Drinking with Dickens


An old-fashioned mulled wine, as enjoyed at the Fezziwigs’ party in A Christmas Carol. You can also make an alcohol free version for non-drinkers and designated carriage drivers.

A glass of Negus cocktailServes 24


  • 600ml red wine or red grape juice
  • 1.1 litres boiling water
  • 100g sugarcubes
  • 1 unwaxed lemon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg


  1. Rub the sugarcubes on the lemon rind until they soak up enough lemon oil to turn yellow.
  2. Mix the sugarcubes, nutmeg and lemon juice in a bowl with the wine or grape juice.
  3. Pour over the boiling water, stir, then allow to stand for 10 minutes to cool a little.
  4. Serve in small mugs or glasses, garnished with a sliver of lemon peel.

Rum Flip

This one is spicy and thick like cake batter, perfect for warming the soul after a night of carol singing, or ghosts. Many of Dickens’ novels feature flip-drinkers!

Chrismas cocktail - Rum Flip 250wServes 6


  • 1 egg yoke
  • 1 heaped tablespoon of sugar
  • 125ml dark rum
  • 250ml hot water
  • Ground nutmeg
  • Method
    1. Beat the egg yolk, rum and sugar together in a jug.
    2. Add the hot water and stir for 2 minutes. Don’t worry, it’s meant to look a little curdled!
    3. Serve in small glasses and sprinkle with a pinch of nutmeg.

Gin Sling

Ice cold and classy. Dickens enjoyed his first of these in America in 1842. A cocktail from a time before cocktails were even called cocktails.

Chrismas cocktail - Gin Sling 250wServes 1


  • 30ml gin
  • 30ml cold water
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • Icecubes
  • Ground nutmeg


  1. Combine gin, water and sugar in a glass.
  2. Add three ice cubes and stir.
  3. Sprinkle a small pinch of nutmeg on top to serve.

Wassail Punch

A Victorian Christmas Eve party pleaser. Scale up as required.

A bowl of Negus cocktailServes 6


  • 4 small apples, cores removed
  • 1 litre beer or cider
  • 4 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 pinches ground cloves
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • Cinnamon sticks (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 190C.
  2. Score each apple around the middle using a sharp knife, place them in an ovenproof dish and roast until they’ve softened and the skins are beginning to split – around 45 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the beer or cider in a saucepan over a low heat. Add the honey and spices and stir well. Continue to heat gently until the surface of the liquid starts to foam.
  4. Remove pan from heat and add the lemon slices and roasted apples.
  5. Allow to stand for 10 minutes, for the punch to absorb the fruity flavours.
  6. Ladle into small mugs or glasses, and garnish with a cinnamon stick if you like.

Please enjoy responsibly!

First published: 8 December 2016