G&Ts served hot. Tom Collins with the turkey. And a flavourful money-saving trick for cocktail makers. Just some of the surprising predictions we can expect to see around the drinks trolley and behind the bar this Christmas, according to Jen and Seb Heeley-Wiggins of The Spirit of Manchester Distillery.
“Our customers have been telling us they’re excited to try new things, and that they want more from their Christmas drinks this year. While there are some Christmas traditions you can’t break—you have to have sprouts—we predict that people are really going to have fun with their drinks this year, continuing the trend of experimenting, but making new choices when it comes to what goes into their glass.” — Seb Heeley-Wiggins
TOP 3 TREND TAKEAWAYS
- Flavoured spirits pack cocktails with a punch, meaning you can have both simplicity and save money on ingredients.
- Hot drinks are getting a makeover, with steamy twists on classic cold cocktails.
- We want to go out but our expectations have increased swapping ‘a drink’ for a premium cocktail experience that can’t be matched at home.
THE EXPERTS BEHIND THE UK’S AWARD-WINNING SPIRITS
Since 2016, master distillers Jen and Seb Heeley-Wiggins have quickly become respected industry trailblazers.
Seb and Jen are the co-founders of The Spirit of Manchester Distillery, a state-of-the-art home of spirits. Based right in the city’s centre, its award-winning gin, vodka, rum, absinthe and vermouth have found fame and fans across the country. Sold in the leading bars across the world and prestigious retailers from Selfridges and Harvey NIchols to specialists like the Whisky Exchange.
Manchester Gin is one of the most awarded gins in the UK, selling more than 150,000 bottles every year.
The premium cocktail experience at the on-site bar Three Little Words is a showcase for Seb and Jen’s spirits expertise. Knowledgeable bartenders and high quality ingredients allow the flavours to be the stars of the show.
7 DRINKS TRENDS TO LOOK OUT FOR
CONTINUED GROWTH OF FLAVOURED SPIRITS – SIMPLICITY WITHOUT SACRIFICING FLAVOUR
There’s a real enthusiasm for flavoured spirits, particularly rum. It’s a spirit that can really stand up to fruits and spices. To replicate those taste notes at home could mean a long shopping list and a hefty bill, especially if you’re planning on making cocktails for a crowd.
Flavoured spirits mean people can drastically cut down on the number of ingredients needed to make a well-rounded drink. Simply choose your mixer to have a good time without breaking the bank.
“Flavoured spirits almost feel like you’re cheating—except everybody wins. It saves the cocktail maker time and money, especially if hosting for lots of people, and the drinker still gets an amazing cocktail. An Espresso Martini made with Tonka Vodka, for example, has all the kick you want as well as the warm, woody vanilla that makes it such a moreish after-dinner treat at Christmas.” – Seb Heeley-Wiggins
Alternative Tasting Notes: One-Eyed Rebel Fiery Spiced Rum—deep with ginger, sweeping undercurrents of vanilla and a flaming heart of rich cassia—is great for elevating a Dark’n’Stormy. Just add ginger beer, ice and a slice of lime.
HOT COCKTAILS – THINGS ARE HEATING UP
As temperatures plummet, a hot cocktail is the perfect way to warm your hands. The scent of mulled wine means Christmas to so many, but there are still those with a taste for something new to warm the spirits.
“Keep the coldness of winter away with a hot Gin Toddy; fresh lemon and steaming hot water with gin. Dark rum in a hot sugary, citrusy punch will get the party going, and coffee lovers should try a hot White Russian—making one is faster than boiling the kettle!” – Jen Heeley-Wiggins
Alternative Tasting Notes: If your hot chocolate just isn’t hot enough, try adding a tiny dash of a chilli liquor and temper it with the creamy almond of Manchester Gin Tonka Flavoured Vodka.
FOOD AND COCKTAIL PAIRINGS – COCKTAILS ARE THE CHEF’S SECRET INGREDIENT
A festive feast calls for something special. Pairing the right food and cocktails will transform your Christmas dinner. With a delicious drink to sip, no-one will care if you overcook the turkey.
“The complexity of a cocktail can make the ingredients in your food sing better than any Christmas carol. The juniper in gin pairs beautifully with salmon and dill; a G&T with your gravlax would make for a really ballsy Scandi starter. When it comes to cranberries, swap condiments for cocktails and add the juice for a sharp and fruity Tom Collins that really compliments turkey well.” – Seb Heeley-Wiggins
Tasting Notes: Elevate the fruity spices in your Christmas pudding with One Eyed Rebel Black Cherry Rum in an Old Fashioned. Just add Angostura Bitters, a splash of water and a sugar cube.
DARK SPIRITS – A RETURN TO THE DARK SIDE
After a boiling hot summer of thirst-quenching martinis and sunny mojitos, this Christmas will see rum and whisky cause a storm.
“We’re seeing the dark spices of rum winning over the 20 to 30 year olds, in particular. We’re also seeing a real enthusiasm for whisky, with lots of newcomers expected this winter. The woody, caramel notes of whisky are perfect for winter, either neat, in an Old Fashioned or as an indulgent liquor.” – Jen Heeley-Wiggins
Tasting Notes: Try a tropical take on a tart Rum Sour: just mix fresh lemon juice and sugar syrup with One-Eyed Rebel Passionfruit & Coconut Rum.
BEHIND THE BOTTLE – QUALITY CONVERSATION THIS CHRISTMAS
Christmas is a season of excess but, when it comes to drinks, more people are choosing quality over quantity. There is a real appetite for wanting to know about the craftsmanship behind cocktails, from where the ingredients are from to how the flavours are infused. There’s nothing like a well-made drink to get the conversation flowing—and now we’re seeing them become conversation starters in their own right.
“The nation wants to know more about alcohol and drinkers are schooling one another on the discoveries they’re finding. The trend of buying big brand names off the supermarket shelf without much thought is becoming a thing of the past, with many people now actively choosing smaller independent brands that really care about what goes into their spirits.
“Take our small-batch vodkas for example; Manchester Spirit Grapefruit contains the peel of 300 grapefruits, and Manchester Spirit Coffee sees every bean ground by hand, using the equivalent of 400 cups per batch. It’s exactly this kind of trivia people love to drop into conversation.” — Seb Heeley-Wiggins
Tasting Notes: Get tongues wagging with a Grapefruit Martini, made with Manchester Spirit Grapefruit Flavoured Vodka, red grapefruit juice, vermouth, and triple sec.
The Christmas season just hasn’t been the same the past few years. With so many Brits working from home, they’re now looking for a cocktail experience that can’t be matched by the living room drinks trolley.
“More people are able to recreate amazing tasting cocktails at home. So, the bar experience really has to raise its game this Christmas. That means exquisite, creative drinks made by expert bartenders, and cocktail concoctions you can’t find anywhere else.
“At our bar Three Little Words, for example, our cocktail menu utilises processes that can’t be replicated at home, using state-of-the-art distilling equipment and complex techniques to extract and enhance every flavour. It’s only here that you’ll find the answer to 100 Problems: our cocktail of Oak Infused One-Eyed Rebel rum, honeycomb cordial, pistachio orgeat and espresso.” — Jen Heeley-Wiggins
Tasting Notes: If you find yourself under the mistletoe, we recommend a Budding Romance, made with Manchester Spirit Wild Spirit Gin, rose, bergamot, green tea, sage, eucalyptus and soda.
THE PERFECT PRESENT FOR GREENER GIFT GIVING
Gifting a delicious bottle of hand-crafted liquor to friends and family is a real treat and a constant crowd-pleaser. And with gift vouchers available so loved ones can choose their own tipple, the spirit of Christmas has never been easier to pass on. A winning gift also means less waste, which is ultimately kinder on the planet.
“Too many presents end up in landfill, unwanted and wasteful. You can be sure an elegant vermouth or absinthe will be drunk, enjoyed and shared. Plus, when it’s finished, the bottle can be recycled. All of our Manchester Gin comes in recycled glass bottles. Lots of things can go wrong on Christmas Day but at least you can be sure you’ve picked the right present.” – Jen Heeley-Wiggins
Tasting Notes: Start Christmas morning off with a banging Bloody Mary. Using Manchester Gin Overboard from our Luxury G&T Gift Set, mix it with tomato juice, fresh lemon, Worcestershire sauce, a grind of black pepper and ice. For a festive twist, add a pinch of ground star anise.