Heston’s Fruit Cup – from Waitrose

*Important Note – Heston’s Fruit Cup from Waitrose is currently £12 for 70cl.

2014 looks to be another boom year for the fruit cup, with Bloom’s Strawberry Cup (to be reviewed later today) following on from the success of their sloe gin and the recent release of Heston for Waitrose’s Fruit Cup, released exclusively for Waitrose, as well as others in the pipeline.

2014 looks to be another boom year for the fruit cup, with many new releases in the pipeline. In particular, we have Bloom’s Strawberry Cup, which follows on from the success of their Sloe Gin, and Heston Blumenthal’s Fruit Cup, which has been released today, exclusively for Waitrose. The latter is what we’re looking at today.

Heston fruit Cup Bottle Waitrose

The Fruit Cup is based on Heston’s Earl Grey & Lemon Gin, which received mixed reviews (you can read our review here). The gin is blended with a mixture of elderflower, blackcurrant, and raspberry liqueurs, before being infused with eight additional botanicals.

The cup is made using an apple spirit base and is bottled at 20% ABV, which is equivalent to Pimm’s, but lower than the likes of Plymouth Fruit Cup or Sipsmith’s Summer Cup.

The recipe on the back of the bottle calls for crushed raspberries, freshly-peeled ginger, and fresh rosemary, which I thought was a bit ostentatious. As the cup already contains a raspberry liqueur and I’m using a good quality ginger ale (FeverTree), I decided to just go with the lime and rosemary.

With Ginger Ale, Rosemary & Lime (2:1 mix [Cup:Mixer])
First off, the fresh rosemary provides a great visual contrast to the vibrant red of the cup and, as you go to sip, you’re immediately hit with the herbal aroma of the rosemary and the fruity botanicals of the cup. On the taste, it’s clean, crisp, and very refreshing. The citrusy elements of the Earl Grey work well with the lime, and the botanical intensity of the gin is relatively underplayed, as is the sweetness of the liqueurs. The use of ginger ale adds a slight warmth to the drink. Overall, this is a refreshing, well-balanced drink that is not too sweet.

Heston Fruit Cup Ginger Rosemary

After some conversation with a colleague, I was persuaded to try the full, recommended garnish, as outlined above. Luckily, the raspberries were on offer and fresh ginger is never too expensive. I was rather pleased with the results: the raspberries, especially if you give them a bit of a muddle with your straw, add an additional, berry-tartness, which I’m sure will appeal to many, and the fresh ginger does add that extra zing, despite the fieriness already present thanks to the FeverTree Ginger Ale.

These additional ingredients do significantly add to the ultimate cost of the drink, but, if you fancy the raspberries for pudding (or are simply looking to impress), then I’d say give it a shot.

With Lemonade, Strawberries & Mint (3:1 mix)
This is a slightly lighter alternative, at approximately 5.0% ABV. Once again, with these relatively simple ingredients, you get a drink that has immediate visual appeal. Being a gradual convert to the use of strawberries in fruit cups, Heston’s is an example where it works rather well. They work really well with the elderflower liqueur, which shines through, and gives the impression of a slightly alcoholic strawberry lemonade, which is delightful. The fresh mint adds crisp aromatics and flavour that stops the drink from becoming too sickly.

Heston Fruit Cup Lemonade Strawberry Mint

With Tonic Water (2:1 mix)
For those that like the bitter twang of quinine and a dryer mixed fruit cup, this is one worth trying. The berry liqueurs stand up to the dryness of the quinine well and, along with the botanicals, create a drink that is dry, yet fruity.

With Bitter Lemon (2:1 mix)
The bitter lemon overpowers the cup in this drink, so you can’t fully appreciate the subtleties of flavour. Having said this, it’s still quite suppable.

With Iced Tea (2:1 mix)
This is a good alternative for those who prefer un-carbonated drinks. Using a simple iced tea made from English Breakfast, the result when mixed with the fruit cup is a combination of a fruit tea and a more fragrant blend. For the optimum, I would suggest using Earl Grey tea, with the bergamot tea working well with the flavour of the gin and providing a flourish of floral citrus.

In Conclusion
I think Heston’s Fruit Cup is a welcome addition to the category, not least because it is one of the first fruit cups to use a non-grain spirit as its base; the use of apple spirit adds to the fruity liveliness of its drinks. On the downside, the cup lacks the boldness to stand up well to heavy mixing – anything beyond a 1:3 ratio and the flavour is lost, with a 1:2 ratio being optimum.

Cocktails with The new Pimm’s – Blackberry & Elderflower

Hot on the trails of two new releases from their established gin brands, with the resurrection of Tanqueray Malacca and innovation of Gordon’s Crisp Cucumber, Diageo have breathed new life into another one of their classic brands: Blackberry & Elderflower Pimm’s.

PimmsBlackberryandElderflowerBottle

This is based on Pimm’s No:6 Vodka Cup with additional flavours of blackberry and elderflower. These flavours make it somewhat reminiscent of the limited edition Chase Fruit Cup, released last year.

Pimm’s is well-known for having a history of a variety of products made with different bases (No.’s 1 to 6), but innovation with additional flavours is somewhat new. That said, although Winter Pimm’s, like Pimm’s No. 3, is brandy-based, it also has additional orange and spice.

Enough of the chat, let’s get on with the taste!

Pimm’s Special Blackberry & Elderflower Edition is bottled at 20% ABV (lower than the 25%ABV of the No:1 and No:6 cups) and its suggested serve is with lemonade and a garnish of blackberries. Although almost nobody drinks Pimm’s on its own, I thought it might be useful for reference to see what characteristics it has on its own, before trying it mixed. For all of the long mixed drinks, I used a three to one ratio.

The Taste

Own

Nose: A deep red-purple in colour, there’s a nose of blackberry, orange and other citrus, some spice and some sweet elderflower. Almost reminiscent of Refreshers sweets.

Taste: The blackberry continues on the taste. I feared it would be too sweet, but it’s not. Again, the citrus and spice are both there, there’s a slightly confectionery quality to it, too. And although it’s blackberry, it isn’t too tart.

PimmsElderflowerBlackberrywithLemonade

With Lemonade – the suggested serve

I am using Waitrose Essential Lemonade, which is one of my favourites. In addition to the suggested garnish of blackberry, I used some lemon peel, which adds some citrus notes and also adds to the contrast of colours in the glass. Ah, it’s lovely! Almost like an alcoholic blackcurrant and lemonade, plus a little elderflower. I find that mashing up the blackberries with a straw makes the drink a little tart, which I enjoy. I can see why this is the recommended serve, although I like my little addition of the lemon. In short, immensely quaffable.

With Tonic

I always include this in fruit cup reviews as this is one watch-loving reader’s mixer of choice (he knows who he is). It works quite nicely; although, as the flavour of the Pimm’s is a bit more delicate than usual, Schweppes tonic overpowers it slightly. As such, I think the use of Fevertree or Q would improve it. You get a little build in flavour of tart blackberry towards the end, although the elderflower is nearly all lost.

With Ginger Ale

Blackberry & ginger seems to be one of those natural partnerships, so I have high hopes for this drink. And I was right! It works really nicely: juicy and jammy, with a sweet, floral elderflower lift, followed by the bite of the ginger. Easy to drink and very refreshing. For some extra tartness, I

suggest muddling the blackberry slightly in the bottom of the glass with a straw, which really sets the drink off nicely.

(Accidental) Negroni

This drink works particularly well with intense, herbal fruit cups; especially the excellent Sipsmith Summer Cup. As such, I’m not sure how well it will work with this more delicate variation. However, in the interests of science, I thought I’d give it a go! Plus, a blackberry-garnished Negroni seemed rather an attractive proposition. In my haste to write this article, I actually substituted the Campari in the drink with the Pimm’s, rather than the red vermouth, as I had intended. However, the result was serendipitously lovely, with the gin and red vermouth providing a neat background on which the lighter flavours of the fruit cup sit. An appetite-raising cocktail and perfect for an aperitif.

Negroni II

This is the drink as I had intended, with Campari and no red vermouth.

The drink is good, as suspected the Campari is very powerful, although the fruit cup adds some sweeter and floral notes to the drink, which – as I appear to be losing my sweet-tooth – appeals to me less than it might have done a couple of years ago. Having said that, I’m sure some people will really like it. Once again, this makes a nice aperitif, vastly improved with a squeeze of fresh citrus.

PimmsBlackberryElderflower

With Bitter Lemon

What I really like about this drink initially is the colour: it’s a louched pink-purple, which is neatly offset by the darkness of the blackberry garnish. Bitter lemon is often an under-utilised mixer, but I think that it works sublimely here: the citrus offsets any sweetness from the elderflower and the

blackberry adds a good, jammy note. Fans of the Long Peddlar (sloe gin & bitter lemon) are sure to be fans of this. My favourite drink so far.

With Ginger Beer

I used Old Jamaica Ginger Beer, which came out well in our 27 Ginger Beer Tasting. However, in this mix, for me, the combined sweetness of the ginger beer and the fruit cup just don’t work well together. The elderflower is lost completely, although there is a pleasant, jammy flavour that appears towards the end.

In Conclusion

It’s great to see the fruit cup category expanding with Blackberry & Elderflower. The elderflower certainly adds a spring or early summer-like feel to the drink, whilst the blackberry contributes a late-summer/autumnal aspect. For those looking for a pleasant afternoon summer’s drink for garden parties and wedding receptions, this will do wonderfully. If, however, you’re looking for a more intense, herbal kick, I suggest you stick to the original Pimm’s or add a dash of red vermouth – maybe even a splash of gin! – to this fruit cup. I really enjoyed the accidental Negroni, although, of the longer drinks, I would recommend either the bitter lemon or sparkling lemonade.

I like the idea of the blackberry garnish, but – alas! – as these are currently out of season in the UK, mine came from Guatemala; but, when my blackberry bush is full of fruit, some freshly-picked berries will be absolutely great in a drink like this.

Pimm’s Blackberry & Elderflower is available for around £16 for 70cl from Waitrose and Sainsburys.

I’m also intrigued as to how this will work in Whisky drinks – such as variation on the Canadian Blackberry Fix.

Recreating the Long Lost Pimm’s Cups – Scotch, Rum, Rye & Tequila.

To mark our Second birthday on Wednesday July 4th 2012 I shall be revealing details of Cups No: 8, 9, 10 and 11.

With a name like Summer Fruit Cup, it seems fitting that, on the site’s first birthday, we should be writing about this summer cooler. We have previously looked at garnishes, the different varieties available and even making your own, but, for many, Fruit Cup is synonymous with Pimm’s Cup.

The variety that is most popular today is the No.1 Cup, which is gin-based, but between 1851 and 1970 five additional varieties of Pimm’s were available, each with a different base alcohol.

No.1 – Gin
No.2 – Scotch Whisky
No.3 – Brandy
No.4 – Rum
No.5 – Rye Whiskey
No.6 – Vodka

L:R Gin, Scotch, Brandy, Rum, Rye Whisky, Vodka, Tequila

But with exception of No.6 (and a reformulated brandy version), these cups haven’t been available since 1970; some vintage bottles sell for upwards of £100. After some encouraging feedback on my Lemon & Orange Gin recreations from Erik & Brad, I decided to try my hand at making some recreations of these long lost cups, as a tribute to Pimm’s and the varieties that were once made.

I’ve had some experience making home-made fruit cup and so, armed with some vintage samples and following conversations with the Master Distiller of Plymouth Gin, I set to work.
My research had shown that Pimm’s (pre-1970) was 60 proof (31.53% ABV) this reduced to 55 proof (28.90% ABV) and, today, is only 25% ABV. I aimed to make my cups at 60 proof.

Once the cups had been created, using various herbs, spices and citrus fruits, they were ready to taste. I decided to try each fruit cup with standard lemonade (lemon-soda – R White’s is our favourite) and ginger ale. It is worth noting that, as the No.1 and No.6 cups are in their original formula, these were excluded from the tasting notes.*

No.2 – Scotch

This cup was unusual in the sense that I have actually tried the Original No.2 Pimm’s Cup and so could perform a comparative tasting and tweak the recipe accordingly. I used a blended scotch, White and Mackay, as my base; I thought that this was a pretty standard scotch (and I happened to have a bottle). If you used an Islay that was very peaty, for example, the result would be very different and the recipe would need to tweaked for sure.

Lemonade
Of all the fruit cups that we tried, this was the most similar to the No.1 Gin Cup; it had a very similar consistency and mouthfeel. The whisky certainly came through: woody and oaky, with a touch of smoke. There were some fruit and ginger notes and quite a long finish. It had a slight, sweet viscosity, but this didn’t upset the drink balance.

When fruit was added, it opened up the flavour a bit and made it more refreshing. Overall, this was a little warmer than the No.1 and may work well served hot.

Ginger Ale
Sweeter than the lemonade version, and the flavours of scotch are more subtle. With ice and fruit it was very refreshing but, for us, just a bit too sweet.

No.3 – Brandy

The jury is till out on whether or not Pimm’s Winter is the same as, or just similar to, the original Pimms No.3 Brandy Cup. The modern bottle does state that it now has added orange zest and spice, but, as almost all fruit cups are blended with spices and citrus, I’m not sure that means much. If I find out, I will let you know.

Lemonade
When mixed with lemonade, the brandy cup had flavours of dark sugar, brandy and sugar/brandy snaps, along with warmth from the brandy. The flavour of the spirit come through more than the others, and was somewhat reminiscent of fruit cake. The flavours seemed quite rounded and there was a long finish. It improved when the garnish was added.

Ginger Ale
Notes of brandy at the beginning were followed by some vanilla and ginger, making this combination rather wintery. This is less complex than the same cup mixed with lemonade and so is a little bit easier to drink.

No:4 – Rum

I also have a sample of the original Pimm’s No.4 Rum cup and it is evident that it is made using dark rum. Given my fondness for the “English-style” of rums – Lamb’s, Skipper and Goslings – that is the style of rum that I used. Like scotch, the type of rum you use would make a lot of difference to your resultant fruit cup.

Lemonade
Packed with flavour, the rum came through well. There was also a little sherbet, molasses, spice and citrus; it was rich and complex, and had a very long finish. We thought that this worked well with lots of ice, but maybe an alternative garnish needs to be found, as we prefered this version without one.

Ginger Ale
Dark sugar comes through again, along with a more bitter-herbal twang. Intense, complex and rather delicious, this had a flavour of a similar intensity to the lemonade, but the finish was much shorter.

All in all, we both preferred the rum cup with lemonade (just).

No.5 – Rye

Before being introduced in the UK, this was sold in Canada and, for that reason, it seemed logical to use Canadian Rye in the recreation.

Lemonade
Mrs B. found this fruity, refreshing and easy to drink. There was a sweetness of some sort of old-fashioned boiled sweet (but she couldn’t quite put her finger on which) and it had a long, growing flavour, like Pimm’s No.1.
Although I liked it and agreed that it was light and refreshing, moving towards the style of the old Stone’s Fruit Cup, after the full flavours of the others, this one, for me, was a little disappointing.

Ginger Ale
A bit syrupy with sweet ginger notes, but still quite nice. I preferred this to the lemonade, as it seemed to have more flavour, but it was still quite light, in a similar way to the No.6 Vodka Cup.

No.6 – Vodka

As this variety still exists, there was no recreation.

No.7 – Tequila

As with most of the fruit cups, a decision had to made about the base spirit for tequila: Blanco vs. Gold? I opted for Blanco, as I thought it would make a lighter product.

Lemonade
This had a strong nose of tequila, with lime and a little vanilla. We both found this somewhat of a departure from the usual Pimm’s flavours, but, regardless of this, a common thread still seemed to run between them all; this was certainly still a fruit cup.
The tequila flavour is prevalent, but not over-powering and this is very refreshing drink, with both sweet and savoury notes. We found that it improved with a fruit garnish, which took off any harsh edge that the alcohol had had. Unusual, but lovely.

Ginger Ale
Sweet ginger notes, akin to gingerbread. Tequila still prominent along with some citrus fruits. Full of flavour and a close contender to the lemonade version but it is the lemonade that just has the edge.

Unlike with lemonade, with ginger ale, we found that the fruit garnish (cucumber, at least) detracted from the drink a bit. Still, a pretty nice cooler.

In Conclusion

We were delighted at how well the different spirits worked and it’s certainly a shame that they were discontinued, but, with the resurgence of Fruit Cups (I know of two well-known gin distillers that have just created Fruit Cups; one for general sale and the other as an exclusive to a bar chain), maybe we’ll see some more experimentation.

My favourites were the Rum & the Tequila Cups.
Mrs B’s were the Rye & the Scotch.

The Future

I have some plans to look at other fruit cups in the future and I have already made a sample of a “No.8” cup; watch this space…

*For more details on these click here and here respectively.

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Summer Fruit Cup Tasting – Pimm’s and Friends

Summer Fruit Cups

Pimm’s & Friends


FOR AN UPDATED VERSION OF THIS ARTICLE PLEASE CLICK HERE

Many readers may be familiar with the most popular summer fruit cup, Pimm’s, but let me introduce you to its lesser-known competition. With the sunny start of the Bank Holiday, we took the opportunity to take to the garden and taste a variety of fruit cups. We mixed 35ml of cup with 105ml of lemonade (our preference was R Whites), we added ice, and a garnish of lemon, orange, cucumber and mint. We assessed each drink in terms of the overall taste, how refreshing and how “moreish” (did you wish to drink more) it was.

Summer Fruit Cups: From Left to Right: Jeeves, Pimms, Plymouth, ASDA, Stones, Players, Austins, Pitchers.

Here are the results:

Austin’s – 21.9%ABV - Available from Aldi

Aldi’s offering has an attractive price tag. It has a similar flavour to Pimm’s and I know folks who use it as an affordable substitute. That said, it does not have a very strong flavour and when mixed with lemonade it struggles to add anything to the flavour of the mixer. With time, ice melt and the infusion of the garnish the flavour improves but it is not nearly as refreshing nor is it as moreish as some of the others we tried. A garnish is essential with this one.

Player’s Original Punch21.5%ABV

Produced by Lamb & Watt of Liverpool, Player’s may be a little trickier to come by, and appears to be mostly found in specialist off licences these days, but it is well worth the effort. Player’s sweet, fruity style is what one would typically expect from a good summer fruit cup. This summery drink is very refreshing and perfect to enjoy on a sunny day. If you are looking for a very traditional, yet refreshing, fruit cup flavour, this would be your best bet.

Jeeves – 17.5%ABV - Available from Tesco

This drink clings to the mouth, it has a strong but unpleasant flavour, similar to bitter herbs which was somewhat reminiscent of old vermouth. This was neither refreshing nor moreish. Less than half the price of Pimm’s, but not half as good. However, the drink did improve as the ice started to melt.

Pimm’s No.1 Gin Cup – 25%ABVAvailable in most supermarkets and off-licences

Owned by drink’s giant Diageo, Pimm’s is the oldest and the best known fruit cup. Although there are other varieties of Pimm’s (such as Vodka No.6)*, we tasted No.1 (gin based). The Pimm’s flavor was surprisingly not as strong as some of its contemporaries and was also quite sweet. The aftertaste of sherbet lemons was both unique and pleasant. A drink that was both refreshing and relatively moreish. This was Mrs B’s favourite before we started and, although we both enjoyed it, in comparison to the others it was rather middle-of-the-road.

Fruit Cup, Lemonade and Garnish - Lovely

Plymouth Fruit Cup – 30%ABVAvailable from Plymouth Gin Distillery and selected off-licences

A complex flavour of herbs and spices, which reminds me of Italian vermouth with a good balance of sweetness and bitterness. This cup has the highest alcoholic strength, which gives it a little more of a punch but it’s certainly not too much. With the exception of the Stones cup, this was the most unique with a flavour which is full, but not overpowering. Plymouth Fruit cup produces a cool and refreshing drink and certainly leaves you wanting more.
It also worth noting that Plymouth also suggest trying mixing their cup with ginger ale; we tried this later and were inclined to agree that it improved the drink further. Definitely one of our favourites.

ASDA Summer Fruit Cup - 15%ABV - Available from ASDA

This divided opinion (who would have thought a fruit cup could be controversial!), one of us enjoyed the low-key sweet fruitiness and more prevalent herbal notes, which are somewhat reminiscent of peppered celery; the other found the taste and smell overpowering, and the drink unrefreshing.

Stones Summer Cup – 13.5% ABV

This is produced by the makers of the famous Ginger Wine of the same name and is marketed as a light version of their ginger wine. This has a different flavour but it was a break-away that worked well, it stands away from the crowd and looks pretty good. The flavour has a little spice and a small hint of ginger: it is fresh and refreshing. The drink was complimented nicely by the garnish.
It is worth noting that Stone’s suggest mixing their drink one part of cup to four parts of lemonade. When we subsequently tried another drink, mixed to these proportions, the difference was a very pleasant surprise as the edge of the flavour was taken off and the drink became incredibly refreshing and easily the most drinkable. An excellent option, particularly if you are looking for an option which isn’t as strong as Pimm’s.

Pitchers – 25% ABV - Available from Sainsbury’s

Very close in terms of flavour, strength and even packaging to Pimm’s and priced at over £10 a bottle, this is the most expensive of the more generic varities we tried. However it is one of the better ones; although it clings a little to the mouth initially, the drink was refreshing with a balance of sweetness and spice that was, fortunately, not too sweet. This, made up in a jug, and shared with friends would be lovely…
*more varieties of Pimm’s used to be available (No2-5; Scotch, Brandy Rum & Rye, respectively) and we keen to experiment with Tequila, Bourbon, Cachaca, White rum etc. too. Pimm’s No7…?