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Raise a toast to these 80s Christmas cocktails

Published: December 14, 2017

Christmas was simpler back in the 70s and 80s.

New tech was a ZX81 or a Sega, and the height of party sophistication was a cheddar cube and pickled onion hedgehog ensemble.

We didn’t call outrageously patterned tops Christmas jumpers, but simply fashion, and we liked our Christmas number ones to be tinsel-tastic and laden with sugar.

Slade’s Merry Christmas Everyone, Mud’s Lonely this Christmas, Shakin’ Steven’s Merry Christmas Everyone and Cliff Richard’s Mistletoe and Wine were normal fayre (though the juxtaposition of Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall and St Winifred’s School Choir’s There’s No-one Quite Like Grandma nestling side by side in the 1979 and 1980 top slots is a bit unnerving).

Advent calendars had proper pictures behind them, not chocolate, cheese or gin, and Morecambe and Wise were bright young things, not the nostalgic nod to Christmas past.

But retro is always waiting to be rediscovered; just saying the phrase ‘Luton Airport’ will have you gagging for a Campari, wheeling out the cocktail trolley and dusting off a jar of maraschino cherries.


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So which cocktails are worth revisiting?

The classic Snowball

Scoff all you like, but there’s a reason Advocaat still has a huge market, and that’s because it tastes of childhood in a glass, a decadent, creamy concoction that slips down oh so easily. If you’ve ever made an American soda float (vanilla ice cream and fizzy pop) but felt it needed a wee kick, the Snowball is the drink to do it. Offer it to your guests and watch them laugh at your suggestion, then drink it by the bucket load

The exotic European

There’s no room for Brexit in a glass, so let’s embrace our European cousins while we can. Oranges and lemons: for a flavour of blood oranges so intense you’ll feel like you’re in Sicily, add a drop of Solerno for a deep, rich resonance, or Cointreau, for a subtle French flavour. Limoncello may be languishing in a cupboard as a holiday impulse buy, but add it to ice, gin and lemon juice for a zingy and refreshing party piece.

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To make your heart fonder …

Finish off with an Absinthe cocktail. It’s been around for generations, but saw a bit of a revival around 20 years ago, particularly in the very cool bars of Prague. Try it with sugar and water, a classic, or mix it up with Solerno, Vermouth or gin.


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