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The Lidl Christmas Coach: It’s cocktail season

In this instalment, the Lidl Christmas Coach, Elaine McDonnell uses the extensive Lidl drinks range to create four cocktails for the party season. Photographs: Conor Mulhern

In part two of our Christmas food and drink series, built around the Lidl Deluxe range, Elaine McDonnell, the Christmas Coach, meets Chris Treacy, one of the stars of the Lidl Christmas ad

The Lidl Christmas Coach

Christmas offers so many ways to celebrate with food and drink. To help plan for success, we asked cook, restaurant manager and party planner Elaine McDonnell to take Lidl’s Deluxe range as her inspiration and coach us through the Christmas party season.

Over the four-part series she’ll tackle cocktail parties, a traditional Christmas and lots more.

In this instalment she uses the extensive Lidl drinks range to create four cocktails for the party season.

Chris Treacy, one of the stars of the Lidl Christmas ad, and Elaine McDonnell, the Christmas Coach
Chris Treacy, one of the stars of the Lidl Christmas ad, and Elaine McDonnell, the Christmas Coach

Christmas is a great time to throw a cocktail party and you don’t have to be a professional mixologist to have a successful one. With a little bit of preparation you can offer a range of cocktails that you can be proud to serve – all you need is inspiration.

We travelled to Galway’s Tribeton bar to meet with Chris Tracey, a deputy store manager in one of Lidl’s Galway stores and also one of the stars of the company’s heartwarming Christmas TV ad to help him design four Christmas cocktails.

How did it feel to be part of the Christmas ad and how did it all happen?

I had a split-second appearance in a previous Lidl ad that led to this one. I’ve no acting experience but there was a great team and filming was terrific – long but relaxing. I enjoyed it a lot and found that it really built on my customer relationships. Customers love to ask me about the experience and it has really helped me get to know them better.

What did your family think of your new-found fame?

My grandmother has never been more proud. She was delighted when she heard that I was going to be part of the Christmas ad and she spent a lot of time on the phone letting everyone know.

Let’s talk cocktails. What is your favourite cocktail?

That’s easy – it’s a whiskey-based Old Fashioned. If I go anywhere new, like a hotel or a bar, I will always try their version of an Old Fashioned. It sets a standard. It’s a classic and is the original cocktail.

Nibbles go well at a cocktail party, what nibbles would you serve?

Lidl do a great range of party food. It’s really good food and it’s easy too. Lots of choice and you can just throw it into the oven. In the Deluxe range there is lots of cracker food, again easy to serve and it means I can enjoy the party myself.

What cocktails would you serve at your own party?

An Old Fashioned for sure and the others listed here would be ideal.

Top tips on running a smooth party

  • Keep it simple: The last thing you want is to get stuck making complicated cocktails all evening. Make time to enjoy your own party and, of course, your guests

  • Plan ahead: allow 1-2 drinks per hour per guest and allow 3-4 appetizers per guest.

  • Prepare your garnishes in advance along with the simple syrup if you are using it

  • Equip yourself: Have all of your cocktail tools ready. Measuring glasses, cocktail shakers and strainers, a bar spoon, muddler and of course plenty of glasses

  • Food: Lidl have a great selection of hassle free nibbles, easy to cook and serve

  • Alcohol free: Treat the non drinkers to some of Lidl’s Deluxe Fruit Pressé, Choose from a choice of Blood Orange & Cranberry, Grape & Elderflower, Italian Apple Pressé, or Sicilian Lemonade.

1. Chocolate White Russian (with Lidl's Pota Cúig Irish Vodka)

This is an easy cocktail to make with cream and chocolate, making it a perfectly indulgent Christmas cocktail.

Ingredients (one serving)

  • 35ml Pota Cúig Irish wheat Vodka

  • 25ml Deluxe Irish Chocolate Cream Liqueur

  • 25ml double cream

  • Garnish: chocolate shards

Method

  • Pour vodka and liqueur over ice cubes

  • Add double cream by pouring gently over the back of a dessert spoon so that it settles on top of the vodka and liqueur

  • Garnish with chocolate shards and serve in a “rocks glass” (see photo)

2. Apple and Gin Bramble with Lidl's Wild Burrow Irish Gin

This cocktail is a delicious classic combination of apple and blackberry. You will need two types of ice in this recipe and you also get to shake the cocktail shaker.

Ingredients (one serving)

  • 35ml Wild Burrow Irish Gin 4

  • 5ml cloudy apple juice

  • 30ml lemon juice

  • 15ml Creme de Cassis

  • Garnish: apple slice and blackberry or strawberry

Method

  • Pour the gin, apple juice and lemon juice over cubed ice into a cocktail shaker.

  • Shake to combine and chill

  • Almost fill a rocks glass with crushed ice and using a strainer pour the ingredients over the crushed ice leaving the cubed ice behind

  • Add more crushed ice

  • Drizzle with Cassis and garnish

3. Christmas Old Fashioned with Lidl's Dundalgan Irish Whiskey

This cocktail requires a little bit of preparation and a little bit of skill but it is easy to master and is definitely a cocktail to impress with this Christmas.

Ingredients (one serving)

  • 35ml Dundalgan special reserve charred cask Irish Whiskey

  • 2 drops of orange Angostura bitters

  • 3 marinated cranberries 1 tbsp of cranberry simple syrup (recipe below)

  • Orange peel

  • Garnish: sugared cranberries

Method

The marinated and sugared cranberries and the cranberry simple syrup are all made at the same time.

  • Make a simple syrup and add a large handful of cranberries to the still hot syrup, allow to cool and leave in the fridge for eight hours

  • Remove the cranberries from the syrup, keeping the syrup and use half of the cranberries to put into the Christmas Old Fashioned and half to garnish

  • To make the sugared cranberries simply coat them in caster sugar and spread evenly on a baking sheet. Let this stand at room temperature for one hour. With very little effort and just a bit of time you have a cranberry simple syrup, marinated cranberries and sugared cranberries all ready to impress

  • When the time comes to serve your Old Fashioned, simply muddle three marinated cranberries, two drops of Angostura bitters and 1 tbsp of the syrup together. Add whiskey and ice and stir

  • Squeeze oils from the orange peel by simply twisting some peel over the glass then wipe the rim of the glass with the peel and drop into the drink

  • Garnish with three sugared cranberries skewered on a cocktail stick.

4. Pear and Ginger Bellini with Lidl's Prosecco Spumante

A traditional Bellini is made with a peach puree and sparkling wine. This recipe involves more seasonal flavours. A little preparation is also required. Lidl’s Prosecco Spumante is a great sparkling wine to serve with this cocktail.

Ingredients (one serving)

  • 2 tbsp of ginger pear simple syrup (recipe in method)

  • Prosecco to fill glass

  • Garnish: thinly-sliced fresh pear

Method

First make the simple syrup. This recipe should give you enough for a dozen cocktails.

  • Bring 200ml of water and 200g of sugar to the boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved

  • Add a 2cm piece of peeled, fresh ginger and allow to infuse for 30 minutes

  • In the meantime puree a fresh pear in a blender

  • Remove ginger from syrup and add the pear

  • Allow to cool before use

  • When the time comes to make your cocktail pour 2 tbsp of the pear and ginger syrup into a Champagne flute

  • Pour chilled Prosecco to fill glass and garnish with fresh pear.

What is simple syrup?

This syrup is called simple for a reason, it really is simple to make. Used in lots of cocktail recipes, it has the same sweetness as sugar but as the sugar is dissolved it ensures that there are no gritty sugar granules in the bottom of the glass.

As sugar is a natural preservative, the syrup will keep in a glass jar in the fridge for up to a month.

This recipe will make approximately 16 measures of simple syrup.

  • Bring 200ml of water and 200g of sugar to the boil

  • Stir until all sugar is dissolved

  • Remove from heat and allow to cool. Simple!

Next week: A traditional Christmas with Mary and Adrian Spillet, the stars of the Lidl Christmas ad

and more.

More for everyone this Christmas

Everyone’s favourite time of year is fast approaching and here at Lidl, we want to make every moment as easy for you as possible.

We’ve put together an amazing range this year and we think you’ll be as excited about it as we are.

With top-quality, fresh turkeys and hams, locally sourced fruit and veg as well as our premium Deluxe and Favorina ranges on offer, you’re sure to have the most special Christmas yet when you shop with us – while stocks last.

For more great offers see lidl.ie/en/christmas.htm

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