Fruity ones by the pool in summer, warming sloe gin-infused one in front of the fire in winter, practically any one on the list at after work drinks…. We'll admit it, we love a good cocktail no matter what the time of year. But making them at home can be a bit more intimidating – do you need to fork out for a fancy cocktail mixer? Should you serve them in the correct cocktail glasses? HELLO! decided to call on one of our favourite chefs – Anna Jones, author of the gorgeous Modern Cook books, who has just put together her own Modern Cocktail Guide – for some tips on how to impress your guests.
A simple G+T is one of Anna's go-to's
What's set to be the next big cocktail obsession?
I think cocktails and food are going to grow closer together. We are looking for more natural flavours and original ingredients for both, and we’re also playing with matching our cocktails with our meals. Just pick out a stand out flavour from your dish to mirror in your drink, such as adding a sprig of rosemary to your G&T, or try flavour combinations – you can't go wrong with pea and mint, tomato and basil, or chocolate and chilli.
What's the easiest cocktail to make at home?
It's all about using what you’ve got and not over complicating it. My go-to is a Gordon's Gin and Tonic with blackberries and cucumber. I keep frozen blackberries on hand in the freezer when they're out of season, and I also think mismatched glasses look great.
What is the one thing people generally do wrong when making cocktails?
I think a lot of people think you need really fancy equipment to make a proper cocktail but you really don't. So many of my favourites, including the beloved G + T, can be mixed right in the glass. If it's something that needs shaking, l'll often use a jam jar, and if some ingredients need muddling, then I'll use the end of my wooden rolling pin and a sturdy mixing bowl or jar.
Anna loves fresh, healthy ingredients
What are your five top tips for making the perfect cocktail?
1. A drink can only be as good as what you put in it. Use the best spirits and mixers you can and make sure your garnishes are as fresh as possible.
2. As with food, temperature is key when it comes to enjoying drinks, so make sure you have plenty of ice and store your mixers in the fridge. If you've got the space, putting your glasses in the freezer ahead of time will make your drinks look amazing.
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3. Food and drink pairing isn’t just for wine. Use the flavours in your drink to bring out those on your plate. It doesn't need to be fancy or complicated – something as simple as a zippy green salad will be enhanced by using some elderflower syrup in your vodka tonic, or adding some fresh mint to your spritz.
4. It's all in the preparation. To make sure you have more time to spend enjoying drinks with your friends, have everything to hand ahead of time – such as setting up a little area with your glasses and mixers and cutting your fruit in advance. You can even pre-make jugs or bottles of some cocktails.
5. Herbs are one of my favourite ways to add flavour to food and drinks. Rosemary, thyme, and bay can be used whole, while softer herbs such as mint can be muddled with sugar. Botanicals work really well with gin, while mint works wonders in a good quality vodka or rum.
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