Let’s be honest, one of the best bits of being on holiday is getting to try ALL the local cocktails, am I right? When the lovely bunch at Travel Republic asked me to contribute to their cocktail-themed travel guide – packed with information about destinations and their signature cocktails – I was happy to oblige and I knew exactly which city (and cocktail) to champion. Mr E and I absolutely love Paris, and to us, the French 75 (or soixante quinze) is synonymous with our favourite destination: chic, stylish, and just a little bit outré. It’s Paris to a T. Here’s how we make our perfect French 75 cocktail at home.
There aren’t many prettier towns than Marlow, right next to the River Thames in Buckinghamshire. We spent a sunny morning wandering the shops (Sweaty Betty, Fat Face, a massive Jigsaw, Whistles, Mint Velvet, and loads of stylish independent boutiques and shops) down to the river, and then – all set to walk along the river’s edge for a while – the sky suddenly got really dark and fat blobs of rain started splashing on us. Ah well, instead we headed to West Street, to try the bottomless brunch at The Botanist, a pretty, quirky bar and restaurant on West Street. The front window completely rolls back, so when the sun finally came out again, it was a lovely spot to sit, sip a cocktail and watch the world go by while waiting for our table.
As far as I’m concerned, a visit to Walt Disney World isn’t complete without a trip to Disney Springs. Every time you go, there are new shops to explore, new restaurants to try and new cocktails to sip! Most of the venues at this brand new shopping, dining and entertainment hug are now open and the whole area is looking absolutely gorgeous. Here’s all you need to know about Disney Springs.
I adore my Dad. I love it when he emails me ALL IN CAPITALS and rings me and updates me on what he’s been up to, which seems to be mostly falling over, or sleeping:
‘I’ve just had a nap’
‘Dad, it’s 9am’
‘I know, but I got up at 5 and I get tired’
And I love his outlook on life:
‘I’ve been saving £200 a month. And then I said to myself ‘Alan, you’re 80 years old, what on earth can you possibly be saving for?’
Today, he rang to complain about the raspberry thieves. It seems the birds are eating all his raspberries. He’s hung CDs above them, to frighten them off (I should imagine Elaine Paige’s Christmas album would be enough to deter most of them), added netting and fake birds of prey, but still they come. Now, thwarted by all the aerial fortifications, they’ve taken to just tootling up the path and eating the low ones.
Anyway, he’s got far too many raspberries, and even though he doesn’t want to share them with the birds (‘I don’t grow raspberries to feed the local bloody bird population’), he’s quite happy to share them with us, so Sam I and I popped round to help him pick some.
His garden is absolutely beautiful, and while we were having a chat and playing with Alfie (well, Sam was having a chat and playing with Alfie and I was actually doing all the work picking raspberries), I started thinking about raspberry cocktails. With mint, and maybe other summery, garden-based things like roses. It just so happens that we got sent some elderflower and rose cordial recently so I decided to experiment.
To make it extra special, I froze some rose petals and raspberries in ice cubes to decorate.
Summer rose and raspberry cocktails:
5 or 6 raspberries per person
2 or 3 fresh mint leaves per glass
1 measure gin
A dash of elderflower and rose cordial (just elderflower is fine if you can’t find it – mine is by Belvoir)
Sparkling water or soda
So just muddle the raspberries and mint leaves in the glass, then add the gin, elderflower and rose cordial, and then top up with sparkling water.
Delicious! It’s his birthday next week so the boys and I are going to take him for a pub lunch. More shenanigans will ensue, no doubt. Cheers Dad 🙂
There are now just nine weeks until Christmas (sorry). I wouldn’t normally be bandying the C word about so early, but in this instance, it’s necessary – if you want to make sloe gin, you need to do it now. Sloes (sometimes called Blackthorn berries) are perfect right now, although there’s a school of thought that says they’re better after the first frost and I couldn’t honestly tell you if there’s been a frost yet. I’d say not as it’s been a really mild start to October. No matter, pick them and shove them in the freezer overnight. It does the same thing.
I’ve noticed that I’ve been a bit remiss with the cocktails of late. And well, you know me, it’s not because I’ve not been DRINKING them, oh no, it’s just because I usually drink too many and then forget to take a photo!
This particular Bloody Mary (left) was served to my friend Laura and I at the Cassis American Brassierie in St Pete’s, Florida.
It came on the morning after the night before which featured far too many Lycheetinis, some very bad karaoke and a 3am finish. Followed by a very fuzzy 7am start.
Reader, we were hanging.
Happily, the Cassis came to our aid and medicated us back to reality with this incredible glass of hair of the dog. Plus a big huge durty burger about the size of our heads. They also provided oysters. They didn’t go down quite as well.
The Perfect Blooody Mary
The best Bloody Marys are strong. I”m talking 1/3 vodka to 2/3 tomato juice strong, but if you like, you can tone it down.
Start with a full cup of ice, pour over the vodka (any old vodka will do but if you can find Absolut Peppar it adds a welcome kick), then top up with tomato juice (Waitrose pressed tomato juice is good, so is V8 juice)
Then you want a nice couple of slugs of Worcestershire Sauce, and a few dashes of Tabasco for heat. We go for about half Tabasco to Worcestershire, but adjust to taste.
Some people add horseradish but I HATE the stuff. Feel free, though, if you’re that way inclined.
Now for the accoutrements. You can stick any old stuff in there really: the traditional ones being sticks of celery, but olives are good too. Maybe a wedge of lime.
Finish with a nice sprinkling of celery salt and you’re good to go. If you’re being posh, you can freeze the glasses, then run a lime around the rim and dip them in celery salt. But sprinkling is fine too. Serve, preferably with a huge plate of bacon and eggs, maybe a stack of pancakes too… but that’s just me.
So being a bit of an Ebay-addicted household, lovely Ciaran the postie is well used to being mugged at the door of English Towers by eager parcel recipients. Friday was no exception, then, when my copy of Merry Kitschmas, The Ultimate Holiday Handbook by Michael D Conway finally arrived. I’ve been looking for it for ages after glimpsing it on the shelf behind someone on some tv programme or other (it might even have been a Nigella programme – I can’t remember now).
This treasure trove of the cheap and tacky is exactly what Christmas should be about. I mean, how did people survive Christmas before Michael Conway taught them how to make a Frosty the Chocoholic Snowman cocktail (above left) or a Santa’s Little Helper (above right). The one in the middle, in case you’re interested, is a Chocolate Candy Cane (1 part grenadine, one part peppermint vodka and one part Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur – garnished with a chocolate-dipped candy cane).
And for your festive food, how about a Weener Tree? It’s perfect for your Kitschmas cocktail party. Or why not decorate the table with an enormous styrofoam snowman (completely covered in white mini marshmallows) and on Christmas night, hang the Manipulative Parent’s Reversible Stocking on the mantelpiece: on one side it says ‘nice’ and on the other it says ‘naughty’. Threaten to hang it ‘naughty’ side out unless they do everything you say this Christmas.
And let’s face it: any recipe that starts with ‘3 x 3oz boxes sparkling white grape-flavoured gelatin’ gets my vote. So come on, spray that fake aerosol snow on your windows, crank up the wattage on the flashing Rudolph on your front lawn and be lavish with the tinsel. Celebrate your inner trailer trash. What? It’s Christmas.
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