Not just any old cocktail
Remix and match: a Telegraph Resolution you’ll want to stick to
The cupboard under the stairs is awash with half-drunk bottles. Along with recently broached gin, vodka, brandy and whisky, there are dusty, crusty bottles of Campari, Martini, Grand Marnier, Baileys and some sherry, opened Heaven knows when. I’m ashamed to admit that I also spot a long-forgotten bottle of Malibu. Please don’t tell anyone.
Reasoning that these odds and ends might be of some use on New Year’s Eve, I head to one of my favourite Brighton hang-outs, Pintxo People, for inspiration. There I challenge head bartenders David Greig and Marcis Dzelzainis to come up with a unique Daily Telegraph New Year’s Eve Cocktail from my leftovers.
“Home-made cocktails are a great way of using up half-full bottles of spirits, but you’ve got to make sure that all the other ingredients are as fresh as possible,” says David. He sets the ball rolling by rustling up a Spanish take on the Tuxedo, stirring some gin, Dubonnet, amontillado sherry and a dash of peach bitters over ice and serving it with a twist of orange. Deliciously nutty and citrussy, it’s a great start.
“Sherry is the key,” he says. “We use a lot of it here as it is so versatile. It is also very fashionable nowadays.”
Not to be outdone, Marcis gets busy making his version of an egg-nog. He mixes a raw egg with Spanish brandy, the gloopily sweet Pedro Ximénez (PX) sherry and vanilla syrup, and serves over ice. It’s terrific: quite sweet but surprisingly moreish.
The boys are getting into their stride now. I confess to having some Baileys in the cupboard and, instead of snorting with derision, David immediately gets to work on a Baileys piña colada. “It’s quite complex when made properly,” he says, “but this should work well. We’ll just substitute Baileys for double cream.” He sloshes it in with some aged rum, pineapple juice, lemon juice and salt and serves over crushed ice.
“The lemon juice here is crucial,” says Marcis, tasting it approvingly. “Just a dash of it can transform a cocktail, especially one like this, which might otherwise be too cloying.”
The boys stand at either end of the bar and I sense a competitive edge. Marcis rushes out a scrumptious Spanish Negroni, sweet and citrussy in the mouth but with a tasty bitter and nutty finish. David ripostes with a smokey Talisker Sazerac. I call them to order and demand they focus on our special Daily Telegraph cocktail.
We mull over suitable ingredients. “How about something long and sparkling?” asks David. “Nice and celebratory – and we can add some sherry because we’re a Spanish restaurant and love it. And, um, how about some Grand Marnier? As you say, there’s always a bottle of that hanging around after Christmas.”
He soaks a white sugar cube in Angostura bitters and plops it in a flute. On top he pours some PX and Grand Marnier. Horror, he makes a grab for the cava, but I stay his hand. Absolutely not, I say. It’s Champagne or nothing for Telegraph readers.
Meanwhile, Marcis neatly threads a long curl of orange peel into the glass. Bingo! It is utterly delectable: refreshing, zesty, nutty and orangey. An absolute belter of a cocktail, but I claim another just to make sure. And then a third, while the boys pose for photographs. I’m suddenly feeling full of bonhomie.
We struggle, though, to come up with a name for our, that is, David’s creation. Fleet Sweet is one idea. Marcis suggests the Telegraph Tempter. We finally agree on the Resolution, although I can’t quite remember why. Anyway, this cocktail is unique and wonderful – and it’s just for you. Happy New Year!