Greet Your Guests

No matter what the entertaining occasion, greet your guests with these standout welcome drinks.

The Welcome Punch

It’s lovely to greet your guests with a glass of cold sparkling punch at any time of the year. This recipe is a favourite because everyone loves the flavour, and most of the work can be done ahead of time; just add the ginger beer, bubbly and ice at the last minute. There’s no need to make too much — one 6-oz glass per guest is the idea (okay, maybe a top-up for the people who arrived first) — then move on to something else. There’s nothing worse than warm, flat, diluted punch that has been sitting on a table for an hour. With its fruit juices and ginger beer, this packs less of a punch than a glass of wine.

Begin with Bubbly

 Start with a spark by kicking off the evening with sparkling wine. As well as Champagne, there are many kinds of bubbly out there at all sorts of prices. Cava is an ideal choice. Also, you can't go wrong with a lovely Prosecco or Crémant such as, Val d’Oca Prosecco and Paul Delane Crémant de Bourgogne — both are excellent examples of their styles. And this Prosecco is just right for our Welcome Punch.

Dress Up Your Sparkling Wine

A spoonful of a liqueur or aperitif is all you need to turn a flute of bubbly into something extraordinary. If you want a layered-looking drink with a colourful layer sunken at the bottom, add a liqueur like Southbrook Framboise or, for a turquoise Instagram moment, McGuinness Blue Curaçao to the bubbly, tipping it carefully against the inside of the glass. If you want the ingredients to mix, add the bubbly very slowly to lighter apertifs like Aperol. Twists of orange zest or a couple of fresh raspberries make ideal garnishes.

Introduce an Aperitif

For centuries, Europeans have started their evenings with a favourite aperitif. There are many to choose from so we've grouped them into extended families.

The Sweet Ones

Try these sweeter aperitifs on the rocks with tonic and a lemon twist. Fonseca White Port and Reynac Pineau des Charentes both offer a hint of honey. Alizé Red is all about passion fruit, enhanced with vodka.

The Fortified Family

These delectable concoctions of wine, spirit, fruits and botanicals include Dolin Vermouth de Chambery Rouge with its warm, fennel and herbal flavour, Lillet Blanc with a scent of orange and vanilla, and Dubonnet which boasts blackcurrant and a trace of quinine. Serve them chilled and/or on the rocks.

The Bitter Group

Serve these with plenty of ice, soda water and an orange twist. Trendy Aperol is the slightly sweeter younger sibling of intense and pleasantly bitter Campari. Pimm’s is great with soda even without all the fruit and herb additions that come in a traditional Pimm’s Cup cocktail. Made from artichokes, Cynar is a bittersweet herbal treat.