Christmas in a Glass

It's cocktail making in our house. Maybe it's the best gift wrap for you, or something to do with charades. But once you've trialled competitive mixology as a Christmas Day pastime, it's going to become a schedule addition. And we've got the crowned head of cocktails, Rob Wood, to design your very first entry. 

Ingredients: Port (75cl, preferably tawny), mixed spices (from M&S), clementines or mandarins, two whole cloves, 500g sugar (light muscovado), champagne, a cafetière or muslin.

First, make mulled port :  1.  Empty a whole bottle of port into a saucepan and warm over a medium heat — the lighter profile of tawny port is best.  2.  Add a heaped tablespoon of mixed spice straight into the port. M&S's combination, which includes caraway, pimiento and dried orange provides the most flavour.  3 . Bring to the boil, then immediately turn off the heat.

First, make mulled port:
1. Empty a whole bottle of port into a saucepan and warm over a medium heat — the lighter profile of tawny port is best. 2. Add a heaped tablespoon of mixed spice straight into the port. M&S's combination, which includes caraway, pimiento and dried orange provides the most flavour. 3. Bring to the boil, then immediately turn off the heat.

4.  Stud two clementines (or mandarins) with between 10 and 12 whole cloves. The original recipe calls for Seville oranges but they're not in season until late Jan and the fruits suggested offer sweetness without bitterness.  5.  Add to the hot port for 15 mins (and set a timer — using small, dried herbs encourages a high infusion rate but can become too intense left unchecked).

4. Stud two clementines (or mandarins) with between 10 and 12 whole cloves. The original recipe calls for Seville oranges but they're not in season until late Jan and the fruits suggested offer sweetness without bitterness. 5. Add to the hot port for 15 mins (and set a timer — using small, dried herbs encourages a high infusion rate but can become too intense left unchecked).

6.  Turn the studded fruit every five minutes, ensuring the goodness from the whole of the clementines and all the cloves is allowed to infuse into the mixture.  7.  After 15 minutes, remove the fruits with a spoon, ensuring you allow the citrusy juice in the clementines to drain back into the liquid. [Tip: Add the soaked fruit to a bottle of gin for two days for the most festive G&T ever.]

6. Turn the studded fruit every five minutes, ensuring the goodness from the whole of the clementines and all the cloves is allowed to infuse into the mixture. 7. After 15 minutes, remove the fruits with a spoon, ensuring you allow the citrusy juice in the clementines to drain back into the liquid. [Tip: Add the soaked fruit to a bottle of gin for two days for the most festive G&T ever.]

8.  Gradually filter the mixture to separate it from the dried spices. An Aeropress, v60 or cafetière will all work well, as long as your equipment is properly cleaned before you begin. A muslin or tea strainer could also be the answer if you're lacking in coffee accoutrement. However you proceed, some patience is required at this stage.  9.  Return the filtered liquid to the pan and to a low heat.

8. Gradually filter the mixture to separate it from the dried spices. An Aeropress, v60 or cafetière will all work well, as long as your equipment is properly cleaned before you begin. A muslin or tea strainer could also be the answer if you're lacking in coffee accoutrement. However you proceed, some patience is required at this stage. 9. Return the filtered liquid to the pan and to a low heat.

10.  Stir the light muscovado into the hot port until it dissolves. White sugar is no substitute here, and would make the cocktail too sweet.  To construct your cocktail:   11.  Sieve some more mixed spices into a bowl.  12.  Spoon cold water over a flute, and blot to ensure your receptacle is damp rather than wet.  13 . Re-sieve the spice around the centre of the glass, avoiding the rim.

10. Stir the light muscovado into the hot port until it dissolves. White sugar is no substitute here, and would make the cocktail too sweet.
To construct your cocktail:
11. Sieve some more mixed spices into a bowl. 12. Spoon cold water over a flute, and blot to ensure your receptacle is damp rather than wet. 13. Re-sieve the spice around the centre of the glass, avoiding the rim.

As well as looking pretty and snowy, the extra spice around the glass is for additional aroma rather than consuming, hence the need to avoid the rim.  14.  Once your now mulled port has been allowed to cool, add a tablespoon to your flute.  15.  Finish by topping up with champagne, and toasting the Queen — your Royal Bishop is complete. And you've made enough mulled Port (seal in a bottle to keep), to get through multiple bottles of the sparkly stuff.

As well as looking pretty and snowy, the extra spice around the glass is for additional aroma rather than consuming, hence the need to avoid the rim. 14. Once your now mulled port has been allowed to cool, add a tablespoon to your flute. 15. Finish by topping up with champagne, and toasting the Queen — your Royal Bishop is complete. And you've made enough mulled Port (seal in a bottle to keep), to get through multiple bottles of the sparkly stuff.

Find Rob at Smultronstalle. Though full for 2016, follow his intimate ten-seater for cancellations, and the next reservation release in early Jan.

Photography by Tom Bird.