Great shakes

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Whether you are out on the town or drinking at home, this festive season is a favourite time for cocktails. They get everyone in a party mood and even if you can only rustle up a fairly limited repertoire, the right glasses and garnish can make each drink look special and attractive.

Leeds is now the cocktail capital of the UK, with award-winning bars and barmen happy to mix up old favourites and new creations to suit the season. I asked some of them for their favourite recipes and they were kind enough to share them. But if you really want to taste how they should be you should get out to some of these terrific cocktail bars.

You will need some basic equipment such as:

A cocktail shaker – essential to mix ingredients and chill them down quickly.

A set of suitable glasses – such as the classic wide-brimmed, triangle-shaped Martini glass, some tall tumblers and a few old-fashioned champagne coupes.

A spirits measure for various ingredients – a shot is generally 45ml but the measure doesn’t have to be precise, it is just a basis for the proportions in a drink. I found that my egg cups have exactly the same capacity, which makes life easier if I am making a range of drinks.

A range of garnishes – a few curls of lemon rind, some red berries and a handful of mint leaves will all come in useful.

Ice – a big bag of supermarket ice can be transformed into crushed ice with a few whacks from a rolling pin.

A muddler – a flat-ended wooden implement for crushing berries and lemons in a glass. If you don’t have one, the back of a spoon will do.

For cocktail spirits, other ingredients and equipment such and shakers and strainers, Latitude in Leeds (0113 2453393) stocks all you could possibly need and various shops around the county such as Field and Fawcett in York (01904 489073) and Harrogate Fine Wine (01423 522270) have many of the spirits.

Most barmen like to specify a particular brand of spirits or liqueurs for their recipes but if you can’t find that brand then use something similar rather than not try at all.

Here are some ideas:

Latitude’s Hot Rum

A full bottle of Chairman’s Reserve Spiced Rum

1 litre Cranberry juice

1 litre of pressed apple juice

50ml Giffard’s cinnamon syrup

1 Fresh cinnamon stick

1 Red apple sliced

Add all ingredients to a pan on a low heat setting and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes. This is great for Christmas morning and can be left to simmer on a very low heat for hours.

For smaller groups, scale the ingredients down.

Jake Burger’s Christmas Alexander

From the Drinks Director of Leelex which own several bars in Leeds, including Oporto and Neon Cactus.

50 ml AE Dor VSOP Cognac

25 ml Grants Morella Cherry Brandy

A mix of half double cream and half milk, known as half and half (25ml)

Shake all the ingredients together, strain into an old-fashioned champagne coupe and dust with nutmeg.

This tastes a lot like Christmas Pudding.

Charles Dickens’ Hot Gin Punch

Adapted by Jake Burger.

Juice 1/2 lemon

pinch ground cinnamon

1 stick of cinnamon to stir

1 clove

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon honey

1 large measure sweet dark Madeira wine

1 large measure Portobello Road Gin pot of boiling water

grated nutmeg Into a warm tumbler put the juice of half a lemon, the cinnamon and clove, and the sugar and honey. Three-quarters fill the glass with boiling water, add the Madeira and gin and stir with a stick of cinnamon. Grate nutmeg on top and drink quickly.

Dan Crowther’s 15th Day of Christmas 

From Jake’s Bar and Grill

25ml Jensen Old Tom Gin

20ml Lemon juice

10ml Green Tea & Coriander Syrup

Pour the ingredients into a champagne flute and top up with Laurent Perrier Champagne. Garnish with a Lemon Twist.

Adam Ketteringham’s Mulled Wine Sgroppino

From Bibis Italianissimo

25ml vodka

1 scoop of homemade mulled wine sorbet (check on for the recipe)

100ml Prosecco

Pour the Prosecco into a champagne flute, mix the vodka and sorbet together and add to the Prosecco.

Vermouth & ginger cobbler

From Bibis Italianissimo.

25ml Gancia Bianco Vermouth

25ml Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur

10ml Grand Marnier

25ml lemon juice

2 flat tea spoons powdered sugar

Shake the ingredients together and strain onto crushed ice in a large wine glass. Garnish with an orange wedge.

And a few extra cocktails you can make with a bottle of cava and simple ingredients:

Freixenet By The Fireside

25 ml Cognac

2 wedges blood orange

2 wedges lime

1 teaspoon clear honey

25 ml cranberry juice

Freixenet Cordon Oro

Muddle the orange and lemon with the Cognac and honey

Add the cranberry juice and stir in a highball glass

Add crushed ice

Top with Freixenet Cordon Oro and garnish with a few cranberries

Freixenet Under The Mistletoe

25 ml red grape juice

Freixenet Cordon Rosado

Pour 25ml red grape juice into glass and top with Freixenet Cordon Rosado

Cheat’s Cocktails

If you really can’t face the idea of mixing up your own cocktails, cheat by buying Marks and Spencer’s own mixes and adding a little more kick. Both the Cherry and Vodka Fizz and the Sloe Gin Fizz (£4.49) have terrific flavours but at 5.5 per cent alcohol they are rather weak. Add a very small measure of vodka or gin to the glass before topping up with the Fizz. Garnish with cherries, or a lemon twist.