Let’s start by saying I’m really not much of a drinker and never have been. As a teenager I found adding alcohol to coke or lemonade just ruined the taste and during university I was famed for being the slowest drinker amongst my friends (on average I managed one pint for everybody else’s three rounds). Besides which when you’re a wheat – free vegan, drinks get pretty limited (you’d be surprised how much wine is brewed using isinglass, aka, fish bladder).
However, I’ve always liked trying out cocktails, particularly when they involve unusual ingredients. There is just something about cocktails which draws your imagination in; whether it’s the interesting names (blackberry fizz sounds like the tipple of fairies), specialist ingredients (Midori liquer? Creme de violette?) or wonderful stories behind the creation and naming of a cocktail.
I thought I’d share some favourite cocktails in case you’re looking for something new to try (DRINK RESPONSIBLY KIDS)! During an impromptu house barbecue, I was assigned the dubious task of mixologist whilst the “men” got on with throwing meat at each other and trying not to burn the garden down. There’s only about 4 cocktails I’d claim to be able to make well but I gave it a go!
Ingredients: vodka, tomato juice, black pepper, cayenne pepper, lemon juice, worcester sauce/horseradish sauce, celery. This is really the only drink I can talk about in detail as it’s the only one I regularly drink and the only thing I ever go for in pubs. In my opinion I make the best Bloody Marys in town (I imagine most of my friends will disagree), probably because I am very particular with how I like them: lots of horseradish sauce which goes in first, smooth tomato juice only, ground black pepper and celery. NEVER lime as a garnish (as I have stubbornly informed hundreds of barmen across the capital) although cucumber is passable. Wikipedia has an impressive list of variations on this cocktail – has anybody tried any? A Bloody Fairy sounds horrific (absinthe instead of vodka).
Ingredients: vodka, triple sec, cranberry juice, lime juice (as well as lime garnish). Whilst the characters in Bridget Jones are fond of a good bloody mary, I’m sure you’ll all recognise the Cosmopolitan from Sex and The City where Carrie and the gang exclusively drink the rather aesthetically pleasing cocktail. I’m actually never much of a fan of these because I love cranberry juice too much. I just get annoyed at the other flavours.
Cuba Libre (modelled by Dave)
Ingredients: Coca-cola, lime, white rum. I personally like my coke unfettered by alcohol but Dave seemed to enjoy this even if it was reminiscent of being a teenager. As you can probably guess from the name, the drink was supposedly created in Cuba to celebrate their freedom in the Spanish-American war. Ideally served in a tumbler (we don’t own any) and on the rocks (ice).
Ingredients: cachaça, lime and sugar. The national cocktail of Brazil! You might know I adore Brazil and I’ve tried a fair few of these at various Brazilian events in my time. Like the bloody mary this is another cocktail I can actually “make” and in my opinion they are easy to get wrong: too much lime and it’s bitter, not enough lime and it’s a sugar punch to the front teeth, too much ice and it’s distilled. The secret is to mash up the lime with the ice first until it’s slightly crushed (you can’t tell from the terrible quality photo), then add granulated brown sugar, then pour the alcohol in last over the top and don’t over stir. A bit tricky but so worth it!
Ingredients: gin, lemon juice (or lime juice, we used both), soda water. Essentially a posh variation on G&T. I’m not a massive fan of gin but this tasted vaguely of lemonade and Dave seemed to enjoy it! Our little cocktails book listed some bizarre variations using bits of egg such as the above ingredients plus egg white (Silver Fizz), egg yolk (Golden Fizz) and a whole egg (Royal Fizz) which sounds bizarre and is also (luckily) not vegan so I won’t be making any of those anytime soon.
That concludes our cocktails discussion! Let me know if you have tried any of these and if you have a favourite cocktail (and if it’s a bloody mary, let’s compare notes). Here’s some token pictures of the barbecue, as you can see it was GOOD.