I’m not in the habit of turning down hampers of booze. So I welcomed World Duty Free’s offer with open arms. Well, sort of. They asked if I’d like to recreate one of their Summer Drinks Festival cocktails. I actually would rather not, I said, but they were nice enough and happy enough to indulge my fussiness and send me the ingredients of my choice (from their list) to come up with my own creation instead.
The list comprised much of what you’d expect to find at your chosen gateway to foreign shores; big name brands that held little interest for me, along with a couple of curiosities. I’m not often able to resist blood orange, the San Pelegrino soft drink of this flavour is lush and I’m guaranteed to gorge on them when in season, so my eyes were immediately drawn to a Cointreau of the blood orange persuasion. This and a bottle of gin, always, Tanqueray Ten in this instance, was to form the basis of my experimentation.
I’m sure you can imagine that my first was a riff on the Negroni. The Cointreau is indeed sticky sweet but with a good bitterness on the finish that works in place of Campari, less herbal and heavy but delicious all the same, and no-where near the false sweetness of the abomination that is Aperol. I switched out the sweet vermouth for lighter and dryer regular vermouth and hey presto you have a clear Negroni – though watch out as the Cointreau has an abv kick of 40% to Campari’s 25%. Rather than serving over ice as is traditional I stirred my drink down first to control dilution prior to serving. Whilst a regular negroni benefits from the evolution as it slowly mingles with melting ice, this is much lighter and best served up – I added a grapefruit twist to this fantastic aperitif.
I played around with the ratios too and rather liked a take on a wet martini with little more than a dash of the Cointreau and served with an orange twist.
The other obvious cocktail, to me, was the white lady. Typically made with triple sec, I simply swapped for the Blood Orange Cointreau – I like this variation a lot – silky smooth with a curious berry bitterness at the end.
You’ll notice I haven’t done anything wild or ground breaking here – you see, in my opinion, unless you’re doing something super clever involving distillates, rotary evaporators and the like a la Peg & Patriot or White Lyan, then there’s really no need to stray too far from those classics. They’re classics for a reason you know…..
Who wouldn’t pick up a bottle of Tanqueray or Beefeater when passing through Duty Free anyway – no brainer right?! Well, I’d definitely think about picking up this, exclusive to them, Blood Orange Cointreau again when I run out.
You know the other thing I can’t resist? CRACKED CORN TOBLERONE. It’s unfathomably addictive and I’ve never seen it sold anywhere else. Probably a good thing though that…