Christmas and New Year’s Drinks

With whisky being the traditional drink of Scotland you’d expect there to be a few drinking traditions involving the Gaelic spirit. And you wouldn’t be disappointed!

A bowl of this Christmas Cheer is guaranteed to make your party go … anywhere! It can be prepared well in advance as long as you whisk it again just before serving to your guests.

Christmas Cheer

You need:

  • 6 eggs
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 600 ml double cream
  • 350 ml whisky
  • 200 ml white rum
  • 450 ml milk
  • 1 orange, 1 lemon and 1 lime – the grated rinds
  • Nutmeg
  • Cinnamon

Separate the eggs.

In a chilled bowl, whisk the sugar and egg yolks together until pale and creamy. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until thick and white. And in yet another bowl, whisk the cream until it forms soft peaks.

Fold the egg whites into the yolk and sugar mixture, then fold in the cream. Pour this into a large punch bowl. Slowly whisk in the whisky, rum and milk.

Cover and leave in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

Whisk before serving, and sprinkle with the grated rinds, some freshly grated nutmeg and a little cinnamon.

Hot Christmas Toddy

If it’s a cold night, greet your guests with a Hot Christmas Toddy.

You need:

  • Juice of 4 lemons
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 90 ml clear honey (preferably Scottish heather honey)
  • 200 ml whisky
  • 1 litre boiling water

Place the lemon juice, lemon slices, honey and whisky in a heatproof jug. Mix well. Add the boiling water, stirring as you do so. Serve immediately.

Hogmanay, the welcoming in of the New Year, is celebrated with great gusto in Scotland, and there are many associated traditions, including drinks that have a long history.

Like Atholl Brose. It originated in 1475, when Macdonald, the Lord of the Isles who was leading the rebels against the king, was hiding from his pursuer, the Earl of Atholl. When the Earl discovered the well from which Macdonald was said to be drinking, he ordered it to be filled with oatmeal, honey and whisky. Macdonald was so enamoured by this that he remained in his hiding place long enough for the Earl to call for reinforcements. And so the Lord of the Isles was captured for the sake of a drink.

Atholl Brose

To make it you need:

  • 3 tablespoons medium oatmeal
  • 4 dessertspoons Scottish heather honey
  • Scotch whisky

Make a paste of the oatmeal by mixing it with water. Leave it to stand for 30 minutes then strain, keeping the liquid and discarding the oatmeal.

Mix the honey with the oatmeal liquor (about 4 sherry-glassfuls). Put this into a quart bottle, fill up with whisky and shake well.

Het Pint

Traditionally a household’s luck for the year depends on the first person to cross the threshold on January 1st. First-footers will go from house to house just after midnight toasting the occupants – and enjoying a dram or two on their way! A tall, dark-haired man, as long as he’s not a doctor or a grave-digger, will bring good luck; a short blonde woman is only there to drink the whisky!

In the 19th century, first-footers took a Het Pint with them. Literally a Hot Pint, it was a warming drink, carried in a copper pan known as a toddy kettle, that they shared with everyone they met on their journey.

You need:

  • 4 pints pale ale
  • Grated nutmeg
  • Sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ pint Scotch whisky

Put the ale into a large pan. Add about 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg. Bring to just below boiling point. Add sugar to taste.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs. Stir the hot ale slowly into the eggs. Finally mix in the whisky. Return to the pan and heat until just below boiling point.

Now comes the fun bit. Pour the liquid back and forth between the pan and the bowl until it is clear and sparkling. Don’t do this timidly: do it with a bit of pizzazz!

To serve, pour from a height into a warmed tankard.

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