It has been the Year of the Cocktail for me this year, it must be an age thing.
Half way through the year I gave up wine completely because it was making me feel awful and I swapped to (mostly) gin based drinks, but by then I was well on the way to cocktail heaven having spent an exciting evening in a very trendy Milan hotel learning about Italian vermouths and how to mix them into spirits for maximum effect. I think it was here I had my first properly made Negroni, but I can’t be sure.
Then we inherited a cocktail cabinet which lights up when it opens and has a built in citrus squeezer. Obviously this was a sign to learn more.
I had always considered cocktails to be a bit of a joke drink, tarnished by bad experiences in 80s cocktail bars-where everything came with a deliberately provocative name and tasted of coconut. But cocktails are returning to the seriously elegant drinks they were always intended to be, with much fuss made (from drinks companies an’ all) about the quality of ingredients, flavoursome botanics and heritage recipes. Is there a cocktail equivalent of being a foodie? You can’t even have a gin nowadays without being offered a vast menu of ‘types’ and I imagine you’ve all seen the marmalade vodka…
While in Schipol airport recently there was even a Bols Genever ‘experience lounge’, where there was an incredibly cool video and scent system which demonstrated how to make a vast range of cocktails, printed out the recipe for you to take away and then ‘threw’ the cocktail over you (not really, obvs) which triggered a scent-air machine that allowed you to sniff the enticing aromas in the botanicals used.
So it’s clearly ALL about cocktails, which suits me fine.
One of the best cocktails I’ve learnt to make this year is the telefonino, which by coincidence would make the perfect Christmas cocktail, being red. You need;
25mls Rabarbaro, 15mls Campari, 10mls Punt e Mes, a dash of lemon juice, topped up with a good quality tonic water (my fav is Fevertree). Served over ice (or ‘a single large rock’ if you are in New York, where at Death & Company we discovered the quality of cocktail ice is taken VERY seriously. Fab cocktail bar tho).
You may like to add a cranberry for festive decoration, but I wouldn’t bother. Merry Christmas!