Party Season is in full swing and as we near the end of the year I decided to end my blog this year with a fun & frivolous post to toast the old year along with welcoming the New Year! So here is my round up of 6 seasonal drinks to try this year – with a couple of non alcoholic alternatives too!
Prosecco is perhaps the most popular sparkling wine in the UK at the moment. It is an Italian wine, having the subtle flavouring of white peaches, is made in the Venetian region, from Glera grapes (aka Prosecco grapes) – occasionally other grapes are added. The controlled designation of origin can be spumante, frizzante or tranquilla.
If you are an animal lover that would like to celebrate the season with your pet, then why not get your cat or dog a bottle of Pawsecco! Yes, it is virtually prosecco for your pet! I say it is “virtually” prosecco – that is because it is not made with grapes, thus making it safe for dogs to drink. And it is still rather than sparkling. And it is non alcoholic. However, for novelty value Pawsecco is definitely up near the top slot – not having tasted it, I cannot vouch whether it tastes of Prosecco – nor, can I guarantee your cat or dog will join you in toasting in the New Year!
Gin – a popular drink in the summertime – and in 2017, gin is one of, if not the top, spirit drink bought in the UK. In bars up and down the UK, gin tastings and gin based cocktails are very popular. It is lower in calories than a glass of wine or a pint of beer – so for those who are looking for an alcohol drink that is a bit more accommodating when dieting, you can’t go wrong with gin. In the 19th century, gin was drank as a straight drink. Today, gin & tonic is the normal pairing. I remember in years gone by, elderly relatives drinking gin with bitter lemon or with ginger ale. Why not try mixing gin with your favourite fruit juice combinations, such as grapefruit & orange; or, cranberry & grape.
Alternatively, why not try Seedlip? Seedlip is distilled in the same way as gin, is clear like gin and is best served with tonic water. However, Seedlip is alcohol free, sugar free, calorie free and sweetener free. It is a great alternative for drivers, pregnant ladies, teetotallers & dieters. It is made with spices, herbs and the predominant flavour is clove. As a base for non alcoholic cocktails requiring a gin substitute – Seedlip is your friend. It is expensive but it does make a refreshing change from cola/lemonade/lime & soda ….
3. SPARKLING PERRY
Babycham was the original party drink, launched in the UK in 1953. Invented by Francis Showering, a brewer in Shelton Mallet, in Somerset, England. The sweet and not overly alcoholic drink was particularly popular during the 1960s and 1970s. I remember Babycham being served in a Martini/cocktail glass with a glacé cherry on a cocktail stick. It felt very glamorous at the time! With the 1970s/1980s vibe being very popular at the moment, Babycham is trying to make inroads into the party market again.
Currently dominating the British commercial perry market is Lambrini, a light & fruity perry made from the finest quality pears. Lambrini is manufactured in Liverpool by Halewood International and was first created in 1994. Like Babycham, it is low in alcohol and low in cost. It is the butt of many jokes – mainly because of its low cost – but it is a refreshing alternative to wine, and less likely to produce a hangover after a couple of glasses!
4. MULLED WINE
There are many recipes for mulled wine and many supermarkets stock bottles of ready made mulled wine. “Mulled” simply means heated & spiced. We usually associate “mulled” with wine, but in fact many liquids can be mulled, including cider. Traditional English Mulled Wine is made with brandy; in Ireland it is made with Irish whiskey; in the USA, with a touch of bourbon.
How about trying the Scandinavian version – known as glogg. It is a cherry- scented mulled style wine, traditionally containing other fruit and almonds too. In Sweden, glogg is an essential part of the lead up to Christmas with glogg parties held throughout Advent. I found many recipes on Pinterest on how to make glogg – but I have found a ready made bottle by Marks & Spencer which does the trick admirably too.
For a family and driver friendly version of mulled wine, replace the alcohol in the recipes with red grape juice instead. It is just as delicious – although just as calorie laden, I’m afraid.
Last Christmas I spotted in Asda supermarket, peppermint vodka. This year, I spotted in the delectable chocolate shop, Hotel Chocolat, an English vodka infused with salted caramel & cocoa. The Salted Caramel Vodka is not too sweet and in each bottle floats a whole cocoa bean. Only available in small bottles, and more expensive than the normal supermarket vodkas, however this vodka is a real treat for the vodka connoisseur and worth every penny.
I’ve not really got a low calorie alternative, but if you happen to visit a Hotel Chocolat store with a cafe attached, then try their speciality hot chocolates whilst savouring the aroma of chocolate in the air. Get punch drunk on chocolate fumes rather than alcohol. Chocoholics heaven on earth indeed.
6. Irish Cream
Every Christmas bar needs a bottle of Baileys or an equivalent Irish Cream. I prefer the original version with no ice… some prefer their Irish Cream with ice or dashed into their coffee. My daughter likes to experiment with the seasonal flavours on offer … last year salted caramel, this year spiced pumpkin flavour.
What will be your seasonal tipple this year? Will you try something new or will you stick to your favourites? Whatever you decide to do, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Healthy & Prosperous New Year.
All photographs are by Linda Hobden