See in 2014 with these lovely libations…

久留米市民(Kurume-Shimin) / Foter.com / CC BY-SA

If you’re looking for a few ways to dazzle your guests this New Year’s Eve then you’d better get cracking with a few of these cocktails, guaranteed to put a smile on everyone’s face. From the strong and the punchy, to the spicy and the sweet, there really is something to match everyone’s tastes.

Glühwein
The origins of this traditional winter beverage date as far back as 500BC when spices were used for medicinal purposes and often added to wine to help aid good health in the coldest months. Simple to prepare and very tasty, glühwein, roughly translated from German to mean ‘glow wine’, is the perfect drink with which to welcome your guests in from the cold. Made using red wine, vodka and a selection of aromatic spices, this cocktail is a winter classic, and guaranteed to warm even the frostiest cockles.

Ingredients
2 bottles red wine
100ml vodka
500ml orange juice
Juice of 1 lemon
6 cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
150g granulated brown sugar
A slice of freshly cut orange per serving
(Serves 10-12)

Method
In a large pan, heat the wine, spices and lemon juice on a low temperature, stirring until the mixture is hot, but not boiling. Slowly add half the sugar and the orange juice and continue to heat gently for a few more minutes. When the sugar has fully dissolved in the hot liquid, take the pan off the heat and stir in the vodka. At this point you can stir in the remaining sugar, adding more to sweeten if you like. Leave the spices to infuse in the liquid for around five minutes while you decorate each glass with a slice of orange.

Spiced Pear Bellini
Invented in Venice in the mid 20th Century, this sweet and fizzy cocktail traditionally made with white peach purée and Prosecco is now commonly served in restaurants as an apéritif. Altered slightly to fit with the season, this spiced pear version is a fun and sophisticated pre-dinner drink, and sure to raise a giggle or two among your guests.

Ingredients
1 bottle sparkling wine (Prosecco, or Champagne if you’re feeling really extravagant)
2 ripe and juicy pears (peeled diced and puréed)
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ star anise
1 allspice berry
1 cinnamon stick
1 clove
50ml water
2 tbsp caster sugar
(Serves 8-10)

Method
To make the syrup, place all of the spices, water and sugar in a small pan and bring to a simmer, then remove from the heat and leave to cool for a few minutes before straining into a bowl. To make the purée, blend the pears and lemon juice in a food processor until smooth, and press through a sieve to remove any lumps. Next, mix the purée and syrup together and spoon into the bottom of pre-chilled Champagne flutes. To finish fill each glass with chilled sparkling wine, and stir gently with a spoon before serving.

Hot Buttered Rum
If you’re looking for something truly indulgent then this buttery rum-based cocktail is for you. Originating in the colonies of 17th-Century New England, this hot toddy of sorts was used by many as an energy booster and substitute for food when supplies were at their lowest. Loaded with sugar, spice and all things nice, this winter warmer is the perfect drink to serve at the table after a cosy fireside dinner with friends. Serve in a tall tumbler with a sprinkling of nutmeg to finish, and warm your hands around this sweet and creamy delight.

Ingredients
500-600ml dark rum
300g soft dark sugar
125g softened butter
2 tbsp clear honey
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground allspice
12 whole cloves
(Serves 10-12)

Method
Mix the honey, butter and sugar in a bowl with the nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice until all the ingredients are well combined then leave to one side until ready to serve. Next, measure a teaspoon of the mixture into each glass and top with up to 50ml of rum. Fill each glass with very hot, but not boiling water, and thoroughly stir.

Whiskey Sour
Evolving from the 18th-Century practice of adding lime juice to rum in order to prevent the development of scurvy aboard ships, this whiskey-based cocktail is a timeless classic and a popular choice for celebrations all year round. Traditionally made with bourbon, lemon juice, bitters and sugar, this sweet and sour drink packs a mighty punch and makes a perfect pick-me-up for the end of the night. Serve after midnight to revive your guests, and continue to celebrate through the night.

Ingredients (per serving)
40ml Bourbon
40ml lemon juice
20ml sugar syrup
1 whole maraschino cherry

Method
Place all of the ingredients in a cocktail shaker half filled with ice, and shake. Strain into a short, ice-cold tumbler and garnish with a sweet maraschino cherry to finish. Cheers!

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