It would take a pretty forceful stretch of the imagination to say that Christmas is ‘just around the corner,’ but if you were in Blackfriars last week, that bizarre-sounding assertion wouldn’t have been far from the truth. Because, thirteen floors above the river Thames, Bacardi had laid out a liquid feast of festive treats – complete with pinecones and faux pine branches – to give their lucky guests a sneak peek at their yuletide offerings. Christmas come early, indeed.
In many ways, the event felt a lot like Christmas 2.0. Basically, Bacardi filtered out all the unpleasant things about the festival (going to church, spending time with relatives you hardly know, bad T.V.), amplified the good bits (getting drunk on fancy Christmassy drinks), and replaced wintery skies with a glorious summer evening. They even kept the presents; each guest left with a dose of Christmas cheer and a bottle of Prosecco. Not a sack of coal in sight.
As to the drinks themselves, they ticked every box on our wish list. The cocktails on offer centred around four key spirits: Bacardi rum (of course), Grey Goose vodka, Martini, Bombay Sapphire gin, and St-Germain liqueur. The drinks ranged from hearty and warming to sweet and sumptuous. A highlight was the Christmas Colada, a creamy concoction composed of Bacardi Anejo Cuatro, Amaretto, Coco Lopez, gingerbread syrup and pineapple juice, topped off with sliced pineapple and a blackcurrant. Like a cross between a classic Pina Colada and a snowball, this felt like a fusion of log-cabin luxury and a Tiki-bar take on Christmas.
The drinks menu was a feast for the eyes as much as for the taste buds. The Golden Sbagliato was a fizzy mixture of Martini and bitters, washed down with prosecco and infused with edible gold leaf for a glitteringly golden appearance. The Laverstoke: Winter Edition – made from Bombay Sapphire, Martini Rosso, St-Germain and ginger ale – was also a delight to behold, topped with pine branch and cranberries to look like a Christmas wreath. But be warned: this is a strong drink that should only be attempted by dedicated gin-lovers (as we found out, to our eternal shame).
Then there was the company; an eclectic assortment of cocktail aficionados, both young and old, catered for a sense of festive frivolity, made all the merrier by attentive bar staff ferrying drinks to and from the balcony – from where we had a fantastic view of London’s (unfortunately not snow-topped) urban skyline. It might just have been the (multiple) drinks, but it really did feel like a good reason to start looking forward to Christmas already. Whether they’re used as gifts or for entertaining guests, winter cocktails and Christmassy beverages epitomise everything that is fun about our favourite holiday; bringing people together for a warm sense of togetherness and belonging. And, most importantly, getting drunk.
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