So here's the thing - I want to be a person who drinks cocktails.
Not one of those 'Happy-hour-bung-it-all-in-a-glass-with-heaps-of-ice-and-yes-it-will-absolutely-get-you-very-drunk' cocktails (student days were filled with enough of those) and definitely nothing brightly coloured (particularly blue) - it's effortless glamour that I'm yearning for, I know it is.
Think 'The Orient Express' (preferably with no ugly murders). There's mother of pearl, a touch of crushed velvet, a gorgeous cream satin dress cut on the bias and perhaps a cute little fur (fake obviously) jacket to keep off the chill. I am sitting at an exotic bar, where I can marvel at the expertise of a very competent bar tender who never needs to check anything in a recipe book and who uses one of those nifty, short straws to check that he's not forgotten anything important (would I know if he had? Probably not.) There's none of the Tom Cruise fancy antics here, this is about the quest for balance; that sweet spot where the levels of acidity, sweetness and bitterness meld perfectly with the alcohol to create something delicious. Delicious, decadent and, of course, dripping with glamour.
Except I'm at home. And there's dinner to make. And a school run in the morning.
'Learn how to make cocktails' was one of my quarantine goals (driven as much by the fact that the spirits shelf is laden and hardly gets touched, as by my quest for a bit of glamour) but it absolutely did not happen. I made an attempt at one of my favourites, a passion fruit margarita, but it was exceptionally mediocre and required so much effort that all the glamour was sucked out of me and I was just left with a lot of washing up. You see, if I'm going to be that person who can make cocktails, then I want to be able to conjour something elegant and impressive with great aplomb but without a stack of fuss or a sink full of dishes. My dream at-home cocktail needs to be so accessible that I can rustle it up at the drop of a hat and needs to deliver an Orient Express level of glamour without me even leaving the house.
And so, what am I looking for from my at-home cocktail?
- It needs to be simple - and in my world that means that I can hold the recipe in my head and also probably means that it's a variation on something that I already know.
- It shouldn't require any unusual ingredients that I'll never use again - ideally I'd like this to be a 'store cupboard cocktail' (if that isn't a thing, it should definitely become one).
- It must look great and ooze glamour - So let's focus on the things we can easily control like choosing my most gorgeous glass, making sure I have plenty of ice and using garnish with confidence and panache. Crushed velvet is optional.
- It must taste fantastic - no explanation required.
And so, may I introduce you to my Simple Gin and Elderflower Cocktail - my new favourite drink ... there are enough flavours that it warrants being called a cocktail, yet it's simple enough that I can make it at the same time as holding down a conversation. And the killer ingredient? Elderflower cordial - the fruity flavour is balanced perfectly with its sweetness and it's ready mixed in a bottle.
How do you make this Simple Gin and Elderflower Cocktail?
- Choose your favourite glass. There are no rules here - it could be tall, short, a jar, a 'mug', something nostalgic, something fancy. As long as it feels a little bit special to you, then we're all good. The one I use speaks glamorous volumes to me but you get to choose what works for you.
- Measure a double shot of gin (that's my preference but go easy if you prefer) + a single shot of Elderflower Cordial into the glass. I've used a shot measure (single = 25ml, double = 50ml), but you could use a small measuring cup or do it by eye.
- Pile lots of ice into the glass. I am rather fond of an ice scoop (makes me feel like a total pro) but a big spoon does the job equally well.
- Now for the lime... I like my drink to be pretty limey, but adjust as you please. Cut a lime into quarters and squeeze the juice from one quarter into the glass (just using your hand, there's no need for any special equipment). Keep an eye on how much juice comes out, some limes can be very mean and you might need to involve a second quarter.
- Top with tonic water, straight from the fridge.
- Give it a quick stir - I have a teaspoon with a super long handle but a small dessert spoon or even a dinner knife works well.
- Garnish with a wedge of lime (the one you just squeezed if you are being frugal, a fresh untouched one if you're feeling fancy). Add a straw if that's your thing. And there you have it, a Simple Elderflower and Gin Cocktail.
Why am I sure that you'll be a fan of this Simple Gin and Elderflower Cocktail?
Firstly, I'm not inventing something new here. Instead, I'm looking at what I know I already love in the area of cocktails (a gin & tonic) and giving it a bit of pizazz by taking it to the next level with the Elderflower Cordial. And then - and this is what feels important - I'm putting the effort into the occasion, the ritual; this is about creating the moment as much as about drinking the drink. This is me injecting the glamour of a cocktail into my day, without a big fuss.
- You may well be able to make this without doing any shopping at all. I always have tonic water and gin in the house. Having a reliable stock of ice in the freezer has been a bit hit and miss in the past, but since Hella got a taste for iced coffee, the ice tray is more likely to be full than empty.
- There are more likely to be limes in our fruit bowl than anything else - they may be a tad wizened but we can work with that. And then the magic ingredient, Elderflower Cordial ... my new best friend.
- Even if you need to buy Elderflower Cordial, it will keep for ages and you can happily use it to make a refreshing drink with water (particularly sparkling water) at any time of the day.
- There is no special equipment required although a shot measure is a handy addition to your kitchen.
- This is a delicious, fruity, light cocktail - it's more interesting than a G&T but doesn't involve any fuss or drama.
What feels important when trying to capture some glamour from your cocktail?
For me, this is about raising myself out of the day-to-day ...
We all deserve a bit of glamour in our lives and I do love to find those little pockets of everyday glamour, when it's possible to make the mundane a little bit marvelous. For me, this is about raising myself out of the day-to-day, treating myself and taking a moment. Sometimes it's alone time, sometimes it's shared, but it's simple and it's a bit of a refuel. It's personal and we each need to find what works for us, but in the area of cocktails, here's what I think feels important for glamour -
- Choose a good time - you don't want to be rushed or pulled in a million different directions.
- Make this into your own ritual by having a special glass. No need to go out shopping, just take some time to shop your own home and choose something with meaning.
- Use plenty of ice - lukewarm is never glamorous.
- Store your tonic water in the fridge (see above).
- Escape while you enjoy your cocktail - savour it, drinking in the glamour of your moment. And then, when you've enjoyed the last mouthful, get on with the rest of your day, in the knowledge that you created a little pocket of magic for yourself.
Not everyone is going to understand the joy in creating a cocktail that's effectively a jazzed-up fizzy drink, but if it glamourises your day (as it does mine), then take it as an easy win. Thank you Simple Gin and Elderflower Cocktail, I appreciate you. The more of those easy wins that we can find in our lives, then the better it gets. And let's leave the complicated passion fruit margaritas to the professionals.
You're doing great ... xPrint