It may be the start of Autumn but there are still warm evenings and weekends to be enjoyed with friends before we all retreat inside with the heating on, huddled round the fire. To enjoy the Great British Summer I was sent a selection of spirits that all bring something a bit different to the table. From gin that helps wild elephants to alcohol-free vodka, here are some drinks to really impress your friends this Autumn.
I’m going to start with the most fun one which came from Gravity Drinks who sent their selection of Sherbert gin in 3 flavours that are full of funky, fizzy fun. Combining premium gin with real sherbert you get a taste of the retro sweet as well as a good time. I loved that when you shake the bottle it almost looks like glitter or a storm brewing in the bottle. They come in Lemon, orange and raspberry flavours and are absolutely ideal for a girls night in.
Another one that went down well (a little too well actually) with my girlfriends was from Spirited Union who sent a bottle of Pink Rose and Grapefruit botanical rum. Usually I only enjoy rum when it’s in a mojito but the flavours in this sounded lovely. To match the refreshing floral taste of their Swazi rum they distilled the skin of blush-pink grapefruits then to balance out its slightly sweet character they infused blood orange for a bitter, sweet sour taste. Then for an intense floral aroma they vapour infused the rum with a fragrant garden rose. Their sweet and tangy aromas create the perfect union of citrus and blossom and honestly it tastes just lovely. Enjoy with tonic, soda or lemonade.
When compiling my drinks guide I like to make sure there is always something for everyone so I have included a couple of non-alcoholic options. The first comes from Fluere Drinks who sent a Raspberry blend of their non-alcoholic distilled spirit with coriander seed, Juniper berries, lavender and lime peel. These Flavours go splendidly together as you can imagine but I was surprised how much I enjoyed this drink. It being low calorie was also a great selling point as it is a great alternative to a coke or fruit juice when you’re not having alcohol.
The other non-alcoholic option comes from Strykk who claim to have all the spirit, none of the alcohol. I have to say I was also really impressed by this, I’m not one to enjoy a glass of vodka on its own but a pornstar martini just isn’t the same without a touch in. So on its own it had that hot, almost spicy taste of a strong spirit, but once part of a cocktail you would think you’re drinking the real thing. I don’t know how they do it but this really is a great product if you want to be a part of the fun while still keeping a clear head.
Now talking of cocktails I had to include this next brand because they really brought something new and fun to the table that I had never seen anywhere else before. The Salty Rim produce a range of flavoured salt and sugar rims for glasses. It sounds simple enough, but have you ever been given a cocktail in someone’s home that has that extra bit of pizzazz and you immediately smile at the extra effort? I love little extras like that so I had great fun making mojitos with mint sugar on the rim, pina coladas with yellow cocktail sugar and my favourite was their ‘Best of British cocktail sugar’ with red, white and blue sugar for when you’re feeling extra patriotic! Needless to say you’ll never make a boring cocktail again with these in your arsenal.
Now we didn’t have much of a summer this year but September has had some lovely days in which to enjoy the rather summery Starlino Rosé. A Vermouth based on Italian Trebbiano wine with a distillate of botanicals. Floral, fruity and just the right amount of bittersweet it is filled with Italian raspberries, strawberries, wormwood, coriander and elderflower. I enjoy this with a simple tonic and fresh grapefruit but I also read it was nice to add to a white wine spritzer, and it was! It’s nice to find a new drink to enjoy, especially when you think you already know what you like.
Another drink I discovered I loved was an aperitif made in Barcelona, El Bandarra. Made to be mixed with tonic, el Bandarra Al Fresco is softer than other cocktail choices and makes a long drink idea for long days and evenings. Simply fill your glass with ice to the top and add one part Al Fresco (75 ml.) and two parts Tonic (150 ml.) then garnish with a slice of orange. Al Fresco is soft, bittersweet, with notes of Mediterranean botanicals, a touch of grapefruit and drops of Barcelona-by-the-beach. Ideal for making a big jug of something when getting together with friends and the bottle is reusable.
And finally we come to a gin that saves elephants…
I was just a sceptical of Elephant Gin until I was invited to a virtual tasting with founder Robin Gerlach as part of World Elephant Day. Robin not only took me through the story of how the brand was created and why Elephants are such an important part of that story but also described how they give back to the communities where they make the gin. While its story started in South Africa, Elephant Gin is handmade in Germany with a focus on the highest quality production standards. All ingredients are hand-selected, bottles custom-made, labels handwritten and production-controlled by small batches. With every full size bottle sold, Elephant Gin contributes 15% of profits to elephant conservation charities and at the time of speaking to me they were close to having donated €1million to Elephant conservation. Even the beads on top of each bottle are made by the local villagers in South Africa where the botanicals are sourced and it was wonderful to hear Robin speak so passionately about the people and communities who make their production possible.
What’s also great about elephant gin is that it really does taste good and the wonderful mix of botanicals really is evident in the taste. I was treated to a cacao and orange flavoured gin ideal for Christmas however it will also do very nicely for a crisp October evening round the fire.
Whether you are still clinging on to summer or you’re ready to welcome the dark nights and falling leaves, there’s always an excuse to get together with friends and family and enjoy a drink or two.