This was inevitable. We hid inside for a year and now we are experiencing the return of the sort of frivolity and gay abandon not seen since the twenties of the last century. At least that is how it has seemed to me these past few days. But where to go? Who to see? Most importantly, what to drink?
Below I have included three of my favourite whisky cocktails in the hope that you too may raise a glass with friends, and hopefully in doing so also lift up the collective spirit (excuse the pun) of the nation.
Often favoured by summer sportsmen, to say nothing of the fair weather variety, a refreshing whisky cocktail that is so simple to make even the author can manage it.
Ingredients: Whisky; ginger ale; lime wedge; ice.
Well that seems simple enough, but how does one actually make a whisky cocktail like this taste good?
Creation: Fill a glass with ice, ideally something tall like a highball to ensure the correct ratios and volume.
Add your whisky of choice, and top the rest up with good ginger ale (the author recommends a ratio of 2:4, especially if you are not planning on operating any heavy machinery and enjoy taking a nap around 4pm).
Pierce the Lime wedge and give it a little squeeze before sending it into the glass with the sort of velocity you might see in a drinks advert on television.
Take up residence on the nearest lawn chair and enjoy your whisky cocktail. Cricket trousers and straw hat not required.
A certain John Davis described in his book published in 1803 a drink which contained “… a dram of spirituous liquor that has mint steeped in it, taken by Virginians of a morning.” A cooling draught designed for hot weather, it did not take long before it was the official drink of the Kentucky Derby: America’s answer to The Grand National in terms of size and popularity. It is no surprise then that almost 120,000 Mint Juleps are sold each year at Churchill Downs, the racecourse that hosts the Derby.
Not yet as popular here in the U.K. as it is with our cousins across the pond, if this summer has its racing behind closed doors as the last one did then I might advise you learn this recipe.
Ingredients: Whisky; sugar syrup; fresh mint; ice.
Creation: Push your mint leaves down to the bottom of the glass; I prefer a crystal highball but a metal cup can work just as well in keeping it cold. Once there, knock them about a little then add the sugar syrup.
Add your whisky. Considering just how little of the flavour will be masked in this compared to the whisky and ginger it is worth splashing out on a nicer bottle, bourbon being the traditional variety.
Pack down with crushed ice. This is fundamentally not that different from a mojito in construction.
Stir like you have never stirred before, but do please stop when the outside of the glass begins to frost. You have achieved optimal stir.
Top with a bit more ice to make it last longer and a sprig of mint. Although this is aesthetically pleasing, if given a good thwack before placing the mint will release its aromatic oils and make a better drink.
Losing money on horses is not required, but like listening to your Old Skool Hip Hop playlist, I am sure it would enhance the experience.
I expect to see this being served around London in those areas with a more American feeling. Shoreditch, in its continued attempt to emulate Brooklyn, may well be the place to start if you wish to find one in the wild.
Putting egg into a whisky cocktail may seem slightly odd at first. Indeed, egg in any drink is a sure fire way of arousing the suspicions of most normal people, perhaps excluding Rocky Balboa. As a quick warning mandated by the age of health and safety it is my duty to inform you that consuming raw egg comes with the slight risk of food poisoning and the even slighter risk of becoming World Heavyweight Champion.
Another old school classic from America, and served from Ronny Scott’s to The Ritz, it is the staple of most good cocktail menus. Many readers will be glad to hear that the egg is optional, although it does tame the otherwise tart taste and provides a smoother drink.
Ingredients: Whisky; freshly squeezed lemon juice; sugar syrup; egg white (Optional).
Creation: Mix together two parts whisky, a little less than half that of lemon juice, slightly less again of sugar syrup, and, if using it, less than that again egg white.
Fill the role of cool 1920’s cocktail party host and put it all into a cocktail shaker and take it on a roller coaster ride around your room. This should ideally involve vaulting furniture and much over the shoulder movement, as the professional school of thought prescribes.
After 30 seconds add ice to the shaker and repeat until it is pretty well chilled.
Strain into a glass of your choice. I have always preferred it in a tumbler, but what do I know? Try a coupe glass and pretend you’re in a hotel bar if you like.
If it looks dull and needs garnish, a maraschino cherry or an orange slice works wonders. Sit back and enjoy the smooth and fluffy experience provided by the most unlikely of ingredients. Soupy Twist.
By William Prior