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Make holiday cocktails for a crowd

Caribbean Svarak

Growing up in Czechoslovakia, Mr Radim Ricky Englicky could enjoy oranges only during Christmas time.

Due to trade sanctions imposed on the former Soviet Union state, the fruit was available only in December and January.

Besides using oranges, the 35year-old bar manager of Bago at Lime House in Jiak Chuan Road has condensed his other festive traditions, such as chomping on Christmas cookies perfumed with cinnamon and vanilla, and drinking svarak (Czech mulled wine), into this punch.

For a Caribbean twist, he adds pineapple and grapefruit juices to mellow the spice-filled tipple.

For a festive feel, he throws in sprigs of rosemary which resemble pine needles.

The best part? "You can picture Christmas when you close your eyes and smell the cocktail."

INGREDIENTS

100g cinnamon sticks

300g white sugar

150ml water

200g pineapple, diced

6 cinnamon sticks

6 cloves

3 star anise

2 vanilla pods, halved

700ml gold rum

Two 750ml bottles shiraz cabernet

1 orange, peeled and thinly sliced

1 lemon, peeled and thinly sliced

Half an apple, thinly sliced

20g ginger, thinly sliced

3 rosemary sprigs

50g dried cranberries

300ml pineapple juice

500ml grapefruit juice

Rosemary sprigs, dehydrated orange slices, dried cranberries, orange and lemon slices to garnish

METHOD

1. In a pot set over medium heat, stir 100g cinnamon sticks and white sugar in the water until the sugar dissolves. Remove the cinnamon sticks and set the cinnamon syrup aside.

2. In an airtight container, infuse the diced pineapple, three cinnamon sticks, three cloves, one star anise and a halved vanilla pod in the gold rum. Set aside for a day in room temperature before removing the star anise and cloves. Continue to infuse the rum for at least one day. Set aside.

3. Set a pot over medium heat, add 200ml shiraz cabernet, half the cinnamon syrup, 100ml spice-infused rum, four strips of orange peel, four strips of lemon peel, sliced orange, lemon, apple and ginger, rosemary sprigs and dried cranberries, three cinnamon sticks, three cloves, two star anise and a halved vanilla pod and cook for 20 minutes. Stir contents continuously till mixture becomes a thick syrup.

4. Switch to low heat and add the rest of the shiraz cabernet, spice-infused rum and cinnamon syrup, rum-soaked pineapples cubes, pineapple juice and grapefruit juice and cook for 15 minutes. Set aside for five minutes then pour into a punch bowl. Refrigerate for two hours.

5. Garnish with rosemary sprigs, dehydrated orange slices, dried cranberries, orange and lemon slices.

Serves 10 to 15


Pink Coco Punch


PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

Mention Christmas drinks and velvety eggnog, a festive drink made with milk, cream, eggs and bourbon, invariably comes to mind.

For a booze-free version with a tropical twist, Mr Andrew Soh, 33, senior bartender of Phat Cat Laundry in Jiak Chuan Road, has the answer.

Inspired by the mocktail Virgin Pina Colada, which contains pineapple juice and coconut cream, he replaces the pineapple juice with guava juice.

"Like pineapple, guava has a tartness that cuts through the richness of coconut cream."

For the smooth foam, he uses egg whites. A fistful of mint leaves freshens up the mocktail. He adorns the snow-like foamy top with a drizzle of rainbow sprinkles.

INGREDIENTS

200ml water

200ml sugar

500ml coconut cream

600ml guava juice, store-bought

50ml lemon juice, freshly squeezed

50ml egg whites, from two eggs

30 to 40 mint leaves

KitKat chocolate bar and rainbow sprinkles to garnish

METHOD

1. In a pot, bring the water to a boil and dissolve the sugar in it. Set aside.

2. Pour coconut cream, guava juice, the sugar syrup from step 1, lemon juice, egg whites and mint leaves into a 1.5-litre Mason jar. Close the jar and shake it for 20 seconds.

3. Fill a punch bowl with ice and pour the mocktail into it.

4. Grate chocolate bar and drizzle rainbow sprinkles over the drink.

Serves 10


Caramel Toffee Apple Punch

Do not be deceived by its saccharine name. This cocktail punch is tangy and straddles sweet and sour flavours, says Ms Kino Soh, 29, owner of Highball in Kampong Bahru Road.

The punch is centred on the classic pairing of toffee and apple. For a potent base alcohol, she opts for Irish whisky as it has notes of green apple, vanilla and spices. To inject acidity, she stirs in yuzu and lemon juices. The finishing touch is soda, to freshen up the flavours.

INGREDIENTS

200ml Irish whisky

200ml sour apple liqueur

150ml caramel toffee liqueur

25ml unsweetened yuzu juice ( from Meidi-Ya Supermarket)

25ml lemon juice, freshly squeezed

330ml plain soda

3 cinnamon sticks, lemon slices and dehydrated apple slices for garnish

METHOD

1. Pour Irish whisky, sour apple liqueur, caramel toffee liqueur, yuzu juice and lemon juice into a punch bowl. Stir to mix.

2. Add ice and pour in the soda. Stir.

3. Garnish with cinnamon sticks, sliced lemon and dehydrated apples (to make them: place thinly sliced apple on a baking tray lined with a baking sheet. Bake for 12 hours at 60 deg C with the oven door slightly ajar).

Serves six to eight.

Watch Ms Kino Soh and Mr Andrew Soh make Christmas drinks. Go to http://str.sg/4AcX


Absinthe Remedy Punch

This punch pays homage to the 1920s Prohibition era in the United States, when alcohol was served on the sly in speakeasy bars. The cocktail, featuring the once-banned absinthe, is served at the End Of Prohibition Party thrown by New York bar, Employees Only, on Dec 5 every year.

Mr Steve Schneider, 32, partner and principal bartender of Employees Only Singapore in Amoy Street, says: "This punch captures the celebratory mood and thrill of drinking something that was once illegal."

He balances the herbal taste of absinthe with lime juice and sugar, and pops in strawberries and cucumber slices to accentuate the freshness and fruitiness. He tops it with champagne to add volume and a boozy kick, and grates nutmeg over the drink to add a touch of spice.

INGREDIENTS

240ml brown sugar

600ml water

120ml absinthe

240ml juice from eight to 10 limes

Six strawberries, quartered

Half a cucumber, thinly sliced

240ml champagne

1 nutmeg, grated to garnish

METHOD

1. In a pot set over low heat, stir brown sugar in the water until it completely dissolves. Turn off heat and set aside.

2. Pour absinthe, sugar solution and lime juice into a punch bowl, add strawberries and cucumber. Stir well.

3. Refrigerate the punch for three hours or overnight.

4. To serve, pour in champagne, add ice and stir well. Grate nutmeg to garnish. Serves eight


Regalo Punch

Christmas is not complete without receiving gifts. A memorable present that Mr Cedric Mendoza, 26, senior bartender of Manhattan Bar in Regent Singapore, has received is a bottle of Bacardi rum.

When he was 18, his uncles and father taught him to drink rum boilermaker style. It refers to alternating shots of rum or whisky with beer or iced lemon tea to douse the intense warm sensation gliding down one's throat.

This "beer and shot combo" inspired him to concoct the Regalo Punch. Regalo means gift in Spanish.

The base of the punch is eight- year-old rum that has been aged in oak barrels, which Mr Mendoza calls "an emblem of happiness".

He says: "The rum is smoky and has notes of cinnamon, star anise and vanilla that give a Christmas feel."

The sweetness in the punch is offset by the subtle bitterness of lager. Using beer is also a wallet-friendly way to inject fizz into the punch, compared with popping a bottle of champagne.

For a fruity flavour, he stirs in Earl Grey tea, which is scented with citrusy bergamot oil, and throws in some lemon slices.

INGREDIENTS

1 Earl Grey teabag

200ml hot water

200ml white sugar

200ml lemon juice, freshly squeezed

400ml Bacardi 8 Year Old rum

330ml beer, chilled

4 cinnamon sticks, 4 pieces of star anise and 6 slices of lemon to garnish

METHOD

1. In a teapot, steep an Earl Grey teabag in the hot water for five minutes. Remove the teabag and set tea aside.

2. In a punch bowl, add sugar, lemon juice and Earl Grey tea. Mix until sugar is completely dissolved.

3. Pour in rum and beer and stir before adding ice.

4. Garnish with cinnamon sticks, star anise and thinly sliced lemon.

Serves 10

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For more Swig stories, go to www.straitstimesfood.com.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 11, 2016, with the headline 'Christmas cheers'. Print Edition | Subscribe