Call it what you want: escapism, indulgence, recklessness, a waste of money, fun, good times…. all of that and more. Whatever your stance, I love a well-made drink. There is nothing like a beverage that has time, love, skill and passion infused into the making of. From the long-term dedication of a winemaker or beer brewer, to the creativity of a barista or cocktail mixologist, they all have one thing in common: the enjoyment of making something delectable and unique for our drinking pleasure.
With every change of season, I am on the hunt for that seasons definitive drink. Something new, something I get to learn about and something I get to share. My level of interest may well be weird to some, but not to this hospitality lover. I call it “broadening my horizons”; developing my craft. If I want to be a great hostess, then I need to make sure I have done the research.
So, with the changing of seasons, the research is done and these are my picks for the coming summer:
Good Morning Sweet Thai Bellini (Serves 8-10)
The best parts of history have a way of staying in style. Just like the Bellini, an Italian creation that is known, loved and enjoyed all over the world. In this recipe, the timeless classic has a 21st century update. What a way to welcome your guests at your Christmas champagne breakfast!
1 bunch Thai basil leaves (keep the stems)
120g peeled and sliced ginger
1 cup caster sugar
1 cup peach schnapps
4 cups of peach nectar
4 peaches, thinly sliced
Place the basil stems, ginger, sugar, and 1 cup water in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir together for 2-3 minutes until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5-8 min. You want the liquid to be reduced by half. Cover and chilli. This can be made the day before.
Place the basil syrup, schnapps and peach nectar in a 4L pitcher. Stir to combine. Top with peach slices, basil leaves and ice. Serve in a coupe glass topped with Prosecco. Sit back, relax and celebrate the silly season for a drink or two.
BBQs and White Summer Sangria
This is a must have during the warm months. You can disagree, but I find there is such a thing as too much wine. That doesn’t mean I want to stop drinking it; my tastebuds just need a change of pace. Which is why I love sangria! Refreshing, great for groups, impeccably elegant and super easy to make. Just be sure you have more than one bottle of Pinot Gris in the cupboard. One jug is never enough.
750ml Spy Valley Pinot Gris
90ml Stolen white rum
30ml St Germain Elderflower Liqueur
30ml Pear brandy
Slices of pear, apple and cucumber
Use a 1 litre jug and half fill it with ice. Add all the liquid ingredients. Stir. Add the slices of pear, apple and cucumber and gently stir through. Best enjoyed with good friends and great food. Add this recipe to your shopping list the next time you’re organising a BBQ!
Perfect for the Christmas Table: A very special Rosé
‘Home’ Rosé from Black Estate in Waipara is a firm favourite in my home, and I’m certain it will quickly become yours, too. A blend of four varietals, all from the home vineyards of Waipara Valley’s’ Black Estate, join together in co-fermentation bliss to form this delectable rosé. Refreshing, balanced, full-bodied. Perfect for appeasing both red and white wine drinkers: Home rosé starts on crisp, floral white wine-esque notes, before ending on the deliciously tannin/tart, berry notes traditionally found in a full-bodied red wine.
Top Drop: Four Pillars Gin with Tonic
Nothing kicks off a lively afternoon of socialising like a perfectly balanced gin and tonic. I’ve had the pleasure of sampling gin from all around the world so forgive me for considering myself an authority on the topic. On that note, I currently only have one gin in my personal cabinet: Four Pillars.
Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin
Four Pillars Gin is an award winning classic London Dry gin, handcrafted in Australia using copper reflux stills that were custom-made in Germany. What started as a labour of love for exceptionally crafted cocktails has resulted in a gang of Aussie blokes winning the most prestigious gin awards in the world. With their array of gin’s the Four Pillars team consistently take on and take over the world’s oldest and best distilleries. Go figure.
Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin has been awarded medals at three prestigious international competitions in 2014: Double Gold in the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, Silver in the London International Wine & Spirit Competition, and most recently Gold at the Hong Kong International Wine & Spirit Competition.
Join millions of gin drinkers around the world and fall in love with Four Pillars. Do your homework here, then buy it here.
Serving suggestions: Let that gin shine by adding it to a glass (pick a glass, any glass) full of ice, top with tonic and add a couple of slices of your favourite citrus fruit.
Christmas in a glass
It’s always nice to finish a celebratory get together with a nightcap. Not only will you have a good night sleep, but it will give that lingering visitor a politely subtle hint. Best served with dimmed lighting and relaxed music, interspersed with talk about tomorrow’s early morning plans.
Start with a thick glass tumbler, preferably with a handle.
1 part Drambuie
3 parts hot apple juice
Juice of 1 lemon wedge
Stir with a cinnamon stick, leave in