Oh boy, if anyone has earned a drink this festive season, it’s us. All of us. You, me, the frontline staff, the politicians, the posties and the lady who works my local supermarket who always seems to be working no matter what time of the day or night I pop in.

We all deserve to be able to kick back and relax over the Christmas break. Of course, the lady in Woolies will probably be working through. Some people never seem to get a break, no matter how hard they’ve worked for one.

Have you also noticed someone like her in your world? Someone who could do with a bit of recognition for keeping on carrying on during such a tumultuous couple of years? I think I’m going to bring that hardworking lady a small gift the next time I’m heading in for groceries.

Whoever that person is for you, please let them know they’ve been seen. It’s been a tough old time for everyone, but even tougher for some. It’s the right time of year for random acts of kindness, so spread them as far and wide as you can.

Of course, it’s always a good time of year for doing something kind. Haven’t we all made it through the past couple because of our connection to others? I know I would have been lost without the kindness, humour and generosity of others, and I’m sure that’s true for you too.

Now that we’re all able to have the gang over to ours again, it seems churlish not to host an occasion to thank the ones we love. Nothing OTT, mind. We’re all still too exhausted by doing nothing to do too much. But a small gathering, with a special cocktail seems suitable, don’t you think?

If you can’t be bothered whipping up your own cocktails, there are plenty you can ship in. My current favourite bottled drinks for the season are:

Bottle Rocket Double Spiced Berry Negroni – $35
Raspberry and pink peppercorns give the usual orange garnish a shake-up in this raspberry vermouth, pink peppercorn gin and Campari favourite. Two serves per bottle and it comes with a complimentary Golden Age Cinema movie night rental, so make a night of it. 200 ml

Maybe Sammy Café Tropical – $69
When your bevvie is both alcoholic and caffeinated, you know you’re in for a good time. Maybe Sammy’s rum-infused pineapple with almond and coffee espresso martini will definitely get your party started (go easy or it will also get it finished quick smart as well!). 500 ml

Foreign Return Jamun Martini – $75
This is a sophisticated drink with Jamum (Indian black plum)-infused gin and martini bianco (which is spicier and sweeter than the usual dry vermouth) served in a Pauwa – a type of Indian hip flask that’s known as a ‘drinker’s best friend’. Definitely a keeper. 500 ml

Of course, homemade is always nicer. Especially when you can be extra-generous with your pours. A good festive punch will always go down a treat, so try my new favourite vodka variety. The red and green apples and festive spices make it feel like Christmas to me.

Spiced apple vodka punch
2 litre clear 100% apple juice
6 cinnamon sticks
2 whole cloves
Small knob ginger, peeled and finely sliced
2 pink lady apples, thinly sliced
2 granny smith apples, thinly sliced
1 litre chilled vodka
1 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
250 gm raspberries
½ cup fresh mint leaves
Loads of ice to serve

Put half the apple juice, cinnamon, cloves in a saucepan and bring to a simmer for two minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Pour into a large 4 litre jug with remaining apple juice. Refrigerate until chilled.

Strain apple juice to remove cinnamon and cloves. Then add vodka, sliced apples, raspberries and mint. Return to refrigerator to chill completely. Add plenty of ice just before serving.

‘Tis the season to be jolly, so pour yourself a good slug and cheers to a fine year ahead.

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