Sleigh Ride Cocktail, Christmas Spiced Vodka and Boozy Fruit

A merry cocktail based on a Christmas spiced vodka.  I’ve been making the spiced vodka each Christmas for a number of years; it’s great as a festive shot, as the base for Christmassy cocktails, or as a homemade Christmas gift for friends.  This recipe makes plenty of the spiced vodka, and also gives you lots of drunken fruit, which is a great ingredient for a number of quick Christmas desserts. 

For the Christmas Spiced Vodka:

  • 70 ml vodka
  • Grated zest from one orange
  • 150g dried fruit – I used a raisin and berry mix
  • 50g dried cranberries
  • ½ teaspoon ground mixed spice
  • 1 star anise
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken into two halves
  • A grating of nutmeg
  • 75g caster sugar

Put the fruit, cranberries, orange zest and spices into a lidded plastic tub, and grate over a little nutmeg.  Stir in the sugar, then pour in the vodka and mix it well.  Seal the container and place in a cool place for three or four days, stirring twice a day.

Using a sieve (or a sheet of muslin), strain the vodka from the fruit and put the flavoured vodka into a bottle, ready for your Christmas drinks.

Fish out the cinnamon stick pieces, star anise and cloves from the fruit and discard them, then put the fruit back into the container and store in the fridge – see below for ideas on how to use this for a number of grown-up desserts.

For the Sleigh Ride Cocktail (makes 2):

  • 4 shots of Christmas spiced vodka
  • 6 shots cranberry juice
  • 1 shot triple sec

Put plenty of ice into a cocktail shaker, add the ingredients and give it a good shake.  Pour the cocktail through the ice into two cocktail glasses and enjoy. Ho ho ho!

What to do with your leftover boozy fruit:

  • Pile it onto slices of sponge cake or panettone, stir a couple of tablespoons of marsala into shop-bought custard, then pour onto the fruit; top with lightly whipped cream for a festive trifle
  • Soften some vanilla ice cream, stir in the boozy fruit, then return to the freezer for a Christmas spiced ice cream
  • Use the fruit as an ingredient for your home-made Christmas cake or Christmas pudding
  • Cut some filo pastry into squares, brush with melted butter, then pile some of the fruit in the centre; lift up the pastry edges and seal to create a bundle, brush again with melted butter and a sprinkle of sugar, before baking to make hot fruit parcels
  • Lightly whip some cream, stir in the fruit and some crushed meringues, to make a Christmas Mess
  • Pile it into pastry cases and bake, as an alternative to using mincemeat in your Christmas mince pies
  • Or just eat it straight from the tub with a spoon!

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