The Challenge: Cocktails at Home

We’ve all been adapting to ‘the new normal’ – whether that’s with a new working from home routine, fitness in the garden, heading up the home kitchen, or indeed mixing up something exciting from the drinks cabinet. 

This week, I challenged Ben, our Bar Manager at St Vincent, to see what he could do with this mixed bag. An accumulation of holiday tipples picked up over an untold number of years!

Let’s see what he’s come up with.

Over to you, Ben…

 

 

White Lady

This is an absolute classic, refined at The American Bar at The Savoy in the 1920s and 30s. It’s still just as popular in the ‘World’s Best Bar’ today.

INGREDIENTS:

1 part Cointreau (20ml recommended)
2 parts gin
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp sugar (or ½ part syrup)
Egg white (optional)

METHOD:

To make it you need to mix or shake these ingredients quickly, preferably with ice. You could do this in a cocktail shaker, but if you don’t have one use a blender, protein shaker or a Tupperware box with a lid.

Add all of the ingredients and shake for around 30 seconds or blend for around 10 seconds. Then strain or sieve the drink into a glass to remove any shards of ice left from the shaking or blending. Drink straight up, without any ice the glass.

You can use any sugar you have in (white, granulated works best) or make a quick simple syrup (1 part sugar to 1 part water in a saucepan over a medium heat and stir until all the sugar has dissolved). You also have the option to add the white of 1 egg to the recipe. This won’t alter the flavour, but will give the drink a lovely, silky texture.

 

Cherry Twisted Negroni

A beautiful drink to sip in the late afternoon sun and really straightforward to make.

INGREDIENTS:

1 part Amaro Montenegro (20ml recommended)
1 part Schlanderer Kirschwasser (cherry brandy)
1.5 parts gin

METHOD:

Simply add all of the ingredients to a short glass with lots of ice. Give it a quick stir for 15 to 20 seconds and it’s ready. This is fantastic with a nice, chunky wedge of orange as a garnish. If you find it too strong, just give it another stir to dilute the drink some more.

 

Armagnac Sidecar (3 Ways)

A sidecar is classically made using Cognac and is a great drink for later in the evening. Here, we’re going to use Armagnac instead of Cognac – and I’ve given a few variations for something a bit different. Some people like to serve a Sidecar with a sugar rim on the glass – it’s completely your preference – the drink is delicious either way.

INGREDIENTS:

1 part Cointreau, Schlanderer Williams Birne (pear brandy) or Aprikosengeist (apricot brandy) (20ml recommended)
1.5 parts Armagnac
Juice of half a lemon

METHOD:

To make a more traditional Sidecar recipe, add the Armagnac, Cointreau and lemon juice to a cocktail shaker, protein shaker or Tupperware box with a good amount of ice. Shake it vigorously for around 30 seconds until the drink is nicely chilled and diluted. Then, if you like, you can rim your glass with sugar (a glass with a stem is great, but a shorter glass or even a wine glass will work well). To do this, tip a small amount of sugar on to a plate. Then slowly rub the rim of the glass in the sugar until you have a nice coating of sugar all the way around the rim. If you’re struggling to get the sugar to stick then you can rub a lemon wedge around the rim of the glass before dipping it in the sugar.

Now, strain or sieve the drink into your glass without ice and enjoy. If you like you can garnish with a twist of lemon or orange. Take a long, narrow strip of peel and carefully twist it around the handle of a spoon and then drop it into the drink.

Alternatively, Armagnac works very well with both pear and apricot so, if you want something a bit different, replace the Cointreau with the Schlanderer Williams Birne or Aprikosengeist. You may need to use a little less than you would when making the drink with Cointreau and you could add a touch of sugar if you wish.

 

Share your own lockdown cocktail creations on social media using the hashtag, #21LockdownChallenge.

A Day in the Life of… St Vincent Manager, Matt Clarkson

How I’m staying safe and keeping motivated at home during lockdown…

 

 

I GET UP ON A MORNING FOR… The kids, usually much earlier than I would ideally like. Then coffee…

 

BREAKFAST IS… When Nina’s going to work, usually a smoothie with any fruit that might be just past its best. Freezing peeled bananas then popping one of them whole into the blender works a treat. If Nina’s off, for a treat I knock up baked eggs with spiced tomato sauce and loads of toast to dip in, the kids love it.

 

TO STAY ACTIVE, I… Try to go for a walk every couple of days. One of the kids is usually strapped to me and the other in the pushchair as we try to hit a few big hills. I also do 100 press-ups twice a week just to keep the muscles interested.

 

TO UNWIND, I… Try to pick up the guitar if I get the chance. We’ve also just got this acupuncture mat with thousands of needle-sharp spikes on it resembling a bed of nails. The ancients believed it assisted in increased levels of relaxation and meditation… it’s great for back pain, too. I try to have a session on it a couple of times a week. It’s pretty painful, but I have fallen asleep on it a few times

 

I’M WATCHING… Gangs of London… it’s brutal and so addictive. Watch it!

 

I’M READING… A book called Cosa Nostra, which is a sinister insight into the revered Sicilian Mafia.

 

I’M LISTENING TO… A lot of upbeat rock at the moment. After tea every night, me and the girls have 20 minutes with it blasting to burn off any remaining energy before bed. Other tunes like: Just A Day by Feeder, Girl From Mars by Ash, The Passenger by Iggy Pop and a guilty pleasure… Paradise By The Dashboard Light by Meatloaf.

 

SOMEWHERE I’D RATHER BE… Currently, nowhere! Life moves too fast. We should be able to appreciate this downtime and keep everyone safe. I’m sure I’ll never have another opportunity to spend everyday at home with the kids.

 

THREE TOP TIPS FOR STAYING AT HOME…

Plan your meals – It’s not easy cooking all of the time, so if you can plan ahead and make a bit extra and freeze some, it takes the pressure off later in the week.

Keep busy – It’s a real opportunity to get on top of all of those little jobs around the house and garden that you normally just don’t have time for. I usually tick things off my list and somehow my list keeps getting bigger and bigger!

Stay in touch – Obviously we can’t meet each other in person, but using things like WhatsApp and Zoom are becoming the new norm. We’ve had a couple of St. V get togethers, a pub quiz and far too many drinks one night.

I know this is number four, but allowing for some alone time is vital. No phone, no TV, no kids etc… just time to think, relax and appreciate everything you have. I also find myself thinking of everywhere I want to go for my next holiday and where I next want to eat… whenever that may be.

 

DURING LOCKDOWN, I HAVE LEARNT… To appreciate what I have and also that parenting two kids under 4-years-old, three days a week, is no walk in the park!

 

QUOTE OF THE DAY… “#stayhome.”