This Sunday, I reached saturation point.
It’s that time of year when, with the holidays just around the corner, everyone begins to let their hair down. Christmas parties take place, the champagne starts flowing and the number of chocolates in the office outnumbers employees by fifteen to one.
Last week’s festivities culminated in a weekend of celebrations: a friend over from Australia, another one heading off there (what is it with my friends and Oz?), Carnivorous Boyfriend’s DJ debut and a big birthday meal. Christmas treats were baked (more on that later this week), sleep was lost and alcohol consumed. By Sunday evening, a mocktail felt not just desirable, but really rather necessary.
A few weeks ago I was contacted by Innocent Drinks and asked to contribute a recipe to their Christmas mocktail promotion. I don’t tend to get involved with brands on this blog, but I’m happy to make an exception for Innocent. Of course people will argue that they sold out to Coca Cola but it’s really only from an investment point of view and I genuinely like their products (read more about their cookbook here), their irreverent attitude and general ethos, so feel no qualms about mentioning them here.
Mocktails are the perfect alternative to mulled wine, Buck’s Fizz, Snowballs and the myriad of alcoholic drinks on offer over Christmas. There’s almost always going to be someone in your party who doesn’t drink – whether they’re driving, a child (!) or simply don’t like alcohol – and it’s nice to be able to offer them something a little bit more exciting than a soft drink or straight up juice.
The mocktail I made for Innocent is sweet, sparkling and brought to life by a mix of spices inspired by chai tea. A simple syrup is made by toasting spices then seeping them in a mixture of honey and water, with added warmth from a nugget of fresh ginger and dollop of vanilla extract. You can use this syrup to soak a sponge cake or even add it to alcohol (if you really can’t be bothered to attempt to be virtuous at this time of year), but here I’ve stirred it through cloudy apple juice over ice and topped with sparkling water.
To accompany the mocktail (as a garnish or simply to serve on the side), I made some cinnamon spiced apple crisps. With just two ingredients these little crunchy bites are both virtuous and delicious, filling the house with heady aromas as they bake.
To get the recipe for the chai-inspired simple syrup, my sparkling apple mocktail and cinnamon apple crisps, click here.
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