Indulge in the Festive Flavors of Highclere Castle at Christmas
A Collection of Timeless Holiday Gin Cocktails
It’s become a tradition in my little family to begin reading a small section of Christmas at Highclere Castle, Lady Carnarvon’s beautifully written volume on how the holidays are spent at the world’s finest country home.
Creating cocktails is a blend of inspiration and a foundational understanding of but a few simple ingredients. With each menu I create, I find that the imagination becomes what turns out something beautiful, especially at Christmas time.
The following are beverages from my journal that I’ve named Highclere at Christmas. I take the holiday cocktails quite seriously. However, I also have reconciled that after a night of entertaining, storytelling, and cocktail quality control, I cannot remember the ingredients and their particular amounts. The result is two years of drinks filled with holiday cheer and robustly fortified with my royal liquid retainer, Highclere Castle Gin.
Cranberry Carols Gin Cocktail
1.5 oz. Highclere Castle Gin
.75 oz. Wild Moon Cranberry Liqueur
.5 oz. lemon juice
.5 oz. simple syrup
Shaken and poured into a stemless wine glass
Top with 2 oz. of sparkling wine
This cocktail was created in honor of Lady Carnarvon’s Sloe Gin Recipe but can be made into an alcohol-free version for those who choose not to imbibe. This will be much richer than the flavor of a sloe gin due to the cooking of the berries in a caramelized syrup.
1.5 oz Highclere Castle Gin
.75 oz. “Rosie’s Slosie” Syrup
2 oz. Grapefruit juice
Shaken and strained into a Collins glass
Garnish with a dried grapefruit and Rosemary Sprig
1.25 c. Sugar
1.12 c. Water
A handful of Sloe berries
2 Rosemary Sprigs
Add all ingredients to a small saucepan and simmer below boil for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low for up to an hour (This is to taste) and strain into holiday swing-top bottles.
A picture of The Earl inspired this (he told me to call him Geordie, which is relatively cool) and Lady Carnarvon enjoying majestic-looking martinis in The Drawing Room. These are reserved for those guests who will board for the evening as it’s quite strong.
2 oz. Highclere Castle Gin
.75 oz. Italicus Bergamot Liqueur
2 dashes of orange Bitters
Stir all ingredients until well chilled
Strain into a large martini glass
Garnish with a thyme sprig and lemon twist
At the end of Boxing Day’s shooting lunch, port wine is enjoyed with cheese and quince. This will warm a weary gun for the afternoon’s final shooting drive. It’s a gin’s sendup of the Toddy with the port giving a foundation upon which high the gin and honey play. Nothing is better after rigorous activity in the cold than a cuppa, and true to American bombast, a double brew provides a lift to the senses and adds a pleasant note of tannic bitterness.
1 oz. Highclere Castle Gin
2 oz. Tawny Port
Scant spoon Honey Syrup (Lady Carnarvon calls it Runny Honey. I love it!)
5 oz. double brewed Black tea, piping hot.
Add all ingredients to a handled teacup. Garnish with a blackberry and lemon slice.
A Taste of Elegance and Warmth for the Holiday Season
I present these cocktails to remind us that during this season, we are blessed with these unique flavors and tastes that transport the soul through the palate. Each page solidifies the grace and welcoming spirit of Lady Carnarvon and the castle at Christmas.
Though we may not be spending Christmas at Highclere Castle, we are most fortunate to experience Highclere Castle at Christmas, wherever we may be.