Springtime cocktails

My Beloved lifts up his voice, he says to me: ‘Come, my love, my lovely one, come. For see, winter is past, the rains are over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth. The season of glad songs is come; the cooing of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree is forming its first figs, and the blossoming vines give out their fragrance.’ (Song of Solomon)

In an early post about approaching the aperitif from a drinks host’s perspective (http://blog.theaperitifguy.co.uk/2018/09/a-drinks-hosts-guide.html ), I wrote about how my aperitif drinks tend to follow a seasonal cycle: Gin, spritz and longdrinks in the summer, fortifieds in the late autumn, Champagne to lift the blues of winter. Now we’re through the ‘hunger gap’ of late winter and the days are noticeably longer, it’s time to break out the cocktails. Not the serious ones: Manhattans and Old Fashioneds can wait for another day. Spring is the time for fun and frivolity, for the glad songs, as the above quote from the Bible has it.

G&T, with a splash of Suze
Spring cocktails have a distinct character. They’re full of flavour, often herbal, and always refreshing. It’s a good time to experiment with different mixers for gin. Have you tried ginger ale or ginger beer with your gin, for instance? Or perhaps discovered a more complex gin with grassy, herbal or even floral notes? One of my favourite additions to a classic G&T is a splash of bitter-sweet Suze, to lend it a more aromatic character. I love the taste of Suze and used it in this variation on a White Lady that I created for a Shrovetide cocktail party last year:

A Bitterly Disappointed Lady
1 measure fresh lemon juice
1 measure Suze gentian aperitif
2 measures gin (any standard gin will do)
A splash of red vermouth (to make her blush)
Egg white
Shake hard with ice and strain into a small goblet or hock glass.

Not everyone enjoys the strong bitterness of Suze, of course, so another useful source of herbal flavours is Chartreuse liqueur. Chartreuse comes in green and yellow versions. The green is very strong, while the yellow is sweeter and milder in flavour. You can get both in miniature bottles if you don’t fancy shelling out £40 for a bottle you might not finish all year. (I can get through a bottle of the green stuff in about 2 months but I will admit to being a filthy old lush!) The yellow chartreuse brings a subtle, mellow taste of herbs to this cocktail we served to celebrate the arrival of the Tour de France in town a few years ago:

Yellow Bicycle
Place about 10ml of yellow Chartreuse and the same quantity of St Germain elderflower liqueur in a flute glass. Top up with chilled Champagne.

Not suitable for drinking!

If, like me, you prefer your monastic liqueurs on the strong side, you’ll love The Last Word. It’s strong, sharp and very sophisticated. When I order it in my local cocktail bar, the waiter usually responds “Ooo! That’s a boozer’s cocktail!” Perhaps, but it is absolutely delicious.

The Last Word
30ml dry gin
20ml green Chartreuse
20ml Maraschino cherry liqueur
20ml fresh lime juice
Shake hard with ice and strain into a coupe glass. Serve with a maraschino cherry

Next time: love your Mum


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