Monday
Sep262016

Rose Gin Cocktails & Snacks with friends 

Some friends called unexpectantly the other day, it was lovely to see them.  When people come to call I love to give them something delightful to drink and a nibble or two to eat.

Snacks and drinks don't have to be complicated or tricky - take it from me when people come to call I don't want to spend ages cooking, I want to spend ages with them.  So I heated some of these Marks and Spencer Falafels and served them with a big bowl of houmous into which I had grated the rind of a lemon.

Into another bowl went some of these Marks and Spencer, Spirit of Summer Carnival Chips.  Packets of crisps and tubs of houmous are always worth having on hand because you never know when chums will come to call and chips and dips are great snacks to have on hand.  Although you may have to be careful like me and make sure you don't eat the crisps ...  Good crisps are possibly one of my faourite things - they are nearly a food group, right? 

Olives are another storecupboard or fridge staple, they are great sliced into wraps, served with a martini or an evening drink, or nibbled before dinner.  These Marks and Spencer Spirit of Summer Greek Kalamata olives are fruity and firm, plump with a sharp smooth taste.  I get the one's stuffed with pimento and garlic.

The Spirit of Summer onion rings and dirty fries are two of my favourites.  

The Marks and Spencer dirty fries are loaded with cheese and sour cream, some chilli and scallions, I serve mine straight from the oven on the metal tray.


Now what to serve to drink ... I always have punnets of frozen raspberries in the freezer and a bottle of Marks and Spencer rose extract in the cupboard.  These two ingredients can make a gin cocktail sparkle.

In the bottom of a fishbowl glass add a handful of raspberries, two drops of rose extract,  ice to cover and a good measure of Sipsmith Gin - the sweetness in this gin works brilliantly with the raspberries and rose extract.  Top with sparkling water and serve.

Food for friends can be delicious with storecupboard ingredients, it just needs a few ideas to sparkle.

That's it for now ...

Nics

Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable

Sunday
Sep252016

Mulled Sloe Gin Cups

As I walked to the car I noticed the nip in the air had become a chill.  The bright harvest moon has been waning and the evenings have drawn in.  Autumn has arrived in a blaze of colour and beauty. The season has transitioned and my body is starting to crave warm drinks and maybe just maybe a little less ice.  As I wait for the sloes to ripen and the first frost to fall, I have been experimenting with this Sloe Gin from Marks and Spencer and come up with a warm and soothing drink - a Mulled Sloe Gin Cup.

Sloes are the fruit of the the blackthorn, Marks and Spencer sloe gin mixes sloe berries with sugar matured in gin, resulting in a sloe gin with a fruity full flavour.  I warmed a two cups of sloe gin with a 1/2 cup of water, 2 cloves, 2 crushed green cardamon pods, a cinnamon stick, 1/4 cup of freshly squeezed orange juice and three slices of ginger to just before boiling for 4 minutes.  I then poured it into glass cups I had added a slice of ginger speared with three cloves, a couple of blackberries, a cinnamon stick and the rind of some orange.  

This creates a sweetly spiced drink that is soothing and warming.  

 

Mulled Sloe Gin Cups

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of sloe gin
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 3 cloves
  • 3crushed green cardamon pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 cup of freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 3 slices of orange rind
  • 3 slices of ginger

Method

Put all ingredients into a pan, then simmer for 4-8 minutes, and serve in glass cups I had added a slice of ginger speared with three cloves, a couple of blackberries, a cinnamon stick and the rind of some orange.  

That's it for now ...

Nics

Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable

Monday
Sep122016

Rosemary Gin Lemonade

I love real lemonade.  The bitter tang of lemons mixed with the warmth of sugar to create a sweet sour drink that is refreshing.  We have a huge rosemary plant growing in a tub outside.  Its bright green spikes releasing its heady woody citrus scent as we enjoy somewhat of an Indian summer.  As I walked by I brushed my hands on it and plucked a stem, taking it into the kitchen.  Lemon and rosemary go well together I pondered.  

Lightly brushing the stem, I put it into a jug and covered it in a cup of Extra Dry Gin from Marks and Spencer while I added five washed and roughly chopped unwaxed lemons to my blender, with a cup of ice and three quarters of a cup of caster sugar to make the lemonade.  Blitzing everything together until it was a smooth pulp mixture - about 3 minutes - then I strained it and poured it over the rosemary marinading in gin.

Dry Gin from Marks and Spencer is made in Scotland and has a rich citrus flavour, it is great to using in long cocktails because of its dry flavour.  Its botanicals are juniper, angelica, orris root, cassia bark, lemon peel, coriander, liquorice and grapefruit.  To compliment the grapefruit this recipe can also be made using ruby grapefruits instead of lemons.

 Placing another lightly bruised stem of rosemary in each of my serving glasses, I topped each one with ice, then poured the rosemary gin lemonade serving as a late afternoon drink before dinner.  Should you want to add a bit of fizz then pour a splash of tonic into each glass and top up with lemonade.  We are loving this lemon diet tonic from Marks and Spencer.

That's it for now ...

Nics

Salt and Sparkle = Life Remarkable

 

Saturday
Sep102016

Perfect Moving Home Gift

Moving house is stressful.  The perfect antidote is a gin and tonic, but where are the glasses, did we pack the gin, have we got a lemon.  The questions are endless and add to the stress, when really all you want to do at times like this is sit down and sip a drink be it on the floor with a packing crate as a table.

One of my favourite gifts to give people who are moving house is a Gin and Tonic basket - I pack in some Marks and Spencer Spirit of London Gin, my favourite M&S Lemon tonic water, a lemon, a little rosemary plant, a couple of tumblers and some ice.  I leave it over to the folks either on the day they are moving or give it to them minus the ice the night before in a box marked IMPORTANT GIN AND TONIC FIX.

This Spirit of London Dry Gin small batch from Marks and Spencer is light and refreshing with a good juniper and botanical flavour.  It is distilled at the Thames Distillery near Clapham in Central London.  Master Distiller Charles Maxwell who created the gin especially for M&S is the 8th generation in an unbroken line of London gin distillers that began with his forbearer George Bishop in 1700, giving him a unique 300 years worth of knowledge. 

Don't forget to bring a couple of glasses and a bag of ice it saves a lot of rooting around in boxes or trying to find essentials - because this is no ordinary move in box, it is perhaps for some a little sanity in a glass.  Moving is hard and a gin and tonic is perfect remedy for that.

That's it for now ...

Nics

Salt & Sparkle

Thursday
Sep082016

Lime, Ice, Spirit G&T

Well - you've made it to Thursday.  And you know that that means, right?

Thursday we like you because you sit right next to Friday and the weekend.

How's your week been?  Maybe it is time to sip something long and cool, pop your feet up and relax.  In fact no matter what your week has been like, there's always time to sip a g&t - you don't need an occasion other than it is Thursday night.

This Spirit of London Dry Gin small batch from Marks and Spencer is light and refreshing with a good juniper and botanical flavour.  It is distilled at the Thames Distillery near Clapham in Central London.  Master Distiller Charles Maxwell who created the gin especially for M&S is the 8th generation in an unbroken line of London gin distillers that began with his forbearer George Bishop in 1700, giving him a unique 300 years worth of knowledge. 

To make a great Gin and Tonic, start with fabulous gin, and good tonic, add a squeeze of lime or lemon or both - depending on what you prefer.

Fill the glass with plenty of ice, pour in the gin over the ice and lime, then top with tonic and serve.  No straws or gimmicks, or lime wiped around the top of the glass.  

Keep it really simple. Lime, ice, spirit then top with a splash or two of tonic.

Gin and Tonic perfection courtsery of Marks and Spencer.  Happy Sipping, happy Thursday.

 

That's it for now ...

Nics

Salt and Sparkle = Life Remarkable

Wednesday
Sep072016

Brooklyn Gin

Brooklyn Gin available from Marks and Spencer new range of gins is made in Hudson Valley, New York

It is a small batch gin  - it takes three days to make 300 bottles, and an award winning one - World's Best Gin Design at the World Gin Awards - Gold Medal - 2015 San Francisco World Spirits Competition - and it comes in an eye catching distinctive blue glass square bottle.  Which already looks great on my cocktail shelf.

Brooklyn Gin is made from fresh locally-produced citrus fruit (Eureka Lemon, Persian Lime, Navel Orange, and Kumquat), whilst the herbs and botanicals hail from around the globe from the Albanian Juniper to Brazilian Cocoa Nibs. Once all the ingredients are peeled, cut, and cracked, they are distilled in a one-of-a-kind Christian Carl copper pot still at a fruit orchard in the Hudson Valley, New York, the use of handcutting and peeling the botanicals creates a depth of flavour not there in the gins made using frozen ingredients.  The base is 100% American corn which the producers source from local Hudson Valley farms.

Brooklyn Gin has a clean finish and I enjoyed it over ice on its own, or mixed with some Feverfew Tonic (the tonic that everyone is raving about, I am not sure I would join them).  

Brooklyn Gin has a distinctive crisp, clean, well rounded citrus taste which work well with a g&t with citrus at its core, such as these twists of ruby grapefruit and lime on a stick to twirl through the ice and tonic in a slight variation on the g&t.

Marks and Spencer Ruby Grapefruit is another good mixer for Brooklyn Gin to create the Ultimate Bloodred Gin and Juice.  

Don't you think after the day you've had it's time to sip a g&t made with Brooklyn Gin, put your feet up and enjoy some episodes from a box set?

That's it for now ...

Nics

Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable

Tuesday
Sep062016

Spirit of Autumn Gin Cup

Gin is the Spirit of Autumn, its popularity has soared this year and so we thought we'd make a cocktail in its honour.  Welcome to the Spirit of Autumn Gin Cup.

Usually all the bounty of Autumn, its time to get on down there with apples, pears and cloves for this Spirit of Autumn Gin Cup, made using Marks and Spencer London Dry Gin.  

Marks and Spencer London Dry Gin is blended and distilled in Scotland.  It has a big juniper and citrus peel taste and is flavoured with botanicals of angelica, orris root, cassia bark, lemon peel, coriander, liquorice and grapefruit.  

Incidentially have you tried Gin and Grapefruit? Now that is one Gin and Juice that gets right on down there.  I digress ...

Spirit of Autumn Gin Cup is warm and zingy, I was inspired by the changing seasons and the coming of Autumn harvest.  This drink mixes crisp apples and pears with warm cloves, a pinch of cinnamon, ginger and apple cider.  It can be served hot or cold.  

Spirit of Autmn Gin Cup Cocktail

Ingredients

to make a jug that serves 4 generously

  • 2 x cups of London Dry Gin
  • 1 x litre bottle of Pink Lady Apple Juice
  • 2 granny smith apples washed and finely sliced
  • 2 ripe but firm pears cored and finely sliced
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 x 500ml bottle of Magners Cider
  • 4 x thin slices of ginger one for each serving glass
  • Pinch of cinnamon - optional
  • lots of ice or this drink can be served warm, simmer for 1 minute and serve in heat proof glasses

Method

Mix everything together and serve in short glasses.

That's it for now ...

Nics

Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable