Nothing says Christmas like a bit of fizz and a classy cocktail. TV presenter and drinks expert Olly Smith has shared his top three festive tipples he'd recommend trying at home this party season: the aptly named poinsettia, the brandy Alex, and the breakfast martini to cure that Boxing Day hangover.
READ: Martine McCutcheon reveals the other Christmas film she was almost cast in
In honour of our Christmas Digital Issue, guest-edited by Martine McCutcheon, Olly talks us through some of his must-try favourite cocktails.
"Fizz belongs in the festive season and this cranberry-Cointreau sparkling fusion is perfect to jig along to your Christmas kitchen disco," Olly says. "Refreshing and revitalizing, the Poinsettia is simple to make and utterly joyful to sip. Brilliant bubbly to thrill your friends and family.
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"The poinsettia is one of my mum's favourite plants. Rather like this drink, its vibrant red tone is electrifying and lights up the room. It's so simple to make, and this is an easy recipe to customise to your own taste – add a little more fizz for a lighter flourish, or a little less if it's richness you're after."
15ml (1/2oz) Cointreau
30ml (1oz) cranberry juice
Champagne, to top
Garnish: Fresh cranberries
Equipment: Long bar spoon
Add the Cointreau and cranberry juice to a chilled glass. Stir to combine. Top with Champagne. Garnish with fresh cranberries.
Because this drink isn't traditionally served over ice, make sure the ingredients are well chilled in advance.
"Luxuriate in the indulgence of this delicious, silky cocktail. Christmas is the perfect time to pour a Brandy Alex, whether it's a cosy fireside treat or a little post-feast pick me up, this cocktail is crowd-pleasing as well as irresistibly naughty," Olly says.
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"Perhaps it's this cocktail over all others that shows how beautifully brandy pairs with creamy and chocolate flavours. It's rich and velvety and perfect for a frosty time of year or as an after-dinner indulgence: as deluxe as it is delicious. As an all-year-rounder, I love it served instead of a dessert or for a teatime treat."
45ml (11/2oz) brandy
30ml (1oz) dark crème de cacao
30ml (1oz) single (light) cream
Garnish: Grated nutmeg
Equipment: Cocktail shaker, strainer
Fill a shaker with ice. Add all the ingredients. Shake vigorously to chill. Strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with a light dusting of grated nutmeg.
Olly says: "Surfing the gin wave right to the shores of Citrus Island, this is a cocktail to invigorate over the festive season at any time of day. I love serving them on Boxing Day to blow away the cobwebs and crack on with the next level of scrumptious fun!"
45ml (11/2oz) gin
1 tbsp orange marmalade
22.5ml (3/4oz) Cointreau
22.5ml (3/4oz) freshly squeezed lemon juice
Garnish: Orange twist
Equipment: Cocktail shaker, strainer, bar spoon
Stir the gin and marmalade together in a shaker until combined. Add the rest of the ingredients along with ice. Shake vigorously to chill. Strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with an orange twist.
Home Cocktail Bible by Olly Smith, £16, Amazon
Home Cocktail Bible by Olly Smith is available to buy now, Quadrille
Photography by Matt Russell
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