• Roxii Hoare-Smith

What to drink this Christmas

It’s not just fashion and food that we are fans of at Studded Kisses, we are also lovers of the odd tipple or three. As we have tried a fair few alcoholic beverages in our long three years of drinking, ahem, we believe we have quite the knowledge when it comes to recommending good drinks. We thought we would treat you by trying out a few drinks so you know what you should be drinking this Christmas and how to drink it (not that you probably need much help with that!)

The Mixer

If you are bored of your usual vodka and lemonade or gin and tonic then I highly recommend Schweppes drinks to spice up bevy. I’m not a Ginger Beer fan but after tasting these, I’m addicted! My second favourite is the Citrus Blend, this mixed really well with all of the gins we sampled (see below). It makes a change from your usual citrus flavoured sparkling drinks.

But if you’ve had enough of alcohol after all of those parties, why not try this mocktail recipe featuring my favourite Schweppes – Ginger Beer:

Ingredients 100ml Schweppes Ginger Beer 50ml orange juice 1 lemon 6 mint leaves Splash of bitter 1.  Add 50ml of orange, 1 lemon squeeze, 6 mint leaves and a splash of bitter into a wine glass and stir. 2.  Top up with 100ml Schweppes Ginger Beer. 3.  Garnish with orange twist (or a lemon slice from Opies – see below!)

The Garnish

Scroll down for a recipe using Opies Cocktail Cherries

So you need to make your cocktails or mocktails look as amazing as they taste?

We tried out Opies Cocktail Cherries and Opies Sliced Lemons. These garnishes add some extra flavour and decoration to your tipples. They’ve already proved a popular hit in our pre-Christmas cocktails in our household and I can’t wait to show them off to friends and family over Christmas.

Last but not least, the most important ingredient:

The Alcohol

In no particular order here are our favourite drinks which we will be sipping on the festive season. Also if you are stuck on what to buy someone this Christmas, we have a few last minute gift suggestions!

Tanqueray Gin – £26.60 (1L bottle) at Waitrose or £22.50 (70cl bottle) gift boxed at Alexander and James As you may have already seen we attended a brilliant party at the Tanqueray Drawing Rooms where we were able to sample some truly amazing cocktails.Everyone loves Tanqueray, even Rita Ora and Amy Winehouse sang about it. I love the taste of Tanqueray, it has beautiful fresh, floral notes and when mixed with tonic or bitter lemon it isn’t too sharp and it really refreshes the palate.

Opihr Oriental Spiced Gin – From £23.00 in Waitrose and Sainsbury’s

Now if you are feeling a bit more adventurous then why not try a different type of gin? Ophir Oriental Spiced Gin has a gorgeous spiced aroma which isn’t too harsh on the tongue. It is made with Cubebs from Indonesia, Black Pepper from India & Coriander from Morocco which creates a great mix and paired well with Schweppes Elderflower & Tonic Water. It has a slight kick but the spices are pleasant and welcome. It has a great savory spiced taste and when mixed with sweeter drinks such as Elderflower, it creates a tasty contrast. I also love the bottle, the beautiful patterned elephant is a fantastic touch and I was weirdly fascinated by the cork style top.

Greenall’s Wild Berry Sloe Gin – £15.50, available at Morrison’s and Tesco stores. So if you fancy a different style of gin but spiced gin isn’t for you then I highly recommend the recently launched Greenall’s Wild Berry Sloe Gin. Greenall’s Wild Berry Sloe Gin has a very sweet, rich and fruity taste, making it the perfect winter drink. Gin isn’t often the drink of choice for many my age (21) but testing out these different gins has changed my opinion. This Wild Berry gin appeals to a young audience with it’s sweet, syrupy and warming taste. It’s also perfect warmed slightly too for a ‘mulled’ style gin on a chilly Christmas eve.

Grants Signature Blend – £15 in Tesco

I’m not one to drink spirits straight (unless it’s in a small shot glass and it’s gulped down very quickly). I’m more of a whisky cocktail girl than on the rocks but I tried a few wee drams and I was shocked. Grants Signature Blend is very easy to drink (worryingly ;)) Again this product is aimed at young whisky enthusiasts. The taste isn’t too harsh on the young palate and has a smooth, enjoyable taste.

One thing though, I’m definitely going to have to hide this from my dad…I’m not one for sharing when it comes to booze.

The Wild Geese – Available on The Whisky Exchange This cute set is the perfect gift for any whiskey connoisseur, it allows you to sample a variety of The Wild Geese products before splurging on a bigger bottle. It’s also a great stocking filler. The Single Malt whiskey has a oaky taste but with a slight sweet hint of vanilla which satisfied my sweet tooth. The Rare Irish whiskey again has an oaky aroma but instead with a hint of citrus. The Wild Geese Limited Edition Fourth Centennial (middle) has a slight spicy taste to it but with a hint of marzipan and chocolate making it my favourite of the four. The Classic Blend (far right) is crisp and again with a sweet taste. It is distilled in County Louth, Ireland, where I actually took a trip to a few years ago. I would love to return to sample more!

Snow Leopard Vodka – £36.00 at Waitrose, Harvey Nichols and Ocado.com

I love the concept of this vodka – Snow Leopard vodka was created by a passionate conservationist determined to save these critically endangered big cats. Stephen Sparrow, an ex-drinks industry expert, heard about the snow leopard’s plight during a trip to the Himalayas and was shocked at learning there were less than 5,000 left in the wild, he came back and founded the Snow Leopard Trust UK – and then created this super-premium vodka to help fund its projects. Stephen has set a global goal to raise a million dollars annually for snow leopard conservation by 2025. That’s the the figure the President of the Snow Leopard Trust has advised could provide the ‘step change’ to remove the animal from the endangered list. Therefore 15% of the vodka’s profit goes direct to the Snow Leopard Trust.

It is made from spelt grain – a rare and expensive variety of wheat which gives the vodka a nutty, slightly sweet taste which is even nice neat. It’s unusual you find a good cause behind an alcoholic beverage but I love this one and this has encouraged me to turn to Snow Leopard when buying a bottle of vodka (my favourite spirit) instead of whatever may be on offer at the time.

Three Barrels Honey Brandy – £17.99 in Morrisons

For a sweet, smooth and mellow taste – Three Barrels new Honey Brandy is the one for you. I love new flavours of traditional drinks so the honey flavour immediately appealed to me.

It’s been called ‘A whole new take on brandy’ and I cannot disagree. This drink, traditionally associated with Father Christmas on Christmas Eve, has been designed to satisfy a younger audience with fruity and honey notes. It’s very smooth and drinkable alone or mixed in a cocktail.

For a suave Christmas drink try Three Barrels Honey Brandy with Prosecco or Cava.

Three Barrels Honey Fizz Ingredients: 25ml Three Barrels Honey Top with Champagne or dry sparkling wine (Cava or Prosecco) Garnish: Lemon oils sprayed and discard zest

Purity Brewing – Purity Brewing products available from £1.90 on Bottle Shack. Gift set is £11.

Now this is the perfect present for all ale lovers and at a very reasonable price of £11. This gift set includes three of Purity Brewing Co’s awarding winning beers (Premium Golden ale, Premium Amber ale and Pale ale) as well as a Purity Brewing Co glass.

Purity Brewing Co is an award winning craft brewery which set out on a mission to brew great beer without prejudice, with a conscience, consistency and attention to detail and that’s exactly what they have established. Pure UBU is full flavoured with a sweet finish whereas Pure Gold has a dryer bitter finish. If I had to choose a favourite I would go for The Mad Goose Pale Ale as it has a smooth and citrusy finish.

Tussock Jumper Wine – available online. (Christmas wine holder not included!)

Tussocks Jumper Wine is the perfect Christmas gift for friends, family or if you are like me – to yourself. The cute jumper image on the front makes it the perfect winter wine.

We sampled the Touriga Nacional – Aragonez (pronounced Too-ree-guh nah-cee-yo-nahl), one of Portugal’s finest wines. It has tasting notes of wood fruits and white flowers with chocolate and coconut tastes. It pairs well with white meat, game and soft cheeses making the perfect Christmas dinner wine.

I absolutely adore NZ Sauvignon Blanc so that is the next Tussocks Jumper wine on my wish list.

For a truly Christmas cocktail follow the recipe below featuring Opies garnishes and Tussock Jumper Red Wine.

Gingerman Ingredients:

Muddle 3 cubes of Opies Stem Ginger 40ml Golden Rum 20ml Red Wine 40ml Cranberry Juice

Method: Shake and serve over ice in a rock’s glass with a Opies Stem Ginger and cocktail cherry garnish. Add a Gingerbread man on the side.

Which drink would you like to try?

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