Getting into the Christmas Spritz – the best tipples for the festive season!
Galgorm’s Gin Library Manager Ryan McInerney shares his tips and tricks for the perfect Christmas cocktails
The last few weeks of the year are suddenly upon us and with them the excitement of entertaining during the festive season!
Whether you’re hosting a holiday party, joining a “make your own themed cocktail night” with the girls, or simply looking for some new ideas to mix up the traditional family get-together, a selection of creative Christmas drinks will be sure to have you feeling festive in no time.
For the perfect “ginspiration” for your Christmas cocktails, Ryan McInerney, Manager at Galgorm’s Cocktail Bar and Gin Library, shares his passion for mixology, his top tips for the perfect gin serve, and a selection of cocktail recipes that will be sure to impress all your family and friends this holiday season.
Ryan, tell us the path that led you to your role of Manager at Galgorm’s Cocktail Bar and Gin Library.
Prior to working at Galgorm, I worked as an aeronautical engineer for a few years. I decided that I wanted to explore a change of career and when looking for jobs, I came across a bartender position in Gillies Bar which caught my eye. I initially thought I would stay for a few months to gain experience but a few weeks after pulling my first pint I quickly developed a passion for the industry, and in particular for making cocktails. If guests requested a cocktail I was unfamiliar with, I enjoyed looking it up for them, learning how to make it and expanding my knowledge. This ultimately led me to my current role as Manager of the Cocktail Bar & Gin Library.
What is your proudest accomplishment behind the bar?
Personally, a proud moment for me was when the Uncle of one of the owners of the iconic Dead Rabbit bar in New York city told me that I made the best old fashioned cocktail he has ever had. That will probably stick with me for a long time! Professionally speaking, I am very proud that the Galgorm Cocktail Bar & Gin Library has recently been awarded the Best Gin Bar in Ireland. I am passionate about furthering our reputation as a mecca for gin lovers and have set myself the goal of winning Best Cocktail Bar in Ireland within the next couple of years. We have a team of highly-skilled mixologists here, working in the stunning setting of Galgorm’s bespoke glass Conservatory, and our guests can enjoy an array of classic and more unique cocktails overlooking the stunning views of the River Maine. It’s a wonderful experience and a great way to spend an evening, especially at this time of year, and we enjoy bringing people together to catch up and spend time together over a drink – or two!
What’s your favourite drink?
I love BCN, which is a Catalonian premium gin bursting with Mediterranean flavours. It’s a good one to try if you like Nordes gin, from Galicia in northern Spain. Both are soft, fruity and very thirst-quenching. The grape and apple flavours of the BCN gin are totally unparalleled and I highly recommend that gin lovers give it a taste. My top tip for the perfect serve, is to try a bit of a controversial combination – Bloom gin served with strawberry and black pepper. I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t like it – they are always so amazed with how the pepper brings out the flavour of the strawberry.
What’s your favourite cocktail?
You might be surprised to hear that I love a French 75 – as I previously didn’t like gin nor champagne, yet this cocktail contains both. I have come to love this drink - it’s fruity, flavoursome and great for cleansing the palate, so serves well as an aperitif before you tuck in to your dinner. It’s also really boozy – the perfect Christmas day cocktail!
What’s one piece of advice you would give for cocktail creation?
There is always so much to learn when it comes to making cocktails – no matter how experienced you are or how long you have been working in a bar. There will always be new flavour combinations to mix together or new spirits brought to market that you can try with your favourite cocktail to see how the taste differs. It’s also surprising just how much one tiny change can revamp a drink’s look, taste or smell – whether the addition of a botanical flavouring, a change in alcohol percentage or the removal of sugar syrup. My advice is to just have fun with it, go with your gut, and never be afraid to try something new.
What cocktails do you recommend for Christmas 2022?
The cocktails I’ll be making this Christmas are called ‘The Night Before’ and ‘Plum in the Grass.’ The Night Before is a light and zesty cocktail, making it easy to drink and a good choice of drink to kick off your Christmas celebration, before other drinks or any food is served. Served in a champagne flute, I’ll be mixing up The Night Before on Christmas Eve for my family and friends to toast to the season. The Plum in the Grass is sweet but with a refreshing botanical twist that makes it a firm favourite for cocktail night with your friends – served in a coupe it gives those twinkly Emily in Paris vibes.
Below Galgorm Gin Library Manager Ryan shares his favourite festive tipples, that are sure to be at the top of everyone’s Christmas list this year.
Galgorm Gin Library Manager Ryan’s Christmas Cocktail Recipes
The Night Before
35ml Hennessy / 15ml Poire Williams / 15ml Quince puree / 20ml Lemon / London Essence Ginger Ale / Nutmeg Sugar Rim
Rim glass with lemon juice and coat rim with nutmeg sugar
Combine all ingredients except ginger ale in iced cocktail shaker
Shake hard for 10-15 seconds
Double strain into champagne flute
Top with Ginger Ale
Plum in the Grass
35ml Zubrowka Bison Grass Vodka / 7.5ml Green Chartreuse / 20ml Apple / 20ml Plum and Thyme Cordial
Combine all ingredients in iced cocktail shaker
Shake hard for 10-15 seconds
Double strain into chilled coupe glass