Christmas mule

A refreshing brew for a long afternoon.
A refreshing brew for a long afternoon. Photo: Marina Oliphant

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.


8 tall sturdy glasses

4 limes

fresh ginger

240ml spice syrup

vodka (to taste)

1 bunch mint, picked

ice, crushed or whole

mineral or soda water

lemongrass for garnish

Spice syrup

8cm piece of young ginger smashed in a mortar and pestle

10 allspice berries crushed a little

6 cloves

1 stalk of lemon grass, sliced

300g Dulce sugar*; you could also use unrefined brown sugar

100ml water

*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.

Christmas mule

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.