Back in the summer, I was sent a rather lovely looking bottle of Foxdenton Rhubarb Gin and asked if I would like to come up with a recipe for it to post here on my blog. I enthusiastically agreed (being a big gin lover AND a big rhubarb lover) but then life got in the way and SEVERAL polite reminder emails later, I found myself at Christmas and the bottle, still unopened. Thankfully, my brother has stepped in and heroically taken up the gin drinking, cocktail making mantle. I'll leave him to tell you the rest....
Meddling with the classics can be a risky business.
However, as the film director Baz Luhrmann showed in 1996 with his award-winning adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, and the car manufacturer Jaguar achieved in 2013 following the launch of the F-Type as a successor to a quintessential English sports car, its predecessor – the e-Type, experimentation is distinctly satisfying when the results are so warmly received.
Christmas in particular is a time when altering tradition can be viewed with disdain, however, then it was that upon receiving a bottle of Foxdenton Rhubarb Gin, I found myself challenged to create a delicious alternative to one of my all-time favourite drinks, a G&T.
I delved into some distant memories from working in a cocktail bar near Leeds while at university there (Suburban Style Bar in Horsforth if anyone knew it?!) – about ten years ago depressingly – and after giving the contents of my new bottle of mother’s rhubarb ruin a good sniff, decided to add two of my favourite cocktail ingredients…
After filling a (recently acquired) G&T glass (a collins glass would work equally well) with crushed ice, I poured in 70ml of the Foxdenton Rhubarb-y goodness, followed by half a 330ml can of ginger beer, a few dashes of Angostura bitters and garnished with a slice of orange.
The mixture needs a good stir, or better still, shaken over ice in a cocktail shaker before pouring over the crushed ice; and the result? A refreshingly punchy drink that works as comfortably post-Christmas dinner as it would on a summer’s evening, sat in the garden as the sun goes down.
All that’s left is to give it a name. The temptation is to be simple and go with ‘Rhubarb Gin and Ginger’ but for my money this lacks imagination. However, after drinking two or three of these, the mind’s not as sharp as it was, so I leave it to you, dear reader…send your suggestions on Twitter and mention @EatDrinkCookUK or add it to the EatDrinkCook Facebook page.
As long as I live, rock will never die.
Nick ‘the guest writer’ Nixon
A friend of mine recently posted a picture on Facebook of their first BBQ of the year (yes, I’m looking at you Matt!) and I have to say, much as I love a good BBQ, I have found the weather a little too much on the chilly side to be tempted to the dust off the grill and fire-lighters just yet (and by that, of COURSE I mean, get hubby to dust off the grill and fire-lighters). That being said, I definitely feel like the season of outside eating is just around the corner, and it’s definitely not too early to start planning that first spring or summer BBQ with friends…or to start taste testing this fabulous Grapefruit Gin and Tonic Slushie to make sure it’s up to scratch. You’re such a good friend to care so much about getting it just right! 😉
Apart from the fact that it’s just more pleasant to eat a meal in the garden, the warmth of the sun on your skin, the sound of birds singing in the trees; it also makes entertaining so much easier and somehow less formal. People can be ushered quickly through the house (before they notice you haven’t hoovered) and out into the garden, where you welcome them with a little drinky…
(I’m sorry. I had to. It was just too good).
…Which brings me to the purpose of this post. Assuming you’re not as brave as my friend Matt and you haven’t yet had your first BBQ of the year then I urge you to include these as an aperitif when you do.. They’re a (ahem) ‘citrus’ twist on an old classic and they’re both refreshing and just alcoholic enough to kick your afternoon or evening off with a pleasant buzz.
I’ve purposefully posted this on a Saturday because I just knew that as soon as you saw it, you’d want (no, need) to sample it immediately. Obviously, I don’t want you getting into trouble at work so I thought the weekend was best (apologies for those of you who work at weekends – tough times ahead for you guys!)
Peaches are at their absolute best at this time of the year. Full of sweetness and of chin-dribbling juice. So I’ve been taking full advantage of them while I can – I mean you could just turn one meal into a complete peach-fest! How about Chicken & Peach Tagine to start, Peach Tart for dessert and some of this Peach Punch to drink? Too much peach? I’m not sure that’s possible.
Before we dive into the recipe, I feel an explanation is in order for my glaring omission of the accent at the end of ‘Rose’ in the title. This wasn’t an editing error, I purposefully left it out because, although the base of the punch is rosé wine, the taste that I wanted to highlight was the delicate floral note of rose water. Too much and it becomes soapy, but just a smidge and it really adds something wonderful to the sweet peach and crisp wine.
Cloudy lemonade lightens the whole drink and makes it acceptable for daytime consumption without fear of falling asleep in a drunken heap by 5pm. Let’s not be this guy…
Now, I’m conscious that this may be a controversial subject. Many of you may already have a tried and tested recipe for Sangria and will be indignantly wondering who I think I am to be claiming the ‘perfect’ recipe. Let me just clarify right here, right now – this recipe is my perfect recipe but I don’t make any claims on the title of the perfect recipe…(although I’m fairly confident it’s pretty close…)
Sangria holds a special place in my heart. It takes me back to wonderful family holidays, staying with my Auntie and Uncle in Spain. Big jugs of it were made up as part of the pre-lunch preparations. Various nibbles would be set out and plastic garden cups assigned to all. Ah, that first, cool, sweet sip. Just pure bliss. Pure, summery, holiday bliss.
This is the Sangria that I was taught to make on those very holidays – there are no spirits and no chopped fruit (apart from oranges). It’s simple, refreshing and can be sipped gently all afternoon if one so desires, without too much danger of ill-affect!
By all means, feel free to add more chopped fruit or even spirits if you’re looking for more ‘buzz’ – but just know, none of that is necessary.
For this recipe, rather than using specific measurements, I’ve used proportional representation – that way, you can make it work for whatever size jug you’re using.
You will need:
1/3 red wine
2/3 cloudy lemonade
Super simple, super refreshing and super tasty – cheers! 🙂
Come Christmas time, I welcome pretty much any drink if it’s mulled. Nothing beats browsing round one of the many Christmas markets and then stopping for a warming, sweet, spiced mulled wine or cider. Holding the glass (or plastic cup as the case may be) warms your hands and the drink itself leaves you with a lovely alcoholic warmth on the inside.
Here’s my version of mulled cider. It has all my favourite bits from the many recipes that I’ve browsed, trying to get the perfect mull. This drink is so warming and good for you, it’s practically medicinal…
You will need:
Approx. 1.5 litres dry cider (I used 3 bottles of Bulmers)
The rind of 1 orange
The juice of 1/2 an orange
2 star anise
1 stick cinnamon
1/2 heaped tbs vanilla paste (or a vanilla pod)
100 g brown sugar
100 ml dark rum (optional, but advisable as it adds a little more of that welcome warmth!)
When I was recently working on my recipe for Chai, it occurred to me that by adding a spot of whiskey, it would be quite similar to Baileys so I started experimenting! My first attempt was frankly undrinkable – I used double cream and it was WAY too thick and gloopy. I think I’ve got it sussed now though – and hey, lower calorie too. Everyone’s a winner! (Except my husband, whose whiskey supply has suffered serious depletion…)
(makes 500 ml)
250 ml full fat milk
1 strip of orange peel
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
300 ml condensed milk
100 ml whiskey
I developed this banana daiquiri cocktail from a recipe by Gino DaCampo for a slimming breakfast banana smoothie. Those of you who know me probably aren’t surprised that my first thought was how I could make it work with a spot of booze added… Well, I think I’ve cracked it. This cheeky little number is a great drink to serve your friends when they come round for a weekend BBQ or a Friday night drinky-poo…or in my case tonight, to serve myself while I do a spot of blogging…
You will need:
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp maple syrup
200 ml milk (I use semi-skimmed)
2 shots spiced rum (or normal dark rum will do)
2 scoops soft scoop vanilla ice cream
1 square of whatever chocolate you have to hand