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Christmas Pudding Vodka & Clementine Spiced Rum

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OK, it's the first week of December, so I finally feel like I can mention it.

Yes that word, Christmas.

And if you've not even considered your Christmas presents, let alone your Christmas booze, you're not alone. I do this every year. I used to be organised and have everything wrapped by the second week, but in my newer life where writing takes up time, as does drinking (er, I mean sampling and reviewing), it takes 1st December to send me into a small panic about gifts.

Part of this is because I like to give presents that are one-offs. That are often homemade, crafted by my own little fingers and my imagination. This year, I'm even later than normal and am panicking slightly. Cue, a flash of inspiration, a nudge from 31 Dover and a bottle or two of booze.

With a little planning (the recipes below take a week, some take longer) a sturdy jar and a visit to the supermarket or health food shop, you can take the idea of buying your mate a bottle, into buying them something individual, and something that can't be bought anywhere else.

And if you feel a bit selfish, make them for yourself for the festive period – you can really show off your cocktail skills with your own flavoured spirit.

Christmas Pudding Vodka

The first recipe is for a Christmas Pudding flavoured vodka. You can do this with gin too, and I'd go with something nice and citrussy, not too heavy on the juniper, but it's worth experimenting. This is sweet, and fruity, ideal to sip as an alternative to dessert wine - I'll be experimenting with a Martini recipe and perhaps a negroni style cocktail too.

• 300g of mixed dried fruit; sultanas, currants, raisins and cranberries
• 2 sticks of cinnamon
• 2 tsp of ground mixed spice
• 6 whole cloves
• Freshly grated nutmeg
• 30g crystalised ginger
• Zest of 1 orange
• Zest of 1 (unwaxed) lemon
• 750ml (one bottle) vodka – I used Russian Standard
• 75g caster sugar

1 large secure jar (mason or kilner are perfect)
1 strainer (muslin, coffee filter or jelly bag)

Put all the dry ingredients into the clean jar. For the zest, a vegetable peeler is perfect for getting the zest and leaving the pith behind on the fruit.

Pour on the vodka.

Leave for one week (minimum, two is even better) in a cool, dark place, turning the jar or giving it a shake daily. This will help the sugar dissolve into the alcohol and make sure all the fruit gets its flavour into the spirit.

On the final day, strain the vodka using the muslin, strainer or jelly bag. It doesn't matter if some of the mixed spice or nutmeg goes through, but it will mean the liquid will look lightly speckled.

Pour into a pretty bottle for gifts, or just put into the freezer for Christmas day.

The delicious vodka-soaked leftover fruit can warmed through and put on top of ice cream for a cook's treat - all that hard work deserves a reward.

Clementine Spiced Rum

The next spirit was the result of a discussion about Christmas and the traditional clementine or satsuma found at the bottom of your stocking. I remembered a mandarin brandy my dad brought back from Duty Free one year and it got me wondering, less about brandy, more about rum. So this is my Clementine Spiced Rum.

• 100g of crystalised ginger
• Peel of 6 clementines (eat a bagful)
• 1 vanilla pod
• 2 sticks of cinnamon
• 3 cloves
• 750ml (one bottle) dark rum – I used Mount Gay
• Approximately 40g caster sugar

1 large secure jar (mason or kilner are perfect)
1 strainer (muslin, coffee filter or jelly bag)

Put all the dry ingredients, except the sugar, into the clean jar.

Pour on the rum.

Leave for one week (minimum, two is even better) in a cool, dark place, turning the jar or giving it a shake daily. Once again, this will help ensure all the flavours infuse into the rum.

On the final day, strain the rum using the muslin, strainer or jelly bag and discard the peel and spices.

This time, as the rum is quite sweet, I'd recommend adding the sugar after the infusing process. So tip in the sugar a little at a time, re-secure the lid and shake like crazy until it's dissolved. This of course means you'll have to taste it regularly until you get it to your desired sweetness, but I know you're up to the task.

Once you're happy, either bottle it, or keep it for yourself. It makes a delicious hot toddy and makes Christmas for me.

Forget mulled wine. Let's get merry.

- Gin Fuelled Bluestocking

Tagged in: Christmas, Christmas gifts, Christmas pudding, Christmas Pudding Vodka, Clementine Spiced Rum, Gifts, Gin, gin, Rum, spiced, The Gin Fuelled Bluestocking, vodka, vodka. Categories: News.

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