blood oranges or sanguinellos

How to Construct a Bespoke Cocktail

or Antidote to a Stressful Week

Bob, my new best friend

Bob, my new best friend

In a week where blood, sweat, and tears were spilt, bitter words exchanged, and ideas pulped, I was determined to make a Friday night cocktail to restore balance.  The usual ethanol delivery methods felt inadequate, so I thought it necessary to deconstruct the week’s assaults and reassemble them into a bespoke cocktail.

Here’s my cocktail de/construction process:
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Gin Journey

Gin is not merely ethanol and water with some botanical flavourings added.  It is a spirit deeply rooted in the history of London, forms the bedrock of the cocktail, and elicits real passion amongst its devotees. To enjoy gin is to enjoy discovery, as it is the most mercurial of spirits.  Marcel Proust said, “We don’t receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take for us.”

And so on a recent Monday night, I find myself and some kindred ginthusiasts on a Gin Journey in east London.  Expertly guided by Leon Dalloway of Shake Rattle and Stir, it is an educational evening that tells you everything you ever wanted to know about gin while taking you on a tour of some of London’s finest cocktail bars.  Leon promises 5 samples, 5 cocktails, chauffeured transport, and no hangover for the princely sum of £50.  I am intrigued.
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Tony C's Prairie Oyster

A Masterclass in Cocktail Wizardry

Or, Don’t Try This At Home…

Centrifuges, sous-vides, and distillers– Oh My! Floor to ceiling shelves crowded with bottles, jars and vials of such esoteric substances as essence of damp earth, desiccated peas, aroma of the sea, and a 1910 rum. Lab-coated technicians wielding electronic pipettes and digital scales buzz around us as I ponder the genius of Tony Conigliaro’s Drinks Factory. This is the lab where he manipulates flavour, aroma and texture in order to deliver a full sensory experience with a buzz. Cocktail alchemy.
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The only time I ever enjoyed ironing was the day I accidentally got gin in the steam iron. -Phyllis Diller

time for Lime and Thyme

Gin’s the Thing

Or “Shut Up and Drink Your Gin”… said Fagin to Oliver Twist

Gin is essentially neutral grain spirits, otherwise known as vodka, flavoured with juniper but it’s history is anything but neutral. It was created by a Dutch physician in the 17th century and sold in pharmacies as a medicine to treat a host of ailments.  It was also used to instill “Dutch Courage” to make soldiers more bold before battle.  When William of Orange and his English wife Mary were crowned King and Queen of England in 1689, gin surged in popularity in Great Britain.
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what heat wave?

Watermelon Mojitos

Or How to Stay Cool in a Heat Wave…

Summer in a glass.  Juicy watermelon, fresh limes, mint, rum.  Doesn’t get much better than that.  Watermelon has only 30 calories per 100g and is packed with Vitamins A & C, and nearly twice the anti-oxidant lycopene as tomatoes.  This drink is seriously refreshing and you can feel virtuous about sipping it.
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I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food. ― W.C. Fields


Anyone for Tennis? The new Pimms Blackberry and Elderflower


Pimm’s cup:  the quintessential Wimbledon tipple.  The Best of British with a Royal Warrant.  But I was almost permanently put off Pimms at a school fete, on a most perfectly sunny Pimmsy day many Junes ago.  Having handed over the hyperactive sugar-charged little darlings to their dad, I joined the queue at the very popular Pimms stand with all the other harangued mums.  My drink chit was limp with sweat by the time I handed it over to the dad on duty.
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Waitrose wine section

Waitrose Value Wine

Shopping for value wines at Waitrose is a tranquil experience.  For a start, the choice is not too overwhelming, and the layout of the wine section is organic, not linear.  The price cards on the shelves include a brief description of the wines, with food pairing ideas. These don’t always match my experience of the wine, but it is helpful to have something to go on.  Like the book shops that pepper their shelves with staff recommendations, I saw other shoppers peering intently at the wine notes on Waitrose’s shelves.
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Melon Madness

Melon Madness in the Med

Or What to Drink by the Pool…

The Mediterranean. Ancient centre of the world. Cloudless skies over an undulating turquoise sea. A bracing morning dip in the salty brine screams for something fresh and crisp to drink when back on terra firma. Something festive, as we are on holiday, but not too strong, as it is still early in the day and we wish to drink intelligently above all. Read more…