When it comes to 5 o’clock, or hey, maybe even lunch time, sometimes the last thing you want to do is be fiddling around in the kitchen. Step in the super hero of the cocktail kingdom - the pre-made drink. Now, we’re all missing bars like crazy, and we don’t want to be spending every evening making sugar syrups and measuring drink after drink - that’s overkill even for the most dedicated cocktail lovers, eh... So, what’s the solution?
Step in seven cocktails that you can leave in your fridge and then dip into as and when. (Although I’d recommend drinking within two weeks). Don’t have the perfect cocktail jug? It’s time to get creative, use a teapot, saucepan, recycle and reuse bottles and jugs (as long as they’ve been properly washed), there are no rules here!
1. Negroni.I love this one. Negroni's are simple and delicious every time, and a great place to start for those “make ahead of time” cocktails. The measurements are so easy as there are three key ingredients, so one part of each in the drink.
Let’s take a one liter jug as an example, then you’d need 333 ml of each of these: Campari, Gin, and Vermouth Rosso. Serve with a wheel of orange.
And for a couple of variations: if you want a twist on the classic use Mezcal instead of Gin, and if you want something a bit less heady swap the Gin for soda water.
2. Old Fashioned.This is one of my favorites, as it’s made with just four ingredients and lasts much longer than two weeks if you store it sealed (with a lid or cap) in the fridge.
Just take bitters, Spirit and sugar, and water (normally from diluted ice). Orange bitters with a blend of Whiskey and Brandy goes great together, or you might like to try your hand at a Tequila Old Fashioned, but if you’re looking for an even simpler route, why not get yourself a supply of Hercules Mulligan. It’s a Rum and Rye, which is basically a ready made bottle of Old Fashioned. You can’t go wrong there.
3. White Port Summer Cocktail.First of all, whip up the mint syrup in a few minutes, which will keep for a couple of weeks in your fridge. It’s just equal parts of water and sugar heated gently with a handful of mint leaves in the mix.
For the cocktail itself, one glass is three teaspoons of your syrup, two teaspoons of fresh lime juice, 1-2 shots of White Port, and top up the glass with grapefruit juice and sparkling water (adjust to your taste). For the pitcher just remember it’s one part Port to two parts mixer, or three parts if you want to lose some of the kick, and away you go!
4. Paloma.This is a great companion to the White Port Summer Cocktail, particularly as grapefruit juice is at the heart of this one. In Mexico, fizzy or carbonated grapefruit juice can be found everywhere, so if you can get your hands on that it’s ideal for Palomas.
Tequila, fresh lime juice, grapefruit juice and syrup are the basis of a decent Paloma, you can use pink grapefruit juice or regular grapefruit juice, and I prefer to lose the sugar syrup most of the time.
You’re looking at one part Tequila to two parts juice, so for a litre batch that’s about 310ml of Tequila, 640ml grapefruit juice, 50ml of lime juice. Play around with the lime juice and sugar syrup to suit your taste.
5. Margarita.While you’ve got that beautiful bottle of Tequila at home, why not mix up a delicious Margarita? It’s a drink we all love that has a decent dose of zing and zest; perfect at the end of a long week.
This one is three parts Tequila, two parts Triple Sec, and one part lime juice. There’s no need for sugar syrup for this one, but if you find it a little tart then feel free to add - again it’s your creation so play around with it.
I’m a fan of the classic here, but there’s also an amazing combo where you blend the lime juice with coriander, which is just a match made in heaven and gives you a twist on the traditional Margarita.
6. Pimms.Start British summer time right with this fixed favorite. My biggest tips: don’t add the fruit into your jug when you make your batch; add that on the day, frozen fruit is absolutely perfect; there’s nothing better than a handful of frozen strawberries instead of ice in this one, and finally add Gin.
You can use any Gin but I’d go for elderflower or cucumber Gin to give your cocktail an exciting edge, or just to make your Pimms go a little further!
Finally if you’ve not got any lemonade don’t fear - swap it out for ginger ale or appletiser - then just play around with your fruit accordingly.
7. Manhattan.Another solid option for the fridge, is the Manhattan, with the classic combo of four ingredients: Spirit, bitters, sugar and water. The measures are pretty easy in this one too: 1 part water, 2 parts Sweet Vermouth, 4 parts Rye Whiskey and 1 spoon of Angostura Bitters.
This classic can also last longer than two weeks if stored properly. Serve on the day of your choice with a twist of lemon.
That’s it. A few fridge-friendly favorites that help you make a mess in the kitchen a little less often! The great thing about these is you can experiment with the fruit combinations and strengths each time you pour yourself a cocktail. I’ll drink to that...