Words by: Simon Difford
Photography by: Dan Malpass
Spring has sprung – well at least it has here in the northern hemisphere. It’s time to dust off the lawn mower and rediscover the delights of floral cocktails – think elderflower liqueur and crème de violet. Honey is another appropriate ingredient – the bees are buzzing after all. Bright yellow cocktails are also so much more spring than drab brown ones, so crack open the gentian.
Bearing the above in mind, follows 30 cocktails we thought appropriate for spring:
With: Calvados and sweet vermouth.
We say: Stupidly simple to mix but complex to the taste. Spiced and concentrated apple.
With: Peach, rose liqueur, lemon juice, sugar syrup and champagne.
We say: Sweet and fruity with champagne sparkle. It's peachy!
With: Tequila, gentian liqueur, sherry and pink grapefruit liqueur.
We say: This tequila based cocktail is bitter before turning bittersweet, then finishes with a long bitter finish. It won't be for everybody but for those who appreciate the flavour of gentian liqueur will appreciate this drink for its simplicity and originality.
With: Rye whiskey, Byrrh, amaro and ginger beer.
We say: Ginger spice with a bittersweet fruity rye bread bite.
With: Mint, vodka, elderflower liqueur, dry vermouth and Yellow Chartreuse.
We say: Floral, minty and herbal with a dry finish.
With: Reposado tequila, elderflower liqueur, gentian liqueur, lemon juice and soda water.
We say: Floral elderflower and tequila with a hint of bittersweet gentian and refreshing lemon.
With: Rosemary, gin and elderflower liqueur.
We say: Rosemary and sweet elderflower combine wonderfully with the gin botanicals to make an interesting approachable Martini.
With: Violet liqueur, blueberries, white rum, lime juice, lavender sugar syrup and elderflower liqueur.
We say: A floral riff on a classic Daiquiri with a hint of berry fruitiness and a lavender pink hue courtesy of a blueberry threesome.
With: Gin, elderflower liqueur, dry vermouth and violet liqueur.
We say: A Dry Martini served super-wet with even more flower power than Austin Powers.
With: Soda water, gentian liqueur, elderflower liqueur and champagne.
We say: This aperitif-style cocktail perfectly fits its name. That said, fans of Italian fizz will be interested to learn how well this spritz works when made with prosecco in place of champagne.
With: Gentian liqueur, Byrrh and tonic water.
We say: A refreshing aperitif with a mouth salivating bitterness. Makes a Spritz seem bland.
With: White rum, honey and lemon juice.
We say: Honey balances lemon juice in this rum-based cocktail.
With: White rum, honey, lemon juice and orange juice.
We say: Honey, I love it!
With: Vodka, fino sherry, dry vermouth, elderflower liqueur and lavender bitters.
We say: Reminiscent of a vodkatini with fino sherry and notes of floral elderflower and lavender.
With: Irish whiskey, honey, Bénédictine, lemon juice, egg white and Peychaud's bitters.
We say: An Irish whiskey sour sweetened with runny honey and herbal Benedictine with Peychaud's adding aromatics.
With: Mint, bourbon, sugar syrup and Angostura bitters.
We say: This superb drink is better if the shaker and its contents are placed in the refrigerator for several hours prior to mixing with ice. This allows the mint flavours to infuse in the bourbon.
With: Tequila, lime and pink grapefruit soda.
We say: Long, fruity and refreshing.
With: Celery, white rum, dry vermouth, fino sherry and elderflower liqueur.
We say: A subtle vegetal note comes from the celery in this unusual aperitif cocktail.
With: Pear vodka, elderflower liqueur and champagne.
We say: Aromatic pear vodka and elderflower liqueur paired with biscuity champagne.
With: Gentian liqueur, aquavit, lemon juice, Cocchi Americano and maraschino liqueur.
We say: Bright yellow and on the bitter side of bittersweet with aquavit, lemon, gentian and maraschino liqueurs.
With: Pisco, calvados, white wine, gentian liqueur and sugar syrup.
We say: Dry and boozy. "White Reggae" was the second, and seminal, album by the English rock band The Police. The album's French name reflects the heavy influence of the country's products in this cocktail. Happily for approval by our naming committee (my missus), most of the ingredients are also decidedly "Blanc".
With: Old tom gin, gentian liqueur, Cocchi Americano and rhubarb bitters.
We say: A riff on a White Negroni, originally incorporating a generous dosing of two types of rhubarb bitters. (Also works well with 15ml/1oz Fee Brothers Rhubarb Bitters). Obviously, with such generous used of bitters, this is a dry bitter aperitivo style cocktail.
With: Rry vermouth, kirsch liqueur and raspberry syrup.
We say: This salmon pink drink is wonderfully aromatic.
With: Cognac, sweet vermouth, rose liqueur, violet liqueur and chocolate bitters.
We say: Best made using Martell Cordon Blue as per the original recipe, this is a dry boozy sipper with faint floral and chocolate notes. Perhaps forgo the grated chocolate garnish in favour of a square of dark chocolate balanced on Turkish delight.
With: Gin, elderflower liqueur, dry vermouth and rose liqueur.
We say: Elderflower is balanced with the vermouth for a well-balanced refreshing cocktail.
With: Raspberries, vodka, strawberry liqueur, crème de cassis, lemon juice, sugar syrup and champagne.
We say: Well-balanced, complex and refreshing.
With: Vodka, elderflower liqueur and champagne.
We say: Its hard to believe this floral, dry, golden tipple contains three whole shots of vodka.
With: Irish whiskey, lemon juice, sugar syrup, grenadine and soda water.
We say: This gentle bite of Irish whiskey soured with lemon and sweetened with pomegranate syrup. The splash of soda which crowns this drink serves to lighten and add a touch of sparkle.
With: Mezcal, gentian liqueur, yellow Chartreuse, lime juice and pineapple juice.
We say: Jordan Smith describes his creation as “bright, herbaceous, subtly smoky, and refreshingly bittersweet. The pineapple adds texture and a slight sweetness to balance the tartness of the lime and bitterness of the Suze [Jordan’s gentain liqueur of choice], while the herbaceousness of the Suze is amplified by the Yellow Chartreuse.” We concur! “Bright, herbaceous, subtly smoky, and refreshingly bittersweet” perfectly sums up this challenging aperitif cocktail.
With: Bison vodka, gentian liqueur, elderflower liqueur, lime juice, maraschino liqueur, sugar syrup and celery bitters.
We say: Bittersweet with fragrant bison grass vodka and fruity maraschino cherry flavours supported by bitter gentian, rich elderflower and lime juice.
Find more spring cocktails.