Some traditional Christmas drinks are less than appetising in our climate: a cup of egg-nog on a 35-degree day just doesn't hit the spot for me. This refreshing drink uses festive spices and gives them a warm-climate overhaul.
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A refreshing brew for a long afternoon. Photo: Marina Oliphant
8 tall sturdy glasses
240ml spice syrup
vodka (to taste)
1 bunch mint, picked
ice, crushed or whole
mineral or soda water
lemongrass for garnish
8cm piece of young ginger smashed in a mortar and pestle
10 allspice berries crushed a little
1 stalk of lemon grass, sliced
300g Dulce sugar*; you could also use unrefined brown sugar
*Dulce sugar is from unrefined sugar-cane juice and is available from specialty suppliers.
1. Lightly crush the ginger, allspice, cloves and lemongrass in a mortar and pestle.
2. Tip crushed spices into a small pot along with the sugar and water and bring to the simmer slowly. Bring to the boil, then immediately turn off the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.
3. Strain through a fine sieve, pressing with a ladle or back of a spoon to extract as much syrup as possible. Cool.
1. In each glass, muddle half a lime (cut in quarters) with three slices of ginger, about 2mm thick. Muddle until the ginger is crushed and all the juice is extracted from the lime.
2. Add 30ml of the syrup, 45ml of vodka (you can reduce, increase or even leave out the vodka), 4 to 5 mint leaves, lightly crushed in your hand, and ice. Mix thoroughly. Top with mineral or soda water and stir again, lightly. Check the balance of the drink and adjust with syrup or lime if necessary. You may like to use less syrup for a fresher, more savoury drink.
3. Garnish with a lemon grass stalk sliced vertically and some more mint leaves.