Christmas, Cocktails and an Underground Evening

IMG_5674I’ve never exactly seen myself as the bartender type, but when given the chance recently at The Union bar here in Copenhagen, I felt quite at home. I was invited, along with 19 other food bloggers, to take part in the Ballantine’s Christmas Reserve Whisky Workshop. The Union has that authentic speakeasy feel – it’s located deep in a basement, behind an anonymous door, down a back street near Nyhavn. Basically, you have to know about it to find it. Stepping inside it takes a few moments to adjust your vision to the low-lighting. Not dissimilar to stepping into a scene of  the Danish series Forbrydelsen (EN: ‘The Killing’), I imagine. It is totally fitting though and, once you’ve got your bearings, it’s an extremely comfortable place to hang out.

The evening was a mix of whisky history-telling, a tasting of 4 different Ballantine’s blended whiskys, and full, hands-on cocktail-making. I must admit I’ve always felt Scotch is a bit of an acquired taste, and I have until now been more of an Irish whiskey kind of girl.  But then, I suppose it’s in my blood. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the evening though. Somehow knowing more about the whisky-making process in general made it all taste just that bit more interesting.  I found the Christmas Reserve in particular to be very pleasant and just the name conjures up all sorts of Christmassy, fireside scenes in my mind.

Guided by The Union bartender extraordinaire, Geoffrey Canilao, we mixed 4 different cocktails using Ballantine’s Christmas Reserve (Clementine Bauble, Golden Saffron Martini, the Pinky and Spiced Hot Chocolate). The one that stood out most for me was the Pinky – specially created by The Union using the Christmas Reserve. To me, this cocktail is the perfect balance of sweet, sour and spice and it hit several of my weak spots – lime, caramel and sea salt. Well I’m nearly always sold at the mention of sea-salt, in particular when combined with something sweet. Of course I couldn’t wait to put my newly acquired skills from behind the bar with Geoffrey into action at home. So when my parents came to stay this weekend they had the pleasure of experiencing the Pinky (pictured above). What will you be drinking this Christmas?

The following are some photos that were taken (by Martin Kaufmann) at the workshop:


My buddies ‘Starvefood’ and ‘Louilicious’ trying their hand behind the bar


Yours truly, watching and learning


Geoffrey waxing lyrical about cocktail making


Well and truly shaken, not stirred


The Pinky
Serves 2

6 cl Ballantine’s Christmas Reserve
2 dessertspoons pink peppercorns (also known as Baie Rose)
2 cl caramel syrup
2 cl freshly squeezed lime
Crushed ice
Sea salt flakes

A few days in advance pour the peppercorns into a small jar/glass full of the caramel syrup, cover and leave to infuse. Remove the peppercorns from the caramel before using it in the cocktail.

Pour all the ingredients into a chilled shaker and shake until mixed well. Serve in chilled cocktail glasses, topped with a few sea salt flakes.


  1. Shaun
    Posted December 9, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I can confirm that it tastes wonderful!

  2. Posted December 18, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I’m going to have to test this out next week

  3. Posted January 9, 2013 at 12:49 pm | Permalink | Reply

    And what an evening we had!

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