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How to put together a show-stopping festive dinner: drinks and appetisers

Whet your guests' appetites by putting together a punch bowl and charcuterie board.

Every meal, like a symphony, starts off with something to tease and tantalise. Just popping open bottles of champagne would be too easy – so put together a delicious punch bowl and assemble a charcuterie board for guests to graze on.

 

Ramona punch

Christmas might be the time for mulled wines and eggnog, but winter in Singapore remains a remote, and frankly apocalyptic, possibility. Our punch bowl – recipe courtesy of Demi Paramita, Bacardi Legacy finalist and head mixologist of Skai Bar – is a refreshing, festive option.

ramona punch

(Serves four, scale as needed)

• Monin strawberry cordial 80ml

• Lime juice 45ml

• Diplomatico Exclusiva Reserva 150ml

• Palo Cortado sherry 45ml

• Christmas spiced bitters 45ml (recipe below)

• Champagne

• Strawberries

• Herbs (try mint, fennel fronds and rosemary)

• Garnishes like edible flowers, citrus wheels and edible gold flakes

 

Christmas spiced bitters recipe

• Angostura bitters 300ml

• Cinnamon sticks 25g

• Clove 15g

• Star anise 15g

Macerate all the ingredients for five hours, strain, and bottle.

 

To make the punch bowl

Combine all liquid ingredients except the champagne, and chill ahead of time. Make the punch just before guests arrive to keep things fresh. Top the mixture with ice and champagne, then garnish.

(Related: The Peak Christmas 2019 gift guide: alcohol)

 

Charcuterie platter

The first rule here: Variety. Assemble a range of cured meats, cheeses, pates and crackers, as well as dried fruit and jams to add a sweet note. It’s all about offering up different flavour profiles and textures to keep the start of the meal interesting.

All charcuterie mentioned can be purchased at Culina

charcuterie platter

01 5J Acorn-fed Iberico Leg Ham Spanish jamon iberico comes in different grades – look out for the de bellota label, signifying that the animals have been fed an acorn-only diet.

02 Pio Tosini Parma Ham 20-months-aged Prosciutto from century-old meat specialists Pio Tosini, cured for at least 200 days longer than the legal requirement of 400 days for parma ham.

03 Quattro Stelle Bresaola Wagyu Conventionally lean bresaola gets a richer upgrade by using wagyu beef.

04 Castaing Duck Terrine with Green Peppercorn You’ll also want something spreadable to go with the crackers and such a pate, or this duck terrine spiked with green peppercorns from French producer Castaing.

05 Roquefort Papillon Carte Noire Rich, intense blue cheese produced in the southern French region of Aveyron. 06 Brin D’Amour A mild, semi-soft cheese produced from sheep’s milk in the south of France, coated in a mix of herbs including rosemary.

(Related: Where to get log cakes for your Christmas party in 2019)