Treat yourself: delicious Christmas drinks that are much too good to share

Victoria Moore's special drinks choices
Take a leaf out of Kingsley Amis's book: don't neglect yourself while being nice to others

Festive drinking needs to be properly organised. Christmas is a time of goodwill to all men and, as Kingsley Amis wrote in Everyday Drinking, “To get myself into any kind of shape for being nice to others, I’ll have to take a lot of care of myself – and nowhere more devotedly than in the sphere of drink.” 

At this stage I’m guessing you will have laid in the basic supplies and constructed some sort of drinking plan (booze for Christmas and Boxing Day, wine for friends who drop in, anaesthetising quantities of tricky relatives’ favourite tipples, and so on). However, it is very important not to be too sensible. The common trap is to worry only about quantity and stock up on large amounts of reasonable-tasting, reasonably priced booze. Now you have got that out of the way, it’s time to buy yourself a few Christmas drink presents – the glittering bottles you’ll be glinty-eyed about opening. No one wants to get to Christmas Eve and find there is only sensible wine in the house. There must also be wines (and spirits) you might not necessarily want to share, or at least not with too many others, and these should either be extravagant, preposterous, or the ludicrously hard-to-get-hold-of ingredients for extremely strong festive cocktails.

Example. A friend emailed last week to say she had drunk meursault for the first time after her boss ordered it at an expenses-paid work dinner – “IT WAS AMAZING” (her caps) – and immediately clicked and shopped for two bottles at £38 each to drink over Christmas. “The most expensive wine I have ever bought in my life by MILES.” That’s the spirit.

Venture away from your go-to drinks and find something that excites you this Christmas Credit: Alamy

If you are in the mood for a similar splurge, may I remind you about the heavenly Domaine Font de Michelle Châteauneuf du Pape 2013 (Tanners Wine Merchants, £27.50) featured in my Best 50 Wines for Christmas ( If the mention of Meursault has you salivating at the thought of broad, nutty chardonnay… well, I had two gorgeous meursaults up my sleeve, both recently tasted, but they have sold out already. One was Rémi Jobard’s ’09 Chevalières from Lea & Sandeman, which stock several other wines from this excellent producer, though I can’t pretend to have tasted them recently. Alternatively, if you’re in London, pop into Fortnum’s for Jacques Carillon Puligny-Montrachet 2013 France (£49.50), or into Berry Bros & Rudd for its excellent own-label chassagne montrachet 2013 made by Jean-Claude Bachelet (£29.95). Elsewhere, slip into your best local wine merchant and have a ferret around.

There should also be ingredients for a stiff festive cocktail in the house. I recently tried Hennessy’s version of the Brandy Crusta (the original cocktail was invented in New Orleans in 1852). Here is how you make a Hennessy Crusta: Take 45ml Hennessy Fine de Cognac; three dashes Peychaud’s Bitters; 20ml fresh lemon juice; 5ml Luxardo Maraschino Original Liqueur; 5ml simple (sugar) syrup; 20ml orange liqueur (you can use Cointreau). Shake with ice and serve on ice in a narrow wine glass. Garnish with a twist of lemon peel.

Celia Imre sips Brandy Crustas at Newbury Racecourse Credit: Jay Williams

I tasted it at Newbury racecourse, where I spotted a sparkly-eyed Celia Imrie, Racing Post tucked under her arm, sipping at one in between dashes down to the paddock to check out the horses. Or maybe the jockeys.

It is also recommended that your freezer contains a bottle of half-decent vodka. Smoked salmon sometimes requires it. Neat. And being trapped indoors for several days with misbehaving relatives sometimes requires a stiff gin martini or vodkatini. I last resorted to neat vodka the Christmas Eve my parents got tipsy and admitted they had been applying their family tree research skills to an investigation of my social life. If MI6 needs any backroom operatives, I can offer a very good reference. Try the Botanist (see right for details) for gin and the Russian Standard (around £18, Waitrose and also widely available) or the cleaner, tighter, Belvedere (around £30, Waitrose and also widely available) for vodka. Don’t forget the vermouth.

Finally, there will be at least one moment over the next couple of weeks when you are rummaging around looking for something strong (and perhaps also sweet) that you would never, ever normally drink. It might be Bailey’s. It might be the new salted caramel versions of Irish cream liqueur. It might be a really good calvados. It might be a strangely delicious amaretto liqueur. Feel free to allow your bad taste to run riot here, you will not regret it. I also have three suggestions for brilliant bottles on the right.

Victoria's suggestions...

Lazzaroni Amaretto Liqueur  (24%, M&S, £15 for 500ml)

Forget all those Amaretto di Saronno  hangovers. This is different. And it is mind-bendingly good. Made using real Amaretti di Chiostro biscuits, which are ground into pieces and then soaked in alcohol, it really does taste exactly like the soft, almondy middles of those biscuits – plus booze. Unexpected heaven.

The Botanist Islay Dry Gin  (46%, around £34.99, Fortnum & Mason, Fenwick; find more stockists up and down the country on the map at

An excellent dry gin made at the Bruichladdich distillery in the wilderness of the Hebridean whisky island of Islay using locally foraged botanicals. Strikes a beautiful balance between subtle florality and junipery-piny power. Understated, but absolutely not shy, it’s one of the rare gins that is good in both G&T and as a martini.

Dupont Calvados Pays d’Auge (40%, selected M&S stores, £26 for 350ml)

This small package contains a glorious, finessed calvados. I always forget how much I love the smell of baked apples and brandy until a bottle like this is opened. Pure pleasure. Put one under the tree for yourself and drink on Christmas Eve.