As we navigate the coming festive season, Covid-19 has put paid to big gatherings, as a final touch to the Annus horribilis that is 2020! There may not be the usual gang round the table, but there’s every cause to celebrate getting this far. My drinks selection will help you have a party without actually having a party this Christmas. Bring it on!
All the family loves Hot Chocolate. The spices here are optional, but they add a warming nuance to this rich indulgent drink. Adults can pep it up with a shot of favourite tipple - brandy is great!
Get your Cork made chocolate from Casey O’Connaill’s chocolate shop and cafe on French Church Street Cork city, or order online from Three Fools Coffee on Grand Parade.
O’Connaill’s chocolate flakes are ideal for melting. Available in milk or dark chocolate or a mix of both, as well as a milk and white chocolate mix. A 400g bag costs €11.00, from www.threefoolscoffee.ie
Ingredients (Makes 1 serving)
50g chocolate of choice
Pinch of ground cinnamon (optional)
Sugar to taste
Grated nutmeg (optional Whipped cream, baby marshmallows and grated chocolate (optional)
- Heat the milk in a pan to just simmering.
- Add the broken chocolate and spices and stir to melt.
- Pour into heatproof glasses.
- Top with whipped cream and baby marshmallows, with a sprinkling of grated chocolate to decorate
When the kids have been tucked in for the night, pour yourself a large gin and tonic! But not just any old gin. Maharani Gin is a new release from the brand new Rebel City Distillery based in Cork’s historic Docklands area, founded by Robert Barrett in 2020. The Indian name references Robert’s wife Bhagya who was born in Kerala , where the word ‘Maharani’ means Queen. Exotic botanicals like cassia, nutmeg, mace and pomelo fruit make up the complex flavours of this gin.
Serve it over ice with a premium tonic, with a squeeze of pink grapefruit juice and some mint, recommended by the makers to bring out those heady spicy flavours. Cheers! Available online at www.rebelcitydistillery.com/shop or from Carry Out Ballyhooley Road and Goldbergs, Victoria Road Cork
Turkey is a red or white wine bird. In December, JJ O’Driscoll’s store in Ballinlough Road, Douglas, Cork, has selected wines on special offer. Chateau Gravelier 2018 is a Bordeaux red made from a blend of mainly Merlot with some Cabernet Sauvignon. Serve at room temperature in big glasses, to allow the flavours of soft ripe damson and rich blackcurrant and blackberry notes to develop. A super, mouthfilling wine, usually €14.99, down to €12.99 this month.
Curious Wines in Tramore Road Cork has a white with a special affinity for roast turkey. Johnny Q Chardonnay-Viognier 2019 from South Australia is a luscious white with plenty of ripe peach fruit, balanced with fresh zesty notes on the finish. As it's a screw cap, you may miss the ceremonial cork pop at the Christmas table. But this modern method of closure preserves the clean fresh finish of this wine. €13.99 a bottle from www.curiouswines.ie
If you want something non-alcoholic but still able to cope with turkey and trimmings, visit your local Supervalu for a bottle of Torres Natureo Syrah. The bold spicy grape of the Rhone in France, also known as Shiraz in Australia, travels to Spain to produce a de-alcoholised wine from the world famous Torres winery. Years of experimentation have developed a production technique which includes fermentation and oak ageing, before the alcohol is removed. The result is a full on blast of spice and cedar, without the boozy kick - but you certainly won’t feel you’re missing out! €6.89 a bottle.
If you happen to have people from your bubble household joining you over Christmas, its good to have a choice of red and white wine for casual drinking. December offers at JJ O’Driscoll in Ballinlough Road, Douglas, Cork include Marques de Riscal Rueda Verdejo 2019. Great for cold turkey, fish and veggie based dishes, was €11.99 now down to €9.99. For spiced beef and the cheeseboard, Try Truffle Hunter Barbara d’Asti 2019, a fragrant Italian red with mellow ripe damson flavour. Was €13.99, down to €11.99
The word bubble has taken on a whole new meaning in this Covid-19 pandemic! So what better get this non-party started than a bottle of bubbles for your family bubble. Toast 2021 with a cork popping fizz, in the hope it will be a lot better than the one that has just gone! Choose Cune Cava from Spain, made exactly like champagne but with Spanish grapes. This elegant bottle contains an elegant wine, with racy little bubbles and dry crispness, softened with a little biscuity roundness. A gorgeous glassful to see in the New Year. €17.71 from Supervalu.