The annual Spirit of Christmas Fair was again, packed to the hilt with sparkles and christmassy wonderfulness – it is the ultimate destination for Christmas inspiration, with exhibitors displaying everything you can imagine, from Christmas trees, baubles, candles and other homeware, to gingerbread houses, food and drink and those finishing touches that really make Christmas go off with a magical bang.
This year at the fair, the goddess of Christmas, Sophie Conran, talked about how to prepare for the perfect Christmas party. This included everything from the placement of your scented candles through to whipping up some rockin cocktails…
Sophie talked us through a few of her favourite Christmas cocktails and we kicked off with her husband’s favourite – a Dirty Martini.
“I love the whole theatre of it, it feels really nice and it’s amazing how the cocktail shaker changes” (when it gets cold)
She recommends having this cocktail with a piece of Black Cow cheese – delicious with the Dirty Martini.
She then went on to demonstrate a Pomegranate Moscow Mule (delicious!) and the perfect Gin and Tonic. Sophie is a huge fan of Monkey 47 Gin, which its name from the year its maker retired, and the 47 Black Forest and Asia botanicals it’s made from. In 1947 Commander Montgomery Colins was posted to Germany with the air force when he retired he decided to settle in the Black Forest region. Although living in Germany he stilled missed all things English – especially gin – so he decided to make his own! Don’t blame him.
Sophie then went on to give us lots of ideas on vodka infusions – she recommends using kilner jars for this.
Lemon & lime – 2 strips of lemon peel, 1 of lime in the fridge overnight then take the rind out (leave in longer if necessary – this one is to taste)
Earl Grey – leave 1 teabag in your vodka overnight
Chocolate nibs (the best) infuse till chocolatey! (yum)
Chili – she leaves extra chillies on her Aga to dry out and normally crushes them for chilli flakes OR you can stick 3 in the vodka for infusing – good for a bloody mary.
Sophie is an avid list maker (I relate) and she makes lists for every aspect of Christmas – she plans every meal – “I do these with my Mum, I enjoy the planning nearly as much as the day”– her decorations – “We go for walks and gather berries and leaves to decorate the table” – and even what she will end in the spare bedrooms for when her Christmas guests (not Santa) come to stay…. these include fresh flowers in the room, a scented candle, a bottle of water, soaps, toothpaste and shower gel etc (I’m thinking I might pop in…?)
She also suggests inviting someone who might otherwise be on the own on Christmas day, which I think is a wonderful thing to do.
Sophie has recently launched her own range of barware, which is all available on her website here, so you can get properly kitted out and ready for a fabulous boozy party!
It’s all starting to feel very Christmassy, isn’t it?!
I’m now continuing with my research for my ultimate Christmas Gift Guide, which I will be posting next week… I feel a mince pie coming on.