Festive Drinks with a Local Twist

Published on 14 Dec
8 min read

The Festive Spirit

Hosting a Christmas party or get-together? Well, take a look at these cocktail and mocktail recipes to help keep it jolly at your party. Here is our selection of top Christmas drinks made with produce from Northumberland and Scottish Borders. Tell us your favourite!

Christmas Cocktails

Kir & Kir Royale

Sparkling wine cocktail
Kir & Kir Royale are popular cafe drinks in France

Kir, or its more flamboyant sister Kir Royale, is basically white wine, or champagne, topped with creme de cassis, a blackcurrant vodka liqueur. We suggest a local twist by topping your favourite sparkling wine with Alnwick Rum’s Blackcurrant liqueur. The juicy blackcurrant flavour perfectly complements the light bubbles of a sparkling wine to make a fruity, complex drink.

Simple and quick to make. Add a splash or 2 of Alnwick Rum’s Blackcurrant Liqueur and top with white wine! Swap white wine for champagne to make it Royale.

Behind the Drink

Both Kir cocktails are named after Canon Felix Kir, a French war hero, who was also the mayor of Dijon, who invented the combination of white wine topped with creme de cassis, a blackcurrant liqueur[1].

Whisky Mac

The Whisky Mac, or Whisky Macdonald, is the perfect winter warmer. With nearly equal measurements of both blended Scotch whisky and ginger wine, you are sure to keep out the cold on winter nights!

Kitty's Ginger Wine and glass
Try Kitty’s Ginger Wine to make this classic cocktail

In a tumbler glass filled with ice, mix 1 part Kitty’s Ginger Wine to 1 1/2 parts Lower East Side blended Scotch Whisky from The Borders Distillery for an authentic taste of the Anglo-Scottish borders. For a toddy, add 3 parts hot water to the shots.

Behind the Drink

Uncertainty surrounds the moniker of this drink, but most commonly it is believed to be named after Hector MacDonald, a high-ranking soldier during Victorian times[2], who was also immortalised on the old-style Camp Coffee bottles. The drink is said to be invented because ginger was believed to fight cholera, which was plaguing India during Britain’s invasion[3]. The ginger was made into a drink and then added to whisky by Scottish soldiers[3] and thus the Whisky Mac was born.

Mulled Winter Spiced Apple Juice

A festive mocktail which is suitable for all the family! Laprig Valley suggests warming 700ml Winter Spice Apple Juice with 1 stick of cinnamon, with extra to garnish, 3 cloves and honey to taste. Gently warm the ingredients on the stove and let the winter spices infuse. Add honey to taste before serving.

To serve, pour the juice into thick, heatproof glass mugs and garnish with cinnamon sticks and apple slices.

Winter Spice apple juice
Seasonal apple juice by Laprig Valley is a perfect winter warmer!

Behind the Drink

Mulled drinks have been recorded as far back as the Roman times[4]. It is also worth mentioning that in this country, though more in the South-West regions, Wassail, or a mulled apple cider is a traditional drink that is used to celebrate the Twelfth Night[5] since Celtic times. Wassailing is a ritual which celebrates the fruit-bearing gifts from the trees and to expel demons from the orchards[6]. Think about doing that next time you enjoy a mulled beverage!


A mimosa is essentially the most popular brunch drink and even more so at this time of year. For a local twist swap out the fizzy wine for Northumberland Honey Co‘s luxury sparkling mead, the only of its kind in Britain.

For a simple recipe mix 2 parts Sparkling Mead with 1 part Orange juice. Garnish with orange rind

Behind the Drink

A mimosa was believed to be invented in 1925 at the Ritz Hotel in Paris by bartender Fran Meier[7]. The cocktail is similar to Bucks Fizz, which had been invented some years before.

A selection of sparkling mead
Try Northumberland Honey Co’s sparkling mead for a fun festive brunch drink

Irish Coffee

Irish Coffee
Add some warming spices to your Irish coffee for a Christmassy twist

On a cold winter’s day, if you still need your caffeine hit as well as a warm-through, then the Irish Coffee is perfect for you.

Try Mocha Mondo‘s ground coffee beans to make the espresso base, add hot water, a shot of Irish whisky, a teaspoon of brown sugar and top with lightly whipped cream so you can still drink through the cream. Delish!

Mocha mondo espresso and beans
Try Mocha Mondo’s freshly roasted coffee for a comforting traditional drink

Behind the Drink

The drink, although thought to be old, was created in 1947 at Foynes airport, which was one of the largest airports at the time[8]. The passengers who landed at Foynes airport included some of America’s rich and famous. The restaurant at Foynes was run by a young chef called Joe Sheridan. It was Joe who created this drink to warm up his guests and it eventually led to a job offer in Hollywood to recreate the drink across the pond[8]!

You can visit the museum in County Limerick which is dedicated to this important airport and the birthplace of the Irish Coffee.

Mock-scow Mule

A Moscow Mule
A refreshing, fiery cocktail full of Caribbean flavours

An alcohol-free alternative to the famous Moscow Mule.

Most recipes call for 1 tablespoon of lime juice, a few mint leaves which are added to a cup half-filled with crushed ice. Then simply, top up with ginger beer. We recommend Northumberland-based Fentiman’s Ginger Beer. It is non-alcoholic and has an intense, fiery taste which can easily be cooled with the addition of lime and mint.

Behind the Drink

The Moscow Mule is said to be invented to encourage American’s to drink vodka. A British bar in Los Angeles, called Cock ‘n’ Bull is the setting where the Moscow Mule is said to be invented. The story goes that in 1941 too much ginger beer had been ordered and needed to be used up[9]. A savvy bartender thus created the Moscow Mule.

Merry Berry Gin Fizz

The Merry Berry Gin was launched last year by DeliQuescent, who are well-known for their seasonal and innovative gin flavours. The gin is bursting with Scottish berry flavours mixed with Christmas spices to give it a festive twist!  The gin can be enjoyed on its own, but DeliQuescent recommend topping up the gin with Prosecco for a fun, bubbly beverage to create a Merry Berry Gin Fizz!

Berry-infused gin fizz
The Merry Berry Gin Fizz by DeliQuescent

You can enjoy this drink at Rutherfords Micropub in Kelso.

Behind the Drink

The Gin Fizz is a cocktail which dates back to the late 19th Century in New Orleans, the birthplace of Jazz. The creator was Henry C Ramos, and the cocktail was so popular at the time, that he employed over 20 staff to solely make this cocktail at his bar in New Orleans[10]. This classic cocktail saw the rise of a whole new culture take hold of the USA.


Festive eggnog
The word eggnog comes from the word noggin, a small wooden cup used in Medieval times

Eggnog is a classic, filling Christmas drink. However, there is a deluge of ways to make the beverage, so it can get complicated.

Alcohol additions vary between rum, bourbon, whisky and brandy. So just pick your favourite. It is recommended to split the eggs and whisk separately before creating and to make your own spice infusion, rather than shop bought unless you have a favourite already as many are overpoweringly sickly with vanilla.

For 1 serving use 1 egg (separate and whisk if you prefer), 1 cup of milk, 1/4 cup single cream, 1 tablespoon of sugar, a pinch of salt, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, pinch of ground nutmeg and a pinch of cinnamon.

Use free-range organic eggs from Border Eggs and fresh milk from Morwick Dairy for this festive drink.

Behind the Drink

Although typically associated with America, eggnog goes back to medieval England and was a popular drink made by monks. As people emigrated to America, the drink took off and was a warm filling beverage during the cold, harsh winters. As a result of the proximity of the West Indies, rum was more readily available than other spirits coming from Europe[11], so it is more likely to be made with rum in America than here.

Atholl Brose

Atholl Brose, like eggnog, has a long history. It is a classic Scottish beverage served between Hogmanay and Burns Night. An Atholl Brose liqueur can be drunk straight, mixed with other drinks, or used in desserts.

Soak a large handful of Heatherslaw Mill‘s Scottish Oat Flakes with a blended whisky from The Borders Distillery. Cover and leave to soak overnight. Discard oats and add cream if desired. Mix in a large jar (340g) of Chain Bridge Honey Farm‘s Heather Honey and stir till its dissolved. This can be stored in the fridge for up to 1 week[12].

Behind the Drink

The origin of this drink in cloaked in ancient folklore. The story goes a plucky, young fella named Dougal sought redemption from a tyrannous giant; the giant of Atholl[12]. In order to slay the giant, Dougal concocted the Atholl Brose cocktail to send the giant into a deep slumber, and thus defeat him[12]. Atholl Brose was believed to be one of Queen Victoria’s favourite drinks[13].

Bespoke Heather Comb Honey by Chain Bridge Honey Farm is honey in its most natural form
Try mixing in some Heather Honey into your Atholl Brose for a taste of the Border countryside

Campari IPA

Cocktails have had a bit of a makeover of late, with exciting new combinations and flavours being found at hip bars and on shop shelves. Beer cocktails, this year, been making headlines in top foodie magazines and blogs so we thought we’d include our favourite on the Foodful blog.

For a cocktail for 2, split 100ml of Campari and a can of Wilderness IPA from Allendale Brewery over 2 tall glasses quarter filled with ice. Top up with chilled sparkling orange juice, try Mandarin and Seville Orange Jigger by Fentimans, and garnish with orange rind[14].

Behind the Drink

Beer concoctions are believed to be thousands of years old, dating back to old King Midas[15]. Items such as herbs, honey and grapes were common additives to create beer cocktails[15]. The popular craft beer movement has seen a resurgence of beer cocktails back into the mainstream.

Bottoms Up!

Share with us your Christmas drink creations using locally made beverages from Northumberland and Scottish Borders. Join the conversation on social media. Follow Foodful on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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