Drinks expert HELEN McGINN on the top tipples for twixmas

Nightcaps for a Big Night In: Drinks expert HELEN McGINN on the top tipples for twixmas

  • Traditional late-night drink is meant to make you warm, cosy, and ready for bed
  • Helen McGinn says we can indulge as we’re likely spending more time at home 
  • UK-based drinks expert picks a selection of the best nightcap beverages  

Perhaps the libation we could most do with right now is a nightcap. Like the garment of that name, this traditional late-night drink is meant to make you feel warm, cosy and ready for bed.

And if we are likely to be spending more time at home, we can all indulge in ‘one for the road’, as there’s no actual road to hit. Helen McGinn picks some of the best . . .

Winter jumper whisky

Glenmorangie A Tale of Winter, 70cl, £74.95, thewhiskyexchange.com

UK-based drinks expert Helen McGinn picks out a selection of the best nightcap beverages – including Glenmorangie A Tale of Winter (pictured)

A special winter edition of the famous Scotch created by Glenmorangie’s renegade head distiller Dr Bill Lumsden, this blend was inspired by winter jumpers and roaring fires. Yes, really.

On first sniff, you are transported fireside by the smell of orange, spice and smoke. As the spirit is aged in casks previously used to age Marsala, the sweet wine from Sicily, there is plenty of fruit, cinnamon, ginger and a touch of honey on the palate, too.

Serve this on its own or with a splash of water, or make an Old Fashioned by mixing a measure with a touch of sugar, water and bitters muddled in a glass with a slice of orange to garnish.5/5

Honey & spice

Drambuie Honeyed Scotch Whisky Liqueur, 50ml, £14, Asda

Helen said Drambuie Honeyed Scotch Whisky Liqueur (pictured) is gloriously sweet, warm and comforting 

When neat whisky doesn’t appeal, this whisky-based liqueur might be the answer. Made from aged Scotch blended with honey, herbs and spices, it’s gloriously sweet, warm and comforting. Drink it on its own or make a Rusty Nail by mixing equal parts Scotch whisky and Drambuie. Serve neat or over ice in a tumbler.4/5

Luxe amaretto

Disaronno Velvet Liqueur, 50cl, £15, Tesco

Helen said Disaronno Velvet Liqueur (pictured) comes in a lovely festive white bottle and looks and tastes luxurious

If, like me, your guilty pleasure at this time of year is a small (OK, large) glass of Amaretto, this will wow you. It’s a cream liqueur version of the Italian almond-flavoured drink that comes in a lovely festive white bottle and looks and tastes luxurious. Sip on its own or over ice with a late-night mince pie on the side.5/5

Boozy chocolate

Hotel Chocolat Salted Caramel Chocolate Cream Liqueur, 50cl, £18, Waitrose

Helen said Hotel Chocolat Salted Caramel Chocolate Cream Liqueur (pictured) is best served on its own over ice or added to your bedtime hot chocolate 

These are a few of my favourite things: chocolate, cream, caramel and booze, all in one bottle. The chocolate is velvetised — melded with vodka and lashings of cream — to make this rich, moreish drink. Serve on its own over ice in a tumbler, or add a splash to your bedtime hot chocolate. You’ll sleep like a baby.4/5

Rum reward

Marksologist Cacao & Aged Rum Old Fashioned 50cl, £18, M&S

Helen said Marksologist Cacao & Aged Rum Old Fashioned (pictured) is an aromatic drink, best served with a twist of orange peel to garnish 

A neat twist on the Old Fashioned cocktail (see Glenmorangie, above left) — and you don’t even have to make it yourself with this pre-mixed bottle. It is made with Venezuelan rum rather than whisky, mixed with cacao liqueur and a dash of bitters for a heady, aromatic drink.

Drink on its own or with ice, with a twist of orange peel to garnish. With five servings in a bottle, it’s good value.3/5

Pre-mixed treat

Bottle Aged Brooklyn, 10cl, £8, Mothership scotland.com

Helen said Bottle Aged Brooklyn (pictured) is a smoky, sweet drink with orange and cherry flavours

Another pre-mixed gem, this one comes from the cocktail connoisseurs behind one of Edinburgh’s best bars, Bramble. This is their take on a Brooklyn, which is itself a variation on a Manhattan.

Made with bourbon, Amer Picon (an orange-flavoured, bittersweet aperitif), Noilly Prat and maraschino liqueur, it’s a smoky, sweet drink with orange and cherry flavours. Serve neat or over ice and sip with your feet up on the sofa.4/5

Brandy beauty

Tariquet VSOP Carafe Armagnac Brandy 70cl, £37, Majestic

Helen said Tariquet VSOP Carafe Armagnac Brandy (pictured) has notes of vanilla, liquorice and spice 

No nightcap round-up would be complete without brandy, and this is from one of the top Armagnac producers. Aged for at least seven years in Domaine Tariquet’s cellars, it is fresh and mellow, with notes of vanilla, liquorice and spice.

Serve on its own in a balloon glass or mix 80ml in a cocktail shaker over ice with 50ml each of crème de cacao and double cream. Pour into two small coupes and sprinkle fresh nutmeg on top. Delicious.4/5

Alcohol-free fix

Three Spirit The Nightcap, 50cl, £24.99, Amazon

The team behind Three Spirit are on a mission to make non-alcoholic drinks inspired by botanicals. The range is also free of artificial flavours or colours and low in calories.

This is made from botanicals including lemon balm, valerian root, various hops and ashwagandha. It’s an acquired taste but if you like bittersweet concoctions and don’t want the booze, it’s worth trying.3/5

Helen said Three Spirit The Nightcap (pictured) is worth trying, if you like bittersweet concoctions and don’t want the booze

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