drink and gives it crisp finish, which stops the drink from becoming sickly.

Festive ’75

1 sugar lump
3–4 drops of Angostura or Orange bitters
Juice of ¼ of a lemon
25ml of Gin
Sparkling Wine
One pinch of cinnamon and one of nutmeg

Add the sugar cube to the bottom of a Champagne Flute, add the bitters and the cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour in the Gin and lemon juice. Top-up with Sparkling Wine.

This is a variation on the French ‘75 with the addition of some cinnamon and nutmeg.
Crisp and clean, this would be quite pleasant to offer guests as they arrive on Christmas Day; a stronger alternative to Bucks Fizz, it would also be great for New Years Eve. The additional pinches of spice add a slightly festive feel that complements the bitters, making a light and clean, but flavourful drink.


25ml Captain Morgan Rum
25ml Disaronno Amaretto
100ml Warm Apple Juice

Combine the Rum, Amaretto and warm apple juice in a heatproof mug and garnish with a cinnamon stick.

Very comforting, with some dark burnt sugar flavours from the Rum, followed by the sweet marzipan of the Amaretto and then the farm fruitiness of the apple juice. Smooth, delicious and decidedly moreish.

Winter Storm

50ml Captain Morgan Rum
25ml Fresh Lime Juice
1 Teaspoon Mincemeat
100ml Ginger Beer

Shake Rum, lime juice and mincemeat without ice. Strain into a tall glass with ice and top up with ginger beer. Garnish with a straw and a wedge of lime.

Tasty and refreshing, like your usual Dark & Stormy, but with an extra festive dimension, courtesy of the winter-spiced mincemeat. I gave this to some friends that are not usually Rum fans and they thoroughly enjoyed it.


In Conclusion

It was great fun to experiment with these drinks and my favourite was easily the Mincemeat Madness, although the MerryTod proved popular too.
I’d also encourage folks to experiment with their own drinks and variations on classic recipes; that way, it doesn’t matter so much whether you have the exact ingredients or not. Just remember to always have plenty of ice, avoid mixing citrus and cream (it will curdle), and never put a fizzy drink in a cocktail shaker!