Today is Summer Fruit Cup’s Second Anniversary of our founding on 4th July 2010. In a tradition started last year, as a tribute to Pimm’s we shall be expanding our range of fruit cups based on other spirits. There will also be two seasonal Fruit Cups.
Just to recap, the initial 8 Pimm’s Cups are:
No.1 – Gin
No.2 – Scotch Whisky
No.3 – Brandy
No.4 – Rum
No.5 – Rye Whiskey
No.6 – Vodka
No.7 – Tequila
No.8 – Absinthe
Pimm’s No:09 – Islay Whisky Autumn Cup
Summer and Winter cups have been a regular fixture for the last five years, but there are two other seasons that are generally overlooked: Spring and Autumn. I definitely think that there is a place for Autumnal drinks that are cooling, but with some warm, spicy flavours behind them, and, with bountiful harvests at this time of year, there are plenty of seasonal fruits to use.
For the base of my Autumn Cup, I used a peaty whisky (but not an overpowering one): Black Grouse. I also used ginger wine (a natural match) and some red vermouth. I infused it with some orange peel, as I don’t really like lemon or lime with Islay whisky, and added some warm spices like nutmeg and cinnamon.
Upon tasting following the initial maceration*, I found that it need a little extra smoky bite and so added a small measure of the intensely peaty Laphroaig Quarter Cask.
The whisky immediately makes itself known on the nose – I caught a hint of the smokiness only a few seconds after DTS opened the bottle! When mixed, the smokiness on the nose is supported by hints of lime. The same smoked cheese smokiness was immediately evident when I took my first sip and gradually developed on the tongue over several minutes. The drink was light and balanced, but definitely smoky. Unexpectedly, the finish was more fruity than smokey, with citrus notes and a distinctive hint of cucumber at the back of the mouth. Overall, this worked incredibly well.
With Ginger Ale:
The nose was very much like that of a Whisky & Ginger. To taste, it was notably sweeter than the same Cup with lemonade, and, unlike that one, the smokiness definitely appeared on the finish, making it a far stronger flavour in the drink. It reminded me of a Whisky & Ginger with a smoky whisky and lemon, although the same hint of cucumber appeared at the end. As lovely as this was, I think the deliciously different flavour profile of the lemonade version would make it my preferred way of drinking this Fruit Cup.
Pimm’s No:10 – Irish Whisky Spring Cup
I find that Spring is the most difficult season to design cocktails around. Often, the resulting cocktails involve elderflower and, as much as I like this flavour, I wanted to try something else. After discussing it with some friends, the idea of using rhubarb and the lighter character of Irish Whiskey came about, and so I set to work.
The cup uses a combination of Irish Whiskey, ginger wine, red vermouth, Columbia Orange Liqueur, rhubarb and some spices. The whole mix was left to steep for about 24 hours.
The nose was dominated by the garnish, in particular the cucumber and lime. To taste, it was very pleasant: the fruitiness of the garnish – especially the lemon – made it fresh and light. The whiskey appeared as a light woodiness on the finish, accompanied by a faint warmth. At the same time, there was a slight “tang” of rhubarb, although the sweetness of the lemonade meant that the finish didn’t become too dry. I was impressed at how light and refreshing this drink was, and how all of the flavours integrated together so well: none were particularly dominant, but it wasn’t at all dull.
With Ginger Ale:
As with lemonade, the nose was all about the garnish. To taste, though, there was an initial burst of lemon, followed by a much stronger note of rhubarb; I was amazed at how the ginger ale brought more of this flavour out! The creamy sweetness of the mixer went very well with the rhubarb notes, giving it a bit of a rhubarb crumble flavour and, again, the whisky appeared as a warm woodiness on the finish. This was my preferred way of drinking the Spring Fruit Cup, as I tasted far more of the Cup and less of the garnish. Delicious.
Pimm’s No:11 – Souchu Fruit Cup
Regular commenter FoodCat mentioned that she would like to see Souchu used as fruit cup base. Souchu is…. and the brand I used was Kigo, which is looked after by Cask Marketing. Unlike the other spirit bases, Souchu is bottled at a lower19.5%ABV, which meant that adding the flavour without losing the character of the Souchu would be trickier. One way that I set about this was to infuse it – very slightly (10mins) – with a good-quality green tea bag. I then added vermouth, ginger wine and left the mix to infuse with some peel and spice for about 12 hours.
On the nose, there were hints of green tea, tannins and herbs. The taste was very intriguing, indeed: there was a fragrant, floral flavour to it that was backed up by a jammy, fruity alcohol note. After a while, I was also reminded of olives mixed with herbs. As different as this was, I thought it worked surprisingly well and was pleased that it “stood up” so well to the garnish. On the finish, I caught a hint of sweet ginger.
With Ginger Ale:
The nose changed slightly with ginger ale: a jammy sweetness with a hint of sweet ginger syrup. The taste developed more than with lemonade: it started with notes of herbs and olives, which faded into a more floral taste, with hints of green tea. This then developed again, to more of a sweet tea flavour, before gradually becoming more dry for the finish. Although incredibly interesting, I found this a tad too sweet to start, but would like to try it with a drier ginger ale.
With this new celebration and tribute to Pimm’s , I set myself a bit more of a challenge, which is part of the fun and I was quit pleased with the results. I really like the Souchu cup and Mrs. favour the Irish Whiskey.
*With all of these home-made drinks, it is essential to taste them as you go along and adjust according to your own taste.