COCKTAILS, a 19th-century invention, became popular early last century purely for practical purposes. Bootlegged alcohol during the Prohibition period in the United States between 1920 and 1933 tasted so foul that it was necessary to mix it with other ingredients to mask the taste - although a Cognac-based cocktail called Sazerac already existed 70 years before that. Today, cocktails have become an art form and are very much a part of life. The festive season would not be the same without a few colourful and intoxicating concoctions. One world-renowned master of this art is Charles Schumann, owner of several top-notch bars in Munich, Germany, including Schumann's Bar am Hofgarten. Two decades on, this legendary Munich cocktail bar remains popular among Munich's well-heeled. Mr Schumann has authored many acclaimed books, including American Bar, which features 500 recipes from A-Z, as well as detailed information about ingredients, 'the artistry of mixing' and tips on how to set up a bar. Mr Schumann was recently in town with his business partner Serhan 'Charly' Kusaksizoglu for a promotion at Lobster Bar & Grill (6/F, Island Shangri-la, Pacific Place, Admiralty, 28208560), which entailed a range of cocktail-making classes. 'Less is more,' Mr Schumann said when asked about the secrets to making cocktails. 'Putting in a lot of liquor is not going to make a good cocktail. It's all about proportion.' One sentiment that we can definitely share with the master barman is scepticism towards the fruity concoctions that are popular today. 'I am not too pleased with the trend, because the bar is not a fruit market,' he said. HONG KONG HONEY For Christmas Magazine, Mr Schumann has created Hong Kong Honey, a rather old-fashioned potion to warm up the chilly months: Ingredients 40ml white rum 20ml lemon juice 2 teaspoons of honey A dash of black rum for taste Some ginger and orange twist Lemon twist Hot water to top up According to Schumann, this drink is best for after a bath and before bed. But of course nothing should stop you from indulging at other times of the day.