Seven Things to Have in Your Bar for Winter Entertaining

Emulate the professionals and stock up your home bar.

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home-bar

Emulate the professionals and stock up your home bar.

© Shutterstock

A new year is a good time to give traditional drinks like sherry and port a new lease of life, using them in ways that might surprise your granny. This is a good time to try something new and there are plenty of things out there to appeal and inspire inventive mixing. Keep things simple if you’re making drinks for a gathering to avoid unnecessary stress and remember the rule that a small glass of something lovely to sip is a perfect pick-me-up for you or any unexpected guests.

Garden Swift Gin

The range of gins available these days can be overwhelming, but this really stands out from the crowd. Made in the Cotswolds with 34 different botanicals and aged in barrels used to make the famous Tokaji sweet wine, it’s scented with orange, jasmine, cumin and more. Use it for a very classy G&T (but be careful not to drown it out with too much tonic), mix it with extra-dry vermouth to make a wonderfully complex Martini, or just sip it by itself over a little ice.  

Website: The Sourcing Table

Garden Swift Gin

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The Aperitivo Co. Orange Triple Sec

Sweet but with a pleasingly bitter backbone, this orange liqueur is lovely just sipped by itself with a sweet pastry, and it’s amazing stirred into a hot chocolate for a teatime treat. Or try it in a wintery, warm Cosmopolitan cocktail: for each person, gently heat 25ml vodka, 25ml Triple Sec, 150ml cranberry juice and a teaspoon of lime juice in a small pan over a low heat. Serve in heatproof glasses garnished with a twist of orange and/or a sprinkle of cinnamon. 

Website: The Whiskey Exchange

The Aperitivo Co. Orange Triple Sec 

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Amaro Mondino

Amaros is from the family that includes Campari and Aperol, those classic Italian bitter drinks that we love so much. This, made in the Bavarian Alps, is lighter than Campari and less sweet than Aperol and has its own distinctive character. With notes of rhubarb, orange blossom, hibiscus and gentian, it’s great with tonic or soda as a refreshing aperitif, used instead of Campari to make a lighter Negroni, or in place of Aperol for a spritz with a twist.

Website: Home Tipple

Amaro Mondino

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Kopke 10 Years Old Tawny Port 27.10 Amazon

Just because Christmas is over doesn't mean you have to stop drinking port. Vintage and Late Bottle Vintage ports carry robust tannins that can clash with cheese, but tawnies are aged for much longer in the barrel so are nuttier and more mellow and make a much better match. Tawny port is versatile for other things, too; use it in place of sweet vermouth in cocktails such as an Old Fashioned, or serve in small glasses with any leftover Christmas cake or stollen.

Website: Amazon

Kopke 10 Years Old Tawny Port

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Lustau Los Arcos Amontillado

While there’s a lot to be said for a cream sherry on hand at Christmas to offer your granny or sweet-toothed friends, January calls for a good amontillado with greater depth and complexity. Its undertones of leather, nuts and spice that will appeal to those with a more savoury palate. Serve chilled as an aperitif with nuts and other nibbles or save it for the cheeseboard where it’s a fantastic match for hard cheeses. It also makes a lovely alternative to a G&T mixed with a light tonic water and garnished with a slice of orange.

Website: Amazon

Maison Sassy Calvados Fine

Calvados is brandy distilled from apples rather than grapes and comes from the cider-making region of Normandy in France. It has all the heady warmth and captivating complexities of Cognac and other brandies, along with a gorgeous baked-apple fruitiness. Sip this slowly and contemplatively with a good book and/or a ripe soft cheese such as Camembert or pour it over apple (or lemon) sorbet to make a palate-cleansing trou normand. 

Website: Majestic

Maison Sassy Calvados Fine

 Maison Sassy Calvados Fine

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Aluna Coconut Coffee Liqueur

Wonderfully luscious coffee liqueur laced with rum, coconut, cacao and cardamom. Use it to make a killer Espresso Martini, add a dash to perk up coffee after a lazy brunch, slosh it over ice cream for an instant but decadent dessert, or drink it chilled by itself after dinner. 

Website: Master of Malt

Aluna Coffee Liqueur

Aluna Coffee Liqueur

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