We’re dreaming of a White (and Red) Christmas.

Christmas is one of those times of year when we can indulge in a little extra alcohol.  That’s one of the reasons why an Irish food and drink hamper is a popular yuletide gift choice - especially a carefully curated wine gift from Hampers & Co.

Not only do you deserve to relax by the fire with a delicious glass of wine or your favourite spirit from a Hampers & Co gift… but adding alcohol to your Christmas cooking will invigorate your meals!

We’re very proud of our award-winning wines from boutique vineyards and our carefully chosen craft beers & Irish spirits.  While all our beverages are exceptional to drink and always crowd-pleasing, we’ll forgive you for cooking with a little bit, because the festive season offers a dazzling array of ways to enhance your Christmas foods by adding a splash of your favourite tipple.

With our love of creating complementing food and drink gifts, we thought we’d share some of our favourite traditional, and a few surprisingly successful, combinations of food and drink to try in your Christmas cooking;

Mulled-wine-merriment - On the off-chance that there’s a ladle of spicy mulled wine left over, have you ever had the pleasure of mulled-wine cheese cake? Giving any dessert a mulled-wine twist is easy – just add the vegetarian gelatine to the liquid (in the correct ratio) and pour over your cheesecake and return it to the fridge to form a delicious Christmas-jelly topping.

Sometimes life calls for nothing but a hot chocolate beverage... especially on Christmas Eve.  So put your feet up with a hot chocolate adorned with a swirl of Baileys Irish Cream.  And a splash of Baileys in Crème brûlée is also truly divine!

A Very Sherry Christmas - To brighten your soups - just add a cap of sherry right before serving to give it a little je ne sais quoi kick. Sherry is also a great choice for deglazing and for sauces. 

Glam up your gravy - A Christmas dinner can all hinge on the gravy. Rev it up by making it especially festive by stirring in some cranberry sauce and a glass red wine, if you don’t have Sherry.  And for an extra juicy and tender turkey, pop a small oven-proof container filled with white into the oven - the meat will be delicately infused with the aromatic steam!

To elevate the gravy even further - make a pan sauce. Once you’ve removed the meat from the skillet, pour some more wine or craft Irish beer into the pan and start scraping the bottom. This will dislodge all the stuck, caramelized bits and turn them into a thick and flavourful sauce.

Gleeful glaze - Brown sugar and mustard are a classic combination for a ham glaze; but throwing in a drop of Port adds a rosy colour and complex, sweet flavour for a glaze that builds a crispy crust on a salty, smoky ham.

Why not combine your post-dinner drink with the highlight of any meal: dessert!

Brandy is a delicious addition to all kinds of dishes especially rich custards for Christmas puddings. And Whisky can be used in both sweet and savoury cream sauces but have your ever tried Whisky Cheese ‘Irish’ Fondue? (This is a super easy and fun savoury appetizer that your guests will love.)

GIN-gle Bells - A Pasta dish during the Christmas break can be a welcome culinary change – ‘tis the season to add a capful of Irish gin to the sauce while it’s simmering.  

Irish Gin is very flavourful, so you’re only going to want to use it when you need a bit of herbal, floral flavour added to your dish. It is definitely strong, so be careful not to overpower the other tastes in your dish. Only add gin in moderation, as you would other flavours like cayenne pepper.

We love our Irish craft beer and creamy Irish cheeses: you’d be hard pushed to find better partners. The winning combo allows you to give cheese on toast some serious upgrade by creating a rarebit mix – a kind of turbo cheese on toast with an almighty punch. Combine spring onion, beer, butter, egg and breadcrumbs in a pan, then chill the delicious potion until set. To serve, pile it high onto toast and grill until the rarebit mix renders down to a molten, oozy mess – a perfect lunch during the holidays.

Prosecco in risotto. Tequila in fettuccine. Vodka in cauliflower cheese sauce. There’s no end to the food and beverage Christmas marriages.

But, while you don’t want to drown your food, or yourself, in alcohol, a moderate amount is just right. The alcohol will just add a little depth without tasting too intense. But when you’re combining two of everyone's favourite things, how can you go wrong?

Trust your tastes and your instincts, and you're sure to be the toast of the town.

So, when you give an Irish food & drink hamper from Hampers & co, they will always surprise and delight. And we’ve made sure that nothing will go to waste with these little tips.

Spirited cooking awaits and put plenty of Rum in the Pa rum pum pum pum!

Wishing you merriment and happiness this season,

XOXO from Hampers & Co

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