Homemade peppermint schnapps
Makes about 700ml
Combine 200g sugar and 240ml water in a small saucepan over a medium heat. Stir occasionally until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. When cooled, pour the sugar syrup into a jar and add 480ml vodka and two teaspoons of peppermint extract. Seal the jar and shake well until the ingredients are combined. Serve straight-up and ice-cold, spike a hot chocolate for an adults-only treat, or use to make the nightcap below.
Mulled apple juice
Into a large stainless steel saucepan, place 1½ litres of good quality apple juice (not from concentrate), four tablespoons of honey, two cinnamon sticks, six whole cloves, six allspice berries and the zest of one lemon and one orange cut into strips. Place over a medium heat for 5-10 minutes or until the mixture is very hot but not boiling. Remove from the heat and pour through a fine sieve to remove the spices and zests. Stir in 4-6 shots brandy or Calvados. Ladle into big cups or mugs to serve; garnish with new cinnamon sticks or orange peel if desired.
Makes approx 11
In a large pitcher or jug, mix 180ml pomegranate juice, 70ml cranberry juice, 130ml Grand Marnier or Cointreau, the juice of half a lime and a chilled bottle of Prosecco. Stir gently to combine. Pour carefully into champagne flutes to serve.
Ginger and pear martinis
Makes syrup for 16 cocktails
Place a one-inch piece of peeled, chopped root ginger and two chopped pears in a medium saucepan with one tablespoon of sugar. Cook over a medium-high heat for 6-7 minutes, until tender. Add 150g more sugar along with 360ml water, one cinnamon stick and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and cool for 15 minutes. Strain through a sieve into a bottle or pitcher. For each martini, fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add 30ml of the ginger and pear syrup with 60ml of vodka or gin. Top and shake for 2-3 minutes, then strain into a martini glass and garnish with a slice of pear, if desired.
Butterscotch Irish coffee
Fill a mug or Irish coffee glass with hot water and set aside for 2-3 minutes to warm. Discard the hot water. Add 30ml of whiskey, 30ml Irish cream liqueur, 30ml schnapps and 75ml freshly brewed coffee to the warm mug and stir to combine. Hold a clean teaspoon, curved side up, over the glass, very close to the coffee. Slide 3-4 teaspoons of whipped cream very gently and slowly over the back of the teaspoon onto the coffee. Garnish with a drizzle of caramel sauce, if desired.