Forget sugary shots, the coolest new tipples will see you drinking your greens
There was a time when mastering the art of the perfect G&T was enough to put you ahead in the cocktail-making stakes.
But the latest trend among the movers and shakers of the cocktail world is likely to involve ingredients from the salad bar as well as the back bar.
Spirits are being lifted with twists on the classics this summer, from mojitos pimped with sugar snap peas to margaritas made with watermelons — hold the feta!
Here, our drinks expert Helen McGinn rounds up a selection of the trendiest cocktails to make at home. Getting your five a day has never been so much fun . . .
British drinks expert Helen McGinn, picked out a selection of the trendiest cocktails to make at home this summer (file image)
A clean, green take on the king of cocktails made with an ingredient that deserves to be more than an edible swizzle stick.
- 100ml gin
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 40ml fresh lemon juice
- 20ml sugar syrup
Put the chopped celery into a cocktail shaker with the lemon juice and sugar syrup and muddle the ingredients together. Add the gin and a big handful of ice and shake vigorously to combine all the ingredients. Strain into a couple of chilled coupes and garnish each one with a strip of lemon peel. Serve immediately.
Forget sombreros and sunburn — this is a rather more sophisticated take on the Spanish pitcher special.
- 1 chilled bottle of dry white wine
- 500ml sparkling water
- 1 cucumber
- 1 lime
- Fresh mint leaves
Put a few handfuls of ice into a jug or pitcher and pour over the chilled white wine. Top up with sparkling water, then add the cucumber slices (either simple slices or ribbons cut lengthways with a vegetable peeler if you’re feeling fancy), wedges of lime and a handful of fresh mint leaves.
Leave in the fridge for 20 minutes to infuse if possible and top up with another handful of fresh ice just before serving.
Helen said Fennel Gimlet is an aromatic twist on the gin and lime-based classic, that’s simple and quick to make (file image)
A wonderfully aromatic twist on this gin and lime-based classic. Don’t let the homemade syrup part put you off; it’s really simple and quick to make.
- 100ml gin
- 25ml fennel syrup
- Handful of ice
First make the syrup by putting 50g of caster sugar into a pan along with 50ml of water. Add in a teaspoon of fennel seeds, a pinch of celery seeds and warm gently until the sugar has dissolved.
Remove from the heat, allow it to cool, add 30ml lime juice and strain into a small bottle. You will have made double the amount of syrup you need, but it will keep in the fridge for a few weeks.
When you are ready, put two glasses in the freezer while you make the cocktail. Add the ice to the shaker and pour in the syrup and gin as above. Shake it like you mean it for at least 20 seconds. Strain straight into your pre-chilled glasses and, if you have a baby fennel bulb to hand, add a small wedge to each glass.
Helen said beetroot adds a brilliantly colourful dimension to the Cuban cocktail daiquiri (file image)
This Cuban cocktail loves mixing with most things from the fruit bowl — but beetroot adds a brilliantly colourful dimension.
- 100ml white rum
- 50ml beetroot syrup
- 50ml lime juice
First make the beetroot syrup by adding 100ml beetroot juice to a pan with 100g sugar and heat gently until dissolved. Once cooled, pour into a bottle. You will only need half this amount to make two cocktails but the rest will keep in the fridge for a few weeks.
When you are ready to make the cocktail, add all the ingredients above into a cocktail shaker along with a handful of ice and shake vigorously.
Strain into two small tumblers over plenty of ice and garnish each glass with a wedge of lime. Serve immediately.
Another rum deal but this time Cuba’s liquid calling card is livened up with the perfectly summery combination of pea and mint.
- 2 tbsp fresh peas
- Sprig of fresh mint
- 100ml white rum
- 40ml fresh lime juice
- 30ml sugar syrup
- Handful of ice
- Soda water
Helen said Red Snapper is a reimagined version of Bloody Mary, using gin rather than vodka (file image)
Add the fresh peas, sugar syrup and mint leaves to a cocktail shaker and gently muddle. Add the handful of ice, the rum and lime juice and shake it all about until mixed (the outside of the shaker should be cold to the touch). Strain into an ice-filled highball (or whatever tall glass or large tumbler you have).
Top up with soda water and garnish each one with four fresh peas skewered on a toothpick, along with a small sprig of mint, and serve.
Think Bloody Mary reimagined. It uses gin rather than vodka and is the perfect accompaniment to brunch.
- 50ml gin
- 6 dashes Worcestershire sauce
- 3 dashes Tabasco sauce
- Tomato juice
- A pinch of celery salt
- Freshly-ground black pepper
- A thick wedge of lemon
- Celery stick to garnish
Build this straight into the glass. First, take a tall (highball) glass and fill with ice. Add the gin, Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco sauce, topping up with as much tomato juice as you want before stirring gently with a long bar spoon (use a chopstick or metal skewer if you have not got a bar spoon).
Garnish with the black pepper, a pinch of celery salt and a thick wedge of lemon, squeezing the juice into the drink before dropping the rest in. Give it another quick stir with your celery stick if using. Serve immediately.
Helen said tequila is the perfect accompaniment to watermelon this summer (file image)
Tequila is the perfect accompaniment to watermelon this summer.
- 100ml tequila
- Flesh of half a small watermelon
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1 tsp sugar syrup
- Handful of crushed ice
Wet the rims of the glasses in tequila and dip in granulated sugar if you like an extra touch of sweetness to your cocktails. Otherwise, get straight to it by adding all the ingredients except the ice to a blender and mix until smooth.
If you want a thinner liquid, strain it through a sieve before putting it back in the blender and blitzing briefly with the crushed ice. Otherwise, just go ahead and add in the crushed ice before mixing again.
Pour into the prepared glasses and garnish with a wedge of lime. Serve immediately.
The new edition of Helen’s book The Knackered Mother’s Wine Guide is out now (Bluebird, £8.99).
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