Words by: Simon Difford
The cocktails we came across during March and liked enough to add to Difford’s Guide.
With: Mezcal, Lillet Rose and gentian liqueur.
We say: Mezcal sings in this dry aperitif-style cocktail with delicate vinous notes and light gentian bitterness.
La Alianza recipe
With: Birch spirit, grapefruit juice, lemon juice, sugar syrup and IPA beer.
We say: Long and refreshing, based on India pale ale and birch spirit with grapefruit freshness.
Am I Blue? recipe
With: Bourbon whiskey, mezcal, amaro, orgeat and lemon juice.
We say: Whoever created this bittersweet drink is clearly in league with Beelzebub himself - it's devilishly good. With rich bourbon, a hint of smoky mezcal, amaro bitterness and lemon freshness balanced by almond syrup. Also try substituting all, or at least half of the amaro with Ferro China to put a bit of iron into this devil.
With: Batavia-arrack, pedro ximénez sherry, pineapple juice, sugar syrup and pimento bitters.
We say: As Ralf, the drinks creator, says, "The Batavia plays well with the pineapple and the gomme, and the sherry gives it depth and body" to produce a punch-style cocktail.
Bermuda Triangle recipe
With: Bourbon, Lemon juice, sugar syrup and egg white.
Bourbon whiskey soured with lemon juice and smoothed by egg white.
Boston Sour recipe
With: Blanco tequila, Fernet Branca, Antica Formula, sugar syrup and Angostura aromatic bitters.
We say: The herbal spicy peppermint and liquorice notes of Fernet Branca dominate this digestive-style tequila laced cocktail.
Del Famoso recipe
With: Dry gin, orange curaçao, sweet vermouth, Angostura Bitters and ginger ale.
Easy drinking, fruity, summery and gin laced with caramel vermouth freshened by zesty orange.
Dutch Orange Cup recipe
With: Genever, orange curaçao and cold black tea.
We say: Bready genever and zesty orange curaçao dried, lengthened and flavoured with the cold black tea tannins. Simples by Simon!
Dutch Tea recipe
With: Dry gin, orange curaçao, Sauvignon Blanc wine and dry vermouth.
We say: Gin's light gin botanical spice combines with rich orange and complex vinous notes from the combination of Sauvignon Blanc wine and dry vermouth.
Created in February 2018 by yours truly at the Cabinet Room, London, England.
The Duchess recipe
With: Lillet Blanc, agricole rhum, Yellow Chartreuse, pineapple juice and sugar syrup.
We say: Grassy spirituous agricole rhum is mellowed by fruity pineapple, sweet herbal liqueur and vinous herbal vermouth.
First Emperor recipe
With: Dry gin, Ferro China, bianco vermouth and Angostura Bitters.
We say: This simple but brilliantly complex aperitif come digestive dates from the 1930s when it, and most other cocktails were shaken. Don't allow modern bartending convention to stir such a cocktail detract from its sublimeness.
Grassoide Ferro Cocktail recipe
With: Ferro China, dry vermouth, vermouth di Torino, Campari, navy rum and Angostura Bitters.
We say: This vintage aperitif is lightly bitter and wonderfully complex with distinctive Ferro China, vermouth and Demerara rum favours.
The Haiti Cocktail recipe
With: Pisco, gentian liqueur, lemon juice, sugar syrup and orange bitters.
We say: Zesty lemon and bittersweet gentian laced with pisco.
With: Bourbon, maraschino liqueur, sugar syrup, Angostura Bitters and absinthe.
We say: A deliciously subtly absinthe (anise) and maraschino (cherry) influenced fresh take on the classic Manhattan. Serve on-the-rocks as illustrated here or serve straight-up strained into a chilled coupe. Boozy and surprisingly dry.
Inside Job recipe
With: Genever, orange curaçao, pineapple juice, lime juice and absinthe.
We say: Wonderfully fruity with underlying bready genever replacing the almond notes from the orgeat syrup almond notes of a classic Trader Vic Mai Tai.
Mai Dutch Tai recipe
With: Dry gin, Mandarine Napoleon, lime juice and agave syrup.
We say: "Citrusy and sour" sums up this refreshing gin laced cocktail with rich mandarin orange liqueur soured by lime.
Mandarine Daisy recipe
With: Dry gin, reposado tequila, genever, orange curaçao and vermouth amaro.
We say: Spirituous and lightly vinous with subtle agave notes, bready genever and spicy gin all refreshed by zesty orange curaçao. Five equal parts is a faff to measure for individual cocktails but a dream to batch.
Mexican Duchess recipe
With: Tequila, Mandarine Napoleon, lime juice and agave syrup.
We say: As the name suggests, this tasty Margarita benefits from a slug of rich mandarin orange liqueur.
Napoléon Margarita recipe
With: Freya Birch Spirit, gentian liqueur, rosolio di bergamotto and Campari.
We say: A tasty bittersweet Negroni-style aperitif.
No Borders recipe
With: Fresh basil leaves, vodka, black raspberry liqueur, triple sec, Grand Marnier Rouge, cranberry juice and strawberry puree
We say: The Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster is said to be like "having your brains smashed in by a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick".
Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster recipe
With: Montenegro, Cynar, rosolio di bergamotto and Bokers Bitters.
We say: Montenegro amaro dominates this bittersweet delicately orangey aperitif cocktail.
The Queen's Steeple recipe
With: Pastis, sage leaves, birch Spirit, sugar syrup and orange bitters.
We say: Subtle notes of pine, pastis and sage combine in this pre-dinner sipper of a cocktail.
Sage Sazerac recipe
With: Cucumber, gentian liqueur, Islay single malt whisky, tarragon syrup and lime juice.
We say: Cucumber vegetal freshness, bittersweet gentian liqueur and peated scotch characterise this aperitivo sour.
Suzy & Peat recipe
With: Birch spirit, Barolo Chinato, Campari and pinch salt.
We say: Dry and spirituous, yet (with the right dilution) complex and subtle - even delicate. An interesting aperitif alternative to a Dry Martini or a Negroni.
With: Blended scotch, green ginger wine and boiling water
A Whisky Mac made into a long warming toddy by simply adding boiling water.
Simple, warming and comforting - rich ginger wine gently spices and sweetens whisky.
Whisky Mac Toddy recipe
With: Lillet blanc, gentian liqueur, elderflower liqueur, orange bitters and champagne.
We say: A floral aperitif cocktail awakened by a spritz of champagne.
White Americano recipe
With: Freya Birch Spirit, dry vermouth and lemon bitters.
Pine (birch) notes mix well with the vermouth in this 2:1 Martini with lemon bitters adding citrus freshness the olive and rosemary sprig garnish adding to the cocktails aroma and complexity.
Wild & Dirty Martini recipe
With: Birch spirit, armagnac and apple juice.
An autumnal sounding cocktail to be enjoyed in place of a Daiquiri at any time of the year. Yes, it's appley with delicate armagnac undertones and complexity, but it is made interesting by the birch spirit which gives this drink faint pine, almost smoky bacon notes.
The Windfall recipe