Review – How to Drink at Christmas
I must admit I’m usually a fan of ‘seasonal’ drinking publications. There are plenty out there, all claiming to be just the companion you need to ensure your libations are up to scratch at Christmas. The trouble is, most just don’t deliver and deservedly live out their days gathering dust on some book shelf or other. Perhaps Victoria Moore, wine correspondent for a national newspaper might do a little better.
Christmas is actually a time fraught with difficulties in the drinking stakes. You see, there is an expectation in the first instance that there will plenty of it, but also that said drinks will be suitably ‘festive’ and therefore differ from the usual servings consumed during the rest of the year. Meeting such demands, particularly when entertaining guests can certainly be troublesome, and so with this in mind I set about my evaluation.
This book is divided into sections based on specific times over the Christmas period. The run up to Christmas, Christmas day, that funny bit between the ridiculous amount of eating that is done, and the post-Christmas ‘detox’. I’m not certain this is the most useful decider of chapters, but it offers a decent starter for ten in any case. First up are some hints on what should be stocked up on to ensure an ‘appropriate’ range of drinks offerings. This is where the first sign that this is intended to be a genuinely useful publication first show. The book recommends not just the obvious, but also some really rather inspired choices such as El Dorado rums, and Sipmsith gin; I’m be beginning to think this is written by someone who genuinely enjoys their booze!
There are plenty of cocktail recipes to please all palates and occasions. There are classics, original creations, aperitifs, drinks for parties and so on. All come with a concise explanation on manufacture, with practical suggestions for time-saving techniques and decent spirit choices. There is also advice on crucial matters such as ice where it is proposed that the best way to ensure sufficient ice of good quality over the festive period is to make your blocks by freezing water in roasting tins! I particularly like the rant about how to make a good gin and tonic; the story about the authors husband importing Irish glassware and tonic water into a trip to Italy for fear of substandard local offerings sound exactly like the sort of thing I would be caught doing and is reflective of this books light-hearted approach to the serious business of quality drinking. I must deduct a point for the claim the “Schweppes is king”, but it is redeemed for advising that gin with a decent abv and plenty of ice is used.
I can’t help but think think there is one glaring error in this book; the fact that it has the word Christmas in the title means that it runs the risk of it being considered a seasonal gimmick. The fact is, this is actually a very respectable publication that contains a wealth of information in an accessible style of writing. It’s not trying to be the authoritative guide to cocktails, but instead offer some good, sensible advice on drinking ‘well’ this Christmas.
This seasonal drinking guide is packed full of practical, and well-informed tips on what to drink and how to drink it over Christmas, all written in an accessible and easy-reading style. As an affordable gift for a keen drinker, or even as a resource for yourself, this is well worth a look.
‘How to Drink at Christmas’ is available from Amazon