By Helen Cross

Christmas is almost upon us, which means it’s also the season for fabulous show stopping food and tempting cocktails, guaranteed to get any party started, big or small. This month we’ve got a warming whisky cocktail from Loch Lomond Whiskies and Cafe St Honoré’s very own award winning chef Neil Forbes serves up a great recipe for the perfect party canapé. And if you’re looking for some last minute stocking filling ideas for the foodies in your life, we have a great selection.

Festive cocktails…

Cocktails such as an Old Fashioned are traditionally associated with the festive period and Loch Lomond Whiskies brand ambassador and mixologist, Ibon Mendiguren has crafted a twist on the classic whisky cocktail for Christmas 2017, using a combination of bitters to draw out the fruity notes from the Loch Lomond Original single malt whisky. The oaky finish with a subtle hint of peat and fruity flavours provides a beautifully warming cocktail.


50ml Loch Lomond Original Single Malt whisky 

Angostura bitters 

Plum bitters 

Brown sugar cube



1. In a mixing glass, soak the sugar cube in a few drops of Angostura bitters.

2. Add a splash of Loch Lomond Original and muddle the ingredients together to create a loose paste.

3. Add ice cubes and stir well to blend the flavours. Fill the metal piece of a cocktail shaker with cold water and place the mixing glass inside to keep it chilled. 

4. Add more ice and the rest of the Loch Lomond Original and continue to stir.

5. Strain the cocktail mix from the mixing glass into a chilled glass with ice and add a couple splashes of plum bitters.

6. Garnish the cocktail with a twist of orange peel and serve.

Oatcakes with smoked trout and crime fraiche…

Although bite size, these canapés, created by Edinburgh chef Neil Forbes are big on the flavour front and will satisfy the tastebuds of any guests throughout the festive party season. This recipe will make about 50 £2 coin sized oatcakes that will keep in an airtight tub for a week.


For the oatcakes:

500g pinhead oats

100g porridge oats

40g plain flour

1teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

150g bacon fat, lard or butter, melted

30g sugar

15g salt

Approximately 500ml water, or buttermilk, which makes for a really rich oatcake

For the topping:

A few slices of smoked trout, I get mine from Belhaven

Enough crème fraîche for a dollop on each oatcake, I like Katy Rodgers

A few cornichons, or pickled cucumbers

A few chives


  1. Mix all the oatcake ingredients together and trickle in the water, or buttermilk, a little at a time. If you are using a mixer or food processor, combine until you have a good dough.
  1. Roll the dough into 4 sausage shapes, about the width of a £2 coin, then wrap in cling film and store in the fridge until firm. Then slice into ½-cm thick discs using a very sharp, serrated knife. Cook on a pre-heated girdle, or heavy-based frying pan, rubbed with a little lard or butter, for a couple of minutes on each side. Finish cooking them in a low oven (125°C) for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden and crisp.
  1. To serve, top each oatcake with a few flakes of smoked trout, a slice of cornichon or pickled cucumber, a dollop of crème fraîche and snipped chives.

Essential gifts…

If you’re looking for a cook book, which will not only  inspire new meal ideas but also help you get ahead when it comes to meal preparation then Claire Thomson’s new book The Art of The Larder: Good Food from your Storecupboard,   would be a great practical gift idea.

In her new book, Claire encourages a storecupboard state of mind, building your given space with the right pantry ingredients and using this culinary framework to help you cook more creatively, thriftily and with greater ease. Inspired by recipes from around the world, using spices, grains, pulses, fermented goods and cured meats, Claire’s superbly curated dishes are to be used in conjunction with fresh meat and fish and fruit and vegetables for ultimate culinary satisfaction. (Published by Quadrille, £20.00)

Scotland’s gin industry has definitely enjoyed more than just a moment in the sun throughout 2017. Gin enthusiasts are spoiled for choice but one of my favourites, which would fit very nicely into my own stocking, is Hills and Harbour Gin. Produced in a beautiful corner of Galloway,  Noble Fir needles & Bladderwrack Seaweed are distilled with 9 other botanicals, creating a smooth and vibrant gin.  (£33.00 plus p.p)

What better way to treat someone who deserves a well earned break away than with dinner, bed and breakfast at the award winning, Windlestraw, a luxury boutique guest house in the Scottish Borders. A hidden gem that is quite frankly just too good to keep under wraps. Choose from one of six beautiful bedrooms, which combine luxury and comfort, within the Edwardian manor overlooking the Tweed Valley and dine in style sampling some of Scotland’s finest food and drink offerings. The breakfast is also definitely worth getting out of bed for. (

There’s nothing more delicious than a home-made Christmas pudding, but for those of us lacking the time to prepare one, Neil Forbes and his team at Cafe St Honoré offers the next best thing - their own small-batch hand-made puddings stuffed with plump brandy-soaked Californian raisins and organic ingredients. They're available to buy from the restaurant at £15 each - including the lovely ceramic bowl they come in, making them a perfect gift idea. Each pudding serves 4-6. Email or call 0131 2262211 to reserve one.