Cocktails with… Sloemotion No7 Fruit Cup

Summer is on the way and with it, the need for cool and refreshing drinks. Often, the mind moves automatically to summer fruit cups (rather fitting, given our site’s name) and the most commonly available of these is Pimm’s, but increasingly more varieties are being released by other companies.

Today, we are looking at SloeMotion No7 (so named as it is their seventh product), which is a blend of gin, hedgerow, orchard, and field fruits, as well as hedgerow blossom and herbs. The suggested ratio for the serve is 1 pt SloeMotion Cup to 4 parts lemonade. It is bottled at a respectable 25% ABV.

SloeMotion No7 Fruit Cup FINAL bottle

The Taste

With Lemonade (I used the Sainsbury’s own brand, as recommended by SloeMotion)
Bold, rich, and fruity flavours with plenty of luscious berry notes, as well as a touch of spice and crisp, leafy notes, which are emphasised by the cucumber garnish. Even with lemonade it’s not too sweet, which adds to the drink’s refreshment.

With Bitter Lemon
This produces a much tarter version of the drink, but, given how well bitter lemon mixes with sloe gin, it is not a surprise that it works well with the SloeMotion No7. There is an additional, delightfully earthy quinine bitterness on the finish.

SloeMotion No7 Fruit Cup FINAL Lemonade

With Ginger Ale
This is the sweetest of the drinks that I tried, but it is still rather good; I like the gentle warmth that the mixer provides and it works well with the herbal and fruit notes of the drink. It’s also slightly less fizzy than the lemonade version, which will appeal to some people. Another tasty version.

With Soda Water
For those who prefer less sugar in their drink, this is an excellent choice. The greater subtleties of the fruit cup come through well, including some oaky, tea leaf tannin notes, plus citrus and some more fresh, leafy notes. Exceptional refreshment.

In Conclusion

I think that SloeMotion No7 brings something a little different to the category of fruit cups, providing a greater complexity than many of the mainstream brands and embracing fruit flavours, especially when compared to the more herbal characteristics of other excellent cups such as Plymouth or Sipsmith.

I enjoyed it most with lemonade and plain sparkling water.

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.

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.

Organic Fruit/Summer Cup Recipe

I recently had a request from a gentleman on Twitter asking me about the availability of organic fruit cup.

I knew that no commercial product currently existed, but I thought that it wouldn’t be too much trouble to mix one up myself, using organic gin and organic vermouth, but then I found out that no-one currently makes organic vermouth!*

Intrigued by this gap in the market, I set about making my own, using my previous experience from making red vermouth. Starting from scratch, I made a fruit cup mix** (organic flavour-infused aromatized wine) that I could then mix with organic Gin/Vodka/Whisky to make a fruit cup that could then be mixed with organic lemonade.


My Recipe:
One bottle of Organic Red Wine (Italian Terra Viva Merlot 2010 – £6.99 Waitrose)
Juice and peel of one organic lemon and organic orange
Peel of half an organic cucumber
One organic tea bag, infused in the wine for 15 mins (Organic Earl Grey – £1.29 Waitrose)
Four dessert spoonfuls of organic brown sugar (the darker the better)
One stick of organic cinnamon

Add everything to a Kilner Jar and leave to infuse for 24 hrs.
Give it a taste and, if you are happy with the flavour, strain and bottle the mix; if not, leave for a little longer.
Blend the mix in equal parts with your spirit, for example Juniper Green Organic Gin, and then sit down to enjoy a glass of your very own organic fruit cup.

Organic Fruit Cup as enjoyed at The Feathers Gin Bar, Woodstock



Taste
I mixed the fruit cup 1 part Fruit Cup to 3 parts Belvoir Organic Lemonade.

The main point of a Fruit Cup is that it is refreshing and cooling; this version certainly ticks that box. There are sweet and tart elements in the drink and it is also quite citrusy. It is very refreshing and not too sweet, part of the freshness of the drink comes from the distinct taste from the cucumber peel. Easy to drink and rather moreish.

In Conclusion
My first batch was something of a cross between sangria and fruit cup, but if I could find some  organic bitter herb (wormwood, gentian, etc.) to use, I think it would have an additional depth of flavour. Using a darker sugar for the mix, or perhaps a little treacle, would also improve the drink.

* Speaking to Ian Hart of Sacred, who makes some fantastic vermouths, (and gin & vodka) organic vermouth is a bit tricky to come by, but not impossible.
** It doesn’t contain wormwood and so it isn’t vermouth.

A New Fruit Cup in Town – Oxford Original

 

During the current spell of warm weather in the UK, which can only be described as “Scorchio”, one of the better ways to cool down is with an iced jug of fruit cup. We recently published an update on the new Sipsmith Summer Cup, but today’s subject is even newer, as it was only released in April 2012.

Oxford Original is a fruit cup made by Manchester Drinks, the same folks who make the Authentic Cocktail Company premixes, and is bottled at 15%ABV. It was designed to be a more economical alternative to the likes of Pimm’s.

We decided to try it with three different mixers. Each glass contained a wedge of lemon, a wedge of lime and a cucumber spiral. All were mixed at a 3:1 Mixer:Fruit Cup ratio.

Ginger Ale
This is quite a sweet mix with the berry notes, especially strawberry, of the fruit cup really coming through. As the drink has mulled with the fruit a little bit it becomes fresher and more succulent.

Lemonade
Not as sweet as the ginger ale, quite light and the cucumber compliments the drink well. Notes of strawberry, vanilla and berry. I find a squeeze of lemon makes the drink even more refreshing. This would be a good drink for those that find Pimm’s too bitter; if you prefer the a more fruit cup I’d suggest adding a splash of red vermouth.

Tonic Water
Dry and more bitter with the citrus notes of the fruit cup really coming through. This one of the better fruit cups to mix with tonic water.

In Conclusion
It’s always refreshing (no pun intended) to see a fruit cup with a slightly different flavour profile and Oxford Original is certainly less herbal and more fruity, in particular with more berry notes, such as red currant, raspberry and strawberry.

Cocktails with… Stroh Jagertee

Jagertee (“hunter’s tea”) is an Austrian drink made with inländer rum and tea, as well as a variety of other herbs, roots, spices and peels. Similarly to a Scottish toddy, it is often served hot with water as a winter warmer, although it also works well when partnered with warm apple juice.

Stroh Jagertee is bottled at two different strengths: 40% ABV and 60% ABV. As the flavours are heavily concentrated, it is typical to dilute the spirit. As I’ve mentioned, hot water is often used in the cooler months, with a typical ratio being 1 part Jagertee to 3 parts water; but what about drinking Jagertee in the summer as a cool beverage?

This was the question posed to me by one of the agents that represent Stroh in Britain. When the product was being described to me, its similarity to fruit cup was immediately apparent and, as such, some experimentation soon took place. But what were the best mixers to use to turn Jagertee from a Winter Warmer into a Summer Cooler?

1) Tonic
A 2:1 ratio was way, way too strong, whereas a 4:1 or 5:1 was much better, making a refreshing drink with a dry finish. The syrupy Jagertee needs some fruit to freshen it up; this was improved by a slice of lemon.
A sweet, syrupy, herbal start, followed by the dryness of the tonic; well-balanced, but still quite flavourful. The lemon added some freshness to the finish, lifting it. Lots of ice essential to ensure that it has a crispness – warm, the initial sweetness would be too much, but ice-cold, it was delicious.
5/10

2) Water
With no extra sweetness, this worked very well and was crisp & very refreshing; using plenty of ice and chilled water is the key.
8/10

3)  Ginger Ale
For this drink, I used a 5:1 ratio. I liked how the ginger worked alongside the herbal notes of the spirit and how the cinnamon came through more strongly. There was quite a nice balance to this drink, which means that it works well with a variety of garnishes/fruits, or even no garnish.
8/10

4) Lemonade
This also worked well at a 5:1 ratio; it was still possible to taste the herbal elements, but they were not too overpowering and the lemonade didn’t make the drink too sweet. Once more, a bit of citrus fruit livens up the drink.
This makes a wonderfully cooling drink with ice and I found that a squeeze of the fresh lemon before adding it as a garnish really improved it. The Stroh comes through more in this drink, making it more crisp, light, fresh and refreshing. There was a touch of sherbet to it. This might also work well with a couple of slices of cucumber, making more of a fruit cup kind of drink.
7/10

5) Orange Gin
This was really quite floral, but was probably a bit too sickly for my liking. It reminded Mrs. B of Galliano and orange juice.
5/10

6) Cola
This had a sweet start that quickly faded into more complex, herbal, and medicinal notes, all followed by a slightly bitter finish. All of the flavours go together very well, resulting in a smooth drink, and the lemon stops it from becoming too sweet. This was very enjoyable to drink and would be particularly good in summer, making a more interesting cola drink, where the medicinal notes of the Coke are highlighted; more old-school! You could also easily drink quite a lot of it, but not by gulping it down, as there’s substantial flavour there – it had a good balance overall.
7/10

7) Cranberry Juice
This was an odd one and we were split as to whether we like it or not. The dry, tart cranberry juice contrasts with the sweeter Jagertee. I think this will appeal to some but not others.
5/10

8) Bitter Lemon
This was pretty good; the flavour of the Jagertee is prominent, but there was also some lively lemon and a dry, bitter finish from the mixer. This lengthens the Jagertee in a crisp, refreshing way.
8/10

9) Iced Tea
Quite pleasant, but maybe a touch on the sweet side; using a homemade version of iced tea with less sugar would be better. As long as the iced tea is not too sweet, this works wonders. Quite smooth, too.
7/10

10) Dr Pepper
Pretty tasty; reminded me of an alcoholic, slightly more herbal, root beer. Very easy to drink, there was no need for a garnish, just lots of ice.
7/10

In Conclusion

I set out researching the article with two question in mind:
1) Can you make a summery drink using Stroh Jagertee as a base?
2) What is the best and the simplest way to do this?

I was pleased that many of the mixers that I tried worked well with Stroh Jagertee. The issues that some of the drinks had, for example being too sweet, can easily be resolved by a dash of lemon or lime juice.

The best mixers were Lemonade, Bitter Lemon and Chilled Water.

Stroh Jagertee is available for around £19 for 50cl from TheDrinkShop.com