- Food & Drink
It’s summer, which means parties, picnics, barbecues and sitting on the pavement outside the pub, drinking pints and feeling very continental. If Christmas is the height of winter drinking, then summer is when we put on our booze bikinis and enjoy a frenzy of alcoholic fun. But what to drink when the sun is out? I’ve nobly been doing the rounds and can bring you some helpful drinking suggestions for hot nights and wet bank holidays.
We’re currently sweating our way through a period of soupy, humid heat. A vital weapon against overheating is ice cream and Sipsmith, makers of one of my top three gins of all time (the other’s being Tanqueray no TEN and Pickering’s) have teamed up with Hampshire’s finest ice cream churner Jude’s to make a gin & tonic ice cream. Creamy with a fresh citrus and juniper edge, it’s good by the tub or add a scoop to your G&T to make a boozy ice cream float. Available in wee pots from Ocado (we need bigger tubs of this, please) and in-store at Selfridge’s.
I also bumped into Sipsmith’s at the Waitrose Christmas Show (these always happen in July to confuse journalists’ seasonal body clocks) where they were handing out cups of sloe gin with mulled apple juice (make a note of that for your Christmas party). Hot gin is obviously no good in hot weather, but the mix of Sloe Gin, bitter lemon and lots of ice the Sipsmith rep recommended for summer evenings is very quaffable indeed.
Martin Miller’s kindly sent me a bottle of their fine gin to brighten up my drink’s cabinet a couple of week’s ago. One of the original new wave gins, I was introduced to Martin Miller’s many years ago by Chris Pople, who was enthusiastic about it’s qualities in a G&T.
Trying it again, I was reminded of how green, light and fresh it is. And also how savoury. I reviewed Martin Miller’s Gin on the blog about this time last year and thought it would make a great addition to a Pimm’s, which can be a watery affair. I stand by that and, to prevent garden party and wedding reception disappointment this year, make sure you add a good splash of Martin Miller’s to your summer punch.
I also tried a new set of gins thanks to a Zomato blogger meet-up at the East London Liquor Company in Hackney. A pretty drinking den in what looked like the howling middle of nowhere to my prejudiced South London eyes, the ELLC has two stunning copper stills behind the bar where they make gin, rum, vodka and whisky (although the whisky won’t be available for a few years).
We took a tour of the distillery and then worked our way through their gins to see which one was best. Their London Dry is an entry level gin that would be ideal for novice dipsomaniacs who want to see what all the fuss is about, not least because it’s a bargain £22.
Of the two fancier gins, I preferred the grassier, cottage garden flavours of Batch 2, which counts thyme, bay, sage, winter savoury and lavender amongst its botanicals. They have a brilliant bottle shop next to the bar or you can buy the gins at Master of Malt and other fine purveyors of booze.
We tried all the gins with Fever Tree Tonic, and branched out into the Mediterranean Tonic to go with ELLC’s Vodka (I felt I should try the whole range of drinks just to make sure it was all definitely nice). Flavoured with lemon thyme and rosemary it was terrific with the smooth, softness of the vodka. If you’re going to insist on not drinking, then it would make a fine choice.
Fever Tree also featured in the microbarbox I was sent to try out. It’s a monthly subscription box that sees you receive a mystery box of booze with some snacks and a card of cocktail recipes. I was sent the June box, which I put away for a couple of weeks and then took to a friend’s house as I imagined we could have a go at making the cocktails and try them all together.
Having not looked at the website properly, I was surprised to unpack three 50ml bottles of spirits, two mixers and a small bottle of rosé wine, along with some olives and chocolate. This is not a socialable cocktail kit but rather one for the stay-at-home mixologist who doesn’t like to share.
We mixed up drinks from the more adventurous side of the card, turning the Edgerton Pink Gin and Funkin Strawberry Woo Woo in to a gin woo woo; and adding the limoncello to the Absolut Vodka to make a limoncello martini. The combinations produced cocktails that served twoish and were fairly sweet, which seemed to stickily tie in with the pink theme of the June box.
As a box, I think I’d enjoy it more if it made one or two cocktails for more people. However, the drinks in it are old reliables and your first box is £14 (going up to £24 thereafter). If you pop the code GC1STBOX12 into the promo box when you order, you’ll get your first box for £12, which makes for a bargain night in, just you and your cocktail shaker.
In case it isn’t totally clear, I was given all of the above as gifts.