Friday, 8 November 2013

Winter Spice

In nature, winter is a time of hibernation, conservation and storing of energy, ready to burst forth and be plentiful again in the spring. Sadly, in the kingdom of men, there is no such respite. We may be top of the food chain, but with great power, comes great responsibility and apparently, it is our responsibility to buy vast amounts of Christmas gifts and eat our way through the rest of the food chain. So no rest for us; while foxes, badgers and squirrels snuggle up until spring, we must pull on our woolly hats and soldier on through the cold, battling the the elements and other high street shoppers as we try to find the perfect Christmas gifts. Alternatively, you could take inspiration from our woodland creatures and snuggle up indoors. Bearing in mind the cost of heating our homes this winter, a soft, woolly blanket, a pair of slipper socks and a cocktail that is guaranteed to warm you up from the inside, sound like the perfect accompaniment to a spot of online Christmas shopping....

After infusing Campari with chilli for last week's cocktail - 'Satan's Circus', I decided ( as I often do ) that it would taste even better made with gin, which proved to be the case in my opinion at least. Now this cocktail may be served chilled, but the heat of the chilli infused Campari will have you feeling toasty in no time. The trick is to infuse the Campari for just long enough to give you a glow without getting into ‘vindaloo’ territory. Let the chilli steep for no more than an hour and the resultant drink will warm you deliciously without burning the throat. To get the recipe for Chilli Infused Campari - click here.

This recipe also requires Cherry Heering, a cherry liqueur made from the maceration of real fruit with an intense, but natural, cherry flavour. If you do not already have some, you can buy online or in store from more specialist purveyors of spirits, such as Amathus Drinks. Finally, you will need gin, of which there are literally hundreds to choose from and all with surprisingly different flavours. I used Gin Xoriguer, a small batch gin from the Balearic island of Menorca, which has enough juniper and spice to stand up to the Chilli Infused Campari.

Cherry Devil

2 oz Gin Xoriguer
3/4 oz Cherry Heering
3/4 oz chilli infused Campari
3/4 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice

Add all of the ingredients to a shaker with ice and shake hard until the outside develops a frosty bloom.
Strain into a chilled martini glass.

This next recipe uses the warming power of ginger to chase away the winter blues and will require making some honey-ginger syrup. To get the recipe for Honey-Ginger Syrup - click here

As the following recipe is a variation of a traditional margarita, it will of course require tequila. It is best to use a ‘resposado’ tequila rather than a young, ‘blanco’ or ‘silver’ tequila as the more aged spirit has an earthier flavour that works best with the honey and ginger.

Ginger Margarita

2 oz Tequila Resposado
1 oz honey-ginger syrup
1 tsp grated orange zest
1 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
Strip of orange zest and slice of ginger to garnish

Add all of the ingredients, apart from the garnish, to a cocktail shaker.
Shake hard for about 20 secs and double strain (to remove the grated zest) into a chilled cocktail glass.
Twist the strip of zest over the glass to release the essential oils and garnish the drink.

Our final winter warmer cocktail is a warm, boozy beverage that can be prepared almost as simply as a cup of tea and in fact, you may wish to scale up the quantities and make a pot for friends.

Rum Toddy

1 1/2 oz dark rum
3/4 oz apricot brandy
1/2 oz lemon juice
1 tsp light muscovado sugar
3 oz boiling water
Cinnamon stick to garnish

Add the rum, brandy and lemon juice to a cup and top up with boiling water.
Add the spoonful of dark muscovado sugar and stir with a cinnamon stick until the sugar dissolves.

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