Belvoir has a lot to answer for. I can’t remember the last shopping list I made that didn’t include a Belvoir cordial of some kind. It’s the bottles as much as the labels, they look so smart whilst being fashionably rustic. I hate how much I like their products. It’s not healthy.
As if to add to my torment Belvoir have recently released its Christmas offering. Two festive drinks – one cordial and one ready-mixed punch – which claim to provide a Christmassy glow and can be enjoyed with or without alcohol.
The first is Christmas Cordial – a rich dark berry mix with cranberry, blackcurrant and orange at its heart and a hefty shot of cinnamon and nutmeg to bring the seasonal spirit onboard. It’s designed to be drunk warm, like a mulled wine, but can also be had cold. I found it wonderfully balanced, the cranberry not too sharp, the lime not too overpowering. It was excellent as a warm drink and I suspect it would refresh nicely with cold sparkling water. Belvoir suggests trying it with rum or vodka and I suspect both would make the experience very different and a little more warming but I went for the child-friendly option.
The second is Belvoir’s Festive Fruit Punch, a pre-mixed version of its cordial which can be warmed and served as an alternative to fruit tea or served cold as a drink with dinner. It’s essentially the same product as the cordial but mixed on the farm in perfect proportions, as Belvoir intended.
To showcase its complete Christmas set Belvoir also sent along a bottle of its Mulled Winter Punch and Spiced Ginger Punch – two pre-mixed drinks that have also been laced with Xmas spice. Mulled winter punch is a dark fruit drink. The non-alcoholic equivalent of a Malbec or a Barolo. It’s rich and sticky but very intense with a strong showing of blackcurrant and elderberry, boosted with nutmeg cinnamon and cloves for festive joy. It wasn’t my favourite of the three – I found it too intense and a little overpowering. Too sharp and too heavy for me. Honey Lemon and Ginger cordial is quite the opposite. Sweet, balanced and refreshing with a little bit of fire from the ginger – just enough to tingle the tongue but not so much to put you off your stride. The lemon is sweet not sharp, balanced by the honey which also makes the punch slightly syrupy. With the cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves it becomes quite spicy and if you listen hard, you can hear the faintest melody of Jingle Bells echoing around your ears.
Together these three punches, based on three cordials (the newest this year being the 2017 Christmas Cordial) warm the cockles and start to bring a sense of festive charm into your kitchen. Prices are not particularly low – cordials are around a fiver and punches around £3.50. The punches go quick and as they are pre-mixed you need to compare the value to a high end juice such as a Copella, Innocent or home brand M&S option – all of which are indeed cheaper. The cordials are the ones to go for. Not only do you get a lot more drink for your clink (see what I did there?) but you get to control the dilution levels and the thinner, smarter bottle fits more neatly in your fridge so don’t feel compelled to quaff the lot in a single sitting. So this year Christmas doesn’t need to mean alcohol and heartburn. Break out the Belvoir and enjoy the festive flavour of fruit.