NOTHING quite brings a smile to people’s faces in summer like a cool, bright, refreshing cocktail, whether it’s alcoholic or non-alcoholic.
The season brings such a wonderful collection of fruits and flavours and it’s a great time to try different combinations.
There’s an exciting new era of cocktails that has emerged in recent years. There are some great classics out there but, as with our food, we enjoy experimenting with different flavour matches.
Bringing in fresh herbs, plants and spices such as mint, thyme, rosemary, elderflower and sea buckthorn can really bring a drink to life and add a new dimension of flavour. Often the simplest change to a classic cocktail can help you discover a wonderful new recipe. They can give drinks balance and elegance, but make sure you use fresh local herbs, as dried just won’t give the same flavour. Don’t be tempted to add too much either, as overdoing it can overpower your drink. Just a gentle hint of these ingredients is enough to really lift it.
Getting the right base for your cocktail is key, just as it is with any recipe, so think about the flavours and the ingredients used in the spirit. We’ve been trying out a number of local gins in our cocktails recently. There’s been a significant rise in Scottish handcrafted gins and it’s worth celebrating these independent producers who are sharing their passion for fresh artisan spirits. Traditionally, Scotland has been a prolific supplier of gin, and the tradition is continuing though the quality is increasingly superior.
It all really began ten years ago with Hendrick’s, and since then we’ve seen a number of distillers in Scotland follow suit, including Caorunn, a spicy gin from Strathspey, The Botanist from Islay and there’s even an Edinburgh Gin, introduced by Alex Nicol. Even Edinburgh bar Bramble distils its own Aged Beefeater Gin. These gins are made in small batches and lovingly handcrafted to give intense flavour.
The base of gin is juniper berries but different origins, styles and flavours offer varying characteristics. There’s often more to the spirit than meets the eye. Edinburgh Gin, for example, is a premium spirit infused with carefully selected, notoriously soft Scottish botanicals, which are mixed with heather and milk thistle and added at the final production stage. The result is a heather-scented, fresh, crisp flavour with a little kick of spice.
If you seek out different gins for your cocktails you can find something to suit your own tastes and serve it just the way you like it – perfect for sunny days or an ideal way to brighten up not so sunny ones.
Auld Reekie Mary
50ml Tanqueray gin
200ml tomato juice
Pinch of smoked paprika
Juice of half a lemon
Pinch of celery salt
Tabasco and Worcester Sauce to taste
Slices of tomato
5ml whisky of your choice (smokey whisky is preferable)
Place the first six ingredients in a shaker and mix gently with ice. Don’t shake too vigorously – you just want to combine the ingredients.
Strain into a glass with ice.
Garnish with a slice of lemon, sliced tomatoes and a sprinkle of black pepper.
Finish the drink with a bar spoon (5ml) of Ardbeg whisky (or any other smokey whisky of your choice).
Botanist Crème de MÛre with Lemon & Thyme
50ml Botanist gin
25ml lemon juice
10ml lemon thyme syrup (thyme with sugar syrup)
4 sprigs fresh thyme
Slice of lemon
15-20ml crème de mûre
Combine the gin, lemon juice and lemon thyme syrup in a shaker with three sprigs of fresh thyme.
Shake vigorously, then strain over crushed ice into a rocks glass.
Garnish with a slice of lemon and the remaining sprig of thyme.
To serve, pour approximately 15-20ml of crème de mûre over the top of the drink – it should drizzle throughout the drink to create a marble effect.