Artisan Drinks

Lindy Wildsmith Artisan Drinks

I’ve many a reference book on my shelves, ranging from brand specific, to cocktail ideas, to category overviews. It’s odd to admit then that despite the numerous titles, I don’t sit down, open one up and flick through. I do know why. I get incredibly frustrated if I come across an inspiring idea, or a cocktail that I would love to re-create and experience. I haven’t got the bar, the arena to show these new-found ideas off. Well, not yet anyway. But until that day when I sign on the dotted line, I keep my nose firmly out of a good book for my own sanity. My only outburst of this shall we say is the goal of Drinks Enthusiast and this very website that you are browsing. This site, this drinks directory more than anything, is my outlet, my ‘sneak peak’ as I stride towards experiencing as much as I can in view of what I believe will be a ground-breaking concept for a bar. To some, this whole paragraph may sound confusing, spacial maybe. Odd perhaps. But I invite you to my bar in the future and I promise it will all become clear.

However I’m contradicting myself a little. I’m not a blogger who rambles on about their ideas. No, never have been, but I believe an explanation was due as this feature looks at the one aspect of my life I try to avoid. This feature looks at a category I have never once reviewed, and starts with a book entitled ‘Artisan Drinks’.

The cover may look familiar to some as the author Lindy Wildsmith released this back at the latter end of last year. And I’ll hold my hands up, I’m late into the party when I promised to take a look at this. The aforementioned reason perhaps, as essentially I’ll be raking in some ideas that Lindy has published, and wishing I could recreate for the crowds in Manchester. Intrigue has got the better of me though as the aspect of DIY liquids has become a hot topic in the last few years between both bartenders and customers.

So lets take a look.

Lindy herself runs a venue named ‘The Chef’s Room’ in Wales, specialising in British country cooking and Italian regional food, a passion she picked up after living in Rome for several years. This sentence alone sets the tone of the recipes and ideas. Italy is seen as on of the countries that originates the combination of herbs, elixirs and fruits, while Britain gives the simplicity to the recipes which make them stand out for all to re-create. Take her ideas for cordials and soft drinks. The first recipe is a ‘Italian lime siroppo‘, a modern take on a 1696 idea, and is essentially 5 limes, and a 2:1 ratio of water to sugar. You couldn’t start with a simpler Italian/British combination! Grenadine, ginger, lemon barley and spiced blackberry are all covered, as are some of the more intriguing bases including raspberry vinegar, rosehip syrup and syrop de menthe (mint).

It’s not just your usual syrups that Lindy covers though. she dives into the likes of beer, cider and perry, wine, digestifs, punches and cocktails, as well as dabbling with non alcohol versions of sparkling, soft drinks and elegant mocktails. Her mocktails, for example, utilise her previous recipes, including one for a ‘Prohibition’ cocktail. Home-made apple juice combines with syrop de menthe and egg for a truly unique drink for an evening. I’m sure there’s no better feeling when you blend two home-made creations to make one truly artisan drink!

it’s not just your usual fruits and herbs that get a shoe-in within the book though. The last chapter dives into the teas, tisanes and spicy brews, something that has grown with fascination these last few years. Examples include ‘herb garden tisanes‘ using thyme, sweet cicely and borage amongst others, or ‘hot tangerine and nutmeg chocolate’ that will surely blow away your usual supermarket mix. While flicking through though, you can’t help but notice some stunning photography skills which really make each recipe hit with impact. Photographer Kevin Summers is a 20 year veteran, working with the likes of Delia Smith and Nigel Slater, and has produced some amazing shots of all aspects of recipe production.

I’m glad I plucked up the courage to open up and have a read. A recipe book essentially, and one that has now filled me with ideas for that opening night. The recipes are simple and I’m sure incredibly effective, and it seems that there is a finished product that would work for just about any palate. Variation is key these days, and Lindy has got it spot on. Grab a copy and take a look for yourself. I suppose though that I can only guess at the moment that her recipes will stand up to others who have come before her.

Give it a year and I’ll let you know.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Azizi

Azizi

It’s not all about alcohol on my site. Yes, the world is dominated by spirits, wine and beer, but there are a fair share of alcohol alternatives today, especially as we find more innovative ways to enjoy a drink if we are not lucky enough to leave the car behind. With this in mind, may I present to you Azizi.

Coming to you via its creators Liz and Debbie, they set out to search for an alcohol alternative after, quite rightly, not wanting to drink every evening. Deeming their search unsuccessful to hit their taste buds, they opted to create their own, setting up Azizi Drinks back in February of last year. They also utilised the term ‘Total Mouth Feel’, essentially creating a tipple that engages with the different receptors of your palate, leaving a length of flavour on the tongue once the drink has finished.

Azizi
Azizi

Two expressions will be sampled for this feature, with the Classic Ruby featuring pomegranate, lime and elderflower flavoured with a special blend of herbs, whilst the Classic Gold contains lime and mint flavoured with a blend of herbs. But how do they fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –

Azizi Classic Ruby – 0%

Rich pomegranate on the nose with fresh slithers of lime coming through. The elderflower is present, but is masked by a heavy layer of sweetness. Tart on the palate, with sharp citrus bites. A nice blend of the pomegranate and elderflower to begin with too, although the elderflower dominates slightly more upon the finish. Blocks of herbal flavours come through occasionally. A slightly dry and bitter finish.

Azizi Classic Gold – 0%

Plenty of mint on the nose, subdued slightly with the lime for a pleasant start. Bold beginning on the palate with sharp citrus and mint delivering. Light, with a thick texture creating a delicate and rather aromatic finish. Dry.

Not one to enjoy from the bottle being a concentrated cordial, but definitely one to experience, or what Azizi call a ‘Social Experience’, aka enjoy one of these with friends!

Azizi and Soda
Azizi and Soda

Azizi and Soda

Glass – 

Wine or Champagne Flute

Ingredients –

15 ml of Azizi Classic Ruby or Gold
Soda

Method – 

Fill a wine glass with ice and pour in the Azizi Classic. Top with chilled soda and stir. Garnish with a lime wedge.

In the future, Debbie and Liz are looking to bring out carbonated ready-to-drink versions of Azizi, which I believe could work as the public look for refreshing alternatives. Keep an eye out for these during the spring and summer months, I think the 2015 drink could be here as the adult alternative to alcohol!

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Belvoir Fruit Farms

Belvoir Fruit Farms

I enquired about a brand that, I don’t know about you, I’ve seen a fair bit of lately, cropping up in bars and restaurants all over Manchester. Not one to miss out on a drinking sensation, I spoke to the team at Belvoir Fruit Farms to see what all the fuss is about. You see, Belvoir Fruit Farms are not an alcohol producer, but a cordial and pressé manufacturer with an array of flavours to add a touch of summer to your long drinks.

Before we hit onto their range and see what we can get from each, lets take a look at who, what and how Belvoir Fruit Farms have got themselves such a sturdy reputation.

Belvoir (pronounced ‘beever’) is located within the Lincolnshire countryside on the Belvoir Castle estate close to Grantham. The location has a rich history, dating back to the time of William the Conqueror in the 11th century. Robert de Todeni, Standard Bearer to William the Conqueror, built the first castle and named it ‘Bel voir’, the French term for ‘beautiful view’.  A couple of re-builds have happened since then, mainly after the Wars of the Roses and the English Civil War, but the current version is alive and well, occupied by the Duke and Duchess of Rutland and open to the public.

Belvoir the brand came about around 1984, when for many years before that, Belvoir Fruit Farm was literally a fruit farm. The wife of the Lord of the castle at the time, Lord John Manner, began making elderflower cordial for her family, using the flowers she picked from the hedgerows around the farm. Mary Manner expanded to a few cases from small hand-made batches once friends and neighbours caught wind of her creation, ultimately becoming available to purchase within the local shop.

By the late 1980’s, Lord John was producing a range of cordials from the fruits around his farm, all pressed using an antique French wine press. The spring of 1995 saw them go organic with the introduction of planting 90 acres of organic elderflowers, ultimately harvested in 1998. These days, the business is run by Peveral Manners, son of the founders, who has over time expanded the range available, and the fruits that the farm produces. He’s kept everything on site too, with all fruits and flowers squeezed, crushed, pressed, cooked or infused.

So, a farm based company, still in the family, and creating award-winning cordials. Not a bad start at all, but how do they all fair? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes on the range I’ve experienced so far –

Belvoir Fruit FarmsBelvoir Fruit Farms Elderflower Pressé – 0%

Made from organic elderflowers, fresh organic lemon juice, organic sugar and sparkling water from the Belvoir springs.
Light with fresh hints of lemon on the nose. Delicate elderflower with hints of natural sweetness come through. Slightly sharp with the citrus on the palate, but mellows into a smooth elderflower offering. A little dry on the finish, with a low carbonation throughout.

Belvoir Fruit Farms Elderflower Pressé Light – 0%

30% less sugar than the original Elderflower Pressé. Fresh elderflower on the nose, natural scents with a wild flower feel to the aromas. Elderflower dominates initially on the palate, but the fresh citrus rounds out the experience and creates a short offering. A little dryer, and noticeably less sugar than its original.

Belvoir Fruit Farms Raspberry Lemonade – 0%

Created using pressed raspberry and lemon juices and blended with Belvoir sparkling spring water.
Sweet, bold raspberry notes on the nose, following nicely onto the palate. A little sharp once the citrus hits, but doesn’t take away the main expected flavour of raspberry. Short, sweet and refreshing.

Belvoir Fruit Farms Elderflower Cordial – 0%

Fresh elderflowers and squeezed fresh lemons blended together with sugar and water.
Bold hit of elderflower on the nose, ripe aromas with a hint of natural honey sweetness. Sharp on the palate, but mellows quickly into a very sweet finish. Short, fresh with a  lively base.

Belvoir Fruit Farms Raspberry & Rose Cordial – 0%

Fresh pressed raspberries blended with Turkish rose petal extract. Smooth velvet tones on the nose of raspberry,  with a slight Turkish Delight aroma coming through. Lighter than expected on the palate, with fresh raspberry being rounded off with the Turkish rose petal. Naturally sweet, delicate and long.

Belvoir Fruit Farms Raspberry & Lemon Cordial – 0%

Pressed raspberries blended with freshly squeezed lemon juice. Fresh lemon dominates the nose, with hints of acidic sweetness from the raspberries lingering on the finish. Very sharp on the palate, with the natural sweetness bursting through to counterbalance. Fresh, bold and long.

A cracking range, and with many a recipe to enjoy –

Long Raspberry Cosmo
Long Raspberry Cosmo

Long Raspberry Cosmo

Glass – 

Highball

Ingredients – 

25 ml Ketel One Citrus
15 ml Cointreau
10 ml Lime juice
2 dashed Orange bitters
125 ml Raspberry Lemonade Pressé

Method – 

Shake ingredients and strain into hi-ball glass with cubed ice. Top with Raspberry Lemonade, garnish with flamed orange zest.

or perhaps

Elderflower Mojito
Elderflower Mojito

Elderflower Mojito

Glass –

Highball

Ingredients –

35 ml Havana Club 3yr
6-8 Mint leaves
2 Lime wedges
1 tsp Sugar
75 ml Elderflower Pressé

Method – 

Squeeze limes into high-ball glass and add mint leaves and sugar. Churn, add rum and fill with crushed ice. Churn again, add more crushed ice and top with Elderflower Pressé. Garnish with a sprig of mint.

Two great choices, and indeed not the only options for you. The Elderflower Pressé or Raspberry Lemonade goes very well as a mixer for gin or vodka, whilst the Raspberry and Rose cordial can jazz up a sparkling wine and the Elderflower cordial is great within a gin and tonic. But it’s not only drinks that the  Belvoir Fruit Farms range are good for –

Belvoir Marinade for Lamb
Belvoir Marinade for Lamb

Belvoir Marinade for Lamb

Serves 6

Ingredients –

4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp Belvoir Blueberry & Blackcurrant Cordial
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tbsp of fresh rosemary, chopped
Salt & pepper

Method – 

1. Mix all the ingredients together.
2. Place the lamb in a large Zip Lock bag and pour in the marinade. Seal the bag. This makes it easier to keep it in the fridge and the lamb is better covered by the marinade than leaving it sitting in a bowl.

NOTES:

If barbecuing, pour some of the marinade over the meat as it is cooking. If roasting, do the same but, after cooking and removing the lamb, make a sauce by pouring some stock and red wine into the roasting tray. Reduce this down and add some crème fraiche. Season to taste.

Quite a versatile range to enjoy! As mentioned before, Belvoir Fruit Farms can boast some awards too, with The Great Taste panel awarding last year 2 gold stars to the Elderflower & Rose Pressé and further single 1 star awards each for Apple, Plum & Cinnamon, Blueberry & Blackberry and Honey, Lemon & Ginger cordials. The original Elderflower cordial still racks up the accolades too, being awarded a Great Taste Award as well as a Gold Award from the Taste of Britain 2005, run by Sainsbury’s and The Daily Telegraph.

There’s many more within the range to explore, including flavours such as blackcurrant and cox apple, lime and lemongrass as well as ginger cordials, elderflower and rose alongside ginger beer pressés, and even coconut and lime pressés within a can. Going off what I have been lucky enough to try so far, all are worthy of being experienced, and I can see why not only bartenders are interested in playing around with the natural, fresh flavours, but also chefs being given the opportunity to add a dash of colour and uniqueness to any dish.

‘Naturally delicious’ they say. I couldn’t agree more.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.