Mainly, I’m about cocktails as it were, but what are the best spirit and mixes? Those spirit based combinations that don’t quite have the complexity, or number of ingredients to qualify as a cocktail. The other thing too of course is that sometimes you don’t want to be bothered with the whole effort of getting the shaker out. No, two ingredients, bit of ice and the job’s done.
I offer the following as my favourite 6 not in any particular order;
- Gin & Tonic
- Peach vodka and tonic
- Bison grass vodka and pressed apple juice
- Dark Rum and coke
- Whisky Mac (equal measures of whisky and Stones ginger wine)
- Campari and bitter lemon
Gin & tonic. This is rightly regarded as a classic. For good reason. And especially good for Summer. I admit I used to be happy years ago with Gordons and Schweppes tonic, but this drink combination has become a lot more interesting in the last 5 years or so. There are so many variations of gin around, and the mixers market is beginning to stir too, with interesting products from Double Dutch and Peter Spanton amongst others.
My tip if you’re trying a new or interesting gin is to keep it short – the first time you drink it at least. 1 gin to 2 shots of tonic. Generally though I admit I follow the Fever Tree recommendation of 1:3.
Then of course feel free to add a little fruit. Citrus is generally my choice at home. But if cucumber floats your boat then why not try that?
Peach vodka & tonic. Originally, I’d have been recommending this as Vodka and Russchian. Standard unflavoured vodka with the Schweppes mixer, Russchian. But the mixer seems to be ever more difficult to find, so the flavoured vodka route does the job equally well. I use Absolut peach vodka, though I’m open to alternative ideas.
The original advertising campaign for Schweppes Russchian carried the strapline “Vodka without Russchian is like Lenin without McCartney !” Genius !! It is classed as a mixer and so if you do want to seek it out, you’ll find it with the bottles of soda, bitter lemon, ginger ale etc in big supermarkets. Perhaps? It has a delicate peach flavour and goes well with vodka. It was a forerunner to the now popular flavoured vodkas. About 30 years ahead of it’s time.
Bison grass vodka & pressed apple juice
If you’re Polish this one will be very familiar to you already. A tip I got from a Polish course delegate I met, and this combination has been a firm favourite ever since. I have experimented with many combinations, but this ratio is my favourite;
1 shot Bison grass
2.5 shots pressed apple juice (the cloudy stuff , not the ‘from concentrate’ version.)
The vodka has got a distinct and sweet flavour to it, although I can’t describe the flavour. It’s unlike anything else I’ve had. But it is nice though 🙂
Dark Rum & Coke
OK, so everyone is familiar with Bacardi & Coke, but heh you’re missing out big time on flavour if this is your tipple of choice. Dark rums are matured in barrels whereas white rums are not. This means that dark rums have a greater depth of flavour. Captain Morgan is fine, but if you want to treat yourself, then how about a nice Golden Rum? Appleton VX is my ‘everyday’ choice, but there are many others. Or dark rums such as the spiced Kraken are good with coke. And if you want our tip from the ‘something from under the counter’ section, then try Atlantico Private Cask golden rum.
Just about the perfect winter warmer. Dead easy to make and rewarding to sip. Any blended scotch whisky according to your preferences. My choices are either Famous Grouse or Teachers. Combine with either Stones Green Ginger Wine or Crabbies. I slightly prefer Stones, but Crabbies is a good alternative. And equal proportions of each is the way I generally roll.
Campari & bitter lemon
This is my slightly left field offering. Want something different to G&T as your aperitif? Then this is great. Campari is admittedly an acquired taste, but if a combination of bitter and sweet appeals to you then give this a go. It looks great and is easy and inexpensive to put together. Because Campari is relatively low in alcohol (20% ABV) it attracts less tax and therefore is good value to buy.
I do have a seventh contender for my list of favourite spirit and mixes but it’s a relatively recent discovery and so, I’ll write about it another time. But rhubarb gin and ginger ale is a cracker.