The first one which registered with me was Stone’s Ginger Wine. I used to sell that when working in a Yarmouth off licence – no restriction on age then. Also learned how to wrap a bottle – usually British sherry- in tissue paper. Still the only thing I can wrap successfully. Another Yarmouth Christmas favourite was Advocaat. This came out of a bottle too but later, back in Alaska, the very similar egg nog was supposedly made at home. London brought mulled wine:
“No Amanda, you aren’t supposed to boil it, that’s the whole point,” said my dear friend Clare.
Meanwhile, my father perfected berry liqueurs. Starting in Anchorage* with Everclear (health warning here) by the nineties he was making superb morello cherry brandy and damson gin from fruits picked around his Norfolk home.
Armed with all this info I mixed up a few drinks this year. The aim was to be a winter colonial cocktail. Refreshing yet Christmassy.
For each glass: Two squeezed oranges, one squeezed lime. The zest of one lime, several spoonfuls of frozen redcurrants, blackcurrants, blackberries and or raspberries. One measure of Mount Gay rum (obviously) or a decent brandy, a few drops of Angastura bitters. Sparkling water, fizzy lemonade or champagne.
Method: Zest the lime and squeeze it into the glass (or a jug if making a lot). Add the spirits and stir. Then the frozen fruit, the orange juice, the bitters. Depending on your taste, fill up the glass with sparkling water, fizzy lemonade or sparkling wine. Drink, but not too fast.
*And let’s not forget the Top of The World Tundra Cocktail, served in a globe with three straws, on the rotating top floor of the Anchorage Westward Hotel in 1973. Truly a New Year’s to remember.