When we flung open the MoM shutters this morning we were greeted with the sound of birds chirping and children playing as blissful sunshine poured into the room.
We’ve earned this summer, having had the coldest winter for 31 years! Just imagine our chagrin last year, when the Met Office promised us a “barbecue summer” and instead we were given drizzle, and lots of it.
Positive Weather Solutions (who have been a tad more reliable than the Met Office and have a pleasingly optimistic name) have predicted Summer 2010 to be a record breaker, with a good chance of temperatures exceeding 2003’s high of 38.5C. This is good news indeed.
In true British style we’re readying ourselves by pulling down old pairs of shorts from the wardrobe, dusting off our sunglasses and counting our proverbial chickens. We thought it might be time, too, to give the drinks cabinet the once over, and mention a few of our Summer favourites - long, refreshing drinks to cool you off on a hot afternoon.
First up is everyone’s favourite and a true classic: The Mojito. It was born out of necessity as earlier rums were so harsh and spirituous that additional flavours had to be added to improve the taste. The 16th Century concoction, El Draque (named after Sir Francis Drake) seems to be the great grandfather of the Mojito, made with aguardiente instead of rum (aguardiente is a primitive cane spirit whose name literally translates as “fire water” – refreshing!).
Traditionally, a Mojito is made with white rum, but it works brilliantly with dark rum too. With Spiced Rum the drink is often called a “dirty Mojito”, and that’s our favourite, best made with Sailor Jerry, based on lime and vanilla flavours, or Foursquare - a superlative Bajan spiced rum with nutmeg, vanilla and cinnamon.
To make this Cuban concoction, take a handful of mint leaves, juice from a whole lime and a couple of sugar cubes, and “muddle” them together in a tall glass (use a rolling pin or a wooden spoon and work the leaves together to release the essential oils.) Add a good double measure of rum, fill the glass with ice and stir before topping it off with soda water. Add a straw and a sprig of mint for garnish and relax – think of yourself as Ernest Hemingway, chillaxing in la Bodeguita bar in Havana.
Being a whisky retailer, we had better mention a refreshing whisky drink! Without doubt the simplest has to be the Mizuwari (it’s also tremendously refreshing). A Mizuwari is a classic Japanese drink originally made with Shochu (a Japanese spirit distilled from barley, rice or potatoes). The whisky Mizuwari has become very popular in recent years, and is simply made by filling a tall glass with ice, adding a large measure of whisky and topping it off with still water.
For a classic Mizuwari you might like to try it with Yamazaki 10 Year Old, a fruity, floral single malt aged in bourbon barrels or, if you prefer Scotch, and keeping within the floral, fruity style, you could use a young Speyside malt, like Glenfiddich 12 or Balvenie DoubleWood.
The tanginess of citrus really brings a beautiful dimension to many a drink and whilst we love a good G&T, we can’t deny that a Tom Collins is one of the best gin cocktails. Especially good for heat so stifling that only mad dogs and Englishmen dare brave it.
A Tom Collins is a classic American libation, made with a double measure of gin, fresh lemon juice and a little sugar, mixed in a tall glass with ice and topped off with soda water. It’s as simple as that and is good for relaxed deck chair-based reclining, after a little lawn mowing. Works great with Blackwoods Premium strength - a crisp and citrussy gin, or perhaps, for something spicier, Beefeater London Dry.
Funnily enough, there was never actually anyone called Tom Collins. Nope, it was a hoax - a sort of Brass Eye style practical joke perpetrated on 19th Century Pennsylvanians, and it was dubbed “The Great Tom Collins Hoax of 1874”.
To try this at home you have to approach someone and ask them “have you seen Tom Collins?” The prankee (opposite of prankor) will respond that no, they have not seen him. As a prankor you continue “well he’s been talking about you.” You keep at this until the prankee is broken and dissolute. Ouch…
In 1874, the jape continued to the point that even newspapers of the time got in on the act, printing articles with alleged sightings of Tom Collins. We can be honest now; it’s not a very good prank, it’s just slightly annoying. But the drink is delicious.
- The Chaps at Master of Malt -