TV producer and food and drink writer Andy Clarke shares four special summer cocktail creations

Just when you thought lockdown couldn’t get any more surreal, England shifted into more of a ‘sort-of’ lockdown which allows us to see one person outside of our household at a two-metre distance, and allows MPs to go wherever they want while we all tut at people off to the beach.

In many ways, I feel even more confused than before. Meanwhile, Scotland and Wales remain ‘as they were’ and the news coverage completely forgets that Ireland (both the north and the republic) actually exists at all.

I’m a food and travel TV producer, food and drink writer and event host, so all my work has dried up – I mean, ‘been postponed’ – and all in all, like many freelancers, people who own their own businesses and furloughed employees, I feel a bit useless at the moment.

I often think ‘what can I do to help others?’ The most I can do, day to day, is stay at home and keep my distance from others – but as a tactile person, I find that hard! Thank goodness we live in the age of the video call. People can’t get away from me that easily…

One thing I love to do is to put smiles on people’s faces, whether it’s by posting my naked selfies in the garden on social media or encouraging people to look on the bright side, even in odd times like these.

If I can encourage happiness, this, in turn, makes me feel positive too, so I am keen to engage my enthusiastic palate to give you some drink suggestions for sipping from home during this unusual time.

And more importantly I want to encourage people to #siphappy. Don’t drink to numb the pain, to forget or to get depressed… Drink to celebrate life and enjoy. So, I figured a few cocktail recipes to make us all smile might be nice.

Andy’s sunny garden selfies have proved a hit during lockdown – prompting calls to create a calendar

OK, the early summer bank holidays may have been and gone, but what’s a bank holiday, when you’re furloughed?! We don’t need official days off to imbibe like we’re on holiday – we can do what we want (within the rules) and if you’re not getting behind the wheel of your car in order to test your eyesight, why not enjoy a bevvy?

So, let’s #siphappy and pretend we’re on our hols.

Andy’s 2020 Cocktail Favourites

Many citrus-based fizzy cocktails use sugar syrup, but using retro Asti means you avoid having to make any syrup

1) Lemondrop Fizz
I love citrus! And lemon gives you that summer feeling whatever time of year it happens to be. I’ve come across many citrus-based fizzy cocktails, most of which use sugar syrup, but by using my retro hidden gem (a northern Italian fizz called Asti) you avoid having to make the syrup.

The drink is also super-simple to make as it contains only three ingredients. And it’s THE BEST way to enjoy a relaxed lockdown sun-session on the patio. All decorated with lemon verbena or lemon balm.

I use Broken Clock Vodka from Cheshire as its lingering grassy and appley notes are perfect with the acidity of the lemon juice. And yes, it’s made using actual English apples!

Ingredients (1 jug makes 6 servings)

1 bottle of Asti (75cl)
300ml vodka
The juice of 3 lemons
A handful of ice
Lemon verbena or lemon balm (for garnish)

Put the ice into a large serving jug. Juice the lemons. Pour the vodka into the jug and add the lemon juice. (I don’t filter the lemon juice as I love the fleshy bits!)

Open the Asti and gently add to the mix, so it doesn’t froth up too much. Gently stir and pour into Champagne flutes.

Decorate with sprigs of lemon verbena or lemon balm, but if you can’t find any, a sprig of tarragon can be a lovely addition.

A standard Cosmo is a great drink, but the added magic of clementine juice takes it to the next level

2) Clementine Kiss Cosmo
This is a twist on one of my favourite cocktails: the Cosmopolitan, which reminds me of trips to New York for both business and pleasure. I think there’s a Sex & The City character in all of us (but that’s a different article!) And by making this, I believe we can celebrate our frustrated traveller.

A standard Cosmo is a great drink, but the added magic of clementine juice takes it to the next level. Whether you’re self-isolating, between shifts or looking at photos from holidays past (…what’s a holiday?!) you can sip this and feel like the star you are.

The pepperiness of Chapel Down Vodka from Kent, made by the famous winemakers, is great for this as it has the peppery kick you need to go with all that fruit. And here’s a tip: don’t worry about juicing clementines as M&S sell freshly squeezed clementine juice and it is divine – it’s also great in a Bucks Fizz. But do track it down – it’s oodles better than orange juice.

Ingredients for two cocktails (in one shaker)

 

60ml Cointreau
120ml vodka
40ml cranberry juice drink
40ml clementine juice
Juice of two limes
A handful of ice
2 slices of clementine

Method
Put the ice into the shaker. Add all liquid into the shaker and shake for 20 seconds until the shaker is cold to touch.

Strain into martini glasses and garnish with a thin disc of clementine (it could be gently oven dried if you have time).

If you’d like a salty rim on your ‘Surf’s Up’ Mary, go for it – but it’s not for everybody!

3) The ‘Surf’s Up’ Mary
The Bloody Mary has long been associated with getting up with a hangover… And when you’re on holiday, it’s worth getting up with that first cocktail in mind! But I love one at any time of day. With all that tomato juice it’s just like having a soup or a gazpacho, surely?

The reason I’ve called this ‘Surf’s Up’ is because it’s made with Aloha 65 Hot Sauce – a delicious blend of white wine vinegar, lemon juice, coriander, scotch bonnet chili and Aloha 65, a spirit made by an ex-pat British barman with the intention of luring surfers to his beach bar. But currently, who needs a beach? Or the ocean? It’s the spirit that’s in your head (and your glass) that counts…

And if anything’s going to encourage you to get into bracing water… this drink is! (But drink responsibly before exercise, obvs.)

Ingredients for two cocktails (in one shaker)

120ml vodka (Broken Clock or a zesty, fruity one preferably)
240ml tomato juice
5 shakes of Aloha 65 Hot Sauce
2 shakes of Worcestershire sauce
Juice of half a lemon
A handful of ice
2 twists of freshly ground black pepper
A slice of cucumber to garnish

Method
Put the ice in the shaker. Juice the lemon and add to the shaker. Put all other ingredients (other than the black pepper) into the shaker and shake for 20 seconds until the shaker is cold to touch.

Pour into a tall glass and grind the pepper on top. Garnish with a disc of cucumber on the side of the glass. If you’d like a salty rim, be my guest… But it’s not for everybody!

How does freshly brewed espresso, vodka, Kahlua, hazelnut syrup and hot sauce, garnished with caramelised dried chili flakes, grab you?

4) The Birdseye Espresso
Working on the same idea as that warming sensation of biting into a smooth piece of chili-infused chocolate, I came up with this idea while filming at Avery Island in Louisiana – the home of tabasco sauce.

The drink contains freshly brewed espresso, vodka, Kahlua, hazelnut syrup and hot sauce and is garnished with a bird’s eye chili and caramelised dried chili flakes.

For this recipe, I used Peruvian Femenino coffee from Bristolian-based coffee masters Wogan Coffee, which is delicious, smooth and perfect with the hit of heat and the nutty underlying hazelnut.

Ingredients for two cocktails (in one shaker)

100ml vodka (Chapel Down or a peppery one preferably)
50ml freshly brewed espresso / Femenino coffee
50ml coffee Kahlua
2 tablespoons hazelnut syrup
4 shakes of tabasco sauce
A handful of ice
A pinch of dried red chili flakes (for garnish)
A pinch of icing sugar (for garnish)

Method
In a bowl, coat dried red chili flakes with icing sugar and add to a hot pan. Let the sugar caramelise around the chili flakes and take the pan off the heat. Once cooled, loosen from the pan and set aside.

Put the ice and all liquid ingredients into a shaker. Shake for 20 seconds until the shaker is cold to touch and then strain into a martini glass.

Decorate with a sprinkling of the caramelised chilli flakes and serve.

Join Andy and chef Jan Ostle of Wilson’s restaurant on Fridays at 7pm on Instagram Live for their food box cookalongs. Read more of Andy’s drinks recommendations here.

TV producer, food and drink writer and event host, Andy’s TV producing credits include Saturday Kitchen Live, Gordon, Gino & Fred: Road Trip and James Martin’s Saturday Morning. Andy is also a member of the Guild of Food Writers.

Cheers!

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