Cocktail hour


Anna Hedworth, aka The Grazer, says cheers to the new season

There’s nothing like a bit of sunshine, however brief, to bring on the desire for al fresco after-work drinks.

It’s time now to put away your bloody marys, espresso martinis and large red wines, because as much as food is seasonal, drinks are too.

It’s no coincidence that we drink more white wine in the summer and more red in the winter, and spring equals fresh, fizzy refreshing drinks.

I serve a cocktail at the beginning of each of my supperclubs. I recently served a gin, pomegranate and lime fizz with a spring of mint for a Middle eastern evening, which was lovely. I like gin and lemon concoctions in summer, or a prosecco with candied ginger and lime is good too!

One of my favourites came about as a by-product from the menu of the supperclub. I was serving candied orange peel as part of the pudding at Lindisfarne Castle, which I made by boiling Seville orange peel in a sugar syrup which was then tossed in sugar and left to crystalise.

The resulting syrup was delicious; a really rich bitter-sweet orange syrup and far too good to discard, so I added some grated fresh ginger and served a tablespoon in a cold glass of cava. The result was delicious!

A good sugar syrup is always handy to have in the cupboard, flavoured with ginger, orange, lemon, mint or rosehip, berries, herbs, anything you can think of really. You can serve it with soda as a soft drink, with ice water, or with hot water as an alternative to tea or coffee, or of course, in a cocktail… Cheers!

A classic cocktail is a joy, and as well as making my own up I am frequently looking up a classic recipe or researching cocktails of old.

My current favourite is an Aperol spritz, closely followed by a luxury spritz or a negroni. I’m a fan of the bitter taste of Campari and Aperol, which I know a lot of people don’t seem to like, but I could happily sip one of these at any hour I think.

A spritz is a mix of white wine and a bitter contrast with a splash of soda. I prefer an Aperol mix rather than a Campari which is slightly stronger. The danger of the milder Aperol is that it could easily go down in one and seeing as it’s made from gentian flowers, orange bitters, rhubarb and chinchona bark it even sounds good for you!

Aperol spritz
1 green olive
75ml white wine
50ml aperol
splash soda
slice of lemon

Fill your glass with ice, pop in the olive, add the white wine, then the Aperol, a splash of soda and the lemon, give it a little stir to mix. For a luxury spritz add prosecco or champagne instead of white wine.
For a negroni fill your glass with ice and add 25ml of gin, sweet vermouth and Campari, followed by a slice of orange. So simple, but a joy. Be careful though, they go down far too easily and are very strong!

French 75 (strictly for the decadent!)
35ml gin
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp sugar
top with champagne

I only discovered the French 75 recently. Apparently Kate Moss favours them, so I’m late to the party, but who cares with a drink this delicious? The French 75 was created in 1915 at the New York Bar in Paris. The combination was said to have such a kick that it felt like being shelled with the powerful French 75mm field gun. I didn’t think it had much impact on me, but I had two in a bar in Hong Kong one night and I can’t say I remember much of dinner afterwards!

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