WHETHER you plan to toast the season with a ‘Gin-gle-bell’ or serenely sip a ‘Gingerbread-Man-Tini,’ or even try a ‘Merry Kissmas’ for size, there’s no doubt festive cocktails have progressed since the once-a-year Snowball on Christmas Day.

And they’ve certainly come a long way since bartender Nick responded to guardian angel Clarence’s request for a mulled wine in It’s a Wonderful Life with: “Now look, mister, we serve hard drinks in here for men who want to get drunk fast, and we don’t need any characters around to give the joint ‘atmosphere’.”

Christmas cocktails have become the new Christmas coffees - new inventions are springing up every year.

Mixologists are going all out to come up with the best tasting and often interestingly named concoction to entice customers.

In Edinburgh there will even be a dedicated Christmas cocktail festival for the first time ever this December, such is the popularity of yuletide creations.

If you want to stay closer to home, the Revolution Cocktail bar in Queens Road, Southend, is wrapping up its festive specials with warming spirits, fruity mixes and indulgent creamy concoctions.

On the menu for the duration of the jolly season, include the sultry Merry Kissmas (Ketel One vodka, vanilla liqueur, pineapple, cranberry, and lime juice and strawberry jam topped with raspberry sherbet and Love Hearts), the classy G&Tree (Tanqueray gin, tonic, cloves, orange and rosemary), the spicy Gingerbread Man-tini (Ketel One vodka, Kahlua, half and half, vanilla liqueur, dulche de leche, cream and crunchy gingerbread men) and the very berry Rudolph Frappé (Ketel One vodka, Raspberry Handcrafted Flavour, strawberries, lime, cherry syrup and pineapple juice) that comes topped with squirty cream, a rosy red cherry ‘nose’ and mint sprig ‘antlers’.

A spokesman for the bar said: “Revolution Southend is the perfect place to celebrate this Christmas.

"We love spreading joy and our creative cocktails which are guaranteed to get you into the festive spirit. Christmas is the best time to try something new – ‘tis the season to treat yourself.”

Meanwhile the Slug and Lettuce in High Street, Colchester, is even hosting a Christmas Cocktail School this year, giving customers the chance to enjoy a prosecco on arrival then mix up two festive cocktails with the bartender.

Although the choices now are far more varied, merry mixes are not unusual at Christmas of course. Although it’s a US seasonal stalwart, eggnog - the creamy cocktail of milk, sugar eggs laden with brandy, rum or bourbon -is is believed to have originated in Europe.

It is thought the drink stems back to a 13th century, drink known as posset, which was enjoyed by medieval monks in Britain were known to drink posset, a warm ale punch with eggs and figs.


Whatever you make, infuse it with gingerbread

Over the years, this likely merged with the various milk and wine punches often served at social gatherings.

Of course the one time king of festive cocktails has to be the Snowball - Advocaat and lemonade with a dash of lime .

Created in the UK in the forties, it really took off as a festive tipple in the seventies.

After a lull in Advocaat sales, in 2006, the Domestic Goddess herself, Nigella Lawson was said to be pretty much personally responsible for a 40 per cent rise in sales of Advocaat, and the revival of the Snowball when she declared her love for the drink and served it to her guests.