Cocktails for dinner with Zubrowka Polish Vodka

I was recently approached by to come up with some Polish-inspired cocktails for their website. Now, one of my favourite Polish spirits is the bison-grass flavoured vodka, Zubrowka, which is quite widely available and accessible, even to the newest vodka drinker. I decided to use Zubrowka as the basis for a series of cocktails that can accompany different stages of a romantic meal, which can be found below.


Zubrowka AperitifBison Fizz

[20ml Zubrowka, 80ml of Dry Prosecco – Add vodka to a flute glass and top up with Prosecco]

This is a drink that makes a great first impression: there’s bright apple pie to start, with a mix of dry and sweet flavours, before it subtly develops to focus on the flavours of the wine. The dryness of the prosecco makes it raising to the appetite, so it is a good choice as an aperitif. This accessible drink is great for a special occasion.



~Main meal~

Zubrowka Main CourseZubrowka Soda

[25ml Zubrowka, 50ml Apple Juice, 50ml Soda Water – Build in a tall glass with ice and garnish with a lemon wedge]

A very simple drink with an ABV of around 8% ABV, putting it on a par with many wines. This is a light and refreshing cocktail with hints of confectionery apple crumble and a touch of caramel. It’s a pleasant drink and makes a good accompaniment to a main course.




Zubrowka DessertAlexsy

[30ml Zubrowka, 50ml Single Cream, 1 tsp Chocolate Syrup – Shake]

A variation on the Alexander cocktail, this is a very indulgent, dessert-like drink. There are some light spice and dry fruit notes coming from the vodka, which mix well with the cream and chocolate flavours. All-in-all, this is somewhat reminiscent of an alcoholic chocolate milkshake.



~After Dinner~

Apple-Honey Punch

[30ml Zubrowka Vodka, 1 tsp honey (I used the new apple-flavoured variety from Rowse), 100ml warm apple juice]

Method: Add vodka and honey to a heat-proof glass. Warm apple juice in the microwave (around 60 seconds on high). Add apple juice to other ingredients and stir until the honey has dissolved.

This is a warming honey and apple drink with lots of spice from the vodka and a tart, apple fruitiness from the juice that is countered by the sweetness of the honey. A well-balanced, warming, and tasty drink.

Zubrowka After Dinner

Zubrowka Liqueur

An alternative to this drink is the Zubrowka Polona liqueur. This is a blend of vodka and herbs which is then sweetened and aged in oak casks. Whilst this isn’t the easiest product to find in the UK, I have seen it available in various Polish food stores (which is where I got mine from). It is a rich and intense liqueur with notable flavours of almond, honey, and maple, as well as cherry and apricot stone fruit. Finally, there’s a hint of freshly-brewed tea and some woody oak.


NEW! Exclusive! Cocktails with… Gordon’s Gin with a Spot of Elderflower


Bottled at 37.5% ABV, Gordon’s Gin with a spot of Elderflower is combination of classic Gordon’s Gin with natural elderflower flavour.

Gordons Spot of Elderflower Gin Bottle Picture

On its own
Nose: Some dry juniper, then a little coriander citrus, followed by a little green stalkiness and, finally, the bright, floral scent of elderflower.
Taste: Dry juniper upfront, with a little angelica and coriander citrus. This then moves onto the slightly sweet and jammy floral notes of the elderflower, before finishing with the dry notes of a refreshing elderflower presse.

Gin & Tonic
[50ml Gordon’s Gin with a spot of Elderflower, 120ml Tonic Water]

Schweppes Regular
Lovely, elegant and refreshing; the lemon garnish adds a little zest that compliments the floral elderflower well. This finds a good balance between sweetness and dryness, making it perfect for a simple, no-fuss afternoon cooler.

Gordon's with a Spot of Elderflower Gin & Tonic and Gin Tonica

Gordon’s with a Spot of Elderflower Gin & Tonic and Gin Tonica

Fevertree Regular
A dryer drink that allows for a greater balance between the flavour of the gin’s botanicals and the elderflower. It is also more complex than the Schweppes variety, but no less refreshing. I think the Fevertree works particularly well when served in the large goblet glass (see picture) in the Spanish Gin Tonica style, made using plenty of ice and a twist of lemon peel instead of a wedge. Squeezing the peel over the drink before dropping it into the glass expresses the citrus oil, which works well with the perfumed elderflower.

[50ml Gordon’s Elderflower Gin, 10ml Dry Vermouth – STIR]
A soft and relativeky sweet Martini with plenty of citrus and elderflower as well as some juniper and coriander. Potentially a rather good way to introduce people to the gin Martini. I
preferred this ungarnished but if you did want to add some colour I’d advice a thing slice of lemon peel but no olive.

Gordon's Elderflower Martini

Gordon’s Elderflower Martini

[Equal parts Gordon’s Elderflower, Campari and Red Vermouth]
This makes quite a soft, smooth and sweet Negroni. The herbal and bitter elements arrive early on in the drink and the finish has a greater focus on the gin, with some jammy elderberry as well as elderflower and a little citrus. I’d recommend a pink grapefruit or even a lime garnish with this drink, rather than a more traditional orange one.

With Apple Juice
[50ml Gordon’s Gin with a spot of Elderflower, 150ml Apple Juice]
It’s not often that I think of putting gin with apple juice, but in this case it works surprisingly well: the sweet, floral jamminess of the elderflower is nicely offset by the tangy, but not too
sour, flavours of the juice. This drink provides a very nice alternative for those who want a break from tonic’s effervescence. One tip is to make sure that you give the drink a good stir before serving, to ensure that it is well mixed.

Serving Suggestion - Gordon's Elderflower with Apple Juice and a Lemon Wedge

Serving Suggestion – Gordon’s Elderflower with Apple Juice and a Lemon Wedge

In Conclusion
I think that Gordon’s Elderflower is a pleasant addition to their range and makes some very refreshing and tasty drinks. I think I’d be quite keen to add a tot to a jug of Pimm’s to spice up the flavours a little. Of those that I tried, my favourite drink was the Gin & Tonic, closely followed by the gin served with apple juice.

Gordon’s with a Spot of Elderflower is available for around £16 for 70cl from Tesco.

Cocktails with… Pinckney Bend’s White Corn Whisky – with a special rested bonus!!

Another one of the treats as a result of DBS’s recent trip to Kentucky was a bottle of Pinckney Bend Corn Whiskey. The Pinckney Bend Distillery, located in New Haven, about 60 miles due west of the Gateway to the West (St. Louis), produce a range of small batch, craft spirits. DBS reviews their gin last year here.

Pinckney Bend is the namesake of a bend in the Mississippi River that was a notorious navigational hazard to ships on the river; a settlement sprung up at that geographical point, but has since been abandoned. The finer details of the story can be found here.
The area has been associated with quality distilled spirits since 1806, when the explorers Lewis & Clark visited the area.
Seeing the range of spirits made at Pinckney Bend, I wanted to quickly look up the official differences between the various types. The following definitions (summarised by me) come from the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

“Vodka” – alcohol that has been distilled (or distilled and then treated or filtered) “as to be without distinctive character, aroma, taste or color”.

“Whisky” is an alcoholic distillate made from a fermented mash of grain produced under 190 proof and bottled at no less than 80 proof. It must taste, smell and generally have the characteristics “generally attributed to whisky”. Unless it’s corn whisky, it needs to be stored in oak containers.

“Bourbon whisky” can’t come off of the still at more than 160 proof and must be produced from a mash consisting of 51% or more corn grain. It must be stored in charred new oak containers and has to be 125 proof or under when doing so.

Like Bourbon, “corn whisky” can’t be more than 160 proof off of the still, but must be produced a mash of at least 80% corn grain. It doesn’t have to be stored in oak, but if it is, it must be under 125 proof when stored. Charred wood can’t be used to store or treat it.

So now that we know exactly where corn whiskey sits, let’s give Pinckney Bend’s version a try!


On its own
Nose: Light, but vibrant notes of corn (like unpopped popcorn) and vanilla.
Taste: This has an interesting texture: the flavour swings between plain, clean alcohol notes and sweeter ones of corn. The finish gradually builds and is comforting, long and warm. At the very end of the finish, there’s a refreshing, dry bitterness that reminds me of black coffee; there’s no sickly, cloying corn notes here!

Old Fashioned (using Bitter Truth’s Jerry Thomas Bitters)
Light and sweet, with a lovely and wholly unexpected note of banana, like that of warm banana bread or banoffee pie. The flavour is creamy, but with a herbal lift at the end. Like the whiskey on its own, there’s a long, slightly dry finish with hints of dark chocolate. The creamy corn/banoffee note appears faintly, but recurrently on the finish. Without a doubt, this is now one of my favourite cocktails.

White Manhattan
[50ml Pinckney Bend Corn Whisky, 10ml Dolin Dry Vermouth]
This has the freshness of a Vodka Martini, but with weightier notes of wood and vanilla, making it more akin to a Gin Martini, only without any other distracting botanical flavours. Refreshing, strong and to the point.

[50ml Pinckney Bend Corn Whisky, 25ml Red vermouth]
The vermouth definitely takes centre-stage in this cocktail: from the outset, there are bold, dry herbal notes, followed by a long, smooth finish of subtle corn, interspersed with spice and a tannin-like note that reminded me of black tea. This would be a great way to showcase a particularly nice dry vermouth.

with Ginger Ale
Very refreshing, with a neat crispness to it that reminds me of cucumber. Not too sweet. I think this would work particularly well with some fresh lemon, and would make a lovely afternoon drink to sit back and relax with.

plus… Pinckney Bend “Rested” Corn Whiskey

The Distillery have trialled resting their corn whiskey in barrels (for under one year) We’re lucky to have a small sample – here are my notes.

Nose: Light hints of musky books and sweet honey. Vanilla throughout, with notes of sweet, caramelised corn at the end.
Taste: Invigorating and very warm at the end. There are strong notes of wood (with lots of character and body to them, like a good quality Bourbon), followed by a warmer version of the corn note from before. There’s nothing sweet or sickly about the corn note; it’s a deeper corn flavour. The wood and corn notes are well-balanced and followed by a slight muskiness on the finish.

In Conclusion
Yet again, I find myself being very impressed with a corn whiskey; in particular how well it works in a wide range of cocktails. My favourite was undoubtedly the Old Fashioned. The “Rested” Corn Whiskey is also rather exciting – perfectly combining the subtle and sweet corn notes with more weightier wood notes – and something to keep an eye out for.

– Mrs. B.


Apocalypse Cocktails with Agwa de Bolivia – drinks for the End of the Mayan Calender.

Apocalypse Cocktails

The 21st of December is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. But is also marks the end of the current period of the Mesoamerican Long Count Calendar, or the Mayan Calendar, hailed by some as the End of the World.*

Thinking about this, I set about creating some Apocalypse-themed cocktails. By a stroke of luck, the makers of Agwa de Bolvia, a coca leaf liqueur, are also interested in this theme and sent me a bottle to use in these cocktails.


Agwa de Bolivia is produced in Amsterdam, although its main ingredient, Coca leaves, are from Bolivia, where they are picked above 2,000 feet in the Andes. The leaves are macerated and the distilled to create a coca distillate. The distillate is then mixed with 36 other botanicals such as: Chinese green tea, African Mint, Amazonian Guarana, Argentinean black mountain tea, ginseng, lavender and cucumber.

As the Mayan people chewed coca leaves for their medicinal and cultural properties, Agwa seemed like a fitting ingredient to use in my themed cocktails.
The Cocktails

AgwaCocktails - EndofTheWorldAsWeKnowIt

1) The End of The World as We Know It
[20ml Amazonia Club Cachaca, 20ml Agwa de Bolivia, 20ml Orange Juice, 60ml Hot Water]
Dash of Bitters – Mix the first three ingredients in a heatproof-glass, top up with hot water and add the bitters, before sprinkling with paprika.

A warming drink with a pinch of spice from the paprika (for extra fire, use chilli powder). The Cachaca provides a good base and the Agwa de Bolivia adds some herbal notes and gives the drink a dry, chocolate-like finish. If you want a bit more power in your drink, you could use lemon juice instead of orange, but the orange does have a pleasant, wintery warmth. The bitters brings the drink together and adds a little extra pow.

The spice and temperature of this drink give the drink a good, solid warmth that stays with you, but without burning.

AgwaCocktails - And I Feel Fine

2) And I Feel Fine
[5ml Chilli/Pepper Vodka (10ml for extra fire), 20ml Agwa de Bolivia, 90ml Champagne]

Sweet and herbal to start, followed by the dry fruitiness of the Champagne and the touch of fire from the chilli vodka on the finish. (For another variation of this drink, why not substitute the chilli vodka for chilli-choc vodka (see cocktail #8 below)).


3) Fire & Brimstone
[40ml Darnley’s View Spiced Gin, 20ml Antica Formula, 10ml Campari, 10ml Cinnamon Liqueur] Shake, strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with flamed orange peel.

This is a rather spicy cocktail, with hints of ginger and cumin (from the gin) to start, followed by the sweetness and warm, winter spice of the cinnamon liqueur and then the deep, bitter herbal notes of the Red Vermouth (Antica Formula). The bitterness of the Campari, combined with some anise and a little dark chocolate or coconut, then makes its presence felt. Overall, this is a spicy, bitter-sweet drink. The flamed orange peel is great theatre, but also pulls the drink together with the scent of warm citrus.

AgwaCocktails Revelation

4) Revelation
[25ml Mezcal, 10ml Red Vermouth (Antica Formula), 15ml Agwa de Bolivia, 5ml Cardamom Distillate (or a crushed cardamom pod) – Shake and strain]

Smoky and musky, but with some sweetness, this drink has got an exotic hint of mystery, helped by the rather intriguing glassware. The vermouth adds some bitter, herbal notes which complement the sweeter, herbal nature of the Agwa. The cardamom adds a lively burst of spiciness.

AgwaCocktails 211212

5) 211212
[50ml Darnley’s View Spiced Gin, 10ml Agwa de Bolivia, Tonic/Ginger Ale]

Initially spicy, (cumin) with some sweeter herbal notes, followed by a distinct fruitiness. The touch of sweetness from the ginger ale gives it a nice lift and in the midst of all of these flavours, there’s something slightly reminiscent of golden rum, which was a nice surprise.

AgwaCocktails -  GoingBytheBook

6) Going by the Book
[50ml Smoked Whisky (Talisker), 2 Dashes of Orange Bitters (Reagan’s)]
Add ingredients to a glass rinsed with Agwa de Bolivia.

A lovely, smoky nose is accompanied by powerful smoked wood notes on the taste, followed by some savouriness. The finish is peaty, mixed with dry chocolate and hint of creaminess, as well as some sweet and dry herbal notes from the Agwa. The orange bitters add some extra spice and warmth to the middle of the drink.

AgwaCocktails - TheKingLeftBehind

7) The King Left Behind
[20ml Cognac, 20ml Agwa de Bolivia, 20ml King’s Ginger – SHAKE]

A smooth, rich and spicy cocktail with plenty of warmth and dominant flavours of fiery ginger and a rich creaminess. The herbs, including the anise in the Agwa, work well with the ginger. Very smooth and slightly sweet, but altogether rather delicious.



8) Chilli-Choc Vodka
Although not used in any of the above cocktails, chilli vodka is easy and relatively quick to make at home. You will need:

A bottle of vodka (700ml)
2 Chilli Peppers (Green or Red, depending on desired heat)
4tsp of Powdered Cocoa (e.g. Bournville)

Empty the vodka into a jug.
Add the cocoa to the empty bottle.
Slit the chilli peppers down the middle and add to the bottle.
Refill the bottle with the vodka. N.B. You may have a little vodka (25ml-50ml) left over – use this to make yourself a little drink.
Make sure the lid of the bottle is firmly attached and shake vigorously.
Leave in a warm place, shaking every half hour or so.

After three hours, have a little taste and, if you are happy with the flavour, strain out the cocoa and chillies with a coffee filter or fine sieve.


*In fact, many scholars dispute this and previous advocates of a great event taking place on 21st December 2012 have now changed their minds and it’s just expected to be, in the word of Wings, “Another Day”.

Christmas Cocktails with Blue Nun Gold – Sparkling Wine


I am rather an enthusiast for drinks writing and, as such, my scrawlings are not limited to; another website that I scribe for is the Institute for Alcoholic Experimentation and one of the most popular articles there is on J2O’s Glitterberry. What with this and the likes of Marmite bringing out a gold-coloured Christmas variety, it is clear that the British public loves a bit of glitter. So, when I came across the new Blue Nun Gold, I thought that it would be great to write about and experiment with.

BlueNun Bottle

Blue Nun goes well beyond “a bit of glitter”; this sparkling Riesling white wine, bottled at 11%ABV, contains 22 carat gold leaf.

When the bottle arrived, it caught the eye of some family and friends and, therefore, the cocktails were not just tasted by me, but by a panel of eager volunteers.

Onto the taste…

#1) On its own
Nose: Dry grape notes.
Taste: Quite dry, not too sweet, clean and crisp. This isn’t too fizzy – I’d say a medium-high level of fizz – with some tannin and bitterness there, too. There are also lots of fruity notes of apples and grapes; so much so that one panel member said that it reminded them of a dry cider.

Blue Nun Gold

Blue Nun Gold

#2) Golden Afternoon
[15ml Verte Absinthe, 80ml Blue Nun]
A variation on Ernest Hemmingways’ “Death in the Afternoon” from the book “So Red The Nose”. Anise at the forefront, with some fruity, vanilla notes, too. This was sweeter than the wine on its own and more pudding-like. It was well-liked by the panel and considered very easy to drink.

BlueNun DeathInTheAfternoon

Golden Afternoon with Blue Nun Gold

#3) Golden Classic
[Soak a sugar cube in orange bitters, Add a dash of Cherry liqueur,Top up with Blue Nun Sparkling Gold]
Sweet, jammy berry flavours, with some dryness towards the finish. Overall, this was well-balanced and very tasty.

Golden Classic with Blue Nun Gold

Golden Classic with Blue Nun Gold

#4) King’s Gold
[20ml The King’s Ginger, 80ml Blue Nun]
Great – dry, with just the right level of sweetness and spice. Warming and yet still very much in a celebratory theme, this is perfect for the festive season.

King's Goldwith Blue Nun Gold & King's Ginger

King’s Goldwith Blue Nun Gold & King’s Ginger

#5) Golden Gun
[1 sugar lump, 3–4 drops of orange bitters, Juice of ¼ of a lemon, About a measure of gin
Blue Nun Gold]
This cocktail is a variation on the French ‘75 (named after the military field gun) made with Jodhpur Gin. This version had fine flavours and was quite dry. It was also one drink where the gold leaf worked particularly well; it was a hit with many of the panel, including Mumsy, who doesn’t usually like gin!

BlueNun German'75

Golden Gun with Blue Nun Gold & Jodhpur Gin

#6) Millionaire’s Gold
[Add 20ml of Creme de Cassis (I used Beveland Brand) Top up with Blue Nun Gold]
This is a classic drink in which the Blue Nun works really well; none of the ingredients overpower any of the others, clean and crisp with a slight touch of tart berry sweetness from the Cassis. Simple, but lovely.

This is a variation on the Kir Royale evoking memories of the “Millionaire’s Cocktails” that I made for New Year’s Eve 2010. One individual seemed to take issue with this term, however.

BlueNun KirRoyale

Millionaire’s Gold with Blue Nun Gold

In Conclusion

Blue Nun Gold is a fun and affordable way to add sparkle to your Christmas drinks; it is easy to drink, accessible and mixes well with a variety of other ingredients. My favourite drink was either the Golden Afternoon or the King’s Gold.

Blue Nun Gold is available for around £9.59 fo 750ml from

Halloween Cocktails with Niederegger Marzipan

A few weeks ago, I received an interesting e-mail from Niederegger Marzipan, advertising a game for Halloween (see below). I thought I’d take the opportunity to match some of the chocolate-covered marzipan from their Klassiker Range, which mixes liquors and marzipan, with some cocktails. I wanted to create a cocktail to complement each of the four flavours, whilst also giving the cocktails a somewhat autumnal twist; and no, there will be no Amaretto – that is just too easy.

Niederegger confectioners have been making tasty treats since 1806 in the German city of Lübeck. Today, they make a wide range of fine treats, including a host of different marzipans and nougats.

The Cocktails

#1) Normandy ‘75 with Calvados, accompanied by Calvados & Apple Marzipan
[1 sugar lump, 3–4 drops of orange bitters, 20ml of calvados, Champagne – Serve in a Champagne Flute]
Quite dry, given the Calvados and Champagne, with the red vermouth adding some herbal notes and, along with the sugar cube, some sweetness for balance. The fresh, fruity and sweet apple of the chocolate complements the dryer cocktail. Additionally, the marzipan’s smooth texture contrasts pleasantly with the intense bubbles of the Champagne.


#2) Port & Starboard with Vodka and Port, accompanied by Vodka & Fig Marzipan.
[20ml Vodka, 20ml Port, 10ml Lemon Juice, 10ml Sugar Syrup (1tsp sugar) –  SHAKE]
A relatively tart drink with some deep, fruity, jammy notes from the port. If it’s a bit too tart, try adding a little sugar and stir. The marzipan has a lot more texture than the previous one, being almost crunchy, and is rich and sweet, going well with the tart dryness of the cocktail, which reminds me almost of a rich, dry sherry. Whilst these two might be too bitter/sweet on their own, together, they harmonise.

#3) Smoky Rob Roy, with Bowmore Mariner Scotch Whisky, accompanied by Mirabelle Brandy Marzipan.
[30ml Bowmore Mariner (or other Scotch), 20ml Red Vermouth – SHAKE]
The marzipan is light and more coconutty in texture, with a hint of orange coming through, too. In contrast, the cocktail is stronger in flavour, being very smoky and deliciously refreshing. The orange twist ensures that this pairing go together remarkably well. Although you wouldn’t necessarily think that smoky whisky would go well with marzipan, it really does – this is excellent and easily Mrs. B’s favourite.

#4) Rum Alexander with Spiced Rum, accompanied by Rum & Croquant Marzipan
[20ml Rum, 20ml Semi-skimmed Milk, 20ml Creme de Cacao – SHAKE]
This marzipan tastes richer and weightier than the previous ones, with its sweetness and rum notes coming through strongly. As such, the lighter cocktail is a very good accompaniment, tasting something akin to an adult’s version of chocolate milk. Coincidentally, the use of milk is much preferable to cream in this pairing, as the latter would create a far too heavy, sickly cocktail. As it is, the cocktail carries a lovely hint of rum that continues well into the finish, accompanied by lots of almond.

In Conclusion
This box of marzipan covers a whole range of interesting flavours, meaning that everyone – who likes marzipan! – should find a favourite in here; fortunately for us, we were evenly split, with Mrs. B. preferring the Vodka & Fig Chocolate and Smoky Rob Roy, and my favourites being the Apple & Calvados Chocolate and the Normandy ‘75.

In addition to being delicious on their own, I was impressed at how well they went with cocktails, each of which highlighted the flavours and textures of the sweets and often meant that the flavours lasted for longer. The sweetness of the marzipan also meant that we could experiment with stronger flavours (e.g. bitter or tart) that, when sampled on their own, were less palatable.

All in all, this was a tasty and entertaining experiment and I look forward to enjoying the rest of our box of marzipan in the game below…

The Halloween Game

Niederegger Roulette

This is:

“based on the lethal game of Russian roulette but with the additional fun elements of Harry Potter’s Bertie Bott’s every flavour beans but more sophisticated.”

You will need:

  • An assortment of different flavoured Niederegger marzipan treats that are either all the same style; e.g. mini loaves, sticks, or that have been cut into pieces that all look and feel similar;
  • A blindfold; and
  • Some willing participants.

How To Play

  1. Teams are formed and, each round, one player from each team dons the blindfold and chooses, at random, a piece of Niederegger.
  1. They must then write down what flavour they think they tasted on the team’s cards.
  1. This process is repeated through all the flavours that are available, ensuring that each team member has a go.

“With the options to choose between the innumerable concoction of different fruity flavours, orange, pineapple, strawberry, lemon; dark, milk and white chocolate toppings; more savoury fillings include pistachio and walnut filled; espresso, ginger, cream praline nougat as well as the liquor flavoured pieces such as Apple & Calvados, Mirabelle Brandy, Rum & Croquant, Vodka & Fig. Once everyone has been through all of the rounds then the host can reveal which sweets were which.”

“Try something fun and delicious this Halloween with Niederegger Roulette.”

A selection Niederegger Marzipan is available from Amazon, John Lewis, and Lakeland as well as many other shops.

The Drinks of Dr. No – Celebrating 50 Years of the First James Bond Film

Today is the 50th Anniversary of the release of the first James Bond film* Dr No on 5th October 1962 (possibly my favourite film) and it also marks the official release of the new theme song, sung by Adele, for the new James Bond film Skyfall.** So it seems fitting to put off the planned article*** and do a little something to celebrate one of the best Bond Films.

Vodka Martini

“One Medium-Dry Vodka Martini and mixed how you said Sir, and not stirred”

An early introduction to Bond’s signature drink; made for him by a hotel porter. Bond has his Martinis “Medium-Dry” (5:1 or 4:1) and in Dr. No he uses Smirnoff Red Vodka. I used this and Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth (In Dr. No Bond actually uses Martini Extra Dry.

Clean an crisp but with the low-strength Smirnoff not too overpowering, a little hint of grain and a touch of vanilla  The lemon adds a pleasant zestiness that adds life to an otherwise pure (maybe even plain) drink.

Later in the film Bond drinks Smirnoff Red neat.

Red Stripe Beer

Hailing from Jamaica, where the film is set, there is little wonder that this is what they drink in Pussfellas Bar (they get through a lot of it as the stock room is packed with crates.

Red Stripe was created by Desnoes & Geddes in 1928 (They also make an excellent ginger beer and the rather lovely Ting) but from 1976 it has been brewed under contract in the UK. Like Smirnoff Red Stripe is now owned by Diageo.

Like the Martini Red Stripe is quite light and very refreshing with a warm hoppiness at the end. A little touch of citrus. On a hot Jamaican day when you’ve been suspiciously fighting folks who turn out to be your allies this is just what you need to quench your thirst.

Finally although not in the film this is a great drink from the book of Dr. No.

The James Bond Gin & Tonic

Bond ordered a double gin and tonic and one whole green lime. When the drink came he cut the lime in half, dropped the two squeezed halves into the long glass, almost filled the glass with ice cubes and then poured in the tonic. He took the drink out on to the balcony, and sat and looked out across the spectacular view.

The James Bond Gin & Tonic: Chapter IV Reception Committee, Dr. No (1958)

As ever a delicious drink that is tart but not overly so. I used Bombay Dry Gin (a very classic style of gin) and it works well although some may prefer to use a gin with a higher ABV. Even so few will be disappointed by this Bond Beverage.

For more James Bond and Skyfall info check out the excellent resources at:

Also why not check out a Skyfall Cocktail?

* There was an early US TV-onlky outing where James Bond was an American
called “Jimmy” and Le Chiffre was played by Peter Lorre (one of his last roles)
** Check it out here.
*** Navy Strength Gin will be out on Monday.

Benedictine Roadtrip – Cocktails from Day #1

N.B. I am away from my editor an usual computer for apologies for any typing/spelling errors in advance.

Regular readers must ow know we are partial to a little field trip at SummerFruitCup and at present I have the pleasure of typing this whilst overlooking Fécamp Harbour waiting for the sunrise and watching all the folk go for their early morning run with their dogs. I’ve just seen an early-morning roller-blader too.

Why Fécamp?

Well I’m here at the kind invitation of Benedictine (whose home is Fécamp) and after our welcome dinner last night (which was simply superb) we shall be off to the distillery today.

In the meantime I wanted to share with you two cocktails I have tried since I have been here.

The BIG Ben Cocktail

#1 BIG Ben

[50ml Benedictine 150-200ml of Tonic Water, Ice and Garnish with a lime.]

Naturally I am a big fan of gin and tonic but this was a superb alternative complex with a bitter-sweetness and perfect as a pre-dinner refresher and appetite raiser.

The term Big Ben come from the colloquial term for the clock tower on the Palace of Westminster (British Parliament) in London it is the gin and tonic but this twist uses Bénédicitne and Tonic.

The recommended garnish is lime as this contains more citric acid (relative to its size) and gives the drink more balance. Having tried it when I got back to the UK (see below) I agree.

Benediction Cocktail

#2 Benediction

[25ml Benedictine, 100-125ml of Champagne, Pour into a Champagne Flute, Twist of lemon peel and an optional dash of orange bitters.]

This was our welcome drink at the dinner and formed something of an initial toast for our upcoming excursion. Once again a very tasty beverage with the liqueur and the dry Champagne counterbalancing each other well. The citrus flourish finishes off the drink nicely.

So that was day one and we’ve had a great time so far, met some top notch people and imbibed and feasted on the finer things of Fecamp. I’m looking forward to today.


Big Ben with Lime

Big Ben with Lime


Béné & Hot

You can follow more of our antics on Twitter with the hashtag: #beneontour or #beneroadtrip

Benedictine is available for around £25 for 70cl from The Whisky Exchange and in 50cl bottles at most Supermarkets.

Liqueur Library #6 – DeKuyper XO Cherry Brandy

A few weeks back, I reviewed DeKuyper XO Apricot Brandy, which was rather excellent. Today, I’m lucky enough to be able to focus on that product’s forerunner; namely, DeKuyper’s XO Cherry Brandy.

Cherry Brandy is a cherry liqueur and should not be confused with Kirsch, the cherry-flavoured Eau de Vie. Production methods may vary, but, traditionally, Cherry Brandy was made by macerating cherry fruit in brandy and then adding sugar. Despite the name, Cherry Brandy does not have to contain brandy as its base alcohol, but the finer examples do tend to.

DeKuyper XO Cherry Brandy uses Maraska cherries and a hint of almond, which are blended with 12 Year Old Grande Champagne XO Cognac. It is bottled at 28% ABV.

1) On it own
Colour: Deep, rich cherry red.
Nose: A very rich nose – almost zesty – with plenty of ripe, dark cherry, almond, vanilla.
Taste: Very smooth and fruity with a complex, long flavour. Again, there’s plenty of cherry, along with hints of marzipan. Great texture: rich and fruity, the flavour almost bursts in your mouth.

2) Mary Rose Cocktail
[20ml Port, 15ml Gin; 15ml Cherry Brandy – STIR]
A rich and very fruity cocktail with the finer flavour of the cherry brandy coming through nicely towards the end. Cherry and port are good partners, both being rich flavourful. This is definitely a top-notch after-dinner drink.

3) Cherry Julep
[30ml Gin, 20ml Cherry Brandy, 10ml Sloe Gin, 25ml Lemon Juice. 1tsp sugar – Add to a Julep cup filled with crushed ice]
Very crisp and strong, but refreshing. Although there’s no whiskey in here, this does remind me of a Mint Julep. Lots of cherry and easy to drink. Pretty leafy Gin notes work well with zing berry and leafy sloe. Lemon juice adds a good overall balance to the drink.

4) Admiral Cocktail
[30ml Gin, 20ml Cherry Brandy, 15ml Lime Juice – SHAKE]
A simple, yet tasty drink, full of strong cherry notes, whilst remaining clean and crisp. Easy to drink and very nice, with a finish of almond and marzipan.

5) Cherry Ginger Frappe
[20ml Cherry Brandy, 10ml Ginger Liqueur, 5ml Kirsch]
Probably the best way to enjoy this cherry brandy in a cocktail! If you’re a fan of cherries, you will love this! Jammy cherry notes are strong throughout and the ginger adds a pleasant spiciness. The Kirsch ensures that the finish is just dry enough to make you long for another sip!

6) Scotch Holiday Sour
[30ml Scotch Whisky, 15ml Cherry Brandy, 20ml Lemon Juice, 5ml Italian Vermouth – egg white, Lemon Wedge – SHAKE]
Spicy vanilla on the nose, which was creamy and fruity (rich red fruits: raspberry, cherry and cranberry). To taste, it was rich and fruity, with lots of cherry notes, before fading into a more sour, dry finish with hints of almond. The whisky also adds a lovely warmth to the finish.

7) Stratosphere Cocktail
[20ml White Rum, 10ml Brandy, 5ml Cherry Brandy, 10ml Lemon Juice, 1tsp sugar – STIR]
A tropical cocktail with a tart twang at the end. There is a slightly sweet warmth from the brandy, which, along with the cherry, balances out the citrus notes well. Very clean and fresh.

8) Ruby Cocktail
[35ml Sloe Gin, 10ml Italian Vermouth, 5ml Cherry Brandy, 1 dash of bitters – SHAKE]
A dark, fruity cocktail; rich, almost chocolatey, like a Black Forest Gateaux. The sloe and cherry flavours are both complex and jammy, working well together. The red vermouth adds additional complexity, giving the drink a third dimension. Very good, indeed.

9) Six Cylinder
[20ml Gin, 20ml Cherry Brandy, 20ml Campari, 20ml Dubonet, 10ml Dry Vermouth, 10ml Sweet Vermouth – SHAKE]
This tastes like a cherry Negroni with extra dryness and herbal complexity from the dry vermouth and Dubonet. I imagine this to be what a Negroni would taste like if it was made using cherry vermouth. A lot of ingredients, but very tasty.


10) Desert Header
[30ml Gin, 15ml Cherry Brandy, 5ml Orange Juice – SHAKE & top-up with ginger beer]
A really rather refreshing drink; unlike most of the other cocktails, the cherry isn’t overly prominent, but adds a lovely finish to the drink. There’s also a good dose of ginger. Good for summertime, this is easy to drink and has a refreshing, but sweet finish.

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Blue Moon Cocktials

This month is a Blue Moon month (at least by one definition), in that this August (2012) will contain two full moons: today (2nd August) and 31st August. I wanted to celebrate this celestial event and, whilst pondering this, the Blue Moon cocktail came to mind; the Blue Moon Cocktail is essentially a variation on the Aviation that doesn’t contain Maraschino.

But how can you link a cocktail today with one in 28 days time? Inspired by the [Master of Malt Negroni experiment], one possible answer revealed itself: to either bottle or rest it for the period between the two full moons. In fact, I decided to do both.

The Idea

Mix a large Blue Moon cocktail and divide into three, then:
1) drink one today;
2) put one in a bottle to rest; and
3) put one aside to “cask mature” for 28 days.

For Mrs. B, I decided to make a variation on the [N.Y. Flyer] that uses Rye Whiskey and Creme Yvette and treat it in the same three ways.

Blue Moon Cocktail

4pts Dry Gin
1pt Lemon Juice*
1pt Creme de Violette

1) Tasted Fresh Today (2nd August ‘12)
If you are the sort of person that thinks that an Aviation without Violette just isn’t worth having, than I suspect you may well like this. Dry, crisp and tart, with a sweet parma violet, floral finish. Delicious.

2) Tasted after Bottling (31st August ‘12)

You get plenty of sediment (which actually clumped into a ball, so it was essential to shake the bottle hard before mixing). On tasting, I found the drink had mellowed out, being much less tart. The dry gin and sweet floral violet notes are there, although, at the end, there is an odd biscuityness akin to an Amontillado sherry.
3) Tasted after having been “Cask Matured” (31st August ‘12)

Weirdly, this drink kept a lot more of its tartness and hadn’t mellowed; if anything, it was more acidic and the wood made little to no impact, although the same sherry, biscuity flavour was present at the end, too. This cocktail was in a slightly bigger bottle (70ml versus 50ml), so maybe this could explain the variation; either way, I didn’t finish the drink.

N.Y. Moon
4pts Rye Whiskey
1pt Lemon Juice
1pt Creme Yvetté

1) Tasted Fresh Today (2nd August ‘12)
Lightly woody and brilliantly cold – there’s a superb, wonderfully balanced tingle down my throat of alternating chill and warmth. The drink is dry, but also slightly fruity, with the light, woody notes slowly drawing out at the end. Just before that, there’s a sherbet-y, slightly sour note, much akin to parma violet sweets.

2) Tasted after Bottling (31st August ‘12)

3) Tasted after having been “Cask Matured” (31st August ‘12)

28 Days to wait…