No matter how meticulous the planning and preparation that’s gone into your festive drinks list, chances are something’s going to be left to chance.
Whether it’s a merry mishap, an overzealous cocktail hound or sparkle without the chill factor, here are eight liquid lifesavers to help you put the pizzazz into your pours, and avoid any hiccups.
1. Play with festive tweaks
“Festive twists are fun at Christmas,” says Tipplesworth founder Lady Tipplesworth. Swap gin for sloe gin in a Negroni and add some cloves to your orange garnish to transform a classic. Or give your Old Fashioned a winter makeover by switching sugar syrup to maple syrup.
2. Stick to measures
Keeping the balance right and using a measure is key to a tasty cocktail – don’t start sloshing in any old amount just because it’s Christmas. Once the basics are covered, you can tweak the recipe as you taste.
3. Use a jar if you don’t have a shaker
Misplaced your cocktail shaker? Fear not, even the humble jam jar can act as a vessel for shaking. Cocktails are meant to be jolly and messy, so don’t feel left out if you don’t have fancy barware.
4. Buy truckloads of ice
You can never have too much ice. Fill the bath with bags of it and you’ll be able to keep all your wine and beers perfectly chilled, along with that magnum that won’t fit in the fridge. Got a cooler box? Fill that up too.
5. Avoid prosecco frothing over the glass
Make sure your festive fizz doesn’t go to waste. According to a survey by Asda, more than 40% of us will spill our favourite bubbles when pouring and waste half a glass of prosecco for every bottle.
To perfect your prosecco pour, hold the bottle at a 45 degree angle when you open it, keep your thumb on the top of the cork so it doesn’t fly out and overflow, and hold the glass at 45 degrees too and slowly pour the liquid down the interior side.
6. For the perfect pop, chill the bottle
It may sound mad, but the formula for the perfect pop is all about the temperature. To help achieve the right ring when you pop the cork, Dr Eugenia Cheng, of Sheffield University, says the bubbles must be chilled to 6.7 degrees C, which means putting the bottle in an ice bucket for 40 minutes when you take it out of the fridge, before drinking.
7. To chill a bottle quickly, add salt
If you need to fast track chilling a bottle, Alexandra Runciman, wine expert at Tesco, suggests adding salt to your ice bucket – the salt speeds up the chilling time and if you keep moving the bottle every few minutes, the wine inside will be evenly cooled.
8. Swap your wine decanter for a coffee filter
Sometimes an aged red wine needs to be decanted, especially if there’s a risk of getting sediment in your glass, or bits of cork. Alexandra says a coffee filter will do quite nicely. Pour the wine through the filter and not only will it catch all those bits, but it also helps aerate the wine so you have the best tasting glass possible.