My name is Bella and I like gin. So it was no real surprise to those that know me to see gin featuring in my latest novel Coming Home to Ottercombe Bay. That said, I still felt that if I was to do a proper job then some serious gin research was required. Never one to shy away from hard work I threw myself into the challenge. I am proud to say that I have a wonderfully supportive network of friends who couldn’t sit by and let me take on this undertaking alone. They were quick to offer support and stood by me through thick and gin.
In the story Daisy has the idea of converting an old building in to a gin bar and sets about her own research where she encounters a rowdy hen night, thankfully this didn’t happen to me.
My research involved trips to local pubs for gin nights, a gin festival and many evenings of experimenting with gin cocktails and mixers. Not of all of this made it into the book, you understand, but I feel it was important for me to have that knowledge to ensure authenticity. Ah, who am I kidding – we had a cracking time drinking gin!
From that extensive research here are my favourite gin cocktails:
This cocktail is bright blue, which reminds me of the ocean and also means I’m not likely to lose my drink, which does happen at events where everyone is drinking very similar things. It’s also not too alcoholic as it has a mixer. Some gin cocktails, like the classic Dry Martini, are all alcohol and I’m too much of a lightweight to be able to enjoy them so Oasis ticks all my boxes.
2 measures gin
½ measure blue curacao
4 measures tonic water
Mix the ingredients (in a cocktail shaker if you’re feeling fancy). Add crushed ice to a tall glass and pour the mixture over. Garnish with mint and a slice of lemon.
Rhubarb & Custard
This features in the novel and is the cocktail that all my friends heartily agreed on. It is super easy and tastes just like the old-fashioned rhubarb and custard boiled sweets. This is my favourite gin cocktail – it’s like pudding in a glass.
Rhubarb & Custard recipe:
2 measures Rhubarb & Ginger gin
2 measures Advocaat
2 – 4 measures fresh/cloudy apple Juice (depending on your taste)
Dash of lemon juice
Mix the ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Add ice to a balloon glass and pour the mixture over. No garnish required.
This is a lovely summery cocktail, which works well at barbecues. It also looks good in a jug and making a batch of it saves time. Be careful though because it goes down very easily.
English Garden recipe:
2 measures of gin
1 measure of Elderflower cordial or Elderflower liqueur
3 measures of fresh/cloudy apple juice
½ measure freshly squeezed lime juice
Mix the ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Add ice to a tall glass. Strain the mixture over the ice (to catch any bits of lime or pips). Garnish with ribbons of cucumber.
Before I found myself dedicating a lot of time to gin based research my favourite cocktail was a Mojito. Having been lucky enough to have one of these in its birthplace of Cuba I was hooked. The main alcohol in a classic Mojito is Bacardi/white rum, so you can imagine my joy when I found there was a gin based version. Unlike other cocktails this one is made in the glass.
Gin Mojito recipe:
2 measures of gin
1 measure of sugar syrup or 4 teaspoons of sugar
1 lime juiced
2 lime wedges
2 sprigs of mint
Soda water to taste
Make sure your sprigs of mint have lots of leaves. Tear up the leaves and place them, sugar syrup or sugar, lime juice and wedges in the bottom of a tall glass. Pummel them with a spoon. Add crushed ice and the gin and top with the soda water. Garnish with mint leaves.
Go Loco Loco:
I am excited to share with you a new cocktail. This has been lovingly and, it has to be said, somewhat drunkenly invented by myself and my trusty gin enthusiasts. Our aim was to recreate the British summer in a glass and I think this hits the spot with its aromatic scents and sweet edge.
Go Loco Loco recipe:
1 measure gin
1 measure elderflower liqueur or elderflower cordial
1 measure of Creme de Peches
2 measures Tonic water
Mix the ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Add ice to a balloon glass and pour the mixture over. Garnish with a slice of peach
Please don’t let my painstaking research go to waste. Pick whichever cocktail you fancy, mix it up, grab a good book and sit back and enjoy the summer.