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Taste test: the best premixed cocktails for Christmas 2018

Taste test: the best premixed cocktails for Christmas 2018

by Great British Chefs 19 November 2018

Want to serve guests cocktails this Christmas but without the fuss of shakers, strainers and a cabinet full of booze? These bottles of premixed cocktails are ready to drink and taste just as good as their shaken and stirred counterparts.

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Nothing says ‘party’ quite like a cocktail, but when you’re hosting at home it’s not always feasible to spend most of the night measuring, pouring, shaking and serving drinks to your various guests. That’s where premixed cocktails come in – a product which has only become ‘acceptable’ in the past few years. What was once regarded as nothing more as a glorified alcopop is now given the proper artisan treatment, with many bars even stocking them on their shelves.

Whether you’re after something sweet and crowdpleasing, a specifically festive tipple or just a really great example of a classic cocktail, these bottles are perfect for stocking up on over Christmas. We tasted our way through dozens to get to this shortlist (poor us), and while there were plenty that really didn’t live up to expectations, the five below are definitely worth seeking out. There’s no overall winner as people’s tastes are particularly subjective when it comes to cocktails, but there’s something for everyone below.

Bellini Cipriani

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Few cocktails are as famous as the Bellini, and it was Harry’s Bar in Venice that first invented the drink in the 1930s. While the recipe is incredibly simple – Prosecco mixed with white peach purée – it can be hard to track down ripe, flavourful peaches (which are as out of season as you can get around Christmas). This bottle comes ready-mixed so you can serve it much like a standard bottle of fizz, but the sweet peachy flavour turns it into something totally different. The bottle looks pretty swish too.

£9.99 from Ocado

M&S Spiced Clementine Whisky Sour

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Marks and Spencers goes hard when it comes to festive premixed cocktails, releasing an entire range of them every year. For 2018 its Clementine Whisky Sour was a winner with the entire panel – while it is sweeter than you’d expect the average whisky sour to be, the citrus flavour and warming tang of alcohol are nicely balanced. Even people who say they don’t like whisky will enjoy a glass of this over ice.

£10 from M&S

Starward (New) Old Fashioned

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Arguably the nicest of all the premixed cocktails we tasted (although only if you’re a fan of whisky), this bottle is full of seriously high-end ingredients. The Starward whisky – which is made in Australia – is matched with the distillery’s own bitters and a Demerara syrup, which is just enough to mellow out the spirit yet let its beautifully fruity flavour shine. This was far better than many old fashioned cocktails we’ve had made for us in actual cocktail bars.

£29.95 from The Whisky Exchange

Negroni from The Handmade Cocktail Company

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We tasted our way through quite a few different premixed negronis, but this one came out on top. Made with a blend of different English gins, various vermouths and a herbal liqueur, the result is an incredibly smooth and well-rounded cocktail that actually benefits from being premixed and allowed to develop in the bottle.

£25.95 from Master of Malt

M&S Apple Pie Martini

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This one divided opinion a little, but those who liked it really, really liked it. Perfect for Christmas thanks to its warming cinnamon flavour, this cocktail is rounded off with a distinct fruity apple taste which, whilst quite sweet, is seriously moreish.

£10 from M&S

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