Top Tipples: Pinkster Gin

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It’s rapidly heading into gin and tonic season (she says, as though gin and tonic wasn’t an all-year-round drink…), so I’ve been doing my research to discover the best gins, the best tonics, and some great gin-based cocktail recipes, all so I can share them with you. Now, isn’t that generous of me?! Continue reading

Festive Tipples: What To Drink At Christmas Part Two


If you’re a hopelessly retro traditionalist like me, Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without a Snowball or two (or three). I don’t get why people don’t drink this more – it’s light, sherbety, and frothy, and you get to serve it with a maraschino cherry! You can buy packs of ready made Snowballs, or you can mix your own. Take one part Advocaat, three parts lemonade, and add to a glass. Mix in a tiny drop of the maraschino cherry syrup (this is my secret trick), a dash of lime cordial, and top with a toothpick adorned with cherries. Now drink it and make another one right away. Isn’t Christmas telly GREAT?!

Now, I’m sure I’m teaching grandma to suck eggs here, but I only really recently learned the perfect way to make G&T – well, the way I like it, anyway… remember clever Charlie and his recipe for homemade Pimm’s? He makes an excellent gin and tonic.


His secret is to add a third to a quarter of gin to Indian tonic water, then a big squeeze of lemon, plus a nice slice of lime. And ice – that’s important too. To be honest, I’d always missed the importance of these latter three ingredients, but they really do lift the whole thing and make it something special. (And good gin helps – Tanqueray is my favourite, followed by Bombay Sapphire, and Fever Tree tonic is a must!)


Perhaps not traditional at Christmas, but still one of my favourite drinks – Campari! It has a pretty festive colour, don’t you think? Campari is a bitter orange liqueur and the easiest way to drink it is with lemonade, soda water or tonic water.


If you’re hankering after something a bit stronger, try my new favourite cocktail – the Negroni! It packs a heck of punch! Luckily the recipe is simple, so even after you’ve had a couple you should still be able to whip up some more… You just mix equal parts gin, Campari and red vermouth, and serve over ice. Hic!


Finally, there’s a couple of really good sweet dessert wines that are perfect for this time of year – ice wine and Sauternes!


Both are super sweet, thick and syrupy wines perfect for pairing with mince pies, Christmas cake or Christmas pudding. (And Sauternes is delicious served with chicken liver parfait too!)


My favourite Sauternes comes from Fortnum and Mason (and was delivered in my Christmas hamper this year!) but ice wine can be a little trickier to track down. It’s made from grapes which have frozen on the vine, creating a super sweet taste, and is mostly produced in Canada and Germany. Funnily enough, the only place I’ve found it for sale is Lidl – but at £18.99 a bottle, this isn’t a bargain basement deal (and as I said, is absolutely delicious!).

What are your favourite Christmas tipples? Let me know in the comments!

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You’ll Wanna Be In My Gang: The Craft Gin Club

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Can you get more British than a good gin and tonic? Popular in medieval times, and supposedly the liquor behind the saying ‘Dutch courage’, this drink was produced in vast quantities after the government deregulated production in the first half of the 18th century. This so-called Mother’s Ruin was a popular drink amongst the poor, working classes, but its reputation improved somewhat when it was added to tonic water and served in the British colonies. This was to mask the bitter taste of quinine, an anti-malarial compound – and quinine is still used as a flavouring in tonic today.

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If you have a similar enthusiasm for historical methods of preventing malaria, you’ll be thrilled to know you can now join a club for like-minded individuals. The Craft Gin Club is a subscription service (costing £40), delivering new and exciting small batch liquors monthly. You can subscribe for deliveries monthly, bimonthly, or quartley – each delivery costs £40, but if you use the code GINPALS10 and then mention my blog, you can get £10 off!

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As well as a bottle of gin from some of the finest independent distillers around, you also get a copy of Ginned magazine, and some amazing free gifts. This month it ws a bottle of Cornish Orchards’ Elderflower presse, Buttermilk fudge and Cornish seasalt along with a bottle of Southwestern Distillery’s Tarquin’s Rosemary and Thyme gin.

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Opening the Craft Gin Club delivery is an exciting prospect – not the least because Ginned! is a fascinating read, full of new gin cocktail recipes, interviews, and info about the producers of this month’s goodies. There are even savoury recipes, like this month’s roast leg of lamb flatbreads, as well as reviews of gin joints and a crossword! There’s a whole lot packed into a 24 page magazine, and I take my hat off to the club for such an interesting publication!

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One of the recipes I tried was the lethal Death in the Afternoon, which mixed 50ml of Tarquin’s Rosemary and Thyme gin with 10ml Elderflower presse and 5ml lemon juice, served with strawberries and topped up with Prosecco. A heady mixture – make sure your afternoon schedule is clear before imbibing!

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I also tried this gin simply with some ice and tonic – it’s a deliciously savoury gin thanks to the notes of rosemary and thyme, but there’s also a fantastically bright citrus edge and some florals lurking in there too. This bottle went down an absolute treat, and the Craft Gin Club is some serious value for money thanks to the extra goodies you get! (Even more so if you use that GINPALS10 code!) I can’t wait to see what’s coming next month!

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Head on over to www.craftginclub.co.uk to find out more, and to sign up for the club! Monthly deliveries of artisan, small batch gins? Yes, please!

The Craft Gin Club offered me this box for review. All opinions are my own!

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Shaken Cocktails: The Stylish Way to Get Sozzled

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I’m a massive sucker for ‘X of the month’ clubs, recipes, cocktails, gin, and amassing excuses to use a coupe glass. So I think Shaken was actually designed entirely with me in mind – it combines all these things into a monthly delivery designed around  a lead spirit, which always changes and varies from gin, to whisky, to vodka. Inside the box, you get recipe cards for the cocktails, a booklet about the lead spirit, and the ingredients to make the cocktails! All you need to do is get the bar equipment ready and nab some lemons and limes!

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The box I tried was the gin introductory box, and features two cocktails based around Broker’s gin (and the booklet has interesting info about the spirit as well…) The theme is the Prohibition era – think glamour, jazz, Speakeasys, and illicit boozing under cover of darkness and via secret knocks.Inside the kit were the recipe cards and booklet, plus five glass bottles containing 200ml of Brooker’s gin, 30ml of green chartreuse, 60ml of maraschino, 10ml of absinthe and 10ml of creme de violette.

The first cocktail was Aviation, served in a chilled martini glass – a combination of gin, maraschino, creme de violette and lemon juice, stirred with ice. This pretty blue drink has a delicate floral taste like parma violets, backed up by a heady punch courtesy of the Broker’s.

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With the subtle hint of blue and the sweet taste of flowers, this is definitely a feminine drink, but don’t let that fool you! Just like all the most formidable women, it looks pretty but it packs a punch.

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Now let’s move onto Last Word – an exotic and mysterious combination that includes the green fairy herself – a rinse of absinthe! I’d never actually had an absinthe cocktail before, so I was intrigued to try a drink that included a spirit with such an infamous reputation, joining the ranks of absinthe drinkers such as Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, Oscar Wild and Charles Baudelaire. Rest assured, the amount of absinthe in Last Word is nowhere near enough for you to dissolve into the legendary deranged behaviours or hallucinations the myth of the la fee verte would have you believe. Combined with gin, maraschino, green chartreuse and lime juice, the absinthe rinse in Last Word imparts a subtle aniseed flavour to this tart and medicinal tasting drink, which also has hints of liquorice and cherries.

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Each Shaken box has enough ingredients in it to create two cocktails for each recipe, with enough of the main spirit left over for you to try that on its own – so, five bar-strength drinks in all!

If you want to join the monthly subscribers as an Explorers’ Club Member, the cost for each box is £24, including delivery (but I have a money-off code, below!). Each month, you’re emailed ahead of time about that month’s box, and if you prefer, you can swap it out with the gin or whisky introduction boxes. Also, you can cancel any time, and even skip boxes too!

Shaken also has  an online shop with gift certificates, one off boxes and full sized bottles of each box’s lead spirit. Shaken’s Gin, Whisky and Espresso Martini boxes are available at their shop for £29 each – I think these are awesome for a dinner party or gathering! I’m definitely signing up, and I know a certain friend of mine who may well be getting one of these beauties as a gift in the next few months!

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Follow this link to get £10 off your first Shaken box:http://bit.ly/1WS87u7, making it just £14. You can choose from the gin box that I trialled, or the whiskey box, which includes Four Roses Small Batch bourbon, Campari, sweet and dry vermouths and orange bitters to make a Manhattan and Boulevardier. Hmm… I may have to do some more ‘research’ on this one. You know, just to test it out…

Thanks to Shaken for sending me a box to try. All my opinions are my own!

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