For hospitality workers wondering what cocktails to push over the Christmas period, according to a survey from UK hospitality supplier Nisbets, it turns out the UK still favours old fashioned (or classic) cocktails like Mojitos, Margaritas and Pina Coladas over newer and sexier tipples like The Hugo or The New York Sour.

The Nisbets survey also found that despite none of the top five cocktails containing vodka, Brits listed the spirit as their number one cocktail base.
They also found the UK’s top five Christmas cocktails, with The Snowball coming out as number one.

  • Nations Favourite Cocktail Revealed
  • Brits prefer a classic cocktail, according to a recent survey
  • Lack of knowledge around cocktails content could pose a potential danger to those who drink cocktails
  • Cost is a deterrent for many Brits when it comes to cocktails

Cocktails have grown in popularity ever since their creation in the 1800s, however, despite the plethora of newly invented creations available to us each year, it seems that Brits prefer a classic tipple, according to a recent survey.

The Top 5 Christmas Cocktails

  1. Snowball
  2. Eggnog
  3. Buck’s fizz
  4. Mulled Wine Cocktail
  5. White Russian

The study surveyed 1,000 UK adults to discover the nations favourite cocktail and found that their drink of choice was resoundingly the fresh and minty Mojito.
Despite none of the top 5 cocktails containing vodka, Brits listed the spirit as their number one cocktail base. This raises concerns about the UK publics’ ignorance around alcohol content, which could be particularly harmful when it comes to the festive party season.
Lack of knowledge around what we are actually consuming could pose a potential danger to those who drink cocktails, particularly regarding both the percentage of alcohol and the number of units per drink – which can quickly add up.
Whilst often good value when considering the amount of alcohol per serving, it seems that cost is a deterrent for many Brits when it comes to cocktails, with many deeming them to be a treat rather than their first choice.

Dean Starling, Head Development Chef at Nisbets, commented on the findings: “It’s interesting to see people’s choices when it comes to the UK’s favourite cocktails. We’ve seen a boom in bartenders creating new and exciting drinks in the last decade, so it’s surprising to see such traditional drinks in the top five, as opposed to more contemporary tipples with prossecco bases or flavoured spirits. Sometimes you can’t beat a classic!

“Christmas is a popular time for experimenting with your drinks, and cocktails are one of the best ways to enjoy different flavours and tastes.

However, Uncertainty around the alcohol content or level can lead to people getting more intoxicated than they planned, so it’s important to stay safe around the holidays and know your limits.


‘Tis the season – not only to be jolly, but to tempt more customers through your doors and keep them staying longer.

Thanks to a warmer winter and changing festive habits, the on-trade experienced like-for-like sales growth of 4.1%[1] in 2018 versus 2017, according to Heineken UK Greenpaper research. And, in 2018, the last working Friday before Christmas – dubbed Mad Friday – had the highest rate of sale over the festive period. Sales even eclipsed New Year’s Eve, as consumers across the country celebrated in the lead up to Christmas Day.

This year, Mad Friday is set to fall on 21 December, and there is a big opportunity to boost sales in the weeks leading up to Christmas and New Year. With Christmas a time for sharing, Heineken UK has compiled insights and tips – underpinned by The Greenpaper research – to support you in maximising on the occasion and hear the ringing of tills throughout December.


Premiumise, premiumise, premiumise

Consumers are willing to pay more and try new drinks at Christmas, and their on-trade experiences and decisions are often treat-led. 40% expect to see a wider range over the period[5], presenting the perfect opportunity to push them into trading up across categories. This reinforces the We’re Worth It and Live Better drivers, worth £72M and £58M incremental value over three years respectively.

Visibility: 51% of consumers who tried new drinks over Christmas in 2018 were influenced to do so by promotions or adverts. Witnessing another customer enjoying a particular serve prompted 22% of experimental consumers to order the same drink, so it’s key for outlets to introduce festive or innovative serves to remain relevant and keep them front of mind.

Quality: Over a third (34%) of customers would pay extra for a better quality drink over Christmas than at any other time of the year. Word of mouth recommendations and return business are essential, so ensure you have a good cellar management routine, knowledgeable staff and a balanced range.


Festive spirit

Driven by the phenomenal popularity of gin, spirits saw a 9% uplift in value share over Christmas last year in comparison to 2017. Some categories also play heavily into the occasion, with cream liqueurs experiencing a 139% rate of sale growth over the festive period.

  • Seasonal cocktails: From hot gin toddies and spiced negronis, to eggnog and Bucks Fizz, consider adding a mix of classic cocktails and creative concoctions to your drinks list.
  • Turn up the heat: Given the trends for more warming flavours, why not incorporate a mulled wine or cider to your offering?



Inspired by the aromas and flavours of Christmas, this Old-Fashioned Christmas is a delicious combination of spice, mixed with the pure, clean flavour of Smirnoff No.21 Vodka.


  • 35ml Vodka
  • 50ml Apple juice
  • 1tsp Cranberry sauce
  • 1 Pinch of cinnamon powder
  • 1 Piece of orange zest
  • 1 Piece star anise


Fill a glass with ice. Using a jigger, combine Smirnoff No. 21 Vodka, apple juice, 1 teaspoon cranberry sauce and orange zest into glass and stir thoroughly. Sprinkle cinnamon powder over the drink and place a star anise on top to garnish.


When it’s snowing outside, but you’re by the fireside, this warming cocktail featuring David Beckham’s Haig Club Single Grain Whisky balances rich fruits and gentle spice.


  • 25ml HAIG CLUB™ Single Grain Scotch Whisky
  • 15ml Port
  • 1 Clove
  • 10ml Lemon juice
  • 10 ml Orange juice
  • 10ml Simple syrup
  • 1 Splash of blackberry liqueur


Add ingredients in a tankard. Top up with boiling water. Garnish with a cinnamon quill and/or a dehydrated orange zest.


Johnnie Walker Red Label mulled with ginger, orange and a touch of rosemary creates a wonderful warm cocktail which highlights the spices and richness of the Scotch within.


  • 50ml Boiling water
  • 25ml Ginger syrup
  • 1 Stalk of rosemary
  • 2 Strips of orange peel/zest
  • 2 Dashes of orange bitters
  • To Make the Ginger Syrup
  • 250ml Ginger Juice (skin ginger then juice with an electric juicer)
  • 750ml Water
  • 1kg of White caster sugar


Mix the 250ml of ginger juice and 750ml water with 1kg of white caster sugar until dissolved. Place in a sterilised bottle & chill.
Once Ginger Syrup is prepared, place all liquid ingredients into heated urn and stir to mix. Keep at a warm temperature but do not boil. Add 4 large twists of orange and 2 sprigs of rosemary per litre of liquid. Serve by ladling the liquid in to a handled glass and garnish with rosemary and orange twists.


This is a perfect option to offer a group of friends celebrating the season – a festive blend of Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum, amaretto liqueur, cranberry juice and cider on the rocks with a cinnamon stick.


  • 35ml Captain Morgan Spiced
  • 10ml Amaretto liqueur
  • 70ml Cranberry juice
  • 25ml Apple cider


Combine all the ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake well. Strain into an ice filled rocks glass. Garnish with a and cinnamon stick (optional).


A refreshing drink as crisp as the season, this classic Gordon’s Elderflower Gin and tonic is perfect for guests who are looking for an alternative to a rich, hot drink.


  • 25ml Elderflower Gin
  • 100ml Tonic water


Fill a highball glass with cubed ice, add Gordon’s Elderflower Gin and top with tonic water. Stir to combine and garnish with a lime wedge, cucumber slice and half a strawberry.

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About Dominic Johnson 395 Articles
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