Mrs B.’s Drinks

Mrs. B’s Drinks

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Cocktails for Ladies

I have often found myself caught off-guard when asked, “What would you like to drink?”. With a lack of insight, I usually then found myself sipping a glass of orange juice, but longing for something more adventurous.

The world of cocktails, even just vintage ones, is vast and often expensive and so, after a couple of conversations with ladies in a similar situation to myself, I decided to raid the cellar and the bookshelf and find cocktails that could I recommend to female friends. I wanted to arm all of us with a list of choices – relatively straight-forward, easy-to-find choices – for those moments of ignorance and indecision that I had found myself dreading. I hope that this brief introduction provides some insight into a much bigger and vibrant world of cocktails.

From left to right: White Lady, Brandy Alexander, Rusty Nail, Harvey Wallbanger, Simple Rum Cocktail, Sidecar, Sweet Martini

The White Lady (8/10)

This gin-based cocktail was wonderfully smooth and, with its bitter, lemon flavour and creamy froth on top, was highly reminiscent of a lemon meringue pie, only without the excessive sweetness. I could easily see myself sipping and savouring one of these at any point in an evening, although I imagine those with a more refined palate than myself may enjoy specifying their choice of gin to make it even better.

Harvey Wallbanger (7/10)

Vodka, orange juice and Galliano come together to make this a sweet and fruity long drink that probably won’t hang around for too long if you have a sweet tooth and like the strong vanilla flavour. If find sugary cocktails hard to swallow, using Galliano L’Autentico, based on an older formulation, may be just the ticket: the sweet vanilla is then replaced with a subtle aniseed kick. Both variations are delicious with a slice of orange and, for a real treat, freshly squeezed juice.

I found the Harvey Wallbanger much easier to drink than The White Lady and wonderfully thirst-quenching, but thought it likely to disappear all too quickly to really savour.

Mrs B. samples a Harvey Wallbanger

Brandy Alexander (9.5/10)

I have to admit to being less than enthusiastic about cocktails containing cream, and so I was quietly dreading the Brandy Alexander (which I know to be a favourite of Mr. B), but this one was a real surprise. A dusting of nutmeg and chocolate flake draws you into a combination of brandy, crème de cacao, and (in this case, double) cream that is silky and rich, with the warmth in the brandy slowly seeping through after the ice-cream-like beginning. This is a drink that could very easily replace a dessert, in my eyes (and I like my desserts!).

Simple Rum Cocktail (6/10)

With a glass full of crushed ice, refreshing lime and a dash of cola, this cocktail brings back memories of many a summer evening. It is a very enjoyable way of drinking rum, both if you are a fan of the spirit or if you have just been introduced. The other ingredients complement the rum, making it more palatable for a fresh face, but the individual character of the rum still comes through; if you don’t use a rum that you like the taste of on its own, this probably won’t be your favourite.

Sweet Martini (ladies only, according to the Esquire’s Handbook for Hosts) (8/10)

Mixed using Old Tom Gin, which is sweeter than its modern counterparts, this martini was remarkably full of flavour, which was highly unexpected, given its cool, clear exterior. It certainly packs a punch, but the flavour goes far beyond just alcohol; I found myself reminiscing on olives and pizza, making me think that it might serve quite well as an aperitif for an Italian meal. Given its bold flavours, this probably won’t be to everyone’s taste, but it’s an unusual one to try, regardless of your feelings towards the dry martini.

Rusty Nail (8/10)

As a fan of whisky, I was looking forward to this one and wasn’t disappointed: with its combination of Drambuie, a honey and herb liqueur, and blended Scotch, it is a sweeter way to drink whisky without drowning it within a long drink. This would be a delightful drink to slowly sip by the fire at the end of a long day, feeling both the flames and the alcohol gradually warm you up.

Sidecar (9/10)

Finally, we have the Sidecar: a deliciously smooth and fruity cocktail and another one that surprised me, as I’m not generally a fan of brandy. The Sidecar, however, is a short, revitalising drink (that is, nonetheless, relatively easy to manage) with a sharp finish that reminded me distinctly of sherbet. The flavours come together nicely and I believe I could quite happily order one of these at any point during an evening. This is my top pick for a ladies’ cocktail.

In conclusion, by scores alone, the Brandy Alexander was my clear favourite, but, unlike a good cup of tea, I feel that I would need to be in a specific mood to enjoy one as much as I did in this tasting. Therefore, the top spot in my list of cocktails for ladies has to be the Sidecar, followed by the Rusty Nail and The White Lady, with the Brandy Alexander reserved for those times when I’m after a sweet treat, but can’t manage dessert!

There are, of course, many, many other cocktails to try and so I would greatly encourage everyone to try something new; why not ask a barman for a recommendation, stating your favourite spirit as a base? Create your own, tailored list so that you never again find yourself, as I did, unarmed with the perfect drink for an evening.

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Cocktails with… Foxdenton

With so many excellent reviews of various Gins online, I found myself hesitant when I considered how best to test a Gin for one of my posts. I eventually concluded that, rather than just tasting the Gin and trying it with tonic and in a Martini – an excellent method in itself – I would instead try a greater array of Gin cocktails. I thought I would test this method with a rather new Gin: Foxdenton. I would just like to state that my list of eighteen Gin cocktails is by no means exhaustive and my method is a work-in-progress.

Foxdenton Gin is produced by the Foxdenton Estate Company in Winslow, Buckinghamshire*. The Estate itself dates back to 1367. They also produce sloe, raspberry and blackcurrant Gin.

Foxdenton includes the following botanicals:

  • Juniper
  • Angelica Root
  • Coriander
  • Lemon Peel
  • Orris Root
  • Lime Flower

#1 Foxdenton Gin – Neat

The strength of this Gin (48% ABV) produces a strong tingling sensation in the mouth and it’s certainly a Gin that packs a punch. It has pronounced flavours of citrus and juniper, particularly on the finish. This a Gin-lover’s Gin and moves away from a recent trend of gentle, more “sippable” Gins being created.

#2 Gin & Tonic

I started with Schweppes Tonic. Why? Because it is one of the best selling there is. I found that a hearty garnish of lemon really complemented the mix of Gin and Schewppes, although, out of personal preference, I would tend to use Fentimans; this is because Foxdenton benefits from the lemongrass flavours in Fentimans, making for a rather tasty drink.

#3 Martini

A lovely crisp and clear Martini; simple, as a Martini should be. Works well with a lemon twist as a garnish. The extra strength works well in this and it was well-liked by the Martini drinkers in the group.

#4 Gimlet

Here, I think, Foxdenton excels: Foxdenton and Rose’s Lime Cordial are a great combination. There was some disagreement as to whether the drink was better with a splash of soda, but it was unanimous that both were very good. The one downside is that the lime does hide some of the subtleties of the Gin, but it is still a tasty drink.

#5 John Collins

Another favourite, although I was perhaps a little lighter on the sugar and lemon than I would be generally. This is incredibly drinkable, with a nice juniper kick at the end. The extra strength of the Gin was noticeable, but certainly not overpowering. This was a great summer drink but one that I could enjoy year-round.

#6 Bramble

Pleasant; the strength of the Gin is still apparent, but its flavour, in particular its citrus notes, contrasts well with the sweetness of the Creme de Mure. A lovely little drink and a good use of the Gin. A variant of this using Foxdenton’s Blackjack would be interesting.

#7 Gin Fix

A grandfather of a cocktail; quite easy to drink and, although it gives the Gin some warmth, it truly doesn’t do this particular Gin justice.

#8 White Lady

The extra kick provided by the Gin’s 48% strength is nice a change for this drink, making it strong, yet smooth. Whilst this is a less delicate White Lady than most, it certainly makes more of an impression and is therefore strongly recommended.

#9 Gin Sour

This shows off the Gin almost as well as drinking it neat. The Foxdenton’s flavour really comes through: the juniper dominates, and there is a neat marriage between the lemon juice and the Gin’s citrus. A good way to savour the Gin’s characteristics.

#10 Pendennis

Not an outstanding mix, but the various ingredients do produce lots of flavour in a partnership where the Gin still pulls its own.

#11 Aviation

Clean and crisp; a little lemon, with a compliment of juniper at the end. I really liked this drink and think that it makes a very palatable alternative to a Martini. It would be great to try this with some of the newly released Creme Yvette: a floral liqueur that has not been previously available for a few decades.

#12 Milano

This is not a stereotypical Gin cocktail, but it was suggested by a friend. It is a mix of Gin, Galliano and Lemon Juice. This was surprisingly nice and the ingredients all mix well together, the herbs and spice of the Galliano being a pleasant complement to the Gin’s botanicals.

#13 Clover Club

Another delicious combination: the muskiness of the juniper contrasts with the syrup’s sweetness and both balance out the lemon juice. This cocktail gives the Gin its due, is very, very smooth and delightfully moreish.

#14 Alexander

Mrs. B thought this tasted like alcoholic ice-cream and, indeed, it is very tasty, but masks the flavour of the Gin; still, a nice drink.

#15 Dubonet Cocktail

This drink allows the flavours of the Gin to come through and the bitterness of the Dubonet compliments that of the juniper. This is rather different to the other drinks that we tried and showcases the Gin in a different way, but it did make me feel rather hungry and could make a fine aperitif. All in all, it  works well.

#16 Negroni

I have to disclose that I am not a big fan of Campari and so the Negroni is not my usual cocktail of choice, but being a classic Gin cocktail, I thought it should be included. Foxdenton does make one of the better Negronis that I have had, but, although you can taste the Gin, this drink is still dominated by the bitterness of the Campari.

#17 Bronx

Nice and cool, but not a drink that is really to my taste. There is a strong flavour of juniper, but the citrus in the Gin does not work as well with the orange notes in this cocktail as it has done with those of lemon and lime in previous drinks.

#18 Ramos Gin Fizz

Despite how unique and tasty this drink is, you almost wouldn’t know that it had any Gin in it at all. If you wanted to enjoy the various flavours of Foxdenton this is not the best way to do so.

In conclusion, Foxdenton works well in citrus drinks such as the Gin Sour, White Lady and Aviation. It is best enjoyed in a Martini with a twist of lemon and, when mixed with tonic, is well suited to a healthy wedge of lemon as a garnish, but my favourite Foxdenton drink was the Gimlet (although there were some close runners-up).

If you like a Gin with a good strength (both flavour and proof) and are a hearty fan of juniper or citrus cocktails, Foxdenton is something I would strongly recommend you try.

Foxdenton Gin (48%ABV) £23.40 for 70cl
www.foxdentonestate.co.uk

As requested the recipes can be found here.

For more of our Gin Reviews please click here

*Technically the gin is actually made at Thames Distillers in London