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."
100g cinnamon sticks
300g white sugar
200g pineapple, diced
6 cinnamon sticks
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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).
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.
240ml brown sugar
240ml juice from eight to 10 limes
Six strawberries, quartered
Half a cucumber, thinly sliced
1 nutmeg, grated to garnish
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
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.
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
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.
•Swig is a new weekly page dedicated to all drinks distilled, brewed, fermented and aged.
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