Buried deep inside the walls of The Savoy Hotel's American Bar lies a 90 year-old cocktail shaker filled with Plymouth Gin, Cointreau and lemon juice: The White Lady cocktail. It was lovingly laid down in 1927 by Harry Craddock - then head bartender - during an Art Deco refurb at the height of the Jazz Age. But despite many attempts to locate the ancient silver vessel, it has never been found.
When it comes to cocktails the Cubans have been doing it right for years; The Mojito, The Daiquiri and The Cuba Libre each originated here, the hailed home of rum. Cuban bartenders were once hands-down the most celebrated in the world and their influence stretched far and wide. Feeling nostalgic? No need, Cuba's drinking culture lives on and it's just a cool as when it began.
I love a good cocktail. Unfortunately, I'm not very good at ordering them and nine times out of ten, what looks great on the menu turns out to be florescent pink and arrives topped with the entire contents of a can of spray cream. And glitter. Not exactly the sophisticated look I would like to project, but one I can't seem to escape.
Whether your get-together this year is a few quiet drinks or a raucous 'Hooray! We survived that Mayan nonsense' affair, a few drinks on standby is a necessity. But if giving gifts means you've been mercilessly raiding your wallet and are beginning to resent that bothersome generous streak you seem to have acquired, then avoiding the top-shelf stuff is a necessity.