It’s all too easy to overindulge during the festive season – so what better time to hop on the low-ABV cocktail bandwagon? We asked four top London bartenders to create large-serve, Christmas party tipples that are low on alcohol but big on flavour
Nourishing tavern drinks such as flips and possets were a thing before low-ABV drinks were a thing – and for that matter before cocktails were a thing. Rather than using a spirit, I’ve gone for Visciolata del Cardinale, which is somewhere between a cherry liqueur and a dessert wine. I’ve also included a small amount of holly eau de vie to give the drink some backbone. You could prepare this in quantity by adding some water and whisking it in a bowl – you don’t even need a shaker.
40ml Visciolata del Cardinale
20ml Seedlip Spice 94
15ml sugar syrup (1:1)
5ml Metté Baie de Houx eau de vie
2 dashes Pernod absinthe
2 dashes Bittered Sling Malagasy Chocolate Bitters
First, dry shake, then shake with ice. Strain into a frozen copita glass and garnish with a grating of nutmeg. Simple.
Imagine your colleagues coming back to yours after a big meal, and you say, ‘We’re going to drink our desserts!’. I was inspired by the classic eggnog for this drink, but it’s not high in alcohol or sugar. Sherry is a traditional choice for the festive season, while the flavour of pandan reminds me of marzipan. And you can’t ever forget champagne at Christmas…
50ml Palo Cortado sherry
50ml sweetened pandan milk
1 quail egg
2 dashes absinthe
Infuse pandan leaves in milk, then add sugar. Shake all the ingredients except for the champagne. Strain into a chilled flute glass filled with the champagne and a chunk of ice. Garnish with raspberry powder and grate tonka beans.
I’ve gone with a twist on the classic brandy alexander, although I’ve changed it into a flip. There’s less brandy in there, but I’ve added some Baileys, and the coconut and egg give it texture, making up for the lower alcohol. This one’s more of a sit-down drink that could be enjoyed after dinner.
25ml Martell VSOP cognac
15ml Baileys Irish cream liqueur
10ml Coco Reàl cream of coconut
5ml sugar syrup
2 dashes Fee Brothers Aztec Chocolate Bitters
Pinch of salt
White chocolate mousse
Shake all ingredients except the white chocolate mousse and strain over ice, in this case into our Christmas pudding vessel. Top with the mousse and garnish with a mint sprig, nutmeg and redcurrants.
It’s fun to test people’s ideas of what they think a winter punch is, and it’s been nice to see all of the variations over the last few years. My version has mezcal in it, although it’s still low in alcohol, so you can have all the fun without feeling horrible the next day. The word ‘posada’ is Spanish for ‘inn’, a reference to the nativity story of Joseph and Mary looking for lodging, which is a big feature of celebrations in Mexico in the run-up to Christmas.
30ml Montelobos mezcal
20ml Martini Rosso vermouth
10ml Ancho Reyes chilli liqueur
10ml raspberry syrup
15ml lime sherbet
50ml rooibos tea
2 dashes Bittermens Burlesque Bitters
Prepare the rooibos tea and combine ingredients, serving over hand-cracked ice in a punch cup. Garnish with a mint sprig, orange twist and grated nutmeg. You can scale this up and serve it from a punch bowl.