Fancy a drink? Sam Wylie-Harris raises her glass to this week’s best buys.
TO brighten up those long winter evenings, Halloween fright nights and sparkling bonfire bashes are perfect excuses for wicked party drinks – and a touch of sorcery!
Posh punches don’t get much better than the one I tasted at a recent opening party in London’s latest hotspot, The Parlour in Canary Wharf.
At the sleek and contemporary venue with an open kitchen, lounge and bar, they served innovative cocktails to a thrill-seeking crowd.
To mirror their rambunctious success, deck the house with Jack O’Lanterns, bucketloads of trick-or-treats and gather your guests around a bowl of their signature Parlour Punch.
This fiery and fruity infusion will deliver a warming glow and a taste of some magic witchcraft.
Parlour Punch (serves 12)
350ml gold rum
150ml apricot brandy
2 litres pineapple juice
1 litre apple juice
100ml pomegranate juice
Pour all the ingredients over ice, mix and serve
For a Bonfire Night special try the very drinkable and brilliantly-named Hope Estate ‘The Cracker’ Cabernet Merlot 2006 (£10.99 each at Wine Rack or three for two). Full-bodied with an amazingly rich colour, the merlot nicely rounds out the cabernet fruit and makes this a cracking wine with roast beef or lamb.
:: Amarula Espresso
To make sure your Guy Fawkes Night goes with a bang, why not add some extra sparkle by serving one of Amarula Cream’s exotic dark cocktails - for an explosive night to remember!
As dusk falls, I think their Amarula Espresso is a lovely, warming drink to get everyone in the mood for rockets, roman candles, bangers and mash.
50ml Amarula Cream
50ml espresso coffee
2 teaspoons caster sugar to taste
Shake the coffee, vodka and sugar together with ice cubes and strain into a tumbler glass, and layer the Amarula Cream on top. Garnish with three coffee beans, Amarula Cream (70cl £11.99, all good supermarkets)
After the pyrotechnics finale has lit up the sky,
And for the perfect night-cap, blow away the autumn blues with a glass of rich and sticky Pertaringa Full Fronti NV (£10.99, 50cl, sohowine.co.uk). A blend of liqueur fronti from the Pertaringa Vineyards in South Australia, this fortified wine is similar to a dessert port - delicious by a log fire with a few marshmallows!
:: Winter bubbles! Why not say "Welcome" and capture the festive mood with a sparkling Aussie shiraz? This stylish sparkler is full of intense raspberry-ripple flavours, but full-bodied enough to make it a good match with devils-on-horseback and moreish little savouries. Langmeil Sparkling Shiraz NV, (£21.25, www.ravensbournewine.co.uk)
:: It’s worth picking up a couple of bottles of this great value wine while it’s on special offer. Packed full of black fruits, spice and a hint of black olive, Wakefield Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (£8.49 in Majestic, but on promotion to £6.49, Nov-Jan) is from South Australia’s Clare Valley and it’s a great choice with lamb moussaka or the best of British cheeses.
:: Poppy pride! It’s time to raise our glasses in support of our brave boys abroad, and remember those who’ve fought on our behalf in conflicts current and past. Portuguese wine producer Tagus Creek has joined forces with two leading supermarkets to support the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal. For every bottle sold in Waitrose between November 4-11, and in Morrison’s from November 2-15, £1 will be sent directly to the Royal British Legion. Try the rich Tagus Creek Cabernet Aragones 2008 (£5.99, Waitrose), packed full of dark, berry flavours and delicious with game and cheeses.
:: Spiritual rising - the fiesta of Dia de los Muertos (’Day of the Dead’) on November 2 is enough to spook any ghost or ghoul! In true Mexican style, the festivities span over three days and are symbolised by floral garlands, sugar skulls and, of course, sipping and savouring the nation’s favourite spirit, Cazadores Tequila. To get you in the mood for this South American scare-fest, the signature Cazadores Lolita cocktail (a tempting mix of Cazadores Reposado, pomegranate, freshly-squeezed lime juice, a touch of lemonade and a dash of orange bitters) is on offer at some of the leading bars in Leeds, one of the UK’s tequila hot-spots. The newly-opened Neon Cactus, Azucar, Boutique, Mojo and Reform are all offering the Cazadores Lolita for £5 until November 3, or try the distinctive taste at home - Cazadores Reposado (70cl, £32.80, www.thedrinkshop.com).