Thursday, 28 June 2012

We do do rum, Ron

Rum-runner William McCoy with some of his contraband

Rum is a bit like chicken—everyone likes it. But most people probably regard it as a staple rather than something that has rare, high-end connoisseur-pleasing examples, like fine wine or cognac. In fact, particularly in former French colonies such as Martinique, Haiti or Gaudalupe, rum has long been crafted and matured in the same way that cognac was at home.

This weekend the Candlelight Club is all about rum, celebrating the rum-runners who used to break Prohibition by smuggling rum from the Caribbean into the US, particularly along the Florida coast, where the popular and chic resort town of Miami would have provided a ready market. Most famous of the rum-runners was William McCoy—rather a heroic figure who did it as much for the sport and the pleasure of life at sea as for the money. He had no dealings with mobsters and never bribed an official, and he was so famous for not diluting or adulterating his merchandise that he gave rise to the phrase “the real McCoy”. Off Key Biscayne there was even a collection of buildings on stilts in the sea (known as Stiltsville and originally erected to sit just outside the one-mile limit of gambling laws) which are believed to have made a handy landing spot for smugglers. Later there was even a club built out there, the Calvert Club.

Not-quite-full bottles of the Reserva and Solera
1893. As you can see I didn't like them at all
Our rum for the evening is actually a Guatemalan brand, Ron Botran. This is a good example of what careful nurturing can do for this spirit. Juice from sugar cane grown on the family's own plantation is fermented and distilled, then batches are left to mature slowly in the cool mountain town of Quetzaltenango, in barrels previously used for bourbon, sherry and port, some freshly charred on the inside. The Botran way is all about ageing and blending, and they use a “solera” system, more usually found in sherry production, where rums of different ages are constantly mixed. We’ll be presenting two rums: the Reserva is concocted from batches matured for 5 to 14 years, while the Solera 1893 is made from rums between 5 and 18 years old. We’ll be offering the latter in the classic Sazerac cocktail, or simply neat or on the rocks. It apparently makes a particularly good pairing with a fine cigar, and we have managed to acquire some Don Pancho and Don Juan cigars from Guatemala specially for the occasion.

These rums seem to evolve when you taste them. Sniffing a glass of the Reserva I first get sugar, a slightly sour element that quickly gives way to a smooth caramel smell, then a dry, polished sherry note, like varnished wood, plus vanilla and a hint of something like gunsmoke. On the palate it is sweet, but not at all cloying, smooth but with dry elements. There are chocolate and marzipan flavours in there too. Whereas as some rums seem to be just efficient alcoholic blasts and others wax over-sweet and unctuous, the Ron Botran Reserva does indeed seem to spotlight a careful blending process.

To me the Solera 1893 has a very similar character but with more of the dry sherry notes. Making a quick comparison, the Reserva seems to have more burnt sugar and raisiny fruit. On the palate the Solera is dry and woody, with lots of dark chocolate, coffee and nuts—hazelnuts, bitter almonds and even sesame. On the finish there is a hint of aniseed. Although drier than the Reserva it is somehow smoother. I tried some on the rocks too, and the slight dilution releases strong wafts of vanilla and figs, with a surprisingly earthy character in the mouth.

We’ll be offering four cocktails with Ron Botran, all of which seem to show how strongly the rum’s character comes through in cocktails. Most exotic is the Guatemalan Rickshaw, created, according to the Botrán website, by someone or something called JustTheTipple. It involves watermelon, honey, sherry and Prosecco—I can see where the honey and sherry came from, as these are both notes that are to be found in the rum itself. The overall result is pretty complex but also dangerously refreshing.

A Guatemalan Rickshaw
Guatemalan Rickshaw
2 shots Botran Reserva
3 watermelon chunks
1 barspoon honey
½ shot lemon juice
½ shot sherry
½ shot Prosecco
½ shot grenadine

Shake the first five ingredients with ice to break up the fruit then strain over ice and top with a splash of Prosecco and a dash of grenadine. (I think on the night we’ll be making a honey syrup that dissolves more quickly.)

Botran Papa Doble
1½ shots Botran Solera
¾ shot lime juice
¾ shot sugar syrup
½ shot grapefruit juice
¼ shot maraschino

The Daiquiri—rum, lime and sugar—is one of the classic rum cocktails, and the Papa Doble was invented for Ernest "Papa" Hemingway in Cuba, either by Antonio Melan or Constantino Ribalaigua. It adds grapefruit and the cherry liqueur maraschino; the original actually removed the sugar, as Hemingway liked his drinks pretty dry—allegedly because you could drink more of them that way. The name was actually the nickname given to Hemingway himself, because he always ordered doubles. I think the original was served as a frappé with crushed ice. This version comes from “Tom” of the Mondrian Hotel, South Beach, Miami. I would be inclined to add a bit more rum and grapefruit and go easy on the sugar, but it’s a matter of taste. Either way it’s a great vehicle for the rum.

A Papa Doble
Botran Sazerac
2 shots Botran Solera
1 shot lemon juice
¾ shot absinthe
1 sugar cube
Peychaud’s Bitters

Add the absinthe and lemon juice to an ice-filled glass. Swirl and discard, leaving a coating on the glass. In another glass, crush a Peychaud’s-soaked sugar cube, add the rum and stir till the sugar is dissolved. Then add ice and stir till chilled, before straining into the absinthe- and lemon-coated glass. As a garnish, flame a strip of lemon or orange peel. The ancient Sazerac cocktail, from New Orleans, was originally made with cognac, and now usually with Bourbon or rye whiskey. But it is also a great showcase for Botran's premium Solera rum. In this recipe, from Tom again, the lemon juice is an unusual touch: I’m not convinced it is necessary but it’s worth experimenting.

Small Dinger
1¼ shots Botran Reserva
1¼ shots SW4 gin
¼ shot lemon juice
¼ shot grenadine

Shake everything with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a squeezed lemon peel. This is not a prescribed Botran cocktail, but one that I spotted on the title page of Bar Florida Cocktails, 1935 Reprint—the idea of combining gin and rum intrigued me and I was delighted to find that it works rather well, with a standard sweet n’ sour component coming from lemon juice and the pomegranate syrup grenadine. The original recipe seems to have meant light rum, but I think it works better this way, with the dark, woody, smoky sugar of the rum balancing well with the bright juniper spice of the gin.

In case anyone really doesn’t like rum, I’ve included a popular gin-based cocktail from the 1920s:

Miami Beach Special
2 shots SW4 gin
2½ shots pineapple juice
½ shot Galliano

The original is actually just gin, pineapple juice and sugar (Sloppy Joe’s Bar Cocktails Manual from 1931 specifies 1 gin to 2 pineapple) but I couldn’t resist making it a bit more interesting by replacing the sugar with the Italian vanilla liqueur Galliano, a moreish flavour that married effortlessly with the pineapple.

If you'd like to buy bottles of Ron Botran but can't find it anywhere (or can't be bothered to leave your armchair), you can now buy it online via the new Candlelight Club Liquor Store.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Some wedding cocktails

A Second Honeymoon

June is traditionally a month for weddings and, as it happens, I recently put on an engagement party for a couple of Candlelight Club customers who wanted a celebration with the speakeasy style of our events. So I needed a short menu of cocktails with an appropriate theme.

As it happened I’d recently been reading Ted Haigh’s Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails (2009) and remembered coming across the Honeymoon cocktail. The recipe given is:

60ml calvados
15ml Bénédictine
15ml orange curaçao
15ml lemon juice

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. The recipe was first published in Hugo Ensslin’s Recipes for Mixed Drinks (1917) and it later became a signature drink at Bob Cobb’s Los Angeles chain of Brown Derby restaurants, the first of which opened in 1926. Ensslin’s recipe specified “apple brandy” and later examples used Applejack, the spirit made by Laird’s in New Jersey that blends apple brandy with neutral spirit. But Haigh, along with Dale DeGroff, recommends the Normandy apple brandy Calvados instead—and if you live in the UK this is a lot easier to come by than Applejack (which is also a good £30 a bottle if you can find it).

It’s a great cocktail, well balanced and with all the ingredients poking through—the sweetness of the curacao in equilibrium with the tart lemon juice, the dry apple flavour of the brandy and the herbal spikiness of the Bénédictine. (Bénédictine claims to have been made by monks in Normandy since 1510 but the last family owner of the business apparently admitted in a TV interview that it was invented by his forebear Alexandre Le Grand in the nineteenth century with the help of a local chemist. The recipe is allegedly known only to three people and evidently many have tried to copy it, as the company have a “Hall of Counterfeits” at their headquarters.)

Mind you, for a party environment this recipe was a bit too strong: Benedictine is 40%, as is Cointreau (arguably a triple sec rather than a curaçao—a pretty moot distinction—but it’s what everyone uses…), so it’s basically it’s a big glass of three and half measures of spirits. So I tried replacing the curaçao with passion fruit purée—inspired, I admit, by the appropriate name for a wedding-themed cocktail. Monin make one, as do Funkin, and they are completely different—the Monin version uses sugar to preserve the fruit but it has a nice strong passion fruit smell and taste. The Funkin one is much drier and tarter and I think their method is to pasteurise the fruit in the foil pouch it comes it, meaning it will keep pretty much indefinitely until you open it. I think I prefer Monin’s, for its more definite taste and fragrance—plus I had an open bottle in my cellar for a year and it seemed impervious to decay. But you have to bear in mind the sweetness.

Second Honeymoon
1½ shots Calvados
½ shot Bénédictine
½ shot Monin passion fruit purée
1 shot lemon juice

This version is not so alcoholic and the increase in lemon juice is to balance the sweetness of the purée. I have to say that this is delicious, one of those pleasing blends where you can taste all the ingredients but they come together to make something greater than the sum of its parts. (I’ve become a real fan of this purée as a cocktail ingredient: I came up with another toothsome cocktail by blending it with Gosling’s Black Seal rum, lime juice and orange juice.)

I remembered seeing a recipe in the Savoy Cocktail Book (1930) called a Wedding Belle. Again it was a bit strong for a party so I increased the orange juice from the original specification of a sixth part (which would have been just half a shot in this recipe) and served it long over ice.

Wedding Belle
1½ shots gin
1½ shots Dubonnet
½ shot cherry brandy
1½ shots orange juice (though use less if you want to be more authentic)

A long version of the Wedding Belle
Shake with ice and strain into an ice-filled highball. (Original version, with less OJ, is strained into a chilled cocktail glass.) This is a moreish drink with the fruity appeal of cherries followed up by the complexity of the Dubonnet.

The couple really fancied having a Bellini on the menu, so I thought I’d try playing around with the recipe to give it a special touch. A traditional Bellini is just a blend of white peach purée and Prosecco, a drink invented at Harry’s Bar in Venice some time in the first half of the twentieth century, inspired by the culinary tradition of marinating peaches in wine. Many people add a half shot of peach liqueur, but I thought I’d try replacing this with Parfait Amour, for obvious reasons.

Parfait Amour is one of these ingredients that fell out of popularity before being revived in recent years. Examples are made by Bols, Boudier, Giffard, Cartron and Marie Brizzard, and probably others too now, but the recipe seems to vary. It has a strong citrus element, but also floral notes, sometimes violets, sometimes roses, maybe vanilla or almonds. I was able to get hold of examples by Boudier and Cartron. The latter is drier and with a stronger, more distinctly floral flavour. Parfait Amour is always a violet colour and here I encountered a problem: using Funkin white peach purée (which isn’t really white but a sort of beige) you end up with something that is a rather unappetising sludge brown colour. With the Boudier example you could just about get away with it, but I didn’t feel that the liqueur really added much, being too delicately flavoured. With the Cartron it made much more sense, adding a distinct crystallised-violet note, but the colour was an issue, so I tried adding just half a teaspoon of grenadine for the colour, which worked. Because the Cartron is drier, the sweetness of the grenadine didn’t upset anything.

Bridal Bellini
2 shots white peach purée
½ shot Cartron Parfait Amour
½ tsp (2.5ml) grenadine
Sparkling wine

Shake the first three ingredients with ice and strain into a Champagne flute or saucer. Top up with sparkling wine and stir gently.

Pash-ion for Vodka #14 - Absolut Los Angeles/Berri Açaí

Last week, I wrote about the first vodka in the Absolut City range and its replacement, Absolut Mango. In 2008, a Los Angeles themed vodka was released (flavoured with  Acai, acerola, pomegranate, and blueberry flavour ) and in 2010, once its time as a limited edition was up, it was released as a permanent variety under the name Berri Açaí .

The Taste

1) Room temperature
Nose: Intense red and black berry notes.
Taste: Some floral elements like rose, as well as blueberry. There was a burst of flavour that quickly drops off, leaving a hollow void, which is a bit sad.

2) From the freezer
Quite a fresh blueberry nose to start, which reminded me of blueberry muffins. More blueberry appeared on the taste, accompanied by some sweetness, but, by the finish, this had become quite bitter. I don’t get much of the pomegranate coming through and, after a while, the vodka seemed artificial and a bit too rough.

3) Martini
Very crisp, with some bitterness to it. The blueberry comes through, along with some anise, making this OK, but not great.

4) Vodka Tonic
Lovely; easily the best drink of the lot. Juicy berry flavours dominate the start of the taste, before fading into vanilla on the finish. Fresh and fruity, this wasn’t a usual Vodka Tonic, but a lovely one all the same.

Absolut Los Angeles became Absolut Berri Açaí 

Absolut Berry Acai is available for around £20 for 70cl from

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Kocktails for Kettner's Kabaret

Left to right, Green Fairy, Herr Collins, Perfectly Marvellous and Wilkommen

Tomorrow sees a special event in London, a collaboration between myself and Kettner’s, a long-established restaurant in Soho. This establishment dates back to 1867 and in its time has been a favourite haunt of Oscar Wilde, Bing Crosby and Agatha Christie. It was also where Edward VII used to come for assignations with Lillie Langtry—allegedly there is still a secret tunnel from the Palace Theatre next door where she was performing!

In those days restaurants did a lot more private dining and Kettner’s has two floors of rather sumptuous rooms: for this occasion we are taking over the whole lot of them and putting on a 1920s-themed event, with different things going on in different rooms. Like the Candlelight Club there will be a live band and DJ playing period jazz, plus complimentary swing dance lessons, but in another room there will also be a bill of cabaret acts, plus a vintage photo studio in another room and an absinthe bar in yet another, dispensing samples from the house of Pernod. We also have Oli Hambling, a genius at close-up magic, drifting through the venue amazing and delighting all. And because Kettner’s is, of course, a restaurant, there is also a fine dining option, with a special Germanic five-course menu plus exclusive cabaret performances for diners.

Joel Grey in Bob Fosse's 1972 film version of Cabaret
In keeping with the cabaret element, we’re giving the whole thing a Weimar Berlin theme and calling it Herr Kettner’s Kabaret. Wilkommen, bienvenue, welcome…

Of course there will be cocktails too, devised by Brendan, Kettner’s bar manager. I’ve got hold of the recipes, so I thought I would try them out at home and see what we can expect tomorrow. (I only have a list of ingredients and proportions so in terms of the actual presentation, I’m just guessing!)

15ml St Germain elderflower liqueur
5ml Funkin raspberry purée
110ml Prosecco

I didn’t have any of the Funkin purée to hand so I just puréed some raspberries (which is why it looks a bit bitty in the photo). This is a delicately balanced drink, with the elderflower and raspberry flavours clear but subtle, and they complement each other perfectly, lending the Prosecco backdrop both a floral layer and a tangy fruit layer, without adding a cloying sweetness. In fact, coming back to this drink from the others I was struck by the earthiness of the combination. If I had to choose a favourite from this collection it would probably be this one—and I believe that this is the welcome cocktail that everyone gets free on arrival, so that is just as well.

Come and unleash your inner Dietrich
Perfectly Marvellous
35ml Plymouth gin
15ml Crème de fraise de bois
50ml passion fruit juice
25ml grapefruit juice

Like the last one, this is named after a song in Cabaret. And it also presents another unexpected pairing, with the intense florality of the passion fruit juice cut through by the bitterness of the grapefruit, plus the buzz of strawberry fruit. In fact it’s striking how much passion fruit and strawberry have in common—once the idea is put into your head you can almost smell strawberries before you add any of the liqueur to the passion fruit juice. The gin itself takes a back seat, providing the engine rather than asserting its character. Again, it’s not heavily sweet like many fruity cocktails, but refreshingly dry, probably helped by the crispness of the grapefruit.

The Green Fairy
10ml Pernod absinthe
10ml Cartron crème de pêche
110ml Prosecco

Elsewhere I’ve seen a recipe that specifies an absinthe-soaked sugar cube. I’ve tried it both ways and to my palate the sugar isn’t necessary, but then I don’t have a terribly sweet tooth. But, as with a classic Champagne Cocktail, it is fun having the sugar cube fizzing away at the bottom of the glass. This is another interesting combo, partnering peach flavours (as in the Bellini cocktail—peach and Prosecco) with absinthe, with its strong anise flavour plus the earthy wormwood and herbaceous fennel. An interesting discovery that works very well.

Herr Collins
40ml Bourbon
25ml lemon juice
15ml gomme syrup
100ml soda water

A classic bourbon Collins (also known as a Colonel Collins), essentially a whiskey sour lengthened with soda water. The muscular woodiness* of the bourbon stands shoulder to shoulder with that classic cocktail building block of lemon and sugar combined, adding an appetising sweet-and-sour body.

After I took the photo, I heard that an extra cocktail had been added, known as the Green Beast.

The Green Beast
1 part Pernod absinthe
1 part simple syrup (here given as equal parts sugar and water)
1 part freshly squeezed lime juice
4 parts water
Build in a glass in order. Add ice and garnish with four thin slices of cucumber.

As the name suggests it is another absinthe-infused potion, this time showcasing the combination of Pernod absinthe, lime and cucumber. Absinthe itself can be a pretty complex drink—twice now I’ve been lucky enough to be a judge on the Spirits Business Absinthe Masters panel, and some examples unfold almost like a walk through the woods, with rooty notes followed by meadow flowers, then moss, then citrus.** So making cocktails from absinthe can enable you to pull out any of these different elements. Here the lime highlights fruit notes and adds body from the tartness combined with sweetness from the sugar, while the cucumber gives a juicy, rather floral emphasis. Not really very bestial, though—actually quite refreshing.

* OK, so something can't logically be muscular and woody at the same time but you know what I mean.
** All right, I don’t know where this wood is that combines all these things…

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Pash-ion for Vodka #13 - Absolut Mango

In August 2007, Absolut Vodka released the first in their series of city-themed vodkas*, which was inspired by New Orleans and flavoured with mango and black pepper. I actually have a bottle of this, but have never found a significantly special occasion upon which to open it and the more time that went by, the harder it was to drink, for fear that I’d be consuming some valuable antique!

Perhaps a good compromise will be to try some Absolut Mango. This is a mango flavoured vodka (no black pepper) that was also released in 2007.

The Taste

1) Room temperature
Nose: Quite strong a strong nose of fresh, fruity mango.
Taste: Smooth and quite sweet, this had substantial notes of mango and vanilla, with some bitterness at the end. Overall, I thought it was quite reasonable, but there was some burn at the end that detracted from it slightly.

2) From the freezer
The mango flavour became much fresher at a low temperature, tasting more like mango juice or puree. As at room temperature, there was some sweetness, as well as a touch of bitterness towards the end. OK, but I think it could be improved if the flavour was more intense and longer-lasting.

3) Martini
This was a rather weird combination: the dry vermouth certainly wasn’t the best match for the juicy mango.

4) Tonic
This really makes a rich and juicy mango drink with crisp bitterness towards the end. Really good.

Absolut Mango is available for around £21 for 70cl from The DrinkShop

Friday, 8 June 2012

Vintage Jubilee Cocktails

With the arrival of Her Majesty’s 60th year on the throne it seemed only fitting that the Candlelight Club should recognise this in some way. So, in keeping with our vintage credentials, we decided to celebrate with a party featuring cocktails created for the 1935 Jubilee (the closest one to the Prohibition period), honouring 25 years of George V on the throne.

By chance, just two years after the Jubilee, Bill Tarling, head bartender at London’s Café Royal and council member of the UK Bartenders Guild, itself formed only in 1933, published The Café Royal Cocktail Book. The UKBG had already published Approved Drinks, an attempt to lay down definitive recipes for standard and classic cocktails (as much as anything to prove to doubting customers that the drink was right and they were wrong). But Bill wanted to produce a book that included all kinds of other cocktail recipes he had encountered, and he wanted his book to be for consumers as well as the trade. Billed on the cover as the “Coronation Edition” (emerging in the year that George VI took the throne) it was actually the only edition produced. But coming when it did, just two years after George V’s Jubilee, it was ripe to gather up the explosion of mixological creativity that was deployed to honour His Majesty’s anniversary.

My thanks go to DBS who pre-empted me and dug out some likely recipes for a feature in the New Sheridan Club Newsletter. I took some of these, played around with the recipes and added a couple of our own, for the Candlelight Club party this Saturday, 9th June.

2 shots gin
½ shot Lillet Blanc
½ shot Cocchi Americano
3 dashes orange bitters
Dash sugar syrup
Garnish: orange and lemon twist
Shake, strain and add a lemon and orange twist. Invented by Bert Penn, the original called for “Lillet”, which at the time (or until very recently) would have been sold as "Kina Lillet", flavoured with the bitter cinchona bark that gives tonic water its quinine and distinctive taste. Lillet later reformulated, producing the sweet, orange-flavoured Lillet Blanc that you can buy today.* Much agony has gone into speculating on the original Kina Lillet taste (which also features in James Bond’s Vesper Martini), and how it could be replicated with modern products. Here I used a half-and-half blend of Lillet Blanc and Cocchi Americano, considered by many to be a good simulacrum of Kina Lillet. I’ve no idea if this is true (Cocchi say they have been making Americano since 1891, which was 19 years after Kina Lillet came on the market so it could have been inspired by it), but it has a strong, fascinating and, I always think, rather gingery taste, with definite bitterness. By mixing it with Lillet Blanc and a dash of gomme, I think you get something that is approachable for the modern palate but also revealing of the complexity of the two aromatised wines in the mix.

Jubilee Ideal
2 shots bourbon
1 shot red vermouth
½ dry white vermouth
Dash lemon juice
Garnish: Maraschino cherry with a little of its syrup
Shake and strain. Add cherry with whatever syrup comes with it, or perhaps a dash of maraschino liqueur. Created by Harry Craddock of the American Bar in the Savoy, this is essentially a tweaked Manhattan. Manhattans are often categorised as “sweet”, using bourbon and sweet red vermouth, “dry”, with dry white vermouth, or “perfect” or “ideal”, with a blend of the two. So this is a Jubilee version of an Ideal Manhattan. The recipe actually calls for one part each of sweet and dry vermouth and two parts bourbon, though I think this makes for rather a dry drink, particularly after you add the “squeeze of lemon”, so I biased it in favour of the sweet vermouth. It’s nice with a maraschino cherry, particularly if you allow some of the cherry syrup in (or just add some maraschino liqueur), which helps to balance things up.

Harry Craddock, perhaps knocking up a Jubilee Ideal?
1½ shots gin
1½ shots orange juice
1 shot Benedictine
½ shot lemon juice
Dash Angostura Bitters
Garnish: orange slice
Shake and strain into an ice-filled highball. Invented by J. Perosino, who was a UKBG member, but I don’t know any more about him than that. The original would have required more like 2 shots of gin but only half a shot of orange juice. It’s nice that way but I wanted to make it a little longer, so I upped the OJ and used proportionally more Benedictine that gin, serving the result over ice. It’s a great way to showcase the complexity of the liqueur, in an approachable, fruity drink.

Drawing of Bill Tarling from the
Café Royal Cocktail Book
Coronation Variation
1½ shots sweet red vermouth
1½ shots dry white vermouth
1 shot Calvados
½ shot apricot brandy
Soda top
Shake and strain into ice-filled highball. Top with a splash of soda. The Café Royal Cocktail Book has a recipe called a Coronation that involves sherry, dry vermouth, maraschino and orange bitters: if you look online you will sometimes find this called a Coronation Variation. But this recipe, also called a Coronation Variation, is quite different. Its origins are obscure (DBS discovered it online too) but it’s nice to find a drink that puts vermouth so much to the fore, and this balances very well with the sweet apricot and the dry baked apple flavours of the Calvados. (I like it with Dubonnet for the red vermouth, which is a nice nod to HMQEII, as I believe she likes gin and Dubonnet.) I have suggested a splash of soda just to make it a comfortable long drink over ice.

1½ shots gin
1½ shots port
1½ shots Earl Grey tea
1 shot marmalade syrup
¼ shot amaretto
Garnish: lemon slice
Build in a highball. Garnish with a slice of lemon. Our own Will Sprunt invented this for the Royal Wedding last year and I wanted to give it another airing. I was a bit sceptical about the high level of syrup but it does seem to work out best this way; it’s still a sweetish cocktail but it balances with the tannin in the tea. (I experimented with adding lemon juice to balance the sweetness, but it just seemed to muddy the flavours.) The marmalade syrup was made from water, marmalade, sugar and honey, adapting various recipes I found online; the marmalade gives it s slight bitterness from the rind, so it’s not as sweet as you might think. The drink is at once complex and refreshing, and with an unusual breakfasty quality!

A Royal-Tea in all its glory
Noble Line
2 shots gin
1 shot Berentzen wild kirsch
½ shot Bärenjäger
Ouzo rinse
Rinse a cocktail glass with ouzo and pour it out. Shake remaining ingredients with ice and strain into the glass. I devised this in honour of the Queen's bloodline: the cherry and honey flavours of German kirsch and Bärenjäger for the house of Saxe-Coburg, transformed into the house of Windsor by the addition of English gin, with a dash of the Greek aniseed spirit ouzo as a nod to Prince Phillip. I think it actually works remarkably well: at first you’re struck by the cherry of the kirsch, then you realise you can taste the gin really clearly, the juniper notes floating up. Later it hits you that the honey of the Bärenjäger is coming through as well. The ouzo you mostly get on the initial nose.

* The Lillet website seems currently to be closed for repairs, but it's interesting to note that, although it is conventionally considered that the post-1986 Lillet has less quinine, the Wikipedia entry insists the quinine levels stayed the same but the sugar content was reduced. I certainly find it hard to detect much bitterness in modern Lillet Blanc.