You don’t need to be related to Tom Cruise or have a chemistry degree to make mouthwatering cocktails at home. With just a few super-simple steps it's so easy to put a fresh twist on a classic and create something filled to the brim with flair. All you need is a little slice of imagination with a too-right-i-can attitude and suddenly the world is your cocktail cabinet.


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Wintertime means cocktail time. The pool may be covered over and the parasols folded down, but you don’t have to tuck away the great drinks. It’s time to bring your cocktails inside and mix up a storm – and take a few mini-umbrellas with you.

As the wind lashes away and the snow tumbles, it’s still cool to cocktail. So chill out with the best winter cocktail recipes. You’ve got plenty of help from the conditions – a ready-to-use fridge freezer is just waiting in the wings. Leave a bottle of spirits in the great outdoors and let the temperature do its work.

Meanwhile, you can deliver a mountain of ice. Pour whisky and Drambuie over cubes for a whirl of flavour and colour that looks frozen in time. It’s the magical Rob Roy, partner to Jack Frost.

It’s good to go glacial, but there’s nothing like a winter warmer at this time. The Hot Toddy is Dickensian in spirit and twice as nice when cold, with whisky as the main spirit. Just add hot water, honey, lemon and a clove to create some Great Expectations around your cocktail skills.

With the pumpkin carving competition over, it’s now time to use the flesh. A Baileys Pumpkin Spice Latte is the most seasonal of serves, a veritable Oliver Twist on the drink that’s popular in so many good coffee houses.

Slow down with some excellent Sloe Gin cocktails. This seasonal fruit is the fast route to rich, dark fruit flavour with drinks like the Sloe Bramble – sloe gin plus lemon juice, sugar and crème de mure (blackberry syrup). It’s like jumping into an English hedgerow – without getting scratched or stung. You might find a few windfalls there too – bring them back because a Spiced Cider is one fine way to use the fruit. Mix with rum, bitters, star anise and a clove for a taste of the season.

As we’re moving into punch territory – spice, fruit and spirit brought together in perfect harmony – check out our Rum Punch. It’s the party piece that guests love – and looks even better for you because the bowl can be prepared ahead of time. Gather round your best serving vessel and let the ladle do the work.

Talking of which, it’s time to egg on your guests at Christmas parties with a selection of great Eggnog cocktails. They’ll have a cracking time with this delicious blend of rum, egg, cream and milk, also known as an egg or milk punch. Just lay out the ingredients, put up the bright flashing lights and get the terrible holiday music going. It’s what Christmas cocktails are made of – so long as the bad taste goes nowhere near the glass.

But just as Xmas cocktails come and go… the final celebration of the whole 12 months is upon us. The New Year means a new you, with a resolution to make better drinks. Serve up champagne on the 31st, or take it a step further by adding gin, lemon and sugar to the fizz. You’ll have a delicious French 75 cocktail, named after a World War I gun and ready to be fired out to assembled guests. End the New Year with a bang – and a whole range of great New Year’s Eve cocktails.

However, when the celebrations are done you don’t have to bring down the curtain on your cocktails. There’s lite at the end of the tunnel in January – with lo-cal and non-alcoholic drinks. As you remove the tinsel and switch off the lights, you can enjoy some major mocktail making. The bright and breezy Fresh Shirley Temple brings a touch of glamour to the gloom. Named after the Hollywood actress, it’s based on ginger ale and pomegranate juice for a suitably seasonal serve. Or you can add a flavour of Cuba with the Non Alcoholic Mojito. Mixing aromatic mint, lime and apple, it might be low in alcohol, but it’s full of flavour.

Or shake off the winter blues with some fantastic sport and synchronised shaking. You can watch the match accompanied by friends and a cocktail. Just like the Southern Passion, in fact, the perfect pairing for an emotion-packed game. Spice up the action with vanilla, cinnamon, clove and ginger ale. Turn your arm over in the kitchen just as a good goalkeeper or bowler is loosening theirs: make the most of the muddler and shake and strain into a glass.

Keep on mixing and make the most of the season – and don’t let the dropping temperatures cool your enthusiasm.

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