Christmas is the time for cocktails… but what if you don’t want to shell out big bucks for them and/or you’re not a bartender? Not to worry, we have you covered.
I worked as a bartender for years before my media career, and met some of my closest friends during my time behind the bar. Conveniently, they are some of the best bartenders Melbourne has to offer.
So, with a little help from some friends and a recipe of my own thrown in, I’ve put together a list of recipes for the best Christmas cocktails you can make this festive season.
‘Ciderhouse Special’ by Oscar Shaw
Oscar is one of Melbourne’s most notable bartenders. Having previously worked behind the bar at Melbourne’s beloved Eau de Vie and currently managing the bar at The Everleigh, Oscar knows a thing or two about the art of cocktail-making.
Oscar is extremely creative and makes some of the most unique and delicious cocktails I’ve ever had the privilege of tasting. He’s currently working on his own venture, too, so we’ll be sure to update you on that in the new year.
Here’s his Christmas-cocktail creation:
30ml Demerara chai syrup*
15ml cheap apple juice
*Demerara chai syrup recipe
- Steep loose chai or powder in water — 2:1 water to chai.
- Once brewed, strain off chai and mix with Demerara sugar in ratio 2:1 —sugar to chai. If you can’t get Demerara brown sugar or even dark brown sugar will do nicely.
Blended ingredients together with a few pellets of crushed ice, and serve neat, with grated cinnamon on top.
“This drink was inspired by creamy eggnog and ‘flip’-style dessert cocktails. This style of drink I love but often find too rich or unbalanced without the acid necessary to level them out. Acid and cream are hard to pair; the solution was buttermilk. Textural and fatty enough to give body, the faint sour finish combined with a bit of cheap apple juice (you want that artificial candied taste and acidity) you end up with a fluffy dessert style cocktail that doesn’t overwhelm your stuffed Christmas stomach.”
Belle Johnson-Geor’s “Kentucky Buck”
Belle is an A+ bartender, who I have both lived with and worked with, so can confirm that she knows how to shake a drink! She’s worked at countless bars both in Melbourne and in her hometown of New Zealand, from dingy dive bars and classy speakeasy bars, to fab neighbourhood bars and everything in between.
Belle loves a twist on a classic cocktail, and that’s what she’s given us for her Christmas fave. It’s fruity, it’s boozy, it’s refreshing and it’s fuuuuun.
20ml lemon juice
10ml sugar syrup
Muddle the strawberries in a cocktail shaker. Add the rest of the ingredients into the shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a tall glass with ice. Top up with ginger beer. Garnish with a pretty strawberry.
“Strawberries remind me of Christmas. It was my job every year to make the chocolate-coated strawberries every year to have for Christmas dessert. I used to go to the strawberry farm back home in New Zealand and pick them personally — so I always got the best ones. Then as I got older, it’s the strawberries in champagne for Christmas brekky. Strawberries are just Christmas!
“Also this drink is bright and easy. It gives Pimms Cup energy but is a little naughtier. It’s a classic cocktail, so you can order it anywhere!”
Mem Magic by Chelsea Catherine
Chelsea has such a mind-blowing amount of knowledge when it comes to the science of cocktail making. It’s truly impressive to watch her at work.
This cocktail takes quite a bit of preparation, but if you’re confident and up for the challenge — we have faith in you. If not, don’t stress, she’s also got a super easy spritz recipe for you to try instead (scroll down to see).
For now, this is the Mem Magic.
40ml Bulldog Gin
20ml Cinzano Bianco
15ml Pink Passionfruit Acid*
25ml Vanilla Kiwi*
Carbonate at 40psi
serve in a highball filled with ice and a passionfruit meringue garnish
*Pink Passionfruit Acid recipe
200g Passionfruit (including shells)
2.5g Citric acid
Vac-pac, infuse for 24 hours.
*Vanilla Kiwi recipe
300g Kiwi (chopped, no skin)
1 x vanilla bean, split open
Vac-pac, infuse for 5 hours.
Combine all ingredients together in a sodastream bottle. Carbonate and serve over ice in a high ball.
“When I think of Australian Christmas, I think of hot days, seafood, playing cricket outside and pavlovas. Light, tropical and refreshing, this drink was made with the Australian Summer in mind. It’s what separates our Christmases from most of the world’s. I’ve named the drink after Mem Fox, the author of Possum Magic. An Australian story where a possum becomes invisible and a part of him reappears when he eats an Australian food.
“The Kiwis might try to claim the pavlova, but I’m siding with Mem Fox.”
Chelsea Catherine’s “Spritzy Boi”
60ml Belsazar rosé vermouth
80ml sparkling wine
30ml Strangelove guava sparkling water
5ml lemon juice
Pour the rosé vermouth and lemon juice into a wine glass. Add ice. Top up with sparkling wine and guava sparkling water. Garnish with a lemon wedge and a green olive.
“I like spritzes because they’re refreshing, bubbly and the acid and slight bitterness cuts through the rich food while still being light and fresh enough to enjoy next to more delicate dishes like seafood. They’re super easy to make which means you don’t spend any time on prep and you’re not in the kitchen making drinks while everyone else is enjoying each other’s company.”
‘Jack Apple Fizz’ by Morgan Flanagan
Morgan is an absolute wizz when it comes to cocktails, having worked as a brand ambassador for some of the world’s most iconic spirits. He’s been in the hospo-game for over a decade, and is truly a master of flavour.
30ml Jack Daniels Apple
Fresh lemon wedge
Build all ingredients in a tall glass and garnish with fresh lemon wedge.
“Okay, so I know this is a funny one. Flavoured whiskey? But trust me, this is one of the great ones. This just gives me all those wonderful baked apple pie notes but in a way that’s perfect for hot Australian Christmas days. Also easy to whip up when you’re stuck being the bartender for your whole family!”
Morgan’s French 75
45 ml Fords Gin
20 ml Lemon Juice
15 ml Sugar Syrup (1:1 Ratio)
60 ml Dry Sparkling Wine/Brut Champagne
1 Twist Lemon
- Using peeler or paring knife, slice peel from lemon in long, thin strip. Reserve lemon for another use and set peel aside.
- In cocktail shaker, combine Fords Gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Add ice and shake vigorously for 20 seconds.
- Strain into chilled cocktail glass and top with sparkling wine. Curl lemon peel around finger to create twist.
- Garnish drink with twist and serve immediately.
“This is one of my all time favourite classics. Fresh, bright and with champagne! I always go a little heavier on the gin in my French 75’s (like with this recipe). It’s the perfect way to start Christmas morning . You can even serve it tall over ice as a classic Savoy Hotel style but they go even heavier on gin and pull back the champagne. One of the best!”
Patron Paloma, Courtesy of Joey Chisholm
We love a good Paloma here. Or any tequila drink, really. Our good friend Joey loves tequila too, so much so, that he is the brand ambassador for Patron! But regardless of this, a Paloma would still be his go-to Christmas drink.
It’s super easy to make and the perfect combination of boozy, tart and sweet.
50ml Patron Reposado
120ml Fevertree grapefruit soda
Build in a tall glass and garnish with a wedge of pink grapefruit.
“This drink is perfect for Christmas Day. It pairs beautifully with cold prawns or seafood, but is also a great stand-alone drink for pre or post feast!
“You can also make it in a jug as a shared serve, perfect for the middle of the festive table.”
Frozen Fruit Daiquiris, Courtesy of Lachlan Bentley
When Lachy is off-duty, he is the king of delicious and simple. While his job has always been in fancy cocktail bars, Eau De Vie, The Everleigh and now, Gimlet at Cavendish House, one of his festive favourites is the simply delicious Frozen Fruit Daiquiris.
Fresh fruit of your choice (Lachy recommends passionfruit, mango, watermelon, mint, cucumber and strawberries)
Sugar syrup or caster sugar
A bottle of rum (can be white or dark)A pinch of sea salt
Mix the fruit*, limes (half a lime her drink), 10ml of sugar syrup or a few teaspoons of caster sugar (per drink) and a pinch of salt all together in a blender, with ice.
*When it comes to fruit blends, make sure the flavours go together. For example, watermelon and mint, passionfruit and mango, strawberries, mint and cucumber… but don’t be afraid to experiment too!
Blend until it’s at peak slushie consistency and serve in some fun glasses. You’ll probably need some paper straws, too. Get creative with the garnish! But definitely put a mint sprig. Always.
“All of the above also works with tequila, so you could do frozen margs or frozen daiquiris! This is literally everything you need for an Aussie summer. Plus the cricket is on the TV.”
Lemon Fizz, by Me
Yes, that’s right. I used to be a bartender! That means I qualify to add my favourite Christmas cocktail, right?
I make this every year at Christmas breakfast. It’s boozey, I know, but it’s Christmas and I say we go for it.
10ml lime juice
Add the vodka, a generous dollop of lemon sorbet and the lime juice into a blender with ice. Blend together, then pour into a champagne coupe and top up with prosecco.
This drink is a great aperitivo. It’s the best way to cleanse you palette between courses or to start of your day with a bang. It’s light, zesty and acts as a pick-me-up to help get you through the day and give you the zing you need. It’s also deliiish.