I’m writing this from a train carriage riding from Grantham to Ely, on an expedition to Kings Lynn from Edinburgh to purchase a motor vehicle on behalf of my father. It’s a 2002 Alfa Romeo Spider, 3.0 V6, and hopefully when I post this I’ll have just driven it all the way in the glorious English sunshine up to Scotland. Hood down, radio playing, listening to the glorious roar of that V6 as I blaze a trail up the motorway.
I’m quite looking forward to this.
Much has happened in Edinburgh since I last posted, which is largely due to me being a bit distracted by things like Dragon Age 2 and Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood. I have also been quite busy at the Bon Vivant as well as filling my decreasing spare time with working for Martin Miller’s Gin as their Scottish Brand Ambassador. More about that later.
Most importantly, Andy Pearson and Simon Difford returned to Edinburgh on the 21st March to judge the white spirits round of Diageo’s World Class competition. This saw some young bloods such as Will Cox, repeat offenders like Grant Neave (who competed with me in the Rum category) as well as seasoned veterans Steve Martin and Jamie MacDonald dusting off their jiggers to win a place in the final and a trip to Mexico.
I didn’t envy them – the first round involved making a Tanqueray Ten and a Ketel One cocktail, before the play-off creating a Tanqueray drink. While Gin and I are bosom buddies, I find vodka drinks a little harder to take seriously, I tend to focus on using it as a flavour enhancer for the other ingredients, a role it fills very well, having a very subtle character on its own. Things got a bit molecular, Aperol Caviar was involved, as well as a plethora of home-made ingredients. Ultimately it came down to a nerve-wracking heat between Steve and Jamie. I’m not sure if I wasn’t a bit more nervous than they were, in all truth.
After careful deliberation, Andy and Simon awarded Jamie the place in Mexico for his tie-breaking drink, The Modern Cocktail. I was very impressed with this drink, which really captured the powerful, simple flavours of Tanqueray and enhanced them with readily available ingredients – it follows:
The Modern Cocktail
20ml Exmoor Chardonnay
10ml Sugar Syrup
2 Dashes Boker’s Bitters
Stirred with the peel of a lime, served straight up with a grapefruit twist.
Simple and delicious. With significant credit to Jamie, I made a version of this drink with Martin Miller’s Gin for a consumer masterclass in Elgin where it went down an absolute storm. The citrus botanicals in Miller’s give a tremendous lift to the lime oils and make for a gloriously rounded mouthfeel with some fantastic floral notes.
P.S. Arrived back safely and have spent most of today roaring down the coast in the glorious sunshine, wind in my hair and pedal to the metal. 3.0 V6, and I’m in love.