The History of the Snowball Cocktail

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Every year we have dreams of a white Christmas, but unfortunately, it doesn’t always work that way. Depending on where you are in the world, you might get rain, wind, maybe scorching hot sunshine, but the fantasy of building snowmen and making snow angels while you wait for Christmas dinner does not always come true.

Perhaps that is why the Snowball cocktail is such a popular treat at this time of year. We might not be able to throw snowballs, but we can certainly drink them! As you might expect, this is a creamy, decadent drink that tastes like the most luxurious winter you could imagine. Made of Advocaat, lemonade and lime juice, it should obviously be shaken with ice and served in a chilled glass. You might want to pop on another layer of clothing to enjoy this one!

Snowball cocktail recipe

  • 30ml Lime juice
  • 30ml Lemonade
  • 30ml Advocaat

Shake the lime juice and advocaat together in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and top up with lemonade. Garnish with a little grated cinnamon and serve.

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The Rise of the Snowball

Before we discuss the history of the snowball, it is useful to spend a moment discussing its key ingredient. Advocaat is a Dutch egg yolk-based liqueur that is so named for its ability to lubricate the throat so that you are better able to speak in public, like a lawyer. The word ‘advocaat’ is a literal translation of the word ‘lawyer’.

The original Snowball recipe was created in the 1940s in Britain, although the details are scarce. It actually contained brandy, which helped to cut through the incredibly sweet taste of the other ingredients. However, the drink didn’t become very popular until the 1970s, when people started to leave out the brandy so that they could enjoy the full force of the sweet taste.

The popularity seems to come from the fact that this is an incredibly inexpensive drink to make. Since it is just egg and lemonade in its simplest form, it can easily be reimagined in the kitchen as a mocktail. Even when liqueur is used, it is still a drink with a low alcohol content that makes it a great choice for older kids who want a taste of their first alcoholic beverage. Of course, if you add brandy, it takes on a new personality that is more likely to appeal to after-dinner drinkers who need to reset their palate after a large Christmas meal.

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Snowball Variations

If you want to get experimental with your choice of festive drinks, a Christmas Snowball is the way to go. Swap lemonade for Babycham and lime juice for ginger syrup and you get a whole new take on the beverage. A Dirty Snowball pairs vodka and lemonade with the traditional Advocaat, while a Russian Snowball contains Advocaat, lemonade, lime juice and Citron vodka. Basically, as long as your drink contains Advocaat, you can claim it is a snowball of some description!

Christmas snowball cocktail recipe

  • Top up Babycham
  • 30ml Advocaat
  • 30ml Ginger Syrup
  • Teaspoon Sugar

Moisten the rim the highball glass with water and then roll in sugar. Into a cocktail shaker with ice, add the ginger syrup with advocaat and shake for 10-15 seconds. Strain into the ice-filled highball glass and top up with the Babycham before serving.

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Champagne Snowball cocktail recipe

  • 60ml Advocaat
  • 15ml Lime Cordial
  • 30ml Sherry (Dry)
  • 60ml Champagne / prosecco

Start by pouring champagne into a glass that has been chilled, ensuring the perfect refreshing temperature for your drink. Next, grab your shaker and fill it with ice, which will help chill the other three ingredients effectively. Add the remaining three ingredients into the shaker with the ice. Give everything a vigorous shake for about 10-15 seconds, or until the exterior of the shaker feels frosted to the touch, ensuring the flavors are well-blended and chilled. Finally, carefully strain the shaken mixture over the champagne in your glass, creating a beautifully layered and complex cocktail experience.

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Bartender's top tip

The key to a great cocktail is balance. Ensure that the sweetness, sourness, bitterness, and alcohol are in harmony. Use fresh ingredients whenever possible, and don't be shy about adjusting the proportions to suit your taste. For instance, if you find a drink too sour, add a bit more sweetener, or if it's too sweet, balance it with a bit of citrus or bitters.

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