It’s Beginning to Taste a lot Like Christmas 

by | Aug 4, 2023 | Catering, Features | 0 comments

Christmas drinks

Rob Ward of Gruppo Cimbali suggests spicing up the Christmas drink menu with a festive twist and here he shares two suggestions from his own recipe book that your restaurant customers will love.

Bring a little bit of Christmas cheer to customers by getting creative with the seasonal drink menu. 

A bean to cup machine such as the Cimbali S30 (which I’ve used in making these drinks ) automates key aspects of the brewing cycle and drives consistency into the finished drink. This  can help make the task of creating interesting variations on classic festive recipes that little bit easier.  

Fairytale of A Spicy New York Irish Coffee 

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When it’s prepared correctly, an Irish Coffee is a fabulous end to a meal or a warming treat for weary Christmas shoppers. Here’s my take on the classic recipe which was inspired by the Pogues’ Christmas song featuring Kirsty MacColl. 


  • 40ml shot Cinnamon coffee or a coffee with Christmas spice, chocolate and sherry flavour notes  
  • Whipped cream to top 


To make spiced tea syrup simply brew a mug of your favourite spiced tea. I use Jeeves & Jehrico Spiced Masala Chai then add equal weight of dark muscovado sugar and heat gently in a pan until all the sugar is dissolved and slightly reduced. Quick cheat: Use three parts Monin Muscovado sugar syrup and one part Jeeves and Jericho Spiced Bombay Chai concentrate and stir well to integrate. Spiced Bombay Chai concentrate and stir well to integrate. 

So many Irish coffees are made in the traditional Irish coffee glass, quite often with a cheaper, bolder coffee and cheapest whiskey from the shelf. But in this recipe, I serve the drink in a smaller, piccolo/cortado glass and reduce the amount of cream that sits on top of the drink making it a much tastier balance of the coffee, whisky, sugar and cream, and a little bit more like a dessert. 

Add the sugar syrup and whiskey to a preheated glass and stir well to incorporate the flavours. If using a Cimbali S30 you can program the machine to deliver the next stages automatically. First 20ml of water is added to the whiskey and sugar mix, followed by the espresso shot. Stir the drink to mix the flavours together.  

Now for the topping. Gently whipped cream is the traditional topping for this drink and I shake the cream in a small glass bottle until slightly thickened and then pour through a sieve to remove any bubbles. For a lighter option, use semi-skimmed milk through the S30 using the Snow Foam option to create a light and luscious cream milk top. For a dairy free option why not try Oatly Whippable Creamy Oat to add a great layer of luxury.  

The Pogues’ single malt whiskey brings great notes of peanut butter and s’mores and the muscovado syrup adds a spicy, festive edge to this delicious drink. Your Irish Coffees will never be the same again!  

Santa please stop here  (Alcohol-free)

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It’s always good to have a non-alcoholic option on the menu and this is where Monin can help out with its vast array of flavoured syrups. It’s easy to stock up on the popular flavours of vanilla, caramel and hazelnut. But, with a little thought we can mix things up using some of the more unusual options, creating delicious drinks and telling a story as we go.  

This recipe is inspired by the cookies and milk that we leave out for Santa. Some people switch the milk for sherry and that got me thinking about an idea for a great drink. 

There are some natural processed coffees, as well as some experimental process coffees that have a boozy edge to them which can give sherry and rum notes, without the need to actually  add alcohol to the drink. For example, La Chumeca Anaerobic fermentation coffee from Costa Rica works well and gives you the boozy notes needed in this recipe. Yes, you can brew specialty coffee like this very well on a bean to cup machine and for this recipe I used the Cimbali S30.  


  • 40g shot of coffee (see above recommendation) 
  • 5ml shot Monin Pumpkin Spice syrup 
  • 10ml shot Monin chocolate Cookie syrup 
  • 20ml Oatly Whippable Creamy Oat 
  • Maldon Sea Salt 
  • Ice  
  • Carrot twist to decorate 


I used 17g of coffee with 2s pre-infusion to help develop the boozy flavour notes and a yield of 40g of espresso poured directly onto 5ml of Monin Pumpkin spice syrup, 10ml Monin Chocolate Cookie syrup, 20ml of Oatly Whippable Creamy Oat and a couple of flakes of Maldon Sea Salt; Stir together so the hot coffee melts and combines well with syrup and the oat cream, then pour into a cocktail shaker ¼ filled with ice. Shake hard, double strain into a Martini glass and serve with a carrot twist, just for Rudolph. 

This creamy, dairy free treat will be a great no alcohol pick me up for anyone in the middle of Christmas shopping. 

Experimenting with different flavour syrups to get a great balance in your drinks is so important. For example, adding salt or using a saline solution, as well as using pepper cordials like Paragons pepper collections cordials can bring balance and a wonderful spice note to the drink. Or using different flavour bitters like orange bitters can work well in Christmas drinks and reduce the perceived sweetness of the drink. 

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