STAYING IN IS THE NEW GOING OUT – DIY WINTER COCKTAILS

Since I decided to take a bit of time off travelling, I’ve been enjoying spending more time at home and getting back into the kitchen. So when TK Maxx asked me to collaborate on a post this month, I knew I wanted to create something around the theme of cosy nights in, festive winter cocktails and entertaining at home. Staying in is the new going out, or so the title says. My packing post from the summer is still just as relevant though, so if you’re heading off soon have a read here and download the free packing checklist!TK Maxx homeware glass bottle and cocktail shaker home bar

Some people can find shopping at TK Maxx a little bit stressful, but once you get it, you really get it and it’s so worth it. While the different departments and sheer volume of stock might seem overwhelming at first, it’s better to look at it like a treasure trove full of hidden gems just waiting to be discovered. Here’s an example; I headed into my local TK Maxx store (St. Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre) looking for new knives and a chopping board. I started to spot a few kitchen utensils with yellow gold finishes and white marble hardware and next thing you know, I’ve curated a new interior theme for the kitchen and have a basket full of essentials. TK Maxx white and gold marble chopping board and bottle opener and cocktail shakerTK Maxx white marble chopping board with rosemary, pomegranate, cinnamon, star anise and orangeThen I noticed vanilla flavoured coffee and it got me thinking, how about using that to create espresso martinis at home? Since I don’t have an espresso machine I was ready to rule the idea out, as instant coffee wouldn’t really cut it. But on the next aisle, I found a cute mini moka pot (or Italian caffettiera) and my winter cocktails menu started to take shape.TK Maxx Italian caffettiera moka pot vanilla coffee and baileys

I’d previously picked up a double insulated stainless steel bottle in TK Maxx, the ones that keep drinks cold for 24 hours and hot for 12, which I’ve been using all summer. Mainly for water while travelling, but truth be told there were times when it came in just as handy for keeping wine cold at the beach. I’m sure you’ve seen ads for these bottles on Instagram, they can be so expensive! But I picked mine up for only €12.99 a few months ago and when I saw a gold one sitting on the shelf, I couldn’t resist buying a back up, I’d genuinely be lost without it now. Then I thought, hold on, what about mulled wine? How perfect to keep it warm for festive outings. Then I remembered a red wine hot chocolate recipe I’d seen on Pinterest and that was that settled, off to the food aisle to pick up some chocolate. Did you know TK Maxx sells non perishable food products too? The aisles are full of ridiculous possibilities!

Red wine hot chocolate with cinnamon recipeRed wine hot chocolate with cinnamon and double insulated bottleTK Maxx homeware red wine hot chocolate cosyMaking red wine hot chocolate couldn’t be easier. Use your normal method to start with a hot chocolate base in a pot. Cocoa powder, chocolate chips, full fat or skimmed milk, whatever way you want to make it. My secret ingredient? Add in a cinnamon stick for added festive flavour! Once it’s nice and hot, pour the wine in (just free pour – wine not?) so you don’t burn off the alcohol. Then transfer to little mugs or into a double insulated bottle that keeps the contents warm but doesn’t heat up on the outside. I used South African Pinotage which pairs perfectly with dark chocolate too!

For the espresso martinis, I used hot water in the moka pot with the ground vanilla coffee and allowed it to chill before transferring to this gorgeous rose gold cocktail shaker I picked up in TK Maxx for only €9.99 (RRP €16.99). Shake with ice and vodka, sugar syrup if you like and a coffee liqueur or even Baileys then pour into martini glasses. I bought this set of two long stem ones for just €12.99 (RRP €29.99), they’re so fancy and look like something from an expensive cocktail bar. The fairy lights were another new purchase and I was able to grab batteries on the shelves near the till too, handy! The little cards you see in the picture are drinks mats with cocktail recipes and games. There are loads of small box games in TK Maxx at the moment for under a fiver, I love the little playing card size quiz questions that are ideal for nights in.TK Maxx Italian caffettiera moka potTK maxx espresso martini glasses and cocktail shakerHere are the new knives and chopping board which were the original reason I went in. They were €16.99, (RRP €28.99) for a set of three. How cute is the gold and marble bottle opener? I picked up some festive ingredients on the way home too to flavour and decorate the cocktails. And these glass bottles are perfect for a home bar, to store DIY sugar syrups and mixers.TK Maxx marble white chopping board with rosemary, pomegranate, cinnamon, star anise and orangeTK Maxx white and gold marble chopping board and bottle openerTK Maxx homeware glass bottle and cocktail shaker home bar

So, you see, the different way you shop at TK Maxx is just the small price you pay in order to pay those small prices for big labels and quality products. I love falling in love with things I wouldn’t normally splash out on, but when you see the savings on the label, up to 60% less than the RRP, it’s hard not to bag a bargain and brag about your TK Maxx finds!

This post was sponsored by TK Maxx. All views are, as always, my own.

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