Summer is a wonderfully fleeting thing in the UK. So if you haven’t already adopted carpe diem as your life motto, you probably should – at least for this season.
Now is the one and only time it’s a good idea to throw an outdoor party in the UK (anyone had frostbite on Guy Fawkes Night?). And there are a couple of things that summer parties need – aside from pretty dresses and some kind of floral decoration. These essentials are obviously cocktails and canapés.
I popped along to Hixter for a line-up of cocktails featuring not one form of alcohol, not two, but three beautiful bottles of booze – Chivas Regal whisky, Beefeater gin and Ballantine’s whisky.
My bottomless stomach distracted me so I was initially preoccupied with the canapés. Whilst I may have unnatural hunger levels, it is most definitely natural to be excited by food at Hixter. This is chicken-and-steak restaurant from Mark Hix, legendary chef, restaurateur and food writer, who is the man behind no less than seven food venues, and – interestingly – an art gallery (which includes a private dining option, of course).
The shout-out has to go to their scotch eggs. Roll your eyes if you must – yes, they’re on trend – but wow, have Hixter got them mastered. Yolk still runny, sausage meat light yet textured and well spiced. I have been seeing these in my dreams, which is just as well as I unfortunately don’t have a photo to share.
Each cocktail was paired with a canapé…
First up, I tried “Escocia” presented by Chivas Regal and fell in love. Imagine a fruitier, summery version of a mince pie in drink form. Imagine it as rich and complicated, but cool and not overpowering. There. That was good right? This cocktail involves Chivas soaked in raisins, with grape juice, pear essence, apricot essence… It is delicious – and a really impressive cocktail to pull off apparently. I’m planning to give it a try later this summer. And no, you’re not invited.
- 130ml Chivas 12 infused with raisins (300ml/50g sous vide at 45 degrees)
- 130ml Manzanilla sherry
- 193ml Fresh white grape juice (500g grapes =250ml juice) (1 bunch =190ml juice)
- 130ml Pear essence (1:1.5 fresh pear/water sous vide at 45 degrees)
- 85ml Apricot essence (1:4 apricot jam/water sous vide at 45 degrees)
- 45ml Lemon tincture (1:10 fresh lemon peel/water sous vide at 45 degrees)
- 45ml Citric acid solution
- Lemon and orange oils from zest
It was paired with a potted smoked salmon with crème fraiche and chives canapé and it definitely stood up to flavour of the cocktail. You may know that I devour anything that contains crème fraiche so I was pretty happy. Also, it was made with salmon smoked on the roof on Selfridge’s – I don’t think salmon gets any cooler than that. Recipe here.
Next up was “Apple of my Eye” presented by Beefeater Gin. This was Granny Smith-infused Beefeater with lemon thyme syrup. The sweetness can make cocktails difficult to balance with food so this is cleverly offset by three drops of a salt water. And it’s cleverly paired with sweet food – a tasty beetroot galette with goat’s curd and hazelnuts (recipe here).
Rattle and Stir’s Gin Journey has made me a surprising fan of gin: this cocktail only served to heighten my enthusiasm.
- 50ml green apple-infused Beefeater Dry
- 15ml fresh lemon juice
- 15ml lemon thyme syrup
- 4 drops of 2:1 saline solution/tiny pinch of salt
The final instalment was “Ballantine’s Cobbler” presented by Ballantine’s. This was summer in a glass with the fruitiness enhanced by sugar syrup – refreshing but with a pleasant sharpness. It was also paired with one of my favourite things: STEAK. Get the recipe for sirloin steak slipper with scrumpy fried onions. Meanwhile, make the cocktail…
- 50ml Ballantine’s Finest
- 15ml Ruby tawny Port
- 3 bar spoons maraschino cherry syrup
- Dash of sugar syrup
- 15ml raspberry puree
You can view some wonderful snaps of the event in the gallery below, courtesy of Victoria Ferran.
My adventures did not end there, however, as a wonderful surprised arrived in the post – my very own bottle of Beefeater 24.
Voila! Beefeater 24 Triple Citrus Gin & Tonics were produced. I am going to have a LOT of fun making some more cocktails with this gin. In the meantime, admire these photos of our endeavours (courtesy of Prad Patel).