THESE ARE THE BOTTLES THAT WILL SET YOUR BAR APART FROM EVERYONE ELSE’S
Now that you have your ‘grown-up’ vermouths and bitters, there is no shame in experimenting with something fruity, or just a little bit unusual. Supermarket shelves are lined with sugar-packed, syrupy and artificial liqueurs that have no right to be mixed with your premium gin. Britain (though I won’t disregard Italy) is leading the charge on producing some wonderful, authentic liqueurs using only natural ingredients and small batch methods. Get your hands on something fruity, citrusy, or different to complete your home bar.
HERE ARE MY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR SOMETHING FRUITY, CITRUSY, AND DIFFERENT
Brits are no longer cooking their hedgerow fruits into crumbles and pies. Instead, they are producing some gorgeous fruity liqueurs that rival the French classics. Pink drinks will soon become an unadulterated pleasure once you put your lips to a Pink Lady, or find yourself lost in a Bramble. White Heron’s British Cassis is a rich blackcurrant liqueur with just hint of sharp acidity. I find it far lighter and more versatile in cocktails than its almost ‘claggy’, French counterpart. White Heron also make a stunning British Framboise, which is a much sweeter raspberry liqueur bursting with fruity freshness.
A good starting recipe for experimenting with your own gin cocktails is 2 parts gin, 1 part liqueur, 1 part citrus juice, 1 part sugar syrup. Shake.
Fruity doesn’t always mean pink and sticky. Wardington’s Triplecello is a drier and less syrupy take on the famous Italian digestivo. Made with lemons, oranges, and pink grapefruit, this zesty liqueur explodes with fresh, zingy complexity. Orange liqueurs are arguably the original citrus liqueur. Classic cocktail recipes regularly call for Cointreau or Triple sec. However, if you can source a bottle of Fortunella Golden Orange Liqueur you can revolutionise your Quarantini or White Lady. This British liqueur is made with hand peeled Chinese kumquats in London. Its relatively low sugar content means the flavour is full of bright vitality.
Citrus liqueurs can add sharpness to otherwise dry cocktails (eg French 75), or cut through the floral notes of gin or sparkling wine. Experiment by substituting lemon juice and sugar for Triplecello to create a cocktail with real bite!
The Liqueurs of Kings
Now let’s really surprise your taste-buds. The King’s Ginger is an interesting ginger liqueur specially commissioned for King Edward VII in 1903. This warming, intense liqueur pairs amazingly with Spiced or Pink gin, and can create some intriguing cocktails (King’s Cup). But, if a British King isn’t good enough for you, how about an Italian? Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto, which follows a traditional recipe from the 1800s, is known in Italy as ‘Aperitivo Di Corte’ – ‘The Drink of Kings’. Italicus is bergamot liqueur which pairs charmingly with floral or citrus gins and comes in a stunning cyan bottle. Try this in an Italicus Negroni, or mix into a bubbly Spritz for the taste of Italian royalty.