Jo Aspin knows all about drinks… from cocktails to seltzers you can count on her for some inspiration on what to take with you for those ‘last of the summer sun’ get-togethers at the park this Autumn.
Whilst Covid hasn’t brought us many positives, it has brought us myriad new options for outdoor imbibing as start-ups and independent brands have jumped at the chance to satisfy our new thirst for variety. It’s no longer acceptable to grab a Gordon’s & Tonic at the local corner shop on the way to your gathering – you need to up your al fresco drinking game, and here’s how…
Ready-made drinks in a tin have had a serious upgrade.
If you’ve hit hard the night before you’ll want to start with a Bloody Mary. Bloody Drinks have launched The Bloody Classic. Arguably as tasty as one you would get over the bar, it’s a blend of tomato juice, vodka, Amontillado sherry, lemon and pickle juice, Worcestershire sauce, soy and Tabasco.
You can grab these on-the-go G&Ts and Rum and Cokes from your local Co-op. Portobello Road Ginmixed withFranklin & Sons Tonic – is a deliciously smooth easy to drink (London Dry) gin in a tin, and you’ll be supporting local as both the spirit and tonic are London born and made. And you can now get Spiced RedLeg Rum with Franklin & Sons too – choose from their pineapple rum infused with ginger ale, or spiced rum with vanilla and ginger, paired with 1886 Cola.
I couldn’t put this one down during my taste tests!Not only is Conker’s Gin & Juice bright pink-sleeved – so you can accessorize your al fresco drinks with your lippy – but these gin-in-a-tin cocktails are as moreish as hell. They’re made up of Conker’s Dorset dry gin, blended with Hill Farm Apple & Elderflower juice, and topped with sparkling wine. They’re 5% ABV so you can have a fair few before you keel over too.
If you’re keen to keep calories to a minimum during your park sesh, you’ll want to get involved in the current hard seltzer craze. We love Long Shot drinks – one of the most natural on the market made from fruit, water, a natural grain spirit and nothing else. They come in three flavours; Raspberry & Blackcurrant; Strawberry & Rhubarb, and my favourite; Grapefruit, although it’s their Raspberry & Blackcurrant flavour that’s just scooped ‘World’s Best Hard Seltzer’ at the Global Premix Awards 2021. All their cans are less than 70 calories.
Meanwhile, there’s a new hard seltzer on the scene – Lot 42 have launched in the UK with two new flavours: Huckleberry & Ginger with a subtle spicy kick (which works brilliantly with some rum and ginger added for a low cal cocktail), and the very refreshing Blueberry & Lemongrass.
Winning for their vibrant tropical packaging – think bright oranges, pinks, flamingoes and sunset beach scenes – Naughty Water is a new vodka-based seltzer brand, also launched in three flavours: Mango & Passionfruit; Cranberry, and Blood Orange.
Finally, Thomas Tipple has launched a new aperitif spritz collection. Sourcing wine and vermouth from Italy, mandarin and petitgrain from south America and grapefruit peel from turkey, they have worked with a mixologist from a top London bar to create this delicately balanced bittersweet aperitif spritz. Drink it straight from the can or pour over ice.
Ready Made Cocktails:
The options have blown up over the last year for ready-made cocktails. NIO (Needs Ice Only) have a range of letterbox cocktails featuring all the classics like margarita, Cosmopolitans, Mojitos and their latest addition (my fave) Espresso Martini which is made with Kettle One vodka mixed with Borghetti coffee liqueurs.
Offering stiff competition is Boxtails – order from a choice of three mixed boxes for an instant pop-up bar in the park. Love that they even have their own cocktail menu inside. Fancy!
MOTH (Mix Of Total Happiness) won me over with their dinky little size and sleek black packaging. You can stick two or three of these in your handbag no probs. Take your pick from all classics – Margarita, Negroni, Espresso Martini and Whisky Sour.
Nice– there’s endless options for wines in a tin now it seems too, we couldn’t put these Nice wines down once we’d cracked them open. Billed as ‘wine for whenever’ on their website, you can choose from their pale rosé, Sauvignon Blanc or Malbec – or opt for the mix box of all three.
Not drinking? No problem! Days have launched a no booze lager and a virgin pale ale. The lager is made with Hallertau hops resulting floral and citrus notes, and the Days Pale Ale is made from a blend of CTZ, Magnum and Herkules hops – you’ll get tropical notes and a clean grapefruit finish all minus the headache the next day. Plus, a percentage of their proceeds go to mental health initiatives so you’re doing your bit with every sip.
For something a little more fruity, tropical non-alcoholic spirit brand Caleño – have launched into cans now too. Their unique infusion of pineapple, citrus and spicy botanicals is something you won’t taste anywhere else and they’ve now combined their non alcoholic spirit with a naturally light tonic and popped it in a tin for your on-the-go enjoyment.
If you really want to impress, why not bring a ready made bottled cocktail to the park. A whole bottle of it!
Bottle Bar & Shop, independent husband and wife makers (Natalie & Xhulio) in Catford have a range of frankly delicious homemade infusions, including seasonal specials, their Elderflower gin and Great taste award-winning Negroni are two personal faves.
Meanwhile in East London, Hacha agave bar in Dalston bottles their award-winning Mirror Margarita – available UK-wide. The clear as a mirror liquid is a mix of Arette Blanco Tequila, homemade Hacha sour mix, cane syrup and mixed grapefruit oils.
And finally, if you’re meeting up with some drinks buffs and want to bust out something new, why not bring along a bottle of Nuet Dry Aquavit. This fresh and super smooth tasting Norwegian spirit has launched in the UK and their signature serve is The Nuet Spritz – mix together ice, 4cl Nuet Dry Aquavit, 8cl cloudy lemonade and top with your choice of bubbles (our vote’s for Cremant). Gently mix together and garnish with a slice of grapefruit and a rosemary twig.
Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below!