Without wanting to run the risk of sounding like some sort of lush I have to admit to loving wine, cocktails and the two combined. For many years Kir Royals, Sangrias, Spritzs and Belini have been popular but I believe we’re about to see a new resurgence and greater choice in wine based cocktails.
At best your first thoughts of mixing wine with spirit might make you think of the already mentioned Sangrias and Spritzs, nice but not anything new. At worst it is suppressed memories of the bad hangovers you had when you raided your parents’ drinks cabinet, drinking from half empty bottles of whatever was left over. If however you are a bartender with a sense of adventure and willing to experiment then you can add all sorts of wonderful, flavours and aromas to your cocktail list. When wine is used as a cocktail ingredient and not just the base then your options really start to open up. The huge variety of wines available means that you are only limited by the pairing that you can come up with. Wine can enhance and complement almost any flavour that you are looking for. Are you looking to add a jammy fruit, may be some oaky smokiness, or wanting to add depth in terms of tannin; well then, like with many things in life, wine is the answer.
Summer drinking is all about sipping something cool while enjoying a few happy rays. Sitting with on a terrace outside a restaurant with a wine cocktail and a good meal accompanied by great friends is one of life’s great pleasures. Wine cocktails are often lighter and more refreshing than many traditional alcoholic drinks, which makes them ideal for long leisurely sunny summer afternoons. They are also often easier to pair with food and a great way to start a meal.
Most wine cocktails use a chilled base of perhaps rosé, Champagne or Prosecco, but this is not always the case and in our new cocktail list we’ve a new mini menu of special wine cocktails. La Vie En Rose is perhaps our most traditional combining the lovely scent and fresh vivacious tangy flavour of rosé wine with our own house infused rose vodka. It pairs beautifully with Oliver’s fabulous seafood, salads and charcuterie. Our Sangria Sunshine is a twist on Sangria with our own house made Sangria Shrub and a classic Italian Soave by Bertani. We’ve taken inspiration from Greece with our Pining For Attica using Retsina combined with fabulous organic juniper, angelica, fresh lime peel, bay laurel, cardamom, red raspberry leaf and honey notes from the Battersea-based fabulous Dodd’s gin. This drink has sweetness, but with a slightly bitter a finish. It’s what I like to call a proper drink, with a bit of a kick that will keep you happy. With Little Old Lisbon, as you’d expect we’ve travelled to the Douro River in Portugal where we’ve chosen port from one of the oldest Quinta’s, Quinta Do Crasto. We have added some of our own wine syrup made using Pinot Noir and red grape juice and then perhaps not to be expected paired it with a trip to Kentucky using Wild Turkey Rye whiskey to create a twist on the Old Fashioned.
Our bar team are very picky when it comes to choosing cocktails for our featured lists and the last one to make the cut is Blanc Canvas, a tall summer drink characterised by the sweetness of the mango, the brightness and evergreen notes of the Lillet Blanc and the refreshing acidity and minerality of the Chenin blanc.
Why limit yourself to pouring wine straight from the bottle. Join us and share a few of our bar team’s wine cocktails on our terrace this summer.
Photos by Simon Burrell