Much as I love a glass of wine, there’s something about a cocktail that always makes me feel summery. Maybe it’s the bright colours, the special glasses, the clink of ice or the slices of fruit (or even a mini umbrella if you’re really going for it)? To celebrate summer finally arriving in the UK, drinks site thebar.com have asked me to share some of my favourite drinks inspired by my travels. So here are five travel-inspired cocktails, where just a sip can take me back to a different place or time somewhere around the world.
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New York: Cosmopolitan
The famous favourite of Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw, the Cosmopolitan just screamed New York glamour. Something about that dainty glass, bright pink colour and twirl of lime seemed incredibly sophisticated and ladylike. (Particularly back in the 90s when I was more likely to be found drinking Lemon Hooch.) But I never actually tried a Cosmopolitan until I was in its spiritual home of Manhattan. I took a Sex and the City tour, with stops at Carrie’s building, for cupcakes and of course for a Cosmo. And for extra SATC authenticity points it was in the bar that passed as Scout, owned by Steve and Aidan in the series. Tart, fruity and with a bit of a kick – the Cosmo’s is a bit like the Sex and the City ladies in a glass.
Try it: Take 35ml vodka, 10ml Grand Marnier, 45ml cranberry juice and 10ml lime juice. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, add the ingredients and give them a shake. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with lime.
Cayman Islands: Rum punch
After a long travel day and a delayed flight from Costa Rica to Miami, I finally arrived to find my connection to the Cayman Islands had just left. So I was booked onto the next flight with Cayman Airways a few hours later. The flight was a bit more no-frills, with seats just bolted to the floor – enough to get this nervous flyer’s heart rate up. But as soon as I sat down the air steward handed me a glass of rum punch and said ‘Welcome to the Caribbean’ and the stresses started to fade. This drink’s a real taste of the tropics, with a mix of sweet and sour flavours. It was the first of many on my Cayman trip and I can’t taste it now without being transported back to sunny afternoons on the beach or evening sunsets through the palms.
Try it: Take 50ml golden rum, 25ml spiced rum, 50ml apple juice, 20ml lemon juice, 15ml caramel syrup, 50ml ginger beer, dash of Angostura Bitters, fresh ginger, 2 cinnamon sticks, orange and lemon slices. Chop the fruit and add the rum and citrus. Leave to chill then add the ginger beer, grated ginger and ice.
Iceland: White Russian
Iceland in November might seem like more a time of year for mulled wine or Irish coffee. But the drink that takes me back to Reykjavik is a slightly less seasonal White Russian, a creamy, cold, coffee cocktail. It all goes back to my round-the-world trip to Australia, when one of our favourite films in our Sydney houseshare was The Big Lebowski. I probably saw it five times in the three months I lived there. So when I found out that there was a Lebowski-themed bar in Reykjavik I had to give it a try. The White Russian is the signature drink of the film’s main character, the Dude, so the bar has a whole menu of different White Russians. So a taste test was the perfect way to hide from the rain and spend a damp Icelandic autumn afternoon.
Try it: Take 50ml vodka, 25ml Baileys Coffee (or normal Baileys mixed with espresso) and 50ml cream. Pour the spirits into a shaker and mix. Pour over a glass of ice and top with cream and chocolate shavings.
Italy: Aperol Spritz
With its lurid orange colour and bitter flavour, it’s fair to say I wasn’t immediately sold on the idea of an Aperol Spritz. Why ruin a perfectly good prosecco? But paired with a sunny Italian afternoon, an outdoor terrace and a plateful of tasty aperitivo it really comes into its own. I tried my first Aperol Spritz in Sicily on a foodie trip but really got hooked on them on the Amalfi Coast. The beach nearest to our apartment in Praiano had a bar tucked between the sea and the cliffs. The October weather was unseasonally sunny so we alternated between a swim in the sea and warming up on the rocks. Come sunset (or pretty much any time after midday) it was Spritz o’clock, when we retreated to the bar to for a thirst-quenching glass.
Try it: Take 75ml prosecco, 50ml Aperol and 25ml soda water. Fill a large glass with ice and a slice of orange. Pour over the prosecco then add the Aperol and top with the soda water.
Indonesia: Pina Colada
Cocktail fashion might have us all drinking Manhattans or Martinis, but sometimes the classics are the best – glacé cherry, umbrella and all. There’s something about a hot, humid climate that suits a retro favourite like a Daquiri, Sea Breeze or best of all a Pina Colada. Coconut, pineapple and rum are about as tropical a combination as you can get. Even the smell takes me back to Indonesia, and a beachside bar on the island of Gili Trawangan. Back home the UK was celebrating a royal wedding, so we did our own toast to the happy couple with giant, creamy pina coladas. The bartenders went all out for the occasion and piled our glasses high with with cherries and pineapple slices – I even spotted a mini sparkler in there somewhere!
Try it: Take 50ml spiced rum, 25ml coconut cream and 3 chunks of pineapple. Mix all the ingredients with ice and mix in a blender until smooth. Pour into a tall glass and add your own over-the-top garnish.
Which cocktails bring back travel memories for you?
This post is brought to you in association with thebar.com