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Good Taste: Simple Summer Cocktails

Good Taste: Simple Summer Cocktails

Refreshing, light and boozy, we caught up with Idris Conti, head barman at London’s decadent Rumpus Room rooftop bar. From tequila to berry-infused rosé, he showed us how to master the art of the summer cocktail.

On the perfect summer cocktail . . .
Whenever I'm asked for a "perfect" drink, I always think it completely depends on people’s personal taste and palate. Besides this, a summer cocktail should be light on the booze and the sugar content, to ensure it’s hydrating during the warmer months. It should also be a drink that you can have a few of – it's summer after all!

On the Rumpus Room drinking philosophy . . .
We love our classic cocktails at Rumpus Room, and we make them with pride and meticulous technique. We also like to explore new pairings and combinations, keeping in mind our beloved classics as a template. Our cocktail menu is inspired by the transatlantic marriage of cultures that is present all around the Mondrian hotel. It's not a coincidence that historically the UK and US have been the most important cocktail destinations in the world. Through our menu guests have a chance to pick a drink inspired by a specific moment in the evolution of the drinking culture of these two amazing countries.

Idris' top three tips for making the perfect summer cocktail . . .

EXPLORE YOUR INGREDIENTS
Most recipes will give you a very generic base spirit to play with: Gin, Vodka, Dark Rum, etc. But not all spirits of the same category work for all recipes. If you are making drinks at home, get out of your brand comfort zone and have a look around. There are many other brands and sprits that are affordable and could be your new favourite.

THE FRESHER THE BETTER
If you have the luxury and time to use freshly squeezed juices and fresh herbs and fruit for your recipes, your cocktails will be so much better. Also, if you are using wine based ingredients or you are making your own syrups and infusions, they will keep their freshness for longer if stored in the fridge.

LET YOUR ICE WARM UP
This sounds like nonsense, I know, but ice straight out of the freezer is too cold to be used straight way. Ice doesn't only make a drink cold – it also dilutes it to balance all the ingredients and make the drink light enough to be enjoyed. Take a plastic box and freeze water in it to obtain a block of ice. Take it out of the freezer 30 minutes before and let it get wet on the outside. Break it into chunks and make cocktails with that, the ice will still be cold and it will also dilute the cocktail to the perfect ratio.

IMPROVED WHISKY COBBLER

The Sherry Cobbler was as popular in the US in the 1840s as the spritz is today. We added some Canadian maple syrup and a malt scotch whisky to the simple combination of sherry wine, fresh citrus and sugar to enrich the complexity of it and complement the flavour of the sherry.

Muddle one wedge of orange and one of lemon in the shaker and add:
10ml Sugar syrup
10ml Maple syrup
10ml Clynelish 14yo Scotch whisky
40ml La Ina Fino sherry

Shake and strain in a rocks glass, add crushed ice and garnish with fruit and berries of your choice.

AGAVERIAS

A twist on a Margarita. This cocktail is really on trend at the moment with tequila and its brothers and sisters, Mezcal, Sotol, Raicilla and more, being used more and more in London bars.This cocktail is ideal for the summer months because it combines reposado tequila with a lighter and more refreshing aperitif wine, and plays with sugar syrup and bitters instead of using boozy Triple sec.

2 Dashes of Bob's ginger bitters
15ml Sugar syrup
20ml Lemon juice
20ml Tapatio Reposado tequila
40ml Lillet Rosé infused with allspice berries
Shake and strain into a cocktail glass, garnish with a star anise.

For 700ml of infused Lillet Rosé:
Lightly crush about 20g of allspice berries and steep them with a bottle of the aperitif wine for 24 hours in an airtight container kept in the fridge. Filter through a cloth squeezing to get as much liquid out as possible, bottle and keep refrigerated. use within a couple of weeks to ensure freshness.

EAST INDIA ELIXIR

A drink inspired by the remedies used on the ships of the Royal Indian Navy across the Indian ocean. This long drink is a more evolved cousin of the Tom Collins, containing gin, lemon juice, celery bitters, Indian tonic water and apple shrub (a syrup based on rice vinegar, apple pulp and green tea that we make in house). The result is a thirst killing drink with a subtle balance between fruit, herbs, acidity and sweetness.

1 Dash of Absinthe or Pastis (or a couple of drops, careful as it easily overpowers the drink)
2 Dashes of Bitter Truth celery bitters
10ml Fresh lemon juice
30ml Apple shrub
40ml Bombay Sapphire gin
Shake and strain over ice in a highball glass, top up with 40ml of Fever Tree tonic water and garnish with a mint spring and a lemon peel.

For 400ml of Apple shrub:
1 gala apple, 100ml of rice vinegar, 150ml of strong green tea, 150g of white sugar. Cut the apple and remove seeds and stalk, mix the pieces with the vinegar and tea in a blender. Add the mix and the sugar to a pan, bring to boil and cook for 10 minutes. Let cool, filter, bottle and keep refrigerated for 10 days up to a month (the acidity will mild down in time).