Everybody has a favourite cocktail and I think they say quite a bit about the person, though it’s not one of our usual interview questions! Cocktails have been around since 1688 when for ‘the health of the nation’ King William of Orange reduced taxation on distillation and British distillers went on to produce 500,000 gallons of neutral grain spirit the following year for medicinal purpose and social pleasure. By the 1720s, the City was plunged into an alcoholic sinkhole. An approximation of today’s gin was the cheapest and easiest spirit to distil, so the most widely available and explains why gin came to be known as mother’s ruin!
Today, cocktails have come to acquire a special occasion status: the drama and expertise are a performance in themselves. I inherited a very elegant well-worn copy of my grandmother’s cocktail book from the 1920s along with its highly polished walnut cocktail cabinet, complete with cut glass mirrored tray, where every crystal glass has its own place, with room for the shakers, the decanters and cocktail sticks which always come out at Christmas.
Back in the 1990s we would always whip up a Harvey Wallbanger in the office at Salisbury House for guests, but tastes have changed, and as the team has matured, so have our tastes. Now Amanda has cocktail making down to a fine art and has been known to delegate the NutriBullet management to Kim and with a great deal of excitement we let the master take charge as Amanda produces gloriously vibrant and fresh ingredients – where only the best will do; with her spirits, mixers, herbs, fruit, frivolous glasses and not forgetting the artistic finishes. We mere mortals are just her slaves charged with duties of judging sagely and enjoying seeing a master at work.
For me I remember frosting the flutes with egg white and sugar for my parents’ parties in the 1970s and it’s a tradition which continues. Kate’s Christmas go-to is a White Cosmo from Bar Boulud! Amanda loves a glass of Lidl Champagne or if there’s none available, a babycham! Mulled wine with all its warmth and Christmassy goodness for Steph, Charlie has a chilli martini and Charlotte, a delicious gin and tonic, preferably with Isle of Harris Gin and a slice of pink grapefruit! For Eva, a classic Bellini while Therese opts for a Snowball! Fingers crossed for a White Christmas! Rebecca is reminded of home and Christmas in the sun by a mimosa! And Kim has one request, a simple cool flute of unadulterated Billecart Salmon Brut.
Cheers and Merry Christmas from all at Aldrich & Co!