Christmas calls for festive concotions of your own invention. Follow The Field's pick of the best Christmas cocktails, raid the drinks cupboard and fill the glasses, darkly

Engender some proper festive spirit with a concotion of your own invention. Take inspiration from The Field’s favourite cocktails and prepare to raid the drinks cupboard.

With the glasses filled, darkly, make the Christmas lunch equally spectacular. A three-bird roast is guaranteed to impress. But ensure you have someone confident enought to stand at the table. The code of chivalry once included carving, but it is a skill that fewer and fewer now possess. Read how to carve meat well and wield the knife properly.


British summertime is a glass of Pimm’s filled with mint and fruit, but don’t let the bottle gather dust over winter. Try The Field’s homemade Christmas Pimm’s for your new favourite festive tipple. To really impress, make it with homemade Pimm’s – it’s stronger than the shop-bought stuff. Or if you would rather plump for a treat from the hedgerow, try our elderberry vodka.

Make homemade Pimm's

How to make homemade Pimm’s

Learn how to make homemade Pimm’s to enjoy this summer essential without sharpening your elbows at the supermarket. A word…

Elderberry vodka

How to make elderberry vodka

Elderberry vodka is simple to make and will last for months if you can resist it. Elderberries are not grown…


Engender some proper festive spirit at your soirée with The Field’s best Christmas cocktails. Philippa Davis’ clementine margarita is the perfect tipple to enjoy while cooking the festive feast, and Emily Arbuthnott’s dark creations are guaranteed to leave your guests reeling with delight. Just the spirit for a seasonal shindig.


Best Christmas cocktails. Clementine margaritas

Begin with a clementine margarita.

Philippa Davis will be sipping away on a clementine margarita while cooking the festive feast. By far the best way to cook at Christmas.

Serves 8

  • 200ml (7fl oz) tequila, chilled
  • 150ml (5fl oz) sugar syrup, chilled (one part water dissolved in one part white sugar)
  • 250ml (9fl oz) clementine juice, chilled
  • Juice 3 limes
  • 8 thin slices of clementine to garnish plus a one-quarter wedge
  • 2 tbsp salt or white sugar

Shake the tequila, sugar syrup, clementine and lime juice over ice (I sometimes make a jug of the mix a few hours before serving and store it in the fridge or freezer instead of shaking it over ice).

Rim the cocktail glasses by running the one-quarter wedge of clementine around the lip then dipping the glass into a saucer filled with salt or sugar, whichever your prefer.

Pour in your chilled margarita mix and garnish with a thin slice of clementine.


According to legend, this is named after the first Earl of Atholl, who quashed a Highland rebellion in 1475 by filling the rebel leader’s well with the mixture, making him easily captured. When made with cream the drink is rather like Baileys Irish Cream.

  • 1 litre (13⁄4 pints) whisky
  • 180g (61⁄3oz) medium-coarse oats
  • 1⁄2 pint double cream
  • 120ml (4fl oz) runny honey

Combine the whisky and oats in a shallow dish. Cover the mixture with linen and leave in a cool, dark place for at least 48 hours. Remove the clear liquids from this mixture, using the linen to squeeze last drop of whisky out. Transfer the liquid to a bottle with a neck wide enough for you to be able to stir it. Very slowly pour the cream into the liquid, stirring with a wooden spoon as you do so. Then add the honey, stirring continually and evenly.

Best Christmas cocktails. Homemade

Home-made liqueurs make considerate, personal presents.


Emily Arbuthnott’s rainbow-bright show-stopper is guaranteed to impress.

  • 5 bottles vodka
  • 5 200g bags Skittles (about 21⁄5lb in all)
  • 5g (1⁄5oz) pot edible silver or gold glitter

You will need five 700ml (25fl oz) bottles. Segregate the Skittles into five colour batches, one for each bottle. Pour out some vodka from each bottle to make room for the Skittles, 23 sweets per 350ml (12fl oz). Ensure the bottles are well sealed and put in the dishwasher on an intensive cycle. One-third of the way through the cycle, shake all the bottles vigorously. Repeat this two-thirds into the cycle. Once the cycle has finished, shake the bottles vigorously once more and place them in the freezer for two hours. When the vodka is cold, pour the syrupy mixture through a coffee filter or muslin into a jug. Wash out the bottles and pour the vodka back in with edible glitter. Ensure that the filter thoroughly cleaned between uses to prevent colour contamination. Seal the bottles and label. Put all the bottles back into the freezer until you are ready to serve or give as a present.


Best Christmas cocktails. Hot buttered rum

The scent of hot buttered rum cheers.

  • Knob of butter
  • Brown sugar to taste
  • 60ml (2fl oz) home-made spiced rum
  • 120ml (4fl oz) boiling-hot water
  • Cinnamon stick

Beat together the butter and brown sugar in a bowl and add the spiced rum. Pour over the boiling water and whisk until blended. Place the cinnamon stick into the glass and pour over the hot rum. Stir using the cinnamon.


  • 1 jar stem ginger in syrup
  • 2 bottles Aldi Napoleon brandy

Chop the stem ginger, keeping the syrup. Then combine both with the brandy. Seal, label and leave for a minimum of 10 days.


Whisky Mac, the grande dame of cocktails, pre-dating the martini by 20 years, is a fabulous evening drink, particularly when made with home-made ginger liqueur, thus preserving the seal on that aged single malt for another time. Use lowball glasses to let the aroma escape.

  • 10ml (1⁄3fl oz) home-made ginger liqueur
  • 40ml (11⁄2fl oz) whisky – nothing too heavy

Pour whisky, then ginger over a few ice cubes. Garnish with a fresh slice of ginger

Best Christmas cocktails. Pouring

Take your time when concocting a cocktail.


  • 750ml bottle (11⁄3 pints) medium-bodied, aged rum
  • 3 cloves
  • 5 peppercorns
  • 1 cardamom pod
  • 1 segment of a star anise pod
  • 1⁄2 cinnamon stick
  • 1⁄8 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 fingertip-sized piece ginger
  • 4 1in strips orange peel (no white pith)
  • 1⁄2 vanilla bean

Combine all the ingredients bar the orange peel and vanilla bean in a lidded 1-litre or 2- pint jar or bottle. Twist the orange peel just above the mixture to release some of its oils and add it to the jar. Split half a vanilla bean lengthwise, scrape the seeds into the jar and add the bean. Cover the jar tightly and shake to combine. Let the mix sit in a dark place for a minimum of two days, shaking once after the first day. Strain the mixture through a cheesecloth or a fine-mesh sieve into a clean bottle and discard the spices. Seal and label. It will keep indefinitely if sealed tightly and stored in a dark, dry place.


Best Christmas cocktails. Buck's Fizz

Buck’s Fizz is the best Christmas-morning drink of them all.

Buck’s Fizz is back in vogue and when made properly is the ultimate Christmas-morning drink.

  • 60ml (2fl oz) fresh orange or tangerine juice, or a mixture of both
  • 30ml (2 tbs) gin
  • 5ml (11⁄2 tsp) cherry brandy
  • 90ml (3fl oz) champagne, chilled

Combine juice, gin and cherry brandy in a mix-ing glass. Fill with ice. Stir to chill. Strain into a champagne flute and top with champagne.


The mix for the clementine Bellinis can be poured into glasses before the guests appear, so requires nothing more than a top-up of fizz when the party starts.

  • 600g (11⁄3lb) bag clementines
  • 3 tbs Grand Marnier
  • 75cl (11⁄3 pints) bottle prosecco, chilled

Juice the clementines to make about 300ml (101⁄2fl oz) and mix with the Grand Marnier. Pour into eight champagne flutes. Just before serving, top up the glasses with the prosecco.


There is no definitive recipe for wassail; it varies from county to county, family to family. “Lamb’s Wool”, a Yorkshire version is made with ale instead of cider and served when the apples have burst, so the pulp looks like lamb’s wool. A Devon variation adds the alcoholic cordial Lovage rather than Madeira and blackberries. This traditional Christmas and New Year toast derives from the Anglo-Saxon words for “to your health”, waes hael.

  • 1 orange
  • 6 cloves
  • 6 small apples, cored
  • 6 tsp soft brown sugar
  • 200g caster sugar
  • Water for sprinkling
  • 2 litres (31⁄2 pints) cider
  • 300ml (101⁄2fl oz) port
  • 300ml (101⁄2fl oz) sherry or Madeira
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1⁄2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1⁄4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 lemon, halved

Stud the orange with the cloves. Core the apples and sprinkle with sugar and water. Bake the orange and apples in preheated oven at 180°C/375°F/Gas Mark 5 for 30 minutes or until tender. Leave the apples in the dish to keep warm and take the orange out. Cut it in half and place it in a large saucepan. Add the rest of the ingredients and the juices from the apple roasting dish to the saucepan and gently heat until the sugar has dissolved. Do not boil. Leave for 30 minutes. Strain and pour over the roasted apples. The apples can saved to be eaten as a pudding.


When looking to create an appealing but non-alcoholic drink a Bentley’s cocktail, using Angostura Bitters is far more tantalising than the ubiquitous elderflower cordial. Although Angostura contains 44.7% alcohol by volume, each dash contains an insignificant amount and can therefore be deemed non-alcoholic.

  • 25ml (13⁄4 tbs) just-squeezed lime juice
  • 25ml (13⁄4 tbs) sugar syrup
  • 100ml (31⁄2fl oz) soda/sparkling water/lemonade
  • 2 drops Angostura Bitters

Mix the lime, syrup and soda together and pour over cracked ice before adding the Angostura Bitters. This creates a rather spectacular floating effect.