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How Tos | Rebuild Your Drinks Cabinet

How Tos | Rebuild Your Drinks Cabinet

Look past the age-old brands and give your drinks cabinet a refreshing reshuffle.

1.  The aperitif

Often neglected for its stronger cousin Campari, Aperol is an Italian aperitif with a pleasingly bitter kick. It has tangerine and rhubarb notes, but less than half the alcohol. Try an Aperol spritz (add prosecco, a dash of soda and an orange garnish) or visit Russell Norman’s Polpo on Beak Street in London’s Soho for the definitive serve. (Aperol, £12, oneclickvintage.com)

2. The vodka

Good vodka doesn’t burn when drunk, and this is smooth enough to sip neat or on the rocks. It’s punchy, clean and classy, with a subtle spicy aftertaste that elevates it beyond “just another vodka”. The best seller in Russia, it’s making inroads in Europe. “Vashe zdorovie!” (Green Mark, £17, thedrinkshop.com)

3. The rum

The choice of top barmen, Elements Eight is absurdly easy to drink. That’s not to say it lacks complexity — on the contrary, the barrel-infused spiced rum has cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and honey notes — but it’s the warm and inviting finish which marks it out. To really feel it, mix a “dark and stormy”, with ginger beer and a lime slice. (Element Eight Spiced, £29, masterofmalt.com)

4.  The liqueur

Originally prescribed as medicine for King Edward VII by a kindly doctor, The King’s Ginger is a classic liqueur. Pungent and zesty, try serving it in a flute and topped off with champagne to make a ginger royale.(The King’s Ginger, £20, bbr.com)

5. The shooter

You’ll love this. It’s essentially a fresh, citrusy grain spirit, distilled with grapefruit and four types of ginseng root. Notes of anise and juniper make it sweet, rich and herbal on the palate; it’s both a formidable shooter or cocktail ingredient (pro-tip: try it in a martini). (Kamm and Sons, £25, amathusdrinks.com)

 

6. The gin

Despite the gimmicky bowler hat lid, this is a classic, knock-your-socks-off dry gin. The quadruple distilled botanicals (Spanish orange peel, Sri Lankan liquorice, Bulgarian juniper) impart the spirit with masses of personality. Sold in 40 and 47 per cent ABV, go for the latter with ice, tonic and lemon. (Broker’s london dry, £18, vodkaemporium.com)

7. The single malt

There are only 464 bottles of the Glenlivet Single Cask Edition available, so acquire one while you can: it’s a seriously classy whisky. Created at the venerable Glenlivet Distillery in 1994, the whisky has been aged in a first-fill ex-sherry butt for 17 years (that’s the single cask), giving it enormous depth. Sweet and creamy on the nose, but with a hint of marmalade on the palate make it one to unveil on very special occasions. (The Glenlivet Josie Single Cask Edition, £155, drinkfinder.co.uk)

8. The cognac

Rémy Martin’s fresh new VSOP is a more modern cognac than blends found in dusty gentlemen’s clubs. The brandy is now aged for an additional year in 20-year-old Limousin oak casks, giving it a fuller body with a greater emphasis on fruity notes (specifically apricot and peach). Make yourself a French mojito — Rémy Martin over ice, soda, mint, brown sugar and a lime wedge — and be happy. (Rémy Martin VSOP Mature Cask Finish, £34, drinksdirect.co.uk)

9. The japanese whisky

Scotch lovers tend to the evangelical, but in blind tests, Suntory whiskies consistently scored higher than more widely-known Scottish brands. Suntory’s multi award-winning 12-year-old single malt is supremely elegant, with hints of sweet spice, figs, and a long fruity finish. (Suntory Yamazaki aged 12 years, £42, drinksupermarket.com)

10. The bitters

Forget conventional bitters, with their inscrutable blend of botanicals and spices, the flavours in Bob’s Bitters are exactly what they say on the black-and-white apothecary bottle. Grapefruit, cardamom, coriander — each is made with the purest ingredients, creating enormously potent shots of flavour in the tiniest of doses (try six drops of lavender in a G&T). As seen in the classiest hotel bars — the Dorchester, the Savoy — and, now, your drinks cabinet. (Bob’s Bitters, £13, thewhiskyexchange.com)

Photograph by Martha Pavlidou