Food Tales: Polly Jolly Christmas

This is a really sore spot for me, but my father hates Christmas. In the lead-up to festivities, he’s ambivalent to any Christmas cheer. I’m not sure if I’ve ever gotten over the trauma of him throwing my precious small plastic Christmas tree away one year. Every year, all through Christmas dinner, he sits in a corner eating quietly and rolling his eyes at Christmas clichés. Then, a magical moment arrives. When it’s time to douse the Christmas pudding in brandy and flambé it, finally, I see a spark in his eyes and he gets excited.

Even if you don’t enjoy the shopping, eating frenzy that Christmas is sometimes, I think almost everyone has some festive moment to look forward to. I’m not embarrassed to say that I love Christmas. Not in a mystical or spiritual way, but for its full kitschy, silly glory.

This punch says so much about Christmas to me. First of all, it comes in a great big bowl, so everyone can help themselves to seconds. It’s ruby red, orange-y, floral, leafy, warming, fizzy and definitely alcoholic. And just to go full Martha Stewart/elf, it’s topped with a ice ‘wreath’ filled with rosemary sprigs and clementine slices. Because if you can’t embrace a theme at Christmas, then when can you?

Pomegranate Elderflower Ginger Punch

¾ cup whisky (or go the whole hog and do 1 cup!)
1 cup Cointreau or other orange liqueur
3 cups pomegranate juice
⅓ cup elderflower cordial
1 cup ginger beer (or even champagne – but up the elderflower cordial for sweetness)
Juice of 1 lemon
Bunch of rosemary sprigs
Clementine or orange slices

To make the ice ring, lay most of the rosemary sprigs and clementine or orange slices around in a ring-shaped cake tin. Cover with water and freeze until solid.

In a big bowl, stir all the other ingredients and the remaining few rosemary sprigs together. Add the ice ring and serve!