Showing posts from December, 2018

Christmas at Aperitif Towers

Every family has its own traditions, and one of the nicest things about setting up a new household is forging the new traditions that that family will keep. The Beloved and I first came together in 2003 from opposite sides of the country, with teenage children on one side and a strong tradition of family visiting on the other. With so much potential for disappointments, we decided that our tradition would be to change our pattern each year. Over the years, that has modified. We now have grandchildren living nearby, and my parents are less able to jump in the car on Christmas morning, so we’re happily settling into a routine of being the home people come to on Christmas Day. We love having people visit, so this is no hardship, and we usually invite other friends to join us for lunch, too. There is one family tradition I’ve brought from my childhood home that I particularly value, and that’s a family supper on Christmas Eve to mark the beginning of Christmas. My Mum had a h

Christmas dinner parties

Since the Beloved and I have been together, we’ve always had formal dinner parties around Christmastime. Most years, we will entertain my stepchildren and their partners the weekend between Christmas and New Year. We’ve also had friends over for dinner on New Year’s Eve a couple of times, and often have people to lunch on New Year’s Day. It’s a busy time of year, but surrounding oneself with friends and family is the very essence of Christmas for me. My Godfather once said of my Mum and her family, “they make love to you with food.” It’s a gene I’m happy to have inherited! I love a nice table! Although it’s a great stand-by, I think it’s possible to get a little champagned-out at this time of year. I do serve it before Christmas lunch and open a bottle to let the New Year in, but I usually look to other aperitif drinks for my dinner parties. One drink I learnt to love in my twenties is the Trinity cocktail. I was living and working in a Jesuit retreat house in Merseysid

Festive Cocktails

At this time of year, when everyone gets into the party spirit, it’s good to have a couple of “go-to” cocktails in your repertoire to give your entertaining a lift. Cocktail making has a touch of magic about it, a mixture of alchemy and theatre, so this could be your chance to really impress. Let's face it, this is a great time to show off! Here are four recipes I’ve used that have proved popular with guests. Any one of them could be served as the curtain-raiser to a festive dinner. Coupled with a few smart canapés like sliced smoked duck, parmesan palmiers or devilled quails eggs, they will really impress. Remember they’re strong in alcohol, though. Don’t be tempted to offer more than one top-up if you want your guests to remember the rest of the meal. White Lady  This is a lovely, sophisticated drink. It’s sharp and fresh, and the white foam on top gives it the perfect look for the season. It’s one of the oldest recipes I use, appearing in Harry Craddock’s