Friday, 26 July 2013

Pinkster Gin

Back in June, you may or may not remember that I went to the wonderful, food and drink extravaganza, that is the Taste London Festival and although I did remember to eat something, it was a very gin-centric sort of day. One of the purveyors of gin that I met there, were the relative newbies, Pinkster, who were enjoying a fantastic response to their subtly pink and delicately flavoured gin. At the time, I was unable to take a bottle home and as yet, Pinkster is not available in stores, but can be ordered online and I am now happy to say that I have a bottle of my own and it has been well and truly tested - the results of which, I am of course, going to share with you all.

When I received my bottle in the post, simply, but attractively packaged, I wasted no time in breaking the seal, popping out the cork stopper and having a good sniff. There's no denying the hint of raspberry about the gin, but it's very subtle and should not be mistaken for a liqueur and is no way, akin to a sloe gin. The aroma and flavour of raspberry is predominant, but very delicate none the less.

In order to qualify as a gin, the predominant botanical has to be juniper, but other than that , there are not too many stipulations, hence, there are literally hundreds of different brands, all with varying flavour; some big and bold, like Old Raj or City of London Distillery, some very delicate like Bloom Gin. Pinkster is definitely at the subtler end of the scale, which will appeal to most and of course, the colour is very becoming. As a cocktail gin, it works rather well as it does not overpower other flavours and of course, anything that enhances that raspberry infusion is going to be a winner. I am rather pleased with all of the cocktails I have created and Mr TG and I have very much enjoyed sampling them - so much so, that the bottle is three quarters empty. Please do give Pinksters and these cocktails a try - I think you'll enjoy....

First up is the Pinkster, Summer Punch Mar(tea)ni. This is an adaptation of the Earl Grey Mar(tea)ni recipe, a drink I featured in my Mother's Ruin post and first accredited to Audrey Saunders, owner of the famous Pegu Club in New York. As with the Earl Grey Martini, the Summer Punch Mar(tea) requires infusing the gin ahead of time, with a teaspoon of Whittards Summer Punch loose tea. This tea is the perfect blend to use with Pinkster as it uses berry fruits and juniper, both of which enhance the gin's natural flavour.

To infuse the gin, first pour 2 oz into a clean receptacle, add a spoonful of tea and allow to infuse for 1hr and definitely no more than 2 or the flavour will become bitter and woody. Strain the gin into a cocktail shaker and you're ready to begin.

Pinkster Gin infusing with Whittard Summer Punch loose tea

 Pinkster Summer Punch Mar(tea)ni


2 oz Pinkster Gin infused with Whittard Summer Punch loose tea
1 oz lemon juice
1 oz simple syrup
1 egg white
1 raspberry to garnish

Add all of the ingredients to a shaker and dry shake (without ice), ensuring the lid is firmly on - dry shaking with egg white can cause a build up of gas in the shaker which can pop the lid off if you're not careful.

When the mixture is very frothy (about 20 secs) remove the lid, add ice and shake hard again until the outside of the shaker is properly frosted.
Strain the mixture into a martini glass or a small teacup if you prefer.
Garnish with a raspberry.

Next up is the Colonel's Summer Cooler, a refreshing drink, perfect for those hot, muggy nights in the Colonies...

Colonel's Summer Cooler

1 1/2 oz Pinkster Gin
1 oz freshly squeezed pink grapefruit
1/4 oz lemon
3 basil leaves
1/4 oz simple syrup
Dash of soda
Sprig of basil to garnish

Add all of the ingredients, except the soda, to a shaker with ice and shake hard
Strain into a tumbler or highball filled with ice and top with a little soda
Slap the sprig of basil gently between your palms to release the oils and garnish the drink

This next cocktail has some herbal ingredients but nothing that overwhelms the drink. The initial scent of rosemary is wonderful on the nose and adds to the gin's botanicals and the addition of a little Giffards Creme de Framboises, plays up Pinkster's natural raspberry flavour.

Pinkster Garden Party

1/2 oz lemon juice
Sprig of rosemary to garnish

Add all of the ingredients, except the garnish, to a shaker with ice and shake until the outside of the shaker is frosted.
Strain into a chilled martini glass
Slap the rosemary gently, between the palms of your hands to release the aroma and garnish the drink

This next cocktail is a great alternative to Pimms on a hot day as it is fruity and refreshing and simple to put together.

Lady Pinkster's Summer Cup

1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
Dash of soda to top up
3 raspberries on a cocktail stick to garnish

Add everything apart from the soda and garnish to a tall glass, half filled with ice cubes and stir to mix and cool down the alcohol.
Add more ice and top up with a little soda.
Stir again and garnish

Thursday, 18 July 2013

The Julep

Ever since I got my bottle of Buffalo Trace Bourbon, I have been wanting to make Juleps, thinking, like the great Mary Poppins, that, 'a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.' Not that I don't like bourbon - after a little experimentation (which you can read about in my previous post, Kentucky Fried) I actually got a bit of a taste for the stuff, but a little sweetness always helps and I am rather partial to mint, so the traditional Mint Julep seemed like a winning combination.

The origins of the Julep are a little hazy, but I rather like the theory that it evolved from a traditional Middle Eastern drink made with water and rose petals, called the Julab. Even if it's not true, it sounds like the basis for a nice drink, to me. It is thought that the Julep was being drunk as early as 1700, but may have contained other spirits and in fact, gin or genever was often used, but lost popularity over the years. As a true appreciator of the elixir that is gin, I think this is a tragedy and in fact, for me, a gin and rose julep sounds like a far more delicious cocktail. However, I digress....

A publication from 1803 describes the Julep as 'a dram of spiritous liquor, that has mint in it, taken by Virginians in the morning.' Well, yee ha to that! What a jolly place Virginia must have been around breakfast time. Apparently it was considered a morning drink (much as we would have an espresso, perhaps) that was popular with the farmers of the agricultural eastern and southeastern states who would be working from dawn.

In 1938, the Churchill Downs racetrack, home of the Kentucky Derby, began serving Mint Juleps in souvenir glasses at 75 cents and so the drink became synonymous with the event and anywhere between seventy to a hundred and twenty thousand drinks are sold every year over the two days it runs for.

Nowadays, the Julep is generally sold in a tall glass, but the traditional way, is to serve it in a pewter or silver cup, that hass to be held around the flared base to avoid transferring heat to the drink and melting the ice. I really wanted to be able to serve my Julep in the traditional Julep tin and after much searching, managed to track some down and give them a Toasted Glass makeover.

The Mint Julep and the Lavender Julep were both easy enough to make and certainly made an attractive cocktail, but I just kept wishing there was some lemon in there too. So, for me, from now on, my Julep will contain a 1/2 oz of lemon or lime, which means it's more of a Sour than a Julep, but hey, my drink, I can do what I want. I suggest you try the traditional way and see if you like it and if not, stir in bit of lemon or lime and see what you think.

Mint Julep

2-3 oz bourbon (I went for 2)
1/2 oz simple syrup or 1 tsp superfine sugar with 2 tsp water
15 - 20 mint leaves
Sprig of mint to garnish

If you are using superfine sugar, first dissolve it in the water in the bottom of the glass or Julep tin
Add the mint leaves and muddle gently so as to release the essential oils but not so much that it will taste 'leafy'.
Add the bourbon and fill the glass/tin with crushed ice, then stir until the outside of the glass/tin becomes totally frosted.
Take the final sprig of mint and slap it gently between the palms of your hands, to release the minty aroma and pop it atop the ice.
Make like Scarlett O'Hara or Rhett Butler and sit out on the veranda sipping your Julep.

Lavender Julep

2-3 oz bourbon (I used 2)
1/2 oz lavender syrup
2-3 heads of lavender (flowers in bud if possible)
1 head of lavender to garnish

Remove the flower buds and muddle gently in the bottom of the glass/ tin with the lavender syrup.
Add the bourbon and fill the glass/tin with crushed ice, then stir until the outside of the glass/tin becomes totally frosted.
Take the final head of lavender and slap it gently between the palms of your hands, to release the floral aroma and pop it atop the ice.

If, like me, you are more of a gin lover, then you should definitely try it with gin, in place of the bourbon. I rather enjoyed it that way, although best of all, was with a little lemon too. Let me know how you get on.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

The Ashes 2013

So, Wimbledon is over for another year and as the nation basks in the glow of Murray's victory, Mr TG settles back for six weeks of cricket as England and Australia battle it out on various pitches across England, to see who will win the tiniest cup in the history of sport. Yes, it's time for Ashes 2013, which kicked off at Trent Bridge on July 10th and will go on until August 25th, during which time, Mr TG's humour will depend on the performance of the England team against their old adversaries, the Aussies.

The term, 'The Ashes' came about as a satirical comment made by the press after a game at the Oval when England were beaten by the Australians for the first time, on home ground. In the aftermath of that game, a satirical obituary was published in the Sporting Times, in which it claimed, the game of cricket had died and 'the body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia'. The subsequent, series played between the two teams in Australia in 1882-83 was jokingly dubbed by the newspapers as England's bid to bring home the Ashes of English Cricket.

The tiny trophy which has become synonymous with game, is not in fact the actual trophy that was originally presented and is reputed to contain the ashes of a cricket ball. The original terracotta urn has remained at the Melbourne cricket club since it was presented at the end of the 1882-3 series. The actual trophy is a Waterford crystal reproduction of this and is actually quite impressive, but the media and the cricketers themselves can never pass up the comic opportunity of holding aloft a palm sized terracotta copy.

Despite Mr TG's great love of the game and the fact that we live within shouting distance of the Essex County Ground, I have managed to remain blissfully uneducated in the nuances of the game. In fact, I will actually be attending a Twenty Twenty game on sunday, but I look at as an opportunity for a picnic more than anything else. Expect to hear quite a lot from me on twitter that day... So, I feel it's in my best interests to come up with a cocktail or two to make the experience a little bit more fabulous and I'm sure , for those that love the game, it will be all the more enhanced by one of these.

I took as my inspiration, two cricketing greats, who are as well known for their off pitch personas as they are for their cricketing prowess; Phil 'the cat' Tufnell and Andrew 'Freddy' Flintoff seemed appropriate choices for cocktail monickers, given their, shall we say, 'fun loving' reputations. The Tufnell cocktail is a drink with a herbal twist, owing to ex-team-mate, Atherton's claim that Tuffers was partial to the, more than occasional, herbal smoke and The Flintoff is a potentially lethal mix of rum and beer that is quite liable to fuel an attempt at crossing the high seas in a pedalo.

The Tufnell cocktail requires a small amount of rosemary syrup which can be made quite simply by following this recipe. Rosemary Syrup (click here for recipe). The tequila was purchased from Tesco and the Chase Elderflower liqueur from the wonderful people at Amathus Drinks.

A young Tufnell in 1998, celebrating Test cricket success

The Tufnell

1 1/2 oz Sierra tequila resposado
1/2 oz Chase Elderflower Liqueur
3/4 oz rosemary syrup
1 oz lemon juice
Half a ripe pear, peeled, cored and diced
A little sparkling water to top up
Sprig of rosemary

Muddle the pear in the bottom of a shaker then pass through a sieve so only the juice remains.
Alternatively blitz it in a blender, which will give a slightly thicker consistency - both are fine.
Add the pear juice and rest of the ingredients, apart from the sprig of rosemary, to the cocktail shaker and shake hard.
Strain the contents of the shaker into a tall glass, filled with ice and top with a little sparkling water.
Stir to mix.
Garnish with a sprig of rosemary.

The Flintoff cocktail requires honey-ginger syrup (click here for recipe). Leffe Blonde beer has a honey spice of it's own and a slight banana taste that pairs well with rum. It is readily available in larger supermarkets and I was able to purchase mine from Tesco. The Flor de Cana rum was bought from the City branch of Amathus Drinks and is also available to buy form them, online. For those of you who would like to try the cocktail, but would rather not have the full Flintoff experience, I suggest sharing one between two or perhaps leave out a shot of rum...

Flintoff in typically exuberant form

The Flintoff

3 oz Flor de Cana rum
1 oz lemon juice
3/4 oz honey-ginger syrup
3 oz Leffe Blonde Beer

Add the rum, lemon and syrup to a shaker with ice and shake hard.
Open the shaker, add the beer and stir carefully, with a bar spoon to combine all of the ingredients.
Strain into a tall beer glass, filled with ice.

Rosemary Syrup

Rosemary Syrup is simple to make and is a delicious addition to various cocktails. It also pairs well with Lavender Syrup, the recipe for which you can find here - Lavender Syrup Recipe.

Rosemary Syrup


1 cup of water
2 cups of sugar
3 large sprigs of rosemary

Place the rosemary and water into a saucepan and bring to the boil.
When the water has begun to boil, reduce heat and stir in the sugar until dissolved.
Simmer for 5 mins and then remove form heat and allow to cool.
Strain the cooled syrup and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Wimbledon 2013

At the time of writing, it is the morning of the Wimbledon 2013 Mens' Final and by the time you are reading this, the nation could be in the grips of 'Murray Fever' or in the depths of despair. Either way, cocktails in the sunshine will make Wimbledon 2013 an infinitely more enjoyable experience. The cocktails I have chosen for today are all delicious and have been rigorously tested over the last week or so to bring you my current favourites that will hopefully be the perfect accompaniment to a victory party, hence they all feature a spot of prosecco because for me, nothing says celebration, quite like bubbles. You can of course substitute prosecco for champagne or cava, whatever floats your boat.

Love All

1 oz Chase Rhubarb Vodka
2 strawberries
Prosecco to top up

Muddle 1 strawberry in the bottom of a shaker, with the Chase Rhubarb Vodka.
Add ice and shake vigorously for 20 secs before straining into a chilled champagne flute.
Pop the other strawberry into the bottom of the flute and very slowly top up with prosecco to avoid it fizzing over


2 oz Otima Tawny Port
1/2 oz creme de framboises
1/4 oz lemon juice
3 raspberries to garnish

Add the port, creme de framboises and lemon to a shaker with ice
Shake hard for 20 secs and strain into an ice filled, tall glass
Top up with prosecco and stir carefully to mix
Garnish with 3 raspberries on a cocktail stick


1 1/2 oz Otima Tawny Port
1/2 oz triple sec
Strawberry to garnish

Add the port and triple sec to a large mixing glass with ice and stir for about 20 secs to chill the alcohol.
Pop a strawberry into the bottom of a chilled champagne flute and strain the mixture in.
top up carefully with bubbles to avoid fizzing over and give a little stir to mix.

Game Over

1 oz Chase Marmalade Vodka
1 oz Martini Rosso
Dash of Peychauds bitters
Squeeze of orange juice
Orange zest

Add the vodka, sweet vermouth and bitters to a shaker with ice.
Shake vigorously and strain into a chilled champagne flute.
Top up with prosecco and then squeeze a wedge of orange over the top
Cut a strip of zest and twist and squeeze to release the oils before dropping into the glass.

Whatever the outcome, enjoy the cocktails  and if we are fortunate enough to be celebrating that elusive British victory this time around, then there may be a few sore heads in the morning, so drink plenty of water and be responsible. Fingers crossed x

Thursday, 4 July 2013

4th of July

As you've probably realised, I'm never, knowingly one to pass up a cocktail making opportunity and whilst I am, in no way American, I feel that having celebrated it once before, in Chicago (12 years ago), I am entitled to join in the fun. So, 'hip hip hurrah', for American Independence Day or perhaps, 'whoop', would be more appropriate....

Anyway, I'm sure most readers will know (especially the Americans), that 4th July is the day when the United States of America celebrate the official publication of the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain in 1776. British schools perhaps do not focus quite so greatly on this important historical event as our American counterparts, but most of us are aware of the social significance it holds and are more than happy to join in the jamboree. So, without further ado, light your sparklers, charge your shakers and let's have some fun (whoop).

First up is our red cocktail, which I have named the Franklin, after Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the US and the Committee of Five who drafted and presented the Declaration of Independence to Congress. I have to confess, I don't know if he had a preference for tequila and watermelon - that may be more Freewheelin' Franklin than Benjamin, but it's a refreshing drink all the same.To make the watermelon juice,  I blitzed the watermelon in the blender and then passed it through a sieve to make sure all the pips were out, but you could just as easily mash the lot through a sieve without blending if you don't have access to a food processor. To make the 2 oz of juice, required for the cocktail, I used about a cupful of cubed watermelon.


1 1/2 oz Sierra tequila resposado
1/2 oz Chase Elderflower liqueur
2 oz watermelon juice
1/2 oz lime
1/2 oz orange
orange zest

Add all of the ingredients to a shaker with plenty of ice
Shake hard for 20 seconds and then strain into tall glass, filled with ice
Garnish with a lime wheel

 African Red Butterfly Glasses by Toasted Glass

This 'white' in our next cocktail comes from white peach puree, which is easy enough to make, either with a blender or by squishing through a sieve. First though, you need to remove the peach skin, which is easily done by first scoring it with a knife and then blanching in boiling water for 1 minute before plunging it in cold. This should sufficiently loosen the skin to make it easy to peel off. Cut the peach in two and remove the stone before blending.

This cocktail is also named after another of the Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson, who also went on to be the President of the United States. Did he like gin? Who knows, but I like to think he would have enjoyed this.

 For this recipe, I also decided to try out my new Williams GB, Extra Dry Gin from the Chase Distillery. As with their original gin, it's not made from bought in grain spirit, but distilled from start to finish at their Herefordshire distillery. It's a more classic tasting gin than their original, which I find a little more akin to an Eau de Vie than a gin, it being made from apples, but this one is packed full of botanical flavours and I could particularly pick up on the cinnamon and citrus as well as the more obvious juniper.


2 oz Williams GB Extra Dry Gin
1 oz Chase Elderflower Liqueur
2 oz white peach puree
1/2 oz lime juice
2-3 mint leaves
Sprig of mint to garnish

Add all of the ingredients, apart from the garnish, to a shaker with ice.
Shake hard for 20 seconds and strain into an ice filled tall glass
Garnish with a sprig of mint

And finally, the 'blue' of the red, white and blue and patriotically named after John Adams, whom, if you didn't already know, I'm sure you could guess, is another of the Founding Fathers and he also went on to be a President of the United States. Bizarrely, both Jefferson and Adams died on the same day, July 4th, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence...


1 1/2 oz Flor de Cana Rum
1/2 oz Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
1 oz blue curacao
1/2 oz simple syrup
1 1/2 oz lime juice

Add all of the ingredients to a shaker, with ice.
Shake hard for 20 seconds and strain into an ice filled hi ball glass

So there you have it, perfect, refreshing cocktails to make July 4th go with a bang, whether or not you are in the USA. Enjoy x