With London Cocktail Week over for another year, bartenders don’t have long to wait for the Christmas season rush to bring in another huge flurry of fans eager to please their taste buds with the alcoholic fruits of their theatrical flair. However, since we can’t all be talented bartenders, is there a way to have cocktails at home that aren’t a guilty pleasure? Maybe something that makes holiday entertaining a little easier? There certainly is, because the pre-mixed cocktail-in-a-can-or-bottle trend is growing with many companies providing us humble mortals with more ways of enjoying a colourful tipple, while slouched in our comfy armchairs, slippers and TV remote at the ready!
The Fine Cocktail Company has launched in the UK and US as a ‘super premium’ brand in pre-mixed cocktails, made using fresh fruits and natural ingredients and sold in see-through bottles. For company head, Clara Tronêt Guillon, although making a great cocktail requires both expertise and often many ingredients, people still want to offer their guests the real deal without hassle and without compromising on quality. “They have the same demands on the ingredients in cocktails as they have for food, i.e. they should be tasty, natural and fresh.” While the company intends to extend and rotate its range, launching two new flavours per year, they currently produce three cocktails – Gin, Lychee, Elderflower & Ginger; Vodka, Raspberry, Lemongrass & Agave; Whisky, Mango, Mint & Agave. My favourite was the first of these, a refreshing alternative to a straight G&T with just a subtle hint of the aromatic character of lychees and elderflowers. Ice from the freezer, a slice of lemon from the fridge and a sprig of mint from the garden, made this an easy and very satisfying cocktail to enjoy at home!
Another company I recently discovered is Tails Cocktails. With a background in mixing and batching recipes in the bar world, combining London, New York and Amsterdam know-how, they offer convenient cocktail solutions for all in 1 litre multi-serve and 200ml single serve bottles. Additionally, they have another brand, NIXD Cocktails, which is focused more on premium convenience cocktails in cans and sell their NIXD Mojito, as well as a bespoke Tails cocktail to selected airlines. Head of Sales, Nick Anderson, believes that the cocktail culture within the UK has become more mainstream in the last few years, creating a higher demand for these products particularly for ‘on-the-go’ customers. For a classic cocktail in a can, the NIXD Mojito is impressively authentic, has good depth of flavour and could prove popular at music festivals, as well as while traveling or relaxing at home. As an infrequent vodka drinker, I have to say I also really enjoyed Tails Moscow Mule, the combination of ginger beer and Bols Ginger kicking in mid-palate for a spicy 10% ABV delight!
There’s a reason Hochstadter’s Slow & Low, a take on Rock and Rye from Cooper Spirits, comes in such a tiny can – a little goes a long way! There’s no mistaking this for a sugary soda pop. The dry, ginger wallop with the heat and spice of rye whiskey are for mature palates only, especially at 84 proof. Slow and low is the way to sip, especially on the rocks with a lemon or lime twist. Some things were not meant to be rushed and this powerful little gem is one of them. By the way, aside from the single serve 100 mL can, it’s also available in a 750 mL bottle and 375 mL flask.
I’m a huge fan of Fentimans‘ botanically brewed beverages. Established in 1905 by Thomas Fentiman, the company has a proud heritage of brewing natural botanicals to make authentic and top quality drinks using traditional methods. Their bottles are adorned with the distinctive dog’s head logo, representing the founder’s pet dog Fearless, who won awards for obedience at the famous ‘Crufts’ competition in 1933 and 1934. One of their more recent products is Hollows & Fentimans, without doubt my favourite alcoholic ginger beer. Refreshing when served chilled in the summer or the perfect winter warmer if gently heated, this 4% ABV gluten-free beverage should also appeal to anyone who enjoys
drinking ginger-based cocktails. Made with pear juice, which provides a round and fruity mouth feel, Hollows & Fentimans has a clean ginger flavour and a gentle spicy edge without aggressive heat. It may not be a cocktail, but deserves mention here as it’s just so delicious!
…And finally, here’s something completely different…ish! For drivers, teetotalers or those who aren’t in the mood for an alcoholic tipple (do they exist?) but don’t want to feel left out, a new product has just been launched in the UK. Made from natural ingredients and botanicals found in a good quality Gin and Tonic, The Temperance Spirit Company‘s ‘GnT’ has the flavour, but without the alcohol! Served on the rocks with a slice of lemon, lime or cucumber, or used as a base for mocktails, this is a light, refreshing, low calorie option (only 54 calories per 200 mL bottle) for those who need it.
A British freelance food and drink writer who has a WSET Advanced Certificate in Wines and Spirits and is a member of CAMRA (The UK Campaign for Real Ale).
Robin reviews food and drink products for individual companies and he regularly writes reports on trade events, such as wine tastings or food and drink shows.
Additionally, he has written detailed commercial reports for trade publications and many of his articles have been published on respected industry websites, such as the drinks business, Speciality Food Magazine and hostelbookers.
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