Cocktails at Hinky Dinks, Sydney, Australia

Christmas Cocktail Recipes and Tips From Sydney’s Best Bars

When we spent Christmas in Australia last year we shared some Christmas cooking and gift tips from Australia’s finest chefs. As we recently left Sydney, where we’d been researching Sydney’s small bar scene, among other things, we thought we’d share some Christmas cocktail recipes and tips from Sydney’s best bars.

We hoped it might make your holiday entertaining a whole lot easier and a lot more fun if you had some fabulous cocktail ideas from a city with one of the most exciting small bar scenes we’ve explored in a long time.

Now to decide what we’re going to be mixing here in Hanoi, where we’re spending Christmas this year.

Christmas cocktail recipes & tips from Sydney’s best bars

HINKY DINKS, SYDNEY

JEREMY SHIPLEY, OWNER & BACARDI BRAND AMBASSADOR

Q. What cocktails will you be making on Christmas Day?

A. I’m having Christmas at my place this year, so I’ll be serving some simple, seasonal cocktails for the family. As peaches are wonderful this time of the year, you can’t go past a traditional fresh Peach Bellini. I’ll also be creating an Elderflower Collins, which is a refreshing twist on the Tom Collins, and for the rum drinkers (me) a Dark n Stormy. I’ll probably finish with spiced espresso martinis for that late afternoon pick me up or a simple shot of Amaro over ice. (Recipes below).

Q. What nibbles or snacks will you serve with those?

A. Once again I’m sticking with seasonal fresh ingredients. You can’t go past spicy BBQ prawns or the good old prawn cocktail. I also recommend fresh melon balls wrapped in prosciutto and when it come to the Christmas ham, having a sticky, spiced glaze ham with chutneys on the side is a great dish to serve with citrus based cocktails.

Q. Advice for people panicking about what drinks to serve guests?

A. Cocktails can be a wonderful addition to any occasion, especially Christmas Day, but with all that’s going on, you don’t want to be freaking out about serving up drinks when keeping an eye on everything else. My advice: keep it simple. Don’t over commit. Just pick one or two of your favourite cocktails. But remember, being summer, keep the drinks nice and fresh. Tall ‘booze and juice’ type drinks are a good way to go if you have had no cocktail making experience as these can sometime be made in advance and when your guests arrive, you can just add ice. Also, a big punch is a wonderful way to serve cocktails to guests. Super easy and your guests can help themselves.

Q. Tips to save the day if it all goes wrong?

A. First tip: have enough ice. Nothing worse than running out of ice! Keep a couple of bags in an esky somewhere. Also, follow the cocktail recipes. Don’t get heavy handed on the booze, as a measured out drink is a great tasking drink. Trust me, your guests will love a well balanced cocktail. And if it all goes horribly wrong, always have extra wine, beer and basic mixers on hand in case, plus a few lemon and limes. One last tip: never let children make martinis! They always use too much vermouth. A great Dean Martin quote! Haha!

Q. Last minute gift ideas for cocktail lovers or the home bar?

A. You can’t go wrong with a citrus hand squeezer. These are great for squeezing fresh citrus for cocktails, plus it’s brilliant for cooking, especially when squeezing fresh lime or lemon over seafood on a BBQ.

Q. Christmas at home or away?

A. I’m having my family to our place this Christmas. It’s the first time in a really long time that the clan will be sharing Christmas at our place, so I want to make it a really memorable experience with food and booze. Serving cocktails at home can be a real wow factor for most people, but my family now kind of expect it considering I work with booze every day!!

HINKY DINKS

DANIEL KNIGHT, OWNER

Q. What cocktails will you be making Christmas Day?

A. I always make Clover Clubs on Xmas day. They are classic refreshing concoctions that look festive and quickly and effectively dull the pain!

Q. What nibbles do you recommend serving with those?

A. I like to serve them with a canapé of kingfish ceviche on a corn chip with avocado salsa.

Q. Advice for people panicking about what drinks to serve guests?

A. Don’t panic! In a pinch you can always make a margarita with a bottle of tequila, some limes and some sugar.

Q. Tip to save the day if it all goes wrong?

A. Always keep at least three bottles of good champagne in the fridge and you will always have a safety zone!

Q. Last minute gift ideas for cocktail lovers or the home bar?

A. Try to get your hands on an original copy of Jerry Thomas’ 1862 How to Mix Drinks. (Also see The Bartender’s Guide: How to Mix Drinks or A Bon Vivant’s Companion.)

Q. Christmas at home or away?

A. Normally we have Christmas on my family farm, but my sister will be in Uganda this Christmas living out her lifelong dream of seeing gorillas in the wild, so I will be having a Christmas breakfast with my family and Christmas lunch with my girlfriend’s family here in Sydney.
(Also check out Daniel’s Local Guide to the Sydney Small Bar Scene.)

THE BAXTER INN, SYDNEY

DAVE ‘RIZZA’ ROZARIO, BAR MANAGER

Q. What cocktails will you be making on Christmas Day?

A. The best drink for me on a summer’s day is always a Rum Punch. They’re fairly easy to make, and you can make them in batches so you can spend less time making drinks and more time drinking them. (Recipe below).

Q. What nibbles or snacks will you match with that?

A. Cold sausage sandwiches and cold cooked prawns.

Q. Advice for people panicking about what drinks to serve guests?

A. Keep it simple. Save the kumquat-infused vodka martinis for another time.

Q. Tip to save the day if it all goes wrong?

A. Always have some spare cold beer and wine on hand in case things turn pear-shaped.

Q. Last minute gift ideas for cocktail lovers or the home bar?

A. See www.bargeek.com.au as it has the most practical and affordable cocktail equipment out there. Pretty much everyone in the industry uses it.

Q. Christmas at home or away?

Being nocturnal means I don’t get to see family very much, so it’s back home for me.

SHADY PINES SALOON, SYDNEY

PASAN WIJESENA, GENERAL MANAGER

Q. What cocktail will you make on Christmas Day?

A. Five Gallon Punch. It’s not too strong, not too sweet, and very refreshing. It’s boozy enough to remind you to go easy, and in the end it will dilute as the ice melts if you forget to go easy! (Recipe below).

Q. What snacks go with that?

A. A big tray of cold cooked prawns and dipping sauce – it’s Christmas after all!

Q. Advice for people panicking about what drinks to serve?

A. Keep it simple. The last thing you want to do is to be running around worrying about drinks. It’s your day too, so relax and enjoy it too!  If you’re intent on serving cocktails, keep it simple: three to four ingredients max! Don’t worry about syrups or infusions. You just want to be able to top it up easily if it’s running out. And don’t worry about having the right glass. A plastic cup full of ice will do!

Q. Tip to save the day if it all goes wrong?

A. A bit of prep always helps. Make a little extra juice and have a few bottles of extra grog stashed away so you can top up your punch as needed. I’m pretty sure that after 15 litres of punch, your guests won’t really care about what they are drinking! Have some beer or cider on hand, and your favourite white wine on ice, and you won’t have a care in the world.

Q. Last minute gift ideas for cocktail lovers or the home bar?

A. The PDT Cocktail Book* by Jim Meehan is a must have for any cocktail geek. Or a cool Tiki Mug. You can never have too many of those.

Q. Christmas at home or away?

A. Thankfully at home this year, with no need to drive anywhere!
(*Read about PDT and New York’s speakeasies here.)

LONGRAIN, SYDNEY & MELBOURNE

KOSTA, BAR AND RESTAURANT MANAGER

Q. What cocktails will you be making Christmas Day?

A. A refreshing cocktail for our summery climate — a Ping Pong, made from lemon vodka, lychee liqueur, fresh lychees, fresh passionfruit, with a squeeze of lime juice. (Recipe below).

Q. Nibbles to go with that?

A. The lychees in the cocktails, plus prawn crackers work well.

Q. Advice for people panicking about what drinks to serve?

A. Don’t over complicate things. Pick a red and white wine, good local sparkling, and if you decide to go with a cocktail, choose one that has seasonal fruit.

Q. Tip to save the day if it all goes wrong?

A. Make sure you have plenty of ice in the freezer.

Q. Last minute gift ideas for cocktail lovers or the home bar?

A. You can’t go wrong with a premium quality bottle of vodka or gin.

Q. Christmas at home or away?

A. I have 12 people coming to my place for lunch!

CHRISTMAS COCKTAIL RECIPES

HINKY DINKS

Courtesy of Jeremy…

PEACH BELIINI

2 ripe peaches, seeded and diced
15ml fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon caster sugar
1 bottle chilled Brown Brothers Prosecco
Method: Place the peaches, lemon juice, and caster sugar in a food processor and blend until smooth. Press the mixture through a sieve and discard the peach solids in the sieve. Place 45ml of the peach puree into a Champagne flute and slowly top with cold prosecco. Serve immediately.

ELDERFLOWER COLLINS

45ml Bombay Sapphire
15ml St Germain Elderflower liqueur
30ml fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoon caster sugar
3-4 drops peach bitters
Soda water
Method: Place first four ingredients into a tall glass, stir and fill with cubed ice. Top with soda and stir. Garnish with lemon slice or wedge and stir.

DARK ‘N STORMY

45ml Bacardi 8 year rum
4 lime wedges (squeezed and dropped into glass)
3-4 drops Angostura bitters
Ginger beer
Method: Place the first three ingredients into a tall glass, stir and fill with cubed ice. Top with ginger beer and stir. Garnish with one lime wedge.

XMAS PUNCH

To serve, you’ll need a 5-7 litre punch bowl.
1 bottle Bacardi 8
500ml St. Germain elderflower liqueur
2-3 lemons thinly sliced
1 cup sliced strawberries
250ml fresh lemon juice
1 cup packed light brown sugar
½ pineapple chopped into small chunks
800ml cooled jasmine green tea
3 bottles brut sparkling wine OR chilled soda water (about 2.8 litres)
Method: In two medium plastic containers add water with some cut up lemons and strawberries. These will be used as ice blocks. Make sure this is done the night before. Mix all ingredients except sparkling wine or soda in a punch bowl and chill. Add wine or soda and large ice blocks just before serving.

Courtesy of Daniel…

CLOVER CLUB

45ml quality gin
20ml fresh lemon juice
1 heaped teaspoon of fresh raspberries
20ml sugar syrup
A dash of egg white
Method: shake and strain into a wine glass full of ice and garnish with a mint leaf.

THE BAXTER INN

RUM PUNCH

2 parts Rum
3 parts juice
2 parts soda
1 part lime juice
0.5 part sugar
A couple of dashes of bitters to taste
Method: Mix it all together. If the punch is too sour, add more sugar. If it’s too sweet, add more lime juice.
Additional tips from Dave: Avoid dark rums if you can; white or gold rums are more likely to please the masses. For juice, my fave is pure brekky juice from the supermarket, but any mix of orange, pineapple, cranberry, or apple will work. You can replace the soda with lemonade or ginger ale. Dilute the sugar in some hot water before adding it.

SHADY PINES SALOON

FIVE GALLON PUNCH

You will need a 15-20 litre igloo cooler*
1.5 litres of fresh, strained lemon juice
Add 6 cups of super fine sugar, and stir till dissolved
4 bottles of cognac
3 bottles of dark full bodied rum
6-7 litres of water to top up
Method: Mix it all together and grate one whole nutmeg on top and fill the rest of the cooler with ice. Give it a good stir and pop the top on. At this point it is customary to name the punch after some local geographic location.
Additional tips from Pasan: For the juice, get your kids or annoying younger sibling to juice them lemons; it makes them feel like they are helping and helps you keep your manicure looking good. The cognac doesn’t need to be fancy, just a standard vs cognac will do. For the dark full bodied rum, pussers or goslings are my favourites.
* An igloo cooler is the thing you got fake orange juice out of at school sports carnivals (a reference only Aussies might get, so for everyone else, click here. It doesn’t look that classy but it keeps it cold and keeps the flies out!

LONGRAIN BAR

Ping Pong

You will need a cocktail shaker and a classic tumbler, i.e. the ‘old fashioned’ short glass.
3 fresh lychees, peeled & deseeded
30ml passionfruit pulp
1 teaspoon caster sugar
15ml sugar syrup
Juice of 1 lime wedge
45ml lemon vodka
15ml lychee liqueur
Ice
Method: Muddle the lychees, passionfruit and sugar in a cocktail shaker. Add ice, lime wedge, sugar syrup and spirits. Shake vigorously and pour into a tumbler.

Got any Christmas cocktail recipes you’d love to share? Feel free to leave the recipe or link to a recipe in the comments below.

UPDATED: December 2015



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