Survive Christmas one local tipple at a time
Usually face-down in a vat of Baileys? You can do better than that! Nail your Christmas drink choices and shop local. Bottoms up!
There is a lot to do in the run-up to Christmas but one task that’s far more a pleasure than a chore is stocking up on festive drinkies. Come to mama, lovely booze! After a pretty rubbish year all round and a different kinda Christmas, we’re determined to be a bit more imaginative and shop local. Here’s your failsafe festive tipple cheat-sheet.
If you’re last minute dot com with your wrapping, you’re going to need something super-charged to power through your gift mountain. Pre-made premium cocktails for the win. 137 Gin launched a lockdown series which are absolutely phenomenal – there’s 137 Martini, 137 Ginoncello and two Negronis – the 137 Berkshire Negroni and (our fave) the brand new 137 Navy Royal Negroni. Just add ice and a slice of orange and you’re good to go.
One for the big FC
What do you leave at the bottom of the chimney? Bottle of beer, glass of milk (are you mad?), perhaps a glass of whisky? Well, this year, the big man is in for a treat as he will be served a Berkshire Botanical Dry Gin – distilled with handpicked botanicals including Yattendon’s Norway Spruce Christmas Tree. It doesn’t get more Christmassy than that! Serve with Indian Tonic water and lime for a classic G&T.
Put the fa-la-la love into a Christmas Eve midnight mass with a little help from Newbury-based 137 Distillery’s brand new Lumber’s Ivy Vodka (£47). It’s smooth, creamy, with liquorice-like sweetness and grassy-green herbaceous notes. Great in a Martini or Bloody Mary. Altogether now:The Holly and the Ivy…
5am wake up call
It’s Christmaaaaas… but first coffee. If your kids are usually jumping on your head from 5am, excited to show you their Father Christmas haul, then only a quality brew will do. Roast Lab is a local roaster on the Berkshire-Buckinghamshire border offering a variety of artisan single origin coffees. The batches are small, air roasted and come with tasting notes. Our fave? El Tambo (Caramel, Honey, Floral, Nutty, Dark Chocolate) – available in whole bean, espresso, stovetop, aeropress, filter and cafetiere.
Put down the Prosecco, we’re keeping it local… very local! You wouldn’t normally consider getting sparkling wine from West Berkshire but this All Angels Classic Cuvée 2014 Long Aged on Lees, £37.50, is delicious, creamy and perfect for getting your party started. The classic Champagne blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes (useful for a pub quiz) are grown in the Enborne opposite St Michael and All Angels Church. This is stonking bottle of bubbles – light, bright gold in colour, with a citrus zing and a hint of creamy brioche. Come to mama.
Christmas dinner wines
You’ve nailed your festive feast menu, now train your eye on what you’ll be quaffing with your roast turkey (or Nut Wellington). How about this white from Stanlake Wine Estate’s Madeleine? A stunning wine in a stunning bottle that will be appreciated by everyone. It’s smooth, floral, delicate and perfect with turkey or cheese. It’s also fantastic value at £13.99 a bottle and made in Berkshire.
Cider has come a long way. You don’t need a strong West Country accent or a hay bale to enjoy this fruity little number. In fact, dare I say it, it can be quite a sophisticated bevvy. With so many apple and pear varieties in the world it is easier to pair with food. Berkshire-based Cider is Wine is a good place to start, they source ciders, perries and fruit wines from all over the world. Local producers worth checking out are Kintbury-based Ciderniks, Crazy Dave’s Cider in Holyport and Tutt’s Clump Cider, to name a few.
Traditionally you might think Port and Taylor’s Tawny Reserve, a brand dating back to 1642 is the daddy (£29.80 is available from GrapeSmith in Hungerford). However if, like me, you’re not a fan, then Berkshire Botanical Sloe Gin is a good alternative, or perhaps something light and fruity to cut through a day of indulgence.
I’m a big fan of pink gin – and Cricketers’ Berry Blush is light and fruity and perfect for anyone looking for an antidote to days of rich food. If you’re love a craft beer fan, then Windsor and Eton Brewery’s Uprising brand has Treason, Caught By The Fuzz and Wasteland. It’s like Boris Johnson’s Christmas story in bottles.
Love gin but fancy something a bit more piratey? Time to crack open the rum. Think Tom Hardy in Taboo, sauntering off his boat after a long, torturous journey with only a bottle of rum to keep him warm at night. *Ahem* While we can’t serve up Tom, we can offer you a seriously smooth Caribbean rum blended on the banks of the River Thames. Thameside Signature Blend is a Windsor-based small-batch rum produced to centuries-old standards found in London’s 18th century blending houses. It’s a quality tipple, m’hearties and should warm you up on the rocks or in a cocktail (you’ll find three here).
Put yourself out to pasture and graze all day with cold meats and pickles washed down with Stanlake Wine Estate’s Pinot Noir (£19.99). It’s elegant, fruity and smooth – just like us after a few glasses. Hic!
If you need a few Michelin starred turkey tips, sashay this way. Chef Pete Gray of The Hind’s Head in Bray reveals is Christmas dinner secrets.