All posts filed under: Seasonal Drinks

Drinks to Get You Through Christmas Day

Christmas Day in the Clark household follows a well-established, age-old routine, utterly unshakeable in the face of whatever joyful events or natural disasters are occurring as each December 25th rolls around. A slow crawl down to breakfast, the build-up of anticipation to present-opening time, sherry or prosecco and Christmas cake to accompany the vast heapings of wrapping paper, white wine to wash down quantities of turkey and sprouts, followed by a retreat to cups of tea, sandwiches, and thin mints as the Queen’s Speech is succeeded by films and TV specials which no one has more than half an eye on. None of this will change this year, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. IF I were to institute any changes, and if I were less torpid and more Nigella-esque in my approach to the festivities, I might arrange a slightly more inventive drinking menu for the day. Well, I have arranged it, for the purposes of this post, but I don’t have the energy to impose it on my actual family. Maybe you can impose it …

More Seasonal Cocktails: Fig Smashes

I think the first time I encountered a wild fig, I was about 22 and in Greece having a mooch around some ruins. As I come from a family that’s not particularly adventurous with its food, and has strong leanings towards the boiled meat and potatoes side of English cuisine, I’m pretty sure I’d never eaten a fig in any form before then. I certainly wasn’t familiar with this bulging little purple fruit, and had to be shown how to tackle it by an Italian acquaintance. I found this all rather embarrassing, but on the bright side, the fig was delicious, and I now know how to eat them. You live and learn. Most of my subsequent fig encounters, though, have been in the context of cheese. This is, of course, a brilliant pairing, but then I’m always favourably inclined towards anything that comes with cheese – if I wasn’t writing a blog about cocktails I’d probably write one about cheese. But as with any other seasonal fruit, my first instinct now is to shove it into …

Seasonal Cocktails: Blackberry Smashes

I’ve had several episodes over the past month of being reasonably sure the English summer is over, and, in the grand tradition of English weather, it keeps subverting my expectations. A miniature mid-September heatwave has hit us (which will doubtless be over by the time I publish this, or even by the time I finish typing this), and it’s making me want to go back to Lillet and elderflower and sparkling wine. It seems appropriate then to make some seasonal cocktails with another fruit which sits on the border of summer and autumn, the blackberry. Around here, blackberry season stretches from June until November, and I remember always being able to pick the berries growing wild in the hedgerows around this time of year. As they’re a particularly soft and squishy fruit, it’s easy to muddle them and extract tons of flavour from them in cocktails. I’ve stuck to muddling here to make the best use of the fresh fruit, but there are plenty of cocktails out there which use crème de mure, or blackberry …

Put A Plum In It: Stone Fruit Cocktails for the End of Summer

England seems to have taken the beginning of September rather seriously, and it has been raining and grey since the 1st. It’s not fun to let the summer go, but in an effort to be thankful for small mercies, I am appreciating the little gift of being still in the season of peaches and nectarines, apricots and plums. I find I’m always taken by surprise by these fruits, as they come just when autumn is more on your mind, but they’re essentially blowsy, sunshiney fruits (except for plums – I definitely find plums autumnal). So I made time in my busy schedule of looking out of the window at the rain and frowning this weekend to come up with some drinks which capture a bit of stone-fruity sunshine. Some more successfully than others. I will say at the outset that it can be a bit tricky to get the flavours of fresh, non-citrus fruit into a drink. They tend to get overtaken by the spirits or the liqueurs, and then the sugar and any citrus you chuck in, so it’s …

Curry and Cocktails!

The last time I had cocktails with my friend Karmjit, we were at the Four Sisters in Islington (drinking these) and both feeling slightly the worse for wear from separate overindulgences the night before. We ended up, somewhat shamefaced (#sorrynotsorry) at the local McDonalds, and resolved to make up for this unfortunate food/drink pairing with something more respectable. Fortunately, Karmjit is an utterly stellar cook, with her own (enviably expert) blog on Indian cooking, Chilli & Chai. I first tasted her cooking in a dingy shared kitchen at university – I remember gobbling it down as if I hadn’t eaten for weeks (it is possible I was existing on ramen and toast at the time), and she’s only got more amazing over the last decade. For her latest dinner party, Karmjit roped me in to make the cocktails. I decided I’d make one with gin, one with whiskey, and went on a hunt around the internet for inspiration. First stop, the Dishoom cocktail menu, which hooked me straight off with its “Edwina’s Affair” – gin, rose, cardamom, and mint. A seven year …

Take a Leap? The Leap Year Cocktail

I’m going to be stunningly original here – a Leap Year cocktail on February 29th! I do love the idea of Leap Day, that it’s a day to do things you might not normally do, but as with so many things in life, it’s mostly great because it reminds me of a great Frasier episode, which features this spectacular Daphne moment: “Tell me the truth. Is it as bad as I think it is?” “How… bad… do you think it is?” Taking a leap: not always the best idea? But what harm can we come to with this rather gentle cocktail? A simple concoction, invented by Harry Craddock at the Savoy to celebrate the occasion in 1928, it’s a bittersweet blend of gin, sweet vermouth, orange liqueur, and a hint of lemon juice. Thanks to The Kitchn for the recipe: Ingredients: 2 oz gin 3/4 oz orange liqueur (I used Cointreau) 1/2 oz sweet vermouth Dash of lemon juice Shake (or stir, since there’s so little lemon juice) over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Twist a …

Seasonal citrus again: blood orange and rosemary mocktail

Still on a blood orange kick over here – I cannot get enough of this winter citrus, and as I’m starting to feel the first stirrings of spring, I’m trying to use it as much as I can. This time I used it to make a mocktail – not everyone wants to drink all the time. (Is mocktail the worst word ever? Virgin cocktail does not sound much better.) I wanted something fresh but herbal, and I used a recipe I found on this blog, which is an awesome resource I’d never come across before. As well as juicing about a million blood oranges for this, I also made a rather exciting rosemary simple syrup. The two combined to make a lovely sweet/sour refreshing drink, topped off with soda water. As the recipe originally states, you can easily add vodka (or gin) to this to make an actual drink. To make the simple syrup: Boil one cup of water and one cup of sugar in a small saucepan. Add in about four sprigs of rosemary and …

Cocktail Matching: Impressionists and a Water Lily Cocktail

Increasingly I find myself wanting to make cocktails to go with the things I enjoy doing. Currently I’m longing for spring, squinting up at trees to see if there are any leaves sprouting and peering at crocuses in the grass. In lieu of spring itself (it’s still COLD in London), I went to see the Royal Academy’s gorgeous ‘Painting the Modern Garden’ exhibition. It’s such a beautiful collection of paintings, from Monet’s huge, mournful late waterlily works, to some bright, vivid Expressionist ‘Avant-Gardens.’ There was no photography allowed inside, but here are some images of some of my favourite paintings to try and sum the experience up. If I could live inside any exhibition, I think it would be this one – it was such a riot of colour, bursting with flowers and sunshine, yet it was serene and gentle at the same time. I enjoyed this exhibition so much, and I wanted to make a cocktail that was colourful, fresh, and floral to go with it. Enter the very conveniently named Water Lily (thank you Saveur apparently an …

Chinese New Year Cocktail 2: Lapsang Souchong Old Fashioned

So this is the second of my Chinese New Year-inspired tea cocktails, also taken from the Rare Tea Company website. It builds on the character of a whisky old-fashioned, but adds Lapsang Souchong tea, along with vermouth and honey syrup in place of the sugar. This one, I LOVE. The intense woody smokiness of Lapsang is just amazing with the bourbon. It doesn’t get overpowered in the way the delicate jasmine tea did in my first tea cocktail. Quite the opposite. This drink makes me feel like I should be sitting in a leather armchair in a private club, smoking a pipe and talking as men do. Preferably in this episode of Frasier: Not very Chinese New Year-related, but still, it’s a great drink! (Soon I will make a Tuxedo cocktail in honour of Frasier. I might also start putting a Frasier clip in every post.) Ingredients: 60 ml (2 oz) Lapsang Souchong tea (infused and chilled) 60 ml (2 oz) bourbon 20 ml (1/3 oz) sweet vermouth 1 tsp honey syrup (half honey, half …