Tradition dictates that Christmas dinner is accompanied by cheap crackers containing bad dad jokes, thin, papery crowns that’ll rip within 15 seconds of wearing, and environmentally unsound plastic gifts for your dog to discover then choke upon during the cheese course.
If you want to ditch the tat and upgrade your table adornments this year, booze-filled crackers are a much better investment, guaranteed to bring extra festive cheer.
We’ve got our hands on some of the best to test. For our corking cracker round-up, we were assessing the quality of booze, along with the quality of packaging and any additional extras within.
Only two of the cracker selections on our list actually contained a cracker snap (presumably due to export restrictions), which begs the existential question of whether a cracker that doesn’t crack is actually a cracker, or simply just a cardboard tube?
As lockdown measures continue, it is near impossible to plan who will be at your Christmas dinner table. But the cracker boxes reviewed below all contain six or less crackers, which suits the rule of six.
Here's our top picks for Christmas…
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
The Craft Gin Club gin crackers, set of four
The Craft Gin Club's luxe selection of boozy crackers (resplendent in festive, gin-based livery and gold lamé ribbons) contain a 50ml gin sample,150ml tin of tonic water, a joke and ubiquitous paper party hat. Merchant's Hearts range of gin-enhancing tonic water is the mixer of choice, which pairs with the chosen gins to perfection. We were more than happy to discover that Sibling Distillery’s negroni-inspired gin makes an excellent, spicy G&T, while the old school dandelion and burdock flavour combo in the Burleigh signature gin works wonders with The Merchant’s heart light tonic. Cracking.
Buy now £29.95, The Craft Gin Club
Drinks by the Dram whiskey crackers, set of six
Drinks by The Dram’s offering is packed in a cardboard carousel that features six classy, Toblerone-shaped crackers. They come fully equipped with a cracker snap and get full marks for contents, offering up the holy trinity of hat, joke and gift. For those fond of a whisky tipple, there’s a style here to suit all tastes, from a sublime, peated Inchmoan 12 year old to the smooth, sweet sippin’ Bulleit bourbon. Folks who prefer their post-turkey tipples clear and juniper heavy should seek out Drinks by the Dram’s equally tasty gin cracker set, which retails for the same price.
Buy now £39.95, Ocado
Sipsmith gin crackers, set of four
Fans of Sipsmiths’s smooth, zesty gins can enjoy four small, yet perfectly formed crackers for just £15, decked out with patterns that wouldn’t look out of place on a hipsters cravat. The contents inside have been pared down to a 50ml measure of gin with accompanying booze themed joke/Christmas cocktail suggestion, with a chance of discovering a rare “golden ticket” in selected boxes, offering various gin-related prizes such as distillery trips, Michelin star dinners and Sipsmith subscriptions. Here’s a winning tip from us: put Sipsmiths’s red cracker aside for yourself – it contains its sublime sloe gin, so there’s no need to leave your chair in search of tonic.
Buy now £15.00, Tesco
Fever Tree gin and tonic pairing crackers, set of four
The Christmas grinches at Fever Tree have deemed it unnecessary to include jokes or hats in these crackers, but to be fair, the gin and tonic combos they’ve packed inside should be more than capable of getting the party started without the need of such papery frippery. For the perfect G&T, look out for the yellow cracker containing Fever Tree’s classic Indian tonic water paired with Salcombe Distillery’s fragrant and fruity rosé Sainte Marie gin. The classy packaging also gets a double thumbs up from us – it’s designed square so the crackers don’t end up rolling off the table during the Christmas dinner feeding frenzy.
Buy now £32.00, John Lewis & Partners
The Really Good Whisky Company whisky and gin crackers, set of five
Although these aren’t the most festive looking crackers, and the jokes inside are especially terrible, there’s no denying the quality of booze that lurks within. Each box is a lucky dip so we can’t tell you exactly what’s going to come out of your own crackers, but we hit the jackpot with three excellent whiskies – a stunning sherry wood speyside from Benriach and two mighty gins from the Edinburgh Distillery and the Port Charlotte Distillery.
Buy now £39.99, The Really Good Whisky Company
Perfect Measure mixed spirits crackers, set of six
Perfect Measure markets its festive offerings as “after dinner tipples, cunningly concealed in pretty festive crackers”. We’d argue that you don’t exactly have to be Christmas Cluedo champ to twig what’s inside when they have “Cheers!” written on them in six different languages. Besides, we think the contents of these crackers should be shouted about. Highlights include SpyTail’s luxurious black ginger rum, a delicious Stroma malt whisky liqueur from Old Pulteney and a Saliza amaretto Veneziano liqueur – guaranteed to keep your Nan quiet during Celebrity Mastermind. A booze-based trivia parchment and festive hat completes the package.
Buy now £39.95, The Whisky Exchange
Virgin Wines crackers, set of six
Take care when opening – the wines in Virgin’s crackers come in weighty 187ml bottles and may cause damage to Christmas crockery if they come flying out during frantic cracker pulling. Inside you’ll find top wines plucked from Virgin’s extensive cellars, such as a full and fruity Monos Locos syrah and cheese-board pleasing Les Trois Cles chardonnay. Accompanying each wine is a grape-based fact/joke and brand-friendly red paper hat. For those looking for extra Christmas sparkle, Virgin also offers prosecco filled crackers for £36.99, along with a range of gin and tonic filled crackers for the same price.
Buy now £32.99, Virgin Wines
The verdict: Alcohol-filled Christmas crackers
We’ll be saving the fine whiskies from our Drinks for the Dram crackers for Christmas evening fireside supping, but to accompany our stuffing and spuds, The Craft Gin Club’s cracking gin and tonic selection gets to wear our golden paper crown.