Tag: drinks

Good food should always be accompanied by good drink. And sometimes, good drink is a thing on its own. These next few weeks in the run-up to Christmas and New Years are peak party season, and whether you’re hosting a big group of friends and neighbours, or you’ve just got a few friends and family stopping in, the first thing you’ll do is probably offer them a drink. Nobody wants to have to dash out to the shops or garage to stock up at the last minute, so get yourself well set for this year and many more to come. A thoughtfully stocked cocktail cabinet or drinks trolley needn’t cost a great deal (it can be cheaper than a night out), and you can replenish or upgrade elements of it over time. It is an investment, and a work-in-progress, that with a few basic cocktail recipes will delight your guests and pay you back time and time again.

selection of bottles of spirits in a home bar
A very well stocked bar – you can start small and work up to this!

Home Bar – What and Why

You don’t need to be a bow-tied barman to mix a good cocktail. Most classic cocktails are remarkably simple, requiring very few ingredients and very little skill to mix. Commit a couple to memory or have the recipes written out in a kitchen drawer, and you’re good to go. I’d suggest offering your guests the following as a starter for 10:



G&T (alc or non-alc)



Old Fashioned

French 75

To make a Negroni, mix 25ml each of gin, Campari and vermouth rosso, pour over ice and garnish with orange.

Home Bar Basics – Alcohol

Just as with food, the quality of your ingredients is really important. That’s why less is more in terms of the spirits that you stock and what you offer. A decent bottle of juniper-forward gin (more versatile for cocktails) is essential; there are hundreds to choose from these days but I’d suggest a Cornish classic like Tarquin’s. It’s nice to cater for drivers and non-drinkers properly too, so a botanical non-alcoholic spirit such as Pentire (another Cornish brand) means you can offer a 0% G&T rather than a regular soft drink.

pentire non alcoholic spirit and tonic
Pentire and tonics for the drivers and non–drinkers.

A bottle of decent bourbon whiskey and a small bottle of bitters will allow you to offer Old Fashioneds, whilst a bottle of Campari and a nice vermouth rosso (check out Cornish vineyard Knightor’s fantastic vermouth) will put the ever-popular Negroni on your Christmas party cocktail menu.

bottle of angostura bitters
Angostura Bitters: A cocktail cabinet essential, just as salt is in the kitchen.

Home Bar Basics – Mixers, Garnishes and Ice

Ice is essential. I always say to make best use of your freezer by using it to store high value items, not filling it up with cheap bulky items like bread and ice and then spending all that money on electricity. But when it comes to Christmas parties, you don’t want to run out of ice. A bag of ice is a good idea if your party is planned, but for some cocktails it’s a great idea to make oversized ice-cubes by freezing water in old yoghurt pots (or similar).

When it comes to mixers, buying small cans or bottles of tonic water is a more expensive way of doing it than getting in big bottles, but big bottles go flat quickly and if you don’t need all of it then some wil go to waste compared to individual serves.

A couple of limes and lemons for garnisihing G&Ts and gin-based cocktails is a sensible addition to your fridge, as is an orange or two – sliced to serve in a Negroni, or a slither of peel as a garnish for an Old Fashioned.

French 75 cocktail
The French 75 is a Champagne cocktail that kicks like a canon: mix 15ml lemon juice and 30ml gin with a dash of sugar syrup over ice, strain into a chilled glass and top with 60ml Champagne.

Home Bar Basics – Equipment and Glassware

You don’t need a massive collection of fancy glassware, but you also don’t want to be serving drinks in a  random assortment of tumblers and mugs. Basic glassware like wine glasses, champagne flutes, high balls and short rocks tumblers are all available in supermakrets andhomewares stores for reasonable prices. If it’s a big party, then consider hiring!

You’ll need a sharp paring knife and choping board for preparing garnishes. You can buy a cocktail kit if you want to, but a long-handled teaspoon will make a perfeectly good substitute for a bar spoon, you can use a mason jar or jug instead of a Boston glass or tin (or cocktail shaker) and a small seive or tea strainer instead of a hawthorn strainer. Lots of cocktails can be mixed in the glass, such as a Negroni or Old Fashioned. What matters is the end-result, but you’re not a hotel bar and nobody will criticise a person who hands them a drink!

The great thing about having a properly stocked and ready-to-go home bar set-up is that it doesn’t expire. Once you’ve got yourself started, after that initial outlay, you can maintain and add to it for very little as your cocktail repertoire grows, and it will be there to delight next December, and the December after that, and on any occasion in between. Enjoy!

*If you don’t want to serve a solely liquid diet, then our recipe for Festive Bar Nuts will come in handy. They’ll keep in a sealed jar, although it’s unlikely they’ll last that long.

Are you having a “Dry January” following the usual over-indulgences of the festive period?  Or perhaps you’re considering making some longer-term changes for the benefit of your health in 2020 and looking to moderate your alcohol consumption? Whatever your reasons, you’ll be glad to know that these days there are plenty of options for non-drinkers who don’t want to sink to sipping sugary soft drinks all evening, so you can still drink but without “drinking”.

Alongside the huge range of “no and low” alcohol beers on offer, there is also a growing number of great non-alcoholic spirits particularly suited to those of you who enjoy (or enjoyed) a gin and tonic. 

2019 saw the launch of a Cornish botanical non-alcoholic spirit, Pentire, which is distilled using unique plants that are native to the Cornish coastline.  Their first infusion, Adrift, is a blend of rock samphire, sage, citrus, Cornish sea salt and a number of plants foraged from Pentire (the headland at Polzeath on the coast of North Cornwall), we’ve been enjoying its herbaceous flavours in plenty of “Free and T’s” this January.  To find out more about Pentire, we caught up with its founder and creator, Alistair Frost.

pentire founder alistair frost

For those that are unfamiliar with the term, what is a non-alcoholic distilled botanical spirit?

We call it a spirit because we’re still doing distillation just like you’d do with gin or vodka, so we’re distilling plants. The process is steam distillation and we get these lovely natural organic run-offs of delicious liquids. When we distill it, it’s much more technical than distilling a gin – we have to be really careful with the temperature and pressure inside the still because we’re distilling handfuls of fresh plants and we’ve got to be really careful that we don’t burn them. It’s a much more delicate process than gin; we’re not using any dried botanicals or spices so it’s quite technical.

grilling lemons on a camp fire

What’s the flavour profile, and how and why did you design it that way?

We use three words: coastal, herbaceous and fresh. The reason why we went with that flavour profile is that we wanted to have a bottle and a flavour profile that was shaped by its surroundings. When you’re standing on a Cornish headland you get all those amazing top-notes; it’s grassy, it’s clean, it’s earthy, and also slightly salty and slightly citrus. When you’re distilling plants like rock samphire that grows in that environment on a headland and cliff-tops, they distill really well. Rock samphire is in the carrot family, it’s got a really high water content and its flavour is perfect to give a customer that taste of the coast.

rock samphire

What makes the Pentire headland a unique environment for these plants?

The reason why we named it Pentire is it was originally just a holding name for the project; it had really good provenance, it had good origin, it’s two syllables, it’s fresh, it’s easy to say and easy to remember, but what we realised when we started foraging on and around Pentire with a few of Cornwall’s best botanists, is that it’s got some of the best range in plant life out of any are of the UK coast. That’s because it’s got a unique climate, it’s got a really unique soil pH and air moisture. And that’s why it’s got such a huge range of plants, and of wildlife to boot.

foraging for botanicals

Non-alcoholic spirits are becoming ever more popular. Why do you think this is?

This is probably for a number of reasons. Outside of drinks, people are being health conscious, aware of their calorific intake, and aware of the health benefits of not drinking. In Pentire there’s only two calories per serve, it’s got zero sugar, it’s got zero salt, so there’s those health benefits. There’s also the whole ride-off from the gin boom as well, so everyone can relate to a gin and tonic.

pentire adrift non alcoholic martini

What is the best way to enjoy Pentire?

When people ask, “how do you drink Pentire?”, we say that you drink it just like a gin and tonic, and everyone can relate to that. It’s a double shot, 50ml, served with tonic and garnished with a sprig of rosemary or a bit of lemon peel.

pentire and tonic non alcoholic free and t

And where can our readers and followers pick up a bottle?

We sell through our website pentiredrinks.com where we offer free next-day delivery, and in terms of where people can pick it up ort try it, in Cornwall you can order a Pentire at Restaurant Nathan Outlaw, at any of the Paul Ainsworth Group restaurants, Prawn on the Lawn, and in terms of retailers places like Dalesford and The Pig.

Pentire pop up shop at Padstow Food Festival

Click here to find out more about Pentire’s botanical non-alcoholic spirits.

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