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Top festive tipples

Stock up the drinks cabinet for Christmas with these beers, wines and spirits, made in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire.

SPIRITS

Black Bridge Distillery

The jewel in the crown of St Albans-based Black Bridge Distillery is their Blue Admiral Gin (£39 per bottle), which actually changes colour when you mix it with tonic. But for Christmas they’ve launched these fab gingerbread and Christmas pudding with Cranberry gin liqueurs which light up AND have a snowglobe effect when you shake them – strictly adults only though! They’re available on Amazon for a limited time.

Copper in the Clouds

Based on Dowsetts Farm in Ware, Copper in the Clouds use locally produced wheat, and botanicals foraged on the farm (where possible), to produce small batch and slightly bonkers spirits in gorgeous packaging. Each tells its own story, through the production, ingredients, flavour and bottle designs. Check out the festive Mulled Blackberry Gin Liqueur (£24.99 for 500ml), with clementine, red wine and infused with cinnamon, star anise, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and cloves. Stir into warmed cloudy apple juice for a delicious cocktail.

Old Vodka

Old Vodka

Distilled right here in Hertfordshire – Stevenage to be precise – Old Vodka is a premium spirit made using a 200-year-old Georgian family recipe which has been handed down through three generations. Still a family fun business it’s made with all the original passion and it’s won a Great Taste award to prove it. Now there are 15 different flavours to choose from, including sloe and caramel if you’re after something festive. £29.99 for 70cl.

Willow Tree Gin

Willow Tree Gin is hand-crafted, by founder, Mary, on her family farm in Bedfordshire. It’s made with a blend of blend of 12 botanicals, including fresh lemon thyme and Thai basil and the herbs are all grown there on the farm – you don’t get much more home-grown than that! It’s local but with a hint of the exotic, inspired by Mary’s love of travel. £38 for 50cl.

WINE

Warden Abbey

Warden Abbey wines

Once a monastery, Warden Abbey is now a community-run vineyard in Bedfordshire. Four white grape varieties are grown there – Bacchus, Reichensteiner, Regner, and Muller Thurgau – and around 4000-6000 bottles produced per yield. As well as being made from locally grown grapes, they are also ethical, vegan and win awards year after year.

BEER

Tring Brewery

Tring Brewery rekindled the Herts town’s brewing tradition when it opened its doors in 1992 and now you can spot their beers at loads of local pubs and restaurants. They produce the beer on site with different varieties of hops and chalk-filtered Chiltern Hills water and have won bags of awards for their fab and quirkily named brews (Side Pocket for a Toad, anyone?). Visit the brewery shop and mix and match from the selection of core, seasonal and small batch beers. Check out this year’s festive brew – Santa’s Little Helper, which pairs perfectly with turkey and the trimmings of course!

Mad Squirrel

The Mad Squirrel brewery is based in Potten End Herts and only came about in 2010. It’s since become the cool craft beer brand to be seen drinking in and around Herts with taprooms in Berkhamsted, St Albans, Hemel Hempstead and Harpenden, as well as around Bucks. Play it safe with the more tame pale ales and Pilsners or give their festive stouts a go – the Walnut milk stout (pair with a walnut whip!), Caramel Macchiato Stout and Raspberry White Stout sound pretty tempting, plus they come in gift packs (£30 for 6 cans) – perfect for pressies.

Farr Brew

Farr Brew‘s mantra is ‘creating great tasting real ales brewed with craft and a commitment to quality’ and the magic happens at their 10-barrel brewery, taproom and bottle shop in Wheathampstead, Herts. Since their humble microbrewery start, the team have now opened three pubs across the county and produce a range of ales, porters and bitters. Check out the seasonal Brewdolph (very funny!), which you can pre-order (along with other Farr favess) in 5-36 pint polypins or mini kegs,

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