Try one (or two) of these brand new festive cocktails
Yes, we know that the award-winning, family-run Italian restaurant group is most famous for its food, but sometimes we need reminding that they put just as much love and care into their drinks menu too.
It makes sense, because they have built up a reputation for some of the best aperitivo drinks and snacks in the city, to make the perfect pit-stop between work and home time. Now their clever bar team have developed five special wintry cocktails to warm your cockles after a hard days’ Christmas shopping, or to bring some joy back into your heart now the nights are drawing in.
Whatever your excuse, make sure you seek shelter from the cold, wet weather with one of these beauties in your hand. they were created by the bar team at San Carlo Bottega in Selfridges and have proved so popular there that you will also be able to find them in Cicchetti and Fumo from Friday, and over the entire festive period.
Italians are renowned for having a sweet tooth, but they also like their bitters, a little citrus spike, perhaps a little refreshing fizz and some punchy flavours. Despite their differences, each one of these five new festive cocktails manages to achieve balance and comfort with a touch of added luxury. Whether you prefer your drinks to be sweet and indulgent, or a little more serious and smoky, at least one of these is perfect for you. We still can’t decide which one is our favourite....
Gingerbread Fizz (£9.95)
Most of us like a bit of fizz around the festive period – although, to be honest, most of us like it pretty much any time of year. Here San Carlo Bottega have given a classic glass of prosecco a seasonal makeover by adding a touch of gingerbread syrup, a measure of warming Triple Sec and a light garnish of freshly pared orange oil. It’s light on the tongue, warm on the chest and zesty on the nose.
Winter Spiced Old Fashioned (£9.95)
With this cocktail, the clever beggars have managed to recreate that warm fuzzy feeling you get from sitting in your favourite armchair in front of a crackling wood fire and have distilled it into a drink. The base is Bourbon– ours was made using Makers Mark, but it’ll work just as well with any preferred brand, or even Whiskey. This is poured over ice, with a measure of sharply sweet cranberry syrup (full of vitamin C to ward off any nasty winter colds), a pinch of sugar and a dash of bitters for balance.
The Nutcracker (£9.95)
This manages to infuse all the flavours of a classic and comforting wintery dessert; hazelnuts, pear and ginger, all whizzed up into a spectacular cocktail with a touch of Italian sophistication. A measure of Frangelico adds a festive nutty flavour, topped with a shot of smooth aromatic Glenmorangie single malt whisky, fruity pear liqueur and lashings of ginger beer to make a long refreshing drink.
White Christmas Mojito (£8.95)
We watched them make this, we even took a video and watched it back again, but we’re still amazed at the alchemy behind this ingenious concoction. Looking at the list of ingredients, it shouldn’t work, but it really, really does. They start with white rum and then add a measure of coconut rum, sugar syrup, a touch of lime and a little milk to make it as white as snow. Then they top it all up with a little sparkling water and give it a jolly good shake to create a little festive foam. Poured over ice and topped with fresh, jewel-like pomegranate seeds, we’ll be happily sipping on these until springtime.
Dessert or cocktail? Or alcoholic ‘grown-up’ milkshake? However you want to position it, this is the most indulgent mix of the five. It starts with a shot of Baileys – as most good Christmas celebrations tend to do – followed by a shot of crème de cacao blanc (crystal clear white chocolate liqueur), a shot of vanilla syrup and a good shake over ice. To give it a little something extra, it’s topped off with good, old fashioned squirty cream, a drizzle of silky caramel sauce and a biscuit cigarillo. Well, why not?