Showing posts from November, 2018

The Christmas list - what to have in

If you’re thinking of making aperitif drinking a regular part of your life, you may well be wondering how much it’s all going to cost. Well, you can spend as much as you’ve got, obviously. I often dream of that Euromillions lottery win that would finance the acquisition of a dozen Baccarat Champagne coupes, a bespoke cocktail cabinet and buying trips to Oporto, Epernay and Beaune. Sadly, we must live in the real world, so here are some thoughts on a few versatile bits and pieces you can get started with. Drinks I’ll write next time about some fun cocktails to try out with your festivities and, after that, post something on aperitifs to go with more formal dining. In this post, though, I want to focus on the most versatile aperitif drinks to have in, the stuff you can just reach for when you’re too tired to think or have been taken unawares by an old friend on a surprise visit. A gin fizz with friends First and foremost, London Dry gin. Flavoured gins are popular just

Fortified wines - Port, Madeira & Marsala

L to R: Marsala, Port, Madeira My last blog was about sherry, perhaps the most obvious drink (for the English, at least) to fall into the category of “fortified wines.” It’s a term that conjures up memories of the old duty-free allowances and even older relatives. However, just as sherry is enjoying its own little renaissance, I thought we might have a look at the other versatile wines that are its cousins. The popularity of these drinks in the UK owes much to their keeping qualities. They were originally fortified with brandy as a way of preserving them for the long sea journey to foreign markets. It helps retain a certain freshness and grapey flavour without the need for transporting in heavy, glass bottles. Delicate table wines were harder to transport, so our islands off the north-west of Europe came to love the stronger, often sweeter wines of Porto, Jerez, Sicily and Madeira. Port I think I mentioned port in my post about France. Whereas English-speaking cou

The magic of sherry

I love sherry. It makes a beautiful and sophisticated start to any evening. There’s a bar in Madrid that serves nothing else, and when we visited we had an amazing night. Maybe it’s something in the Andalusian soul that seeps into the grapes, something to do with careful aging in quiet bodegas or just that my sherry glasses are so lovely, but sherry seems to have an air of calm and quiet about it. Whether I’m drinking manzanilla or fino under the July sun or sipping an oloroso or amontillado by the fireside at our friend Chris's flat in November, I find there’s something inherently mindful about the experience. Image: S Fogarty I never serve sweet sherry as an aperitif. I may be influenced by remembering something awful in a schooner with a cherry across the top in a Merseyside restaurant, circa 1986. More likely, it’s simply that the best sweet sherry, Pedro Ximinès, is simply too sweet to really benefit the appetite and sits much better as an accompaniment t