This week, I’ve reached my lockdown limit. So far, things have been fairly static. Get up, eat the same breakfast, the husband and I go to work (AKA sit at the desk procrastinating and argue over who’s turn it is to make lunch), make dinner, eat it ridiculously early, watch TV and go to bed. I wouldn’t describe it as scintillating, but it’s all gone okay to date. That is until this week. This week, it’s as if a threshold was finally reached. I’ve taken to walking alone on the beach listening to Kate Bush, simply to add a different spin on things. At home I’ve run out of things to paint; I’ve wired and hung all of the artwork, I’ve organised the book shelves into colour order, I’ve eaten everything in sight and then some. We’re still going through conveyancing for our property investment purchase, and received confirmation yesterday that searches have commenced. YAY! We’re now one of the many: harassing their solicitor to get completed before the end of March, to take advantage of the stamp duty holiday (sorry Jess). We’ve been busy again this week, meeting more trades onsite to discuss scopes of work and gather quotes.
Our extended time at home is driving many of us mad; our own four walls are starting to feel seriously claustrophobic and every day like Groundhog Day. And to top things off – Mercury retrograde has arrived, to add additional confusion and torment. Even if you’re not an avid fan of horoscopes and astrology, you’ve heard of Mercury retrograde — the planetary phenomenon we’ve all come to post memes about on Instagram. Thought to affect communication and technology, it’s a time when everything can feel slightly out of whack. You may find yourself losing your keys, missing appointments, or not wanting to get out of bed even. Scientifically speaking, Mercury retrograde is simply an optical illusion where the planet appears to change course and move backwards in the sky. When does it happen? Usually three or four times a year, with 2021’s all-important dates being: 30 January to 21 February, 29 May to 22 June, and 27 September to 23 October. It’s my birthday later this month, and I’m struggling to think how to make it feel different to every other day in lockdown 3.0. Any ideas? Perhaps I could try another swim in the sea? (I shudder at the thought. Literally). Watch this space.
Anyway, back to this week’s blog post. Those of us who enjoy an expertly mixed cocktail may be missing perching at the bar of our favourite haunts at the moment, but there’s no need to miss out on great drinks too. As our worlds seemingly skrink to the size of a crisp packet, we’re able (forced) to appreciate the little things. Things that ordinarily we wouldn’t give that much of a fuck about. But here we are. This is who we are now. I’ve found myself eyeing up DYI cocktail sets, all packaged in cute little boxes, with garnishes and trinkets galore, with far too much enthusiasm. The bonus is that a good cocktail actually tastes incredible, and so for a short while at least, we can escape the monotony that is life right now, and pretend we’re in some dark and smokey bar in a basement somewhere in London, or on a quiet terrace somewhere on the Italian coast. Whatever floats your boat ultimately, and all for minimal damage to the overdraft.
Purely just for fun, why not make a night of it and enjoy with friends over Zoom, or get dressed up & make pretend with the cabin mate one night. Hell – enjoy it at 10 in the morning when the Hermes driver delivers it. YOU DO YOU. From an espresso martini to a classic negroni, make like a mixologist and rustle up your signature tipple in the comfort of your own home without even putting on a bra, all thanks to the new generation of cocktail delivery services. From pre-measured spirits, liqueurs and garnishes just waiting for a cocktail shaker, to professional-level luxurious kits for the perfect night in, there’s a box of cocktails to please even the most discerning of drinkers.
There’s something really cool about having your own at-home bar. I’m happy to admit I’ve fallen for the allure of beautiful glassware and have my eyes on a particular stylish drinks trolley. If you want to take your Zoom dinner party or evening activities to the next level, cocktail kits are not only delicious but a fun novelty. Whether completely ready-made or include an element of playing bartender yourself – at-home cocktail kits are definitely having a moment. The branding is chic, the ideas are innovative and flavours would challenge that underground watering hole you’ve been dying to visit. I’ve rounded up my pick of the punches: choose from ultra-convenient sachets of cosmopolitan, pimping your prosecco with a spritz of cask aged negroni, or impressing friends on Zoom with a Friday night espresso martini to rival any bartender’s – all without having to invest in a host of spirits and mixers. We’ll cheers to that!
Though I should add – drink responsibly people. Don’t be that person.
A fiery favourite and founding cocktail of Lockdown Liquor Co., the Picante is a tequila based bottle of joy with a sweet and spicy finish. Creating small batch craft cocktails, delivered in the post, Lockdown Liquor Co. offer customising your Lockdown Liquor Label, making it perfect for gifting. Cocktails with a conscience, @lockdownliquorco provides financial support to @nhscharitiestogether & other charities focused on pandemic and COVID related initiatives. To enjoy to the fullest, pour over an ice-filled rocks glass, pop the top end of a chilli pepper stem in and enjoy. Et-voila.
Espresso martini is one of those drinks that can be hard to get right yourself. Not so, with this luxurious Art Deco-style kit from The Cocktail Man – oh, and it’s got a chocolatey twist too, even better. Kits contain pre-measured bottles of The Cocktail Man’s own chocolate coffee “sliqueur”, vanilla vodka, a simple recipe card and chocolate for grating to garnish. Exactly the treat you need to perk you up after a hard week of homeworking – & packaged so handsomely that you could easily send as a gift too. Unlike Kocktail and NIO you’ll have to put in some of the work yourself as this delivery service will give you the components of your favourite drinks, to then be made at home. If coffee is not your thing there are plenty of other permutations to choose from; I particularly like the champagne cosmopolitan set complete with edible silver leaf.
Asterley Bros is a specialist drinks brand built by two brothers who share a passion for expertly-created cocktails. Together they have created a monthly cocktail club which allows you to keep your drinks trolley constantly stocked with innovative cocktails which change seasonally. I’ve featured a sexy sophisticated twist on a classic negroni, ready to drink and made using the finest ingredients. Enjoyed best by placing in the freezer 1 hour before serving. Pour over ice and serve with a strip of orange zest. Once ready, enjoy whilst wearing deck shoes and nibbling aperitivo snacks. You can order 1 litre which makes 10 cocktails. Yes. 10. Or you can indulge in a subscription box to explore what else Asterley Bros has to offer. Each box contains two 50ml samples and perfect serves featuring independent brands, a 200ml mixer to accompany the perfect serve, two 25ml samples, two aperitivo snacks and even a limited print to match that month’s theme. And if there was an award for coolest branding, these guys would take it. Sleek AF.
The co-founders of Kocktail are two best friends who’ve spent perhaps too much time in many of the world’s greatest cocktail bars. Wanting to experience that same quality of beautifully fresh cocktails at home and with the minimum of fuss, they teamed up with international award winning barman Neil Donachie, of the famous Savoy Hotel’s Beaufort Bar. Dropping through letterboxes up and down the UK, they’ve bottled up magic for you to enjoy at home. Many pre-made cocktails are full of nasty chemicals so they can sit on a shelf for months, Kocktail only delivers pre-made cocktails which have been made that week. Their ingredients are fresh and the result is lively, punchy and sweet-tasting drinks that are genuinely lip-smackingly good. The consumer experience has also been well thought out – each drink comes in a cute, little bottle with fun, bright packaging which feels like a treat. Offering subscriptions as well as one-off tipple experiences.
SPIRITLAND is the ultra cool music bar based in London’s Kings Cross. The baby of music guru Paul Noble, an ex-BBC employee who went on to set up Monocle Radio, the focus there is firmly on listening. There’s no dancefloor, and that would indeed be a distraction. While you’re unable to enjoy a tipple in person over lockdown, this venue has packaged up some of its best cocktails into chic, amber bottles to try at home. If you’re a fan of classic drinks with a twist, I think you’ll like mixes like the white negroni, quince old fashioned and fig manhattan. Yes please. They have a great online shop, offering cocktail-making accessories as well as music/DJ related products too.
The Crockers Maverick Martini is the original Pornstar Martini. This indulgent, passion fruit based cocktail is the perfect tropical hit – just add a splash of Prosecco. Enjoy the Maverick Martini in either 200ml or 500ml bottles, holding 2 or 5 servings for you to enjoy.
Everything Hawksmoor does is big on quality and, although we can’t enjoy the restaurant’s in-house experiences right now, its at-home cocktail list is no different. This bitter-beautiful Italian aperitif with sour cherries evokes a memory of long summer evenings (remember sun?). Keep in the fridge and pour over ice when ready to serve, perhaps in a glass you’ve had in the freezer for half an hour or so. Garnish with a fresh cherry or an orange slice, and retire to your imaginary drawing room with this classic.
Run by a small team of wine fanatics, Peckham Cellars is an exciting south London company with lots to offer. Though at the heart of what they do is wine (as sourced from small scale wine-makers “who take pride in their product”, I should add), their love of great drinks has now expanded to cocktails. The team deliver their bottled cocktails nationwide and, among the selection you’ll find your favourite classics. There are 500ml bottles of old fashioned, margarita and pornstar martini on offer, but a true favourite has to be the espresso martini. Made using legit coffee by Climpson & Sons. And I mean, look at that bottle. WHACK. Shake vigorously with ice, strain into a martini glass and dance wildly around your kitchen on a caffeine high. At Peckham Cellars they try to do their bit for the environment too, so for every delivery they make, they plant a tree to help offset it’s impact.
Yes you heard me. FULL SIZE. This super impressive (yet super simple) cocktail is perfect for almost any night in – dinner, movie, date night, house party for two, self-isolation pamper. A beautiful balance of bitter, sweet, dry & super fresh – the Porter’s twist using Tanqueray Flor de Sevilla brings succulent Spanish oranges to this Italian all-star. You’ll receive full size bottles to see you through all of lockdown 3.0. Enjoy.
T-total babes out there, I’ve got you. I give to you Bax & Mockingbird’s Alcohol-free Margarita. Their fabulous recipe brings together the classic flavours of a Margarita in one glass: the smooth Mexican Agave in Mockingbird with Seville orange and bitter fruit from BaxBotanics Sea Buckthorn. Add to it lime juice and honey and you have the zingy, satisfying party drink of Mexico, only without the hangover. You’re welcome.
NIO Cocktails – which stands for “needs ice only” – are true to their word. Arriving in clever little square sachets, choose from a range of 15 carefully crafted cocktails which arrive in letterbox-friendly packaging ready for you to tear and pour. The cocktail pouches offer high end ingredients for both modern and classic cocktails – think a floral vodka-sour-inspired Garden of Russia for the former and a truly delicious Daiquiri for the latter. NIO is different because instead of sending lots of bits and bobs, chunky bottles or wasteful materials, its smart and sustainable in the way it packs its drinks. Each cocktail its poured into a paper envelope-like package, meaning it’s packaged flat. Innovative, right?
Once Upon a Time in the Valley of Foxes, in a forgotten corner of northern Italy, where the Venetian coastal plain rises to form the first foothills of the Alps, lies the Valle delle Volpi or Valley of the Foxes. Located in the exclusive superiore DOCG region of Asolo-Montello, where pale grapes produce delicate sparkling wines and, according to legend, where foxes gather to play in the pale moonlight. With all the floral notes and lightness of a great Prosecco with the minerality, structure and complexity of a fine champagne. The Spritz: based on the classic, they have replaced the Aperol with a craft Italian amaro and given it a twist with a Wild Strawberry syrup and dried orange wheel. Topped up with Dash Lemon Water and Pale Fox Prosecco.
The original gimlet was devised to prevent scurvy. When sailors, anxious to avoid it, took to mixing lime cordial with their gin, they created one of the earliest cocktails. London dry gin is shaken with Rose’s lime and a touch of celery bitters, most deliciously garnished with fresh dill. Very easy-drinking. Dishoom’s version lightly infuses gin with the freshest dill and adds a dash of aromatic celery bitters. Their cocktails come in stylish, almost apothecary-style glass bottles and really pack a punch.
A well known, favourite cocktail around the world. Hoxton & Grey’s premium Margarita is made with agave tequila, expertly mixed with triple sec, fresh lime juice and agave syrup. Thats it – nothing else added. Salt your rim and enjoy.
Possibly my favourite cocktail branding campaign, send a Negroni is all about sharing a bittersweet cocktail with those you love. The gift of giving for all occasions with smiles (and delivery!) included for £10. Send a Negroni does exactly what it says on the tin: the classic cocktail features Porter’s modern classic gin, bitters and Baldoria Rosso vermouth while the tropical uses Porter’s tropical old Tom and both come housed in a plastic sachet within a slim letterbox-friendly cardboard box – it’s all 100 per cent recyclable. You can even include a personal message to your pal. Bittersweet brilliance.
Heads, Hearts & Tails, Rémy Martin 1738 Old Fashioned Kit packs in five servings for you to devour. Including Rémy Martin 1738 Accord Royal Cognac, an army of different syrups & garnishes, and they even throw in (carefully) two crystal tumbler glasses. Meaning you only need to pop out for ice. Very decadent indeed.
Born in London and adopted by bars all over the world, the Pornstar Martini is a playful twist on the classic Martini and is apparently the UK’s favourite cocktail. Tapp’d have elevated this modern classic by using real organic passionfruit and the finest craft vodka to tantalise your tastebuds. Real tropical passionfruit paired with citrus, vanilla and expertly blended with a double shot of overproof craft distillery vodka. For the perfect Pornstar Martini, pour into a shaker and add a handful of ice cubes. Shake like a mad woman for 10-15 seconds then pour into your preferred glass (I like to chuck it in a coupe), finish with half a passionfruit & a chaser of prosecco on the side.
It feels like we could all do with rescuing – from the humdrum, mostly. Well, Bao has heard your cries. The restaurant group branched out into cocktail delivery earlier this year, servicing much of north-east London with The Cocktail Rescue – and now it’s gone nationwide. Futuristic-looking cocktail pouches, each containing five pours, are great for slinging in the freezer in case of emergencies. For whisky lovers, I’ve picked out the highball: Toki Whisky, Salted Citrus Cordial an Peach Bitters. Mmmmmmm.