Cocktails! We tend to have a vision of summer evenings, flowery dresses, sipping colourful libations in some place exotic. But for those of us who live far from the equator those days of balmy bliss only happen by during our short summer months, and even then there are no guarantees!
But we still crave mixed drinks with complex flavours and a richness that’s appropriate for cooler weather, log fires (if we are lucky) and old-fashioned conviviality. This book offers suggestions for those cocktails that make a snow flurry a welcome sight and an invitation to mull some wine.
Winter cocktails – mulled ciders, hot toddies, punches, pitchers and cocktail party snacks, to give the full title, presents a wealth of recipes that include the traditional steaming pans of spiced red wine and the fluffy eggnog for Christmas. It has a collection of classic cocktails that are served at room temperature or with ice. It’s not just the temperature of the drink that makes it wintery, but the balance of alcohols and mixers that create warmth.
As to that mulled wine: yes, it is here and rightly so, but there is also a glinting white wine version with herbs and pear eau-de-vie. There is the aforementioned traditional Eggnog, velvety and synonymous with holiday, but Butterscotch Eggnog will shortly be putting in an appearance chez nous. This has the added dimension of caramel notes, and the garnish of sea salt makes this a thoroughly contemporary beverage.
Irish coffee is less often seen on restaurant menus, and Irish Coffee glasses have gone the way of fondue sets – the back of that top kitchen cupboard. But this became popular for a very good reason: it’s delicious! Everyone will insist they know what constitutes an Irish Coffee. ‘Well, it’s coffee and whisky isn’t it?’ No, it’s not. It’s coffee and IRISH WHISKEY. The Irish spirit is spelt differently and has a distinctive flavour. I dislike Scotch but I can savour a tot of Irish – the difference is that marked. Do try this, even if you only have a regular glass tumbler in which to serve it.
My pick-of-the-book is a Bloody Good Punch, which is indeed a bloody good punch. This is potent with bourbon, amaretto and champagne along with Blood Orange Sour Mix, the recipe for which is listed within these pages. OK, the fact that this contains fruit might salve the conscience, but the best policy is to just enjoy this for its taste, and drink with moderation.
Winter Cocktails is a unique collection of stylish mixed drinks that might help those long dark nights pass with a bit of a swing. A delightful book that will be coveted by any budding Barista.
Author: Maria del Mar Sacasa
Published by: Quirk Books
Cocktail recipe book review by Chrissie Walker © 2018