From the Cellar: A Christmas Special

16 December 2021

Celebrating at Christmas is a little more special isn't it? A little more sparkly, more atmospheric. It could be the contrast between dark, chilly nights and warm, cosy gatherings inside that underpins the excitement around the festive season, but for me, of course, the real key to a successful evening is the drinks accompaniment.

Below, I have shared one of my predecessor's long-guarded recipes, a special mulled wine which makes its first appearance each year at the Lord Mayor's Show and remains in use until New Year's.

I hope you enjoy it.


1 x half-bottle of red wine (Merlot, Zinfandel, unoaked Tempranillo or Garnacha, or Grenache, are best)

1 x half-bottle of white or dessert wine (anything fruity)

1/4 bottle of port

1 large cinnamon stick, or 2 small ones

2 star anise

4-6 juniper berries

3 cloves

Strips of lemon & orange zest, pared using a peeler

2 tbsp caster sugar or honey (adjust to taste)

Half a jar of marmalade (I use orange without the zest)

A shot of cognac or sloe gin


Step One

Place the cinnamon, star anise, cloves, juniper berries, orange and lemon zest (and if using marmalade with zest) in a bouquet garni bag.

Step Two

Put the wine, bouquet garni, marmalade and sugar/honey in a large pan. Bring it to a gentle simmer and cook on a low heat for 20 mins. Do not boil.

Step Three

Remove from the heat and cool, leaving to infuse for about 30 mins.

Step Four

To serve, heat without boiling, stir in the cognac or sloe gin and pour into mugs or heatproof glasses. Add extra star anise or cinnamon sticks for decoration if desired.

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