The NEW Chase Summer Fruit Cup (Vodka-based)

Last year, I sought out the Chase Summer Fruit Punch (Fruit Cup), which was made exclusively for Bistro du Van in Soho. I thought that the product had a lot of potential, so I was intrigued to see what this year would bring from Chase.

The answer? Chase Summer Fruit Cup. Master of Malt’s recent offering also uses the term “Summer Fruit Cup”, whilst Plymouth and Sipsmith use “Summer Cup” and Stone’s, “Fruit Cup”.

Unlike their 2011 variety, Chase Summer Fruit Cup is bottled at 20%ABV (rather than 40%ABV), but it continues to be based on vodka. Vodka-based Fruit Cups are not unheard of: Pimm’s have made a vodka-based No:6 cup since the 1960s and some other brands have also created vodka fruit cups at one time or another. That said, it is still a more unusual choice of spirit.

The Taste

All drinks were mixed one part Chase Summer Fruit Cup, three parts mixer.

with Lemonade
This has a very clean taste of lemon to start, with fewer deep, herbal notes and less bitterness than most gin-based fruit cups. Notably, it has more flavour than the lighter Pimm’s No:6, with tart blackcurrant and lighter, leafy green, herbal notes. This makes this drink perfect for late summer, being both light and comforting (reminding me somewhat of the “children’s cocktails” I used to have as a child, which were generally some variation on blackcurrant cordial and lemonade, although this is obviously more complex than that!).

with Ginger Ale
This makes for a more subtle drink, with the blackcurrant being balanced out well by the ginger ale. I used Canada Dry and a surprising amount of the ginger comes through (if you want even more fire, then I would suggest using Fevertree, Q or Fentiman’s latest offering). Once again, this lends itself to the months of August and September, what with the slightly warmer and more comforting notes.

with Bitter Lemon
Excellent; the fruity, slightly tart berry flavours work well with the crisp bitter lemon (I used Fevertree’s Lemon Tonic) to make an exceptionally refreshing drink, that would work especially well on a baking hot summer’s day. Delicious! Those who find many fruit cups too sweet should definitely try this!

with Tonic Water
I know at least one reader (he knows who he is) who prefers his fruit cup with tonic, and it’s not a bad drink in general. With Chase Summer Fruit Cup, it makes for
quite a dry drink with a fruity flick at the beginning, followed by tart berries and leafy green herbs on the finish. Clean, crisp and cooling. I used standard Schweppes and I thought that it worked well; with something like Fevertree, or Thomas Henry, I think the result would be even better.

In terms of seasonality, I think using Sparkling Elderflower or Rhubarb Lemonade would give the drink a more springtime feel and it could easily lend itself well to that. The ginger ale gives it an autumnal feel and the combinations with bitter lemon and tonic make superb summer sippers.

Negroni
I’m also keen to try fruit cups in some different contexts and so I decided to use it in the place of vermouth in a Negroni.
This make a lighter Negroni; one that was less herbal and cleaner. The Campari plays a strong role, maybe being even more dominant than usual, but it should appeal to
those who are fans of this bitter Italian drink, especially as a pre-dinner cocktail for the summer.

In Conclusion

Having tried last season’s fruit cup, I think that this is most certainly an improvement: the flavour is more balanced and complex, and bottling it at 20%ABV rather than 40%ABV makes it more accessible and has resulted in a far more suppable vodka-based cup.

Chase Summer Fruit Cup is available for around £22 for 70cl from The Champagne Company.

Chase Summer Fruit Punch (A Fruit Cup)

Since the hunt for Uganda Waragi, no spirit has alluded me more than the mysterious Chase Fruit Cup by William Chase. Last month saw the release of the excellent Sipsmith Summer Cup and so I was keen to see how the Chase one shaped up.

I was originally told about its existence and its exclusivity by a chap in a bar, but, at the same time, I was being told that it was exclusively for a particular client. After a series of false leads and disappointments, I received a tip-off yesterday as to where I could find some.

Luckily, I was in town that evening* and so yesterday we popped into Bistro du Vin, Dean St., Soho.

Chase’s Fruit Cup is vodka-based and is actually described as a “Summer Fruit Punch”. It was made exclusively for the Grand Opening of the Bistro in Soho, with the production run being limited to just 24 bottles. It is also unusual as it is bottled at 40%ABV; most Fruit Cups, including Pimm’s, are bottled between 20 and 25%ABV, with the premium likes of Plymouth and Sipsmith being bottled at 30% and 29% ABV, respectively. The colour of Chase Summer Punch is a rather vibrant deep crimson; a very berry-like shade.

It is bottled in their usual tall bottle, with their standard limited edition label (see Chase Smoked). Here is the text, in full, from the back of the label.

#1) Own
It is rare that people drink Fruit Cup on its own, but in order to get an idea of the spirit’s character, I thought I’d give it a bash.
Nose: Very strong; a fruity nose, with sharp berry notes such as sloe, damson and blackcurrant. There were also some bitter, leafy-green notes, like crushed mint.
Taste:Full of berry jamminess; sweet, but also quite tart. This does not feel like you are drinking a 40% spirit, but rather a 20% liqueur. As Chase suggests, this is unlike any other Fruit Cup and has some distinct Cassis-like qualities. Mrs B. also picked up a little salty savouriness too.
.
#2) With Lemonade
The traditional mixer for a Fruit Cup, although not their serving suggestion. This drink had very strong, sharp, sweet berry notes and was also quite sweet and reminded me a lot of blackcurrant squash/cordial & lemonade or Cassis & soda water. The drink lacked any herbal complexity that you would expect from a Fruit Cup and, for me, was just too sweet. I think this is why lemonade is not the recommended serve.
.

#3) With Ginger Ale
This is the suggested serve for Chase Summer Fruit Punch and mine was garnished with lemon, blackberry and mint. This was much better than the lemonade and the sweetness was far more balanced. Once more, there was a disappointing lack of herbal notes, although the drink does have a lot more depth when mixed this way. With the strong berry flavours and the ginger, this started to have rather an autumnal feel, which I quite liked. If it had some more fiery ginger notes it would be even better.

#4) With Ginger Beer
Inspired by the desire to mix the Punch/Cup with some more fiery ginger flavours, I decided to try it with ginger beer. The stronger ginger was certainly an improvement, but the downside was that the ginger beer was quite sweet and so the drink became a bit sickly. The bartender suggested adding a little lime to balance it out and I think that would work well. Alternatively, using a less sweet ginger beer, such as Breckland Orchard or Luscombe Fiery, would work. Once again, the underlying sweetness of the Cup/Punch makes it harder to mix with.

.

.

In Conclusion

I’m really glad that I got a chance to try Chase’s Summer Fruit Punch and it certainly fulfills the label’s promise to be “a unique Fruit Punch like no other you have ever tasted”, making it a welcome innovation to the market.I’d like to see it have wider distribution, but, for me, it needs to be less sweet. I think that the high levels of sugary sweetness would turn a lot of consumers and bartenders off.In addition, some more herbal notes would add some depth and sophistication to the flavour and I think these could be incorporated without the loss of the unique berry profile of the product.

Finally, the 40%ABV that the spirit is bottled at seems an odd choice and I would suggest reducing it to something like 30%. This is assuming that the reduction in proof would not seriously adversely effect the flavour and I don’t think it would. Although the drink doesn’t taste very alcoholic, a few glasses of this drunk in quick succession could really creep up on you. Also, a 40% spirit will need to have a higher price point than a 30% one, if only for the higher duty that would need to be paid, making the product less competitive.

2011 has been an exciting time for the world of Fruit Cups and hopefully 2012 will see a larger production run of Sipsmith Summer Cup and a further offer from Chase, too.

Thanks to Caroline, Laura, Nick and Rob for their help with this article.

* It was the New Sheridan Club Night and we received an excellent talk on Mother of Pearl.

Bruce Cost’s REAL Ginger Ale

Bruce Cost’s Ginger Ale


For me, the real ace in the pack was Bruce Cost’s Fresh Ginger Ale. Mr Cost wrote a very comprehensive book on ginger, “Ginger East meets West”, where he documents the origins of ginger soft drinks and how he finally decided to make his own ginger ale.
But this is no Canada Dry, however. Bruce has taken his inspiration from the more hearty Belfast-style of ginger ale; it is something of a hybrid between modern ginger beer and ginger ale, but, in reality, was the ancestor of both. Belfast Ginger Ale is more fiery than ginger ale, but not as sweet as ginger beer, and it’s delicious.
.
Tasting Notes:
There’s a fruity nose with a hint of spice. In terms of taste, the fruitiness appears again, maybe passion fruit, as well as some malt and a bit of yeast. It has a medium fizz and tasted like a fresh, home-made variety; rustic, but absolutely superb. To my mind, this is a good example of Belfast-style ginger ale. I wish more ginger beers were like this; Bruce Cost’s Ginger Ale has to be one of my favourites.I also tried Mr Cost’s Ginger Ale in a variety of ginger ale cocktails, the recipes for which can be found here.
.
Postmaster [50ml Gin, 100ml  Fresh Ginger Ale, Build over Ice]
Pleasant and refreshing, but probably a bit sweet for me; half a measure of citrus juice would turn this into a buck and that would solve the problem.
.
Sloe Bump [50ml Sloe Gin, 100ml  Fresh Ginger Ale, Build over Ice]
Rather pleasant, as it freshens up the sloe gin. It may, perhaps, be too sweet for some, but if you were to use a variety such as Sloeth or Foxdenton, this wouldn’t be a problem.
.
Horses Neck [50ml Brandy, 100ml  Fresh Ginger Ale; Add Ice and a Citrus twist]
Sweet & smooth and the twist of citrus sets off the flavours nicely. Not too fizzy and very tasty.
.
Typically, you would use a ginger beer for the two drinks below, but I was intrigued to try them, as Bruce Cost’s Ginger Ale is rather ginger-beer-like.
.
Moscow Mule
Great, not so heavy of the ginger and a little bit of lemongrass comes through. Fresh an very quenching of one’s thirst.
.
Dark  & Stormy
Pretty good rink, maybe a bit watery but the way the ginger ale and the rum interacts it certainly looks stormy. Visually spectacular.
.
I’m really impressed with this product and I’m keen to try the Passion-fruit and Jasmine Ginger Ales that they also make. It tasted just as good mixed as it did on its own and I hope that it’s available in the UK sometime soon.