Hangover. The horrible by-product of fun. If you’re reading this blog, you have probably been diagnosed with this condition at least once in your life.
If you are now looking forward to reading about a cure, I’m going to disappoint you. I wish I knew one. Unfortunately, hangovers are as unavoidable – and as painful – as the Jubilee line at rush hour.
Last week, London experienced its largest and longest collective hangover – an event known as “London Cocktail Week”. Described as “a unique celebration of our capital’s unrivalled cocktail culture”, the week-long event saw 200 different cocktail bars throw open their doors to thirsty participants across the capital. I didn’t participate in the boozy bonanza – I’m not a big cocktail drinker, although I am partial to the odd dirty martini from time to time (it makes me feel like James Bond). The event did, however, get me thinking about the role of wine in the headache-inducing world of cocktails.
I’m a bit of a traditionalist – the thought of meddling with the natural sanctity of wine fills me with consternation. Wine is so glorious as is, why mess with it by throwing in some sugar and extra fruit?
That said, there are just four exceptions I’m willing to make.
1. Sangria. Originating from Iberia, sangria is a popular summer drink made by combining wine, fruit, sugar and brandy. Red wine is often used which gives it a blood red colour (the word ‘sangria’ actually comes from the Spanish word for “blood” – go figure); if you’re making it at home, choose an inexpensive, fruity, relatively full-bodied red such as garnacha or merlot. It can also be made with white wine (“sangria blanca”), rosé (“sangria rosado”) or a sparkling wine such as cava (keep it authentic by using a Spanish or Portuguese wine). I’ve written about this wonderful summer drink in the past, click here to read more.
Occasion: summer in the garden.
They say the Bellini was created in the mid-1900s by the founder of Harry’s Bar in Venice, Giuseppe Cipriani, who named it after the 15th-century Venetian painter. The best thing about this cocktail is the ridiculous ease at which it can be made – it makes sangria look like neuroscience. You need just two ingredients – sparkling wine (please don’t use Champagne – go for Prosecco instead) and peach purée. The relative quantities of each depends on your level of desired intoxication; good practice suggests one part purée to two parts sparkling wine. It’s perfect for a weekend brunch – more sophisticated and exotic than a Mimosa!
Occasion: weekend brunch.
3. Wine margaritas.
That’s right – shelve the Cuervo and pull out the Chardonnay. Although this cocktail is not as easy to prepare as the effortless Bellini, you hardly need to be a world class mixologist to pull it off. Grab a blender, throw in half a bottle of dry white wine (Sauvignon Blanc is an ideal choice because of its citrus flavours but almost anything will do), some triple sec (how much depends on your personal taste, I’d suggest approximately 100ml), plenty of lime juice, lots of ice, and hit the “on” button on your blender. Admittedly I’m playing fast and loose with the quantities – you can find a more exact recipe here. But don’t forget to dip the rims of your glasses in salt!
Occasion: girls’ night in (sorry boys).
So there we have it. Hedonism in a wine glass. There’s a time and place for everything, isn’t there?
What’s your favourite wine-based cocktail?
Photo credit: gimmesomeoven / loveandconfections / fabtasticeats / tammileetips