Last year, I had a little cocktail party on the deck to celebrate the turning on of the Christmas lights on 1 December. It went well and I think I’ll do it again this year and maybe it will even become a regular event. Here are some jolly cocktails with a Christmas theme (ie, they’re red or green):
This is lighter in both alcohol and sugar than the standard Midori sour but people seem to like it anyway.
30ml lemon juice
Garnish: slice of lemon, plus glacé cherry
Pour the Midori into the glass, add the lemon juice, top with soda water and add garnish.
Some people add sugar syrup to this but I don’t think it needs it.
30ml white rum
5 ice cubes
Blend the ingredients together, pour into the glass and add garnish.
Garnish: sprig of mint
Pour the cordial into the glass, top with soda water, and dunk the mint in.
60ml sour cherry juice
5 ice cubes
Garnish: watermelon wedge
Blend the watermelon and pour into the glass, slowly add the cherry and then float the ice on top.
And remember, just contemplating throwing a cocktail party is a good excuse to practise some cocktails.
Christmas Day 1970: The combined “Amen” was like the starting gun for cracking our crackers. All of the kids and half of the adults wore the hats but all the adults took them off as soon as they thought no-one was looking. I got a plastic whistle and so did Steve and Brian and Felicity, and Uncle Geoff confiscated them almost immediately, which I didn’t think was fair, because Auntie Pat got to keep hers. The jokes, of course, were lame and even I, as an eight-year-old, had heard most of them before (although it would take me a few years more to find the pun in “When is a tap not a tap? When it’s dripping”).
 This is hard to find but you can make your own by adding a teaspoon of peppermint essence to 250ml of sugar syrup (and you can make sugar syrup by dissolving 1 cup of sugar in 1 cup of hot water and then leaving it to cool).
 Or pomegranate juice if that’s easier to get, but cherry juice is darker in colour and heavier too so it makes a clearer layer.
 My niece Emma would add frou-frou to the fruit: she says frou-frou is the raison d’etre for cocktails (and she has a large supply of paper parasols, plastic monkeys and novelty swizzle sticks).
 Except for Uncle Bill, who wore his for most of the afternoon.
 I realise now that it was because she could be trusted not to blow it at the dinner table.