Words by: Simon Difford
Photography by: Dan Malpass
The cocktails we came across during March and liked enough to add to Difford’s Guide.
With: Martini Rosso vermouth, Martini Dry vermouth, La Fée Absinthe and orange bitters.
Comment: Aniseed and liquorice notes from absinthe pervade this vermouth based cocktail - truly a drink for absinthe lovers.
With: Old Simon Genever, lemon juice, pineapple juice, orgeat syrup and Angostura bitters.
Comment: One of those Angostura heavy (very heavy) cocktails that intuition says just shouldn't work (the name's misspelt for starters,) but thanks to the rich balancing properties of almond syrup and pineapple it is not only balanced but good. The genever base justifies the name and adds its distinctive character.
With: Gin, Islay single malt and Lillet Blanc.
Comment: A bone dry and Islay smoked Vesper "may" appeal - certainly worth a try if you're into Martinis and Islay whisky.
Smoking Gun Vesper
With: Smoked Vodka, Rutte Gin, Martini Dry Vermouth and Jerry Thomas Decanter Bitters.
Comment: Delicately smoky and almost meaty - be sure to serve with cured meat. A great aperitif cocktail.
With: Rutte Celery Gin, lemon juice, pineapple juice, sugar syrup, celery bitters and egg white.
Comment: This aptly named drink is beautifully balanced with delicate celery flavours.
Celery Gimlet #2
With: fresh celery, a pinch of salt, Rutte Celery gin, Green Chartreuse, lime juice, sugar syrup, white wine vinegar and celery bitters.
Comment: Sweet 'n' sour, salt 'n' vinegar served with dry celery gin crunch - a cocktail to awaken your senses.
Avenue San Martin
With: BarSol Pisco, amaro, honey, lime juice and ginger syrup.
Comment: Bittersweet and tangy. A cocktail to enjoy as an aperitif with nibbles.
Tratto Limoncello Cocktail
With: Bourbon, limoncello, dry vermouth, orange bitters and Angostura bitters.
Comment: Adapted from a recipe created in 2015 by Cynthia Tran, a bartender at Tratto Restaurant, San Francisco, USA.
With: Mezcal, Carpano Antica Formula, Punt e Mes and orange bitters.
Comment: This Negroni-inspired cocktail will please mezcal loving bartenders and hardened drinkers (we loved it) but may challenge others.
With: Green grapes, tequila blanco, apple juice, lime juice and sugar syrup.
Comment: Perhaps best summarised as being an 'Apple and Grape Margarita, the flavours combine harmoniously in what is a well-balanced drink.
With: Ketel One vodka, triple sec, orgeat syrup and lemon juice.Comment: Vodka laced with sour lemon juice balancing rich almond syrup to make a candy-like cocktail.
Aqua Velva Cocktail
With: Ketel One vodka, gin, blue curacao and lemonade.
Comment: Loaded with booze and with an aqua marine blue hue (as the name suggests), this citrusy drink was made for the 1980s. We're sure Del Boy would have described it as being "cushty" or even "lovely jubbly".
Stone Cold Fruit
With: Gin, orange curacao, Campari, amaro, Antica Formula, lemon juice and sugar syrup.
Comment: Tart and dry with zesty orange and lemon. Mouth puckeringly refreshing.
Comment: A bourbon and amaretto sour with spiced rum and cranberry.
Manhattan (petite serve)
Comment: A bite-sized Sweet Manhattan.
With: mezcal, Lillet Blanc, maraschino and Peychaud's bitter.
Comment: Boozy and slightly smoky, this Martini-esque cocktail make for a great aperitif.
With: mezcal, Averna Amaro, coffee liqueur and orange bitters.
Comment: This drink is best described as having flavours of lightly smoked earthy coffee with hints of zesty orange.
Ginger Last Word
With: fresh ginger, gin, Green Chartreuse, maraschino and lime juice.
Comment: As the name suggests this is simply a Last Word with a hint of ginger. Simple can be beautiful.
The Blind Side
With: fresh mint, reposado tequila, Cocchi Americano and Suze.
Comment: Fresh and refreshing - a minty gentian aperitif.
Creme Egg Cocktail
With: Vanilla infused Ketel One vodka, Licor 43, white crème de cacao, Warninks advocaat and cream.
Comment: As befits the name, this chocolate and vanilla vodka-based Easter Egg of a cocktail has both cream and egg - the later in the form of Dutch advocaat.
Comment: Created in January 2017 by yours truly. It is exactly what the name suggests.
Comment: This white Negroni is not quite as dry and bitter as a traditional red Negroni and has additional pleasing creamy honeysuckle notes.
Amber Negroni (Difford's Recipe)
Comment: As the name suggests, this riff on a classic Negroni is amber in colour with honeyed notes and is not quite as bitter as the classic red version.
With: gin, Luxardo Bitter Bianco, Martini Bianco vermouth, Green Chartreuse and Midori melon liqueur.
Comment: Don't be put off or misled by the lurid green colour of this cocktail, it is both bittersweet and complex. As the name suggests it is based on a classic Negroni but with Green Chartreuse herbal complexity and a dose of rich green melon liqueur.
With: Gin, Martini Rosso vermouth, Jägermeister and Campari.
Comment: A lightly spicy Negroni perfectly suited to the after-dinner "digestive" moment. If it doesn't aid your digestion it will aid your sleep.