Cocktails are not generally refreshing. They are high in alcohol and low in water – or at least they should be. However, there is one included which is the most refreshing of our selection (included for that very reason) – Campari and Orange. Delicious, dry, refreshing, long and cool. You can adjust the addition of the Campari to give you the strength or dryness required. Campari is a very flexible and important component to many cocktails so it is always worth keeping a bottle in your bar. Since Britain's taxes on alcohol are so high be mindful to pick up a bottle or two on your travels to Europe: cocktail mixers such as vermouth, Campari and, of course, all spirits.
Few cocktails are improved by drinking with ice sloshing around in the glass – a Peppermint Frappé being the obvious exception. However, an Italian cocktail, Negroni, is a little harsh without the water content from some melting ice and is improved anyway by a few large blocks. A Negroni is a power cocktail in all senses of the word. It won't be enjoyed by everyone. Whilst on the subject of ice, the author of this article became a convert to the non-iced cocktail through an odd encounter with a famous South American cocktail the Pisco Sour whilst staying in one of the world's most fabulous hotels – the Explora Pategonia in the Torres del Paine National Park. We have included their version of this great drink (Pisco by the way is a Peruvian or Chilean liquor distilled from grape juice). The barman imparted his secret ingredient for making such a special version (by the way it's included although it isn't pink). "Glaciar Grey, it provides the ice in my cocktail shaker." One of the hotel trekking guides is commissioned by the barman to collect a large slab of the glacier every time he visited it. Because the ice is so cold and dense (and old, perhaps several thousand years old), the ice hardly melts and as a result there is little or no water after mixing. Result: the perfect Pisco Sour. If you're short of glaciers then try an ice cream maker it will cool your cocktails without the addition of ice or thus water. Cocktails made this way are vastly improved. Next time try and make yourself a Margarita using no ice in an ice cream maker. You will notice the difference.
Champagne is a base for a wide variety of cocktails. And with good reason. It is a perfect mixer. It goes with almost anything. A favourite is the Brandy Cocktail. But the variations of the French (75 and 76) below are excellent. As an added extra we've put in the Pick me Up 'Le Rosebud'. Le Rosebud, a small bar and restaurant in Paris, has been around for decades. Their recipe for a Pick me Up is one of the best. Le Rosebud, is the apotheosis of a bar. It's enigmatic name, jazz music, food and wine, the bunches of roses on the bar top, all go to make this an extraordinary place. But try the bars in London's big hotels: the Polo bar in the Westbury; the American bar at the Savoy Hotel, the Cavalry bar at the Hyde Park hotel and the bar at Le Caprice restaurant. Because cocktails demand total perfection and an unstinting unstingy attitude to their ingredients good ones are expensive. Watch out for the bar that puts in the spirits last. They tend to contain the least. Unfortunately real cocktails contain real alcohol, quality alcohol, which, at least in the UK, is very expensive. Do not be seduced by cheap imitations."
"Negroni (dark pink)
1 part Gin
1 part sweet red Vermouth
1 part Campari
A dark satanic drink. All the power, sophistication and complexity you would ever want. Not for the faint hearted.
Campari and orange juice (orange pink)
Freshly squeezed orange juice
Campari 100ml+ (to taste)
Long, cool and refreshing. An adequate replacement to just straight orange juice.
French 75 and French 76 (very pink)
tablespoon of lemon juice
dash sugar syrup
1 part gin
6 parts Champagne
(A French 76 replaces the gin by vodka)
The 75 is refreshing. Very pink colour. Keep the lemon under control although you can be a bit free and easy with the gin. However, the lemon helps to counteract the sweetness of the Grenadine. The chill will come from the Champagne straight from the fridge. Add the Grenadine before the Champagne but not first or it will stick to the bottom of the glass. The 76 is noticeably dryer. The gin otherwise giving a mellow character with its subtle flavour. The 76 is more delicate too.
Champagne Flamingo (pink)
1 part vodka
1 part Campari
7 parts chilled champagne
Mix vodka and Campari with ice (not so as to pick up any water). Strain into a champagne flute and top with champagne. Garnish with an orange slice.
Lovely orange flavour coming from the fruit and enhanced by the Campari. Refreshing. Underlying power.
Brandy Cocktail (antique pink colour)";"Lump of sugar
Dash of bitters
1 part Brandy (to taste)
5 parts Champagne
Not much to say about this except it is a perennial favourite. Try to use a better brandy, or it might kick you in the head the next day.
Pick me Up (le Rosebud) (Orangy pink)
Fresh lemon juice 1 part
Fresh orange juice 1 part
Dash of vodka
1 part Triple Sec
Dash of Grenadine
2 parts Champagne
Very fruity and refreshing. This does what it claims - it will pick you up. Just make sure you don't drink too many or it might slam you right down again.
Sherry cocktail (very pale pink)
1 part dry sherry (such as a Fino)
1 part dry Vermouth
dash of Angostura Bitters
For those who like their cocktails dry. Cocktails are the last domain for those with such a taste. We live in a world dominated by sugar. Sophisticated.
Pisco Sour (explora) ( imagine it is pink)
1 part fresh lemon juice
3 parts Pisco
1 1/2 tablespoons of powdered sugar (icing sugar)
Add contents to a cocktail shaker with glacial ice, strain and pour.
Opaque and definitely not pink but an inspirational combination.
Warning (must I say this?): These cocktails are highly alcoholic and you should consume them in moderation. But are you really so dumb? Governments think we are. Please be responsible in matters of alcoholic consumption.
[First published on FineWinePress.com]