Category Archives: winter drinks

Spiced Agave Old Fashioned



This is such a modern version of an Old Fashioned that it should probably have another name, but apart from that I can’t fault it. And, like a traditional Old Fashioned, it lends itself to lots of variations. Use reposado (aged for at least two months) or añejo (aged for at least 12 months) tequila and you’ll get a light, flavoursome cocktail that conjures up images of autumn bonfires at sunset; there’s a bit of baking spice in there, some smokiness, and a sweetness that verges on burnt caramel but is balanced out by earthy overtones. Use whisky instead of tequila for a more straightforward, wintery drink, or go with rye whisky for a gingerbready flavour hit that’ll become your new go-to drink before you’ve got halfway through it.


60ml tequila, whisky or rye whisky

10ml spiced agave syrup (recipe follows)

2 dashes Angostura bitters

orange peel twist, to garnish (optional)

cinnamon stick, to garnish (optional)


Old-fashioned or tumbler


First, make the spiced agave syrup (recipe below).

Next, measure 10ml spiced agave syrup into a heatproof cup. Add about 10-20ml boiling water and stir to dissolve the syrup. You’re doing this because agave syrup tends to form a clump and not mix well when you add it to ice and spirits; but if you dilute it just a bit, it works fine. Wait for it to cool a bit before using it in the cocktail – otherwise it’ll just melt the ice.

Add the cooled and dissolved syrup, spirit of choice and bitters to a mixing glass that’s half-full of ice. Stir well, then strain into an old-fashioned glass that’s half-full of ice. Garnish with the orange peel twist and cinnamon stick, if desired.


200ml agave syrup (there are two kinds available, light and dark. I used light. According to the label on the bottle, the dark kind has a ‘wilder, earthier’ flavour.)

2 cinnamon quills

2 star anise

pinch of freshly ground white pepper


Place all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Infuse for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick. Allow to cool, then remove star anise and cinnamon and pour into a sterilised glass jar or bottle. According to the recipe book, it should keep in the fridge for about two weeks, but I’ve kept mine in the pantry for about that long with no problems. I also left the cinnamon sticks in the jar, in the hope they’d balance out the slightly-too-strong star anise flavour – which they did.


Both these recipes are in a little booklet called Simply Perfect Cocktails by Gee David. I’m not sure if it’s available for sale, sorry – my copy was included as a freebie as part of an order of spirits and syrups from Barware.


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Mulled Cider


When it’s so cold that you can chill your cocktails by placing them outside for a split second, but you’re reluctant to make mulled wine because it seems like such a tired cliche, either get the hell over yourself or make mulled cider instead. This recipe makes enough to serve two cold, thirsty humans.


1 can cider (we used Monteith’s)

1/2 can ginger ale

1/2 orange (prick the peel with a fork or the tip of a sharp knife to help release its flavour)

1 lemon wedge (likewise)

4 cloves

1 cardamom pod, crushed

1 teaspoon good-quality ground cinnamon (we used one from Gewurzhaus)

Dark rum (we used Sailor Jerry’s spiced rum)


Insulated glass (eg a double-walled glass) or regular glass tea cup


Add everything except the rum to a saucepan and bring to the boil. Turn off the heat. Slosh some rum into the glass (15-30ml, depending on your taste), then strain some cider over the top. Garnish with an orange slice.


Autumn in a glass –  the aroma of baking spices and apple strudel hits you as the steam rises towards your face, and then you’re a kid in grandma’s kitchen all over again as you take that first sip (although if grandma was serving you alcoholic mulled cider when you were still in nappies, she should possibly be in jail).


This one’s adapted from The Londoner – the original recipe is here.



Mulled cider is great for a winter party, as it means you don’t get stuck making individual cocktails all night. As per The Londoner’s suggestion, we made a big batch using Old Rosie cider, and found that it required quite a lot of honey or brown sugar (or both, we’re not fussy) to sweeten it up. This is because Old Rosie is more like a sour-ish, flat scrumpy than a sweet, bubbly cider. Cider purists will hate us for this but we preferred the recipe we made with Monteith’s. If you have a sweet tooth, you probably will, too. Oh, and yes, we know this is not actually a cocktail recipe, and frankly, we don’t care.

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