First published in The Irish Times, Saturday 19th August, 2017.
This week, a few refreshing cocktails to enjoy in the sunshine. I am not usually a fan of wine cocktails; it seems sacrilegious to dilute or adulterate such a great beverage.
However, in the summer, when reviving low-alcohol drinks are essential, they seem appropriate. Gin is the great cocktail spirit, and there is no shortage of refreshing drinks to conjure up.
Elderflower & Savvy
It is often said that Sauvignon Blanc smells and tastes of elderflower, so not surprisingly, the two go well together. If you are feeling lazy, the Blossom Hill Elderflower & Lemon Spritz (5.5% alcohol), a very refreshing summery glass of wine, is an easy alternative.
One bottle of chilled inexpensive Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, Chile or elsewhere;
150-200ml elderflower cordial;
1 750ml bottle of chilled sparkling water;
Two unwaxed limes (available in Marks & Spencer) or unwaxed lemons;
Mix the cordial and wine together in a large jug, add sliced limes (or lemons), sparkling water and ice, tasting as you proceed, until it seems right. Serve with a sprig of mint.
I adore all kinds of sherry, and fino is a fantastic summer drink. However, fino’s 15% alcohol means a certain level of restraint is required. Rebujito is the favoured fiestas drink in Andalucía, and could not be easier to make.
The fino featured below is exquisite, and possibly wasted here. You could buy a bottle of Tio Pepe for the cocktail and save the Callejuela for a treat before dinner.
Spirits writer David Broom recommends using fino sherry instead of vodka for a lighter Bloody Mary, which worked very well. Alternatively, you could make a P&T – a white port & tonic, garnished with lemon and mint.
One bottle chilled fino sherry;
1 750 ml bottle of chilled sparkling water;
Mix roughly equal quantities of sherry and sparkling water (some people use fizzy lemonade). Add a few cubes of ice and a few slices of lemon. Garnish with mint. Gin is a great summery drink, whether mixed with tonic water, or in a classic Tom Collins. This recipe, courtesy of Susie Atkins in the Telegraph, is delicious.
Two sprigs of fresh mint;
1cm slice of cucumber quartered;
100ml Elderflower pressé (or cordial mixed with sparkling water);
A sprig of mint and slice of lemon to garnish.
Put the two sprigs of mint and slices of cucumber and gin into a cocktail shaker. Muddle (or bash) them around together for a minute, strain into a tall glass, add elderflower pressé and a few cubes of ice, and garnish with lemon and mint.
Costa Fresca Sauvignon Blanc 2016, San Antonio Valley,
A very attractive Sauvignon with rich textured tropical fruit and great intensity for a wine at this price. Stockists: Marks & Spencer.
Lone Kauri Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2016, Marlborough,
13%, €14.99 – €10 on promotion
Elderflower aromas and rich gooseberry fruits; classic Marlborough Sauvignon. Stockists: SuperValu.
Callejuela Manzanilla Fina NV,
Mouth-watering and fresh with citrus fruits and subtle green olives and almonds. Perfect on its own or in the Rebujito above. Stockists: World Wide Wines; Green Man Wines; Redmonds; Whelehan’s; 64 Wines.
Boyle’s Small Batch Irish Botanical Gin,
Excellent award-winning gin (made by Blackwater distillery) full of fruit, vibrant juniper and elderflower. Stockists: Aldi.