by Nigella Lawson

While there is nothing intrinsically Christmassy about this cocktail, I do feel this is the season for sweet drinks. Both the dark raspberry and the emphatic chocolateyness of the cocoa liqueur ably fit that bill, but the generous hit of vodka means that their sugariness is held to account. Rich and warming, that first a sip gives you an instant Christmassy fireside glow. I let a sprig of rosemary play the part here of festive fir.

Drinks and cocktails

Buyer's guide

With liqueurs, you generally get what you pay for. If it looks cheap and nasty, it probably is. But don’t begrudge paying for a well-made liqueur; a little goes a long way.


Being spirit-based, liqueurs have a long shelf life and, generally, the higher the percentage of alcohol, the longer it will keep. Egg-based liqueurs should be consumed within three months of opening, or according to the advice given on the label.


Some liqueurs, particularly orange-flavoured ones (Cointreau or Grand Marnier, for example) are used in cooking, as in the classic Crêpes Suzette. Most, though, are used as aperitifs or digestifs, or to make cocktails.

If you’re making cocktails, be careful about substituting one liqueur for another, as the flavour and alcoholic strength can vary greatly according to style and brand.