As the weather gets cooler (and it will, eventually), there's arguably no better way to warm up then indulging in a delicious winter cocktail.
While we won't go so far as to say "alcohol jackets are the best!" there is something particularly nice about spending a chilly Friday night sipping on something that's known to put a bit of fire in your belly.
Recently in the country for World Class Cocktail Week, International Bartender of the Year (2015) and founder of London cocktail bar White Lyan, Ryan Chetiyawardana, took the time not only to whip up a winter cocktail exclusively for The Huffington Post Australia (see video above), but also to answer some questions on cocktail making in general.
Want to get meddling this winter? Check out Chetiyawardana's tips and tricks (as well as the full recipe for the Nuked Negroni) below.
What, in your opinion, makes the perfect winter cocktail?
"Winter in the UK is very different to winter in Australia, but I think it's all about comforting flavours," Chetiyawardana told The Huffington Post Australia.
"Winter is a time to hunker down and be with friends, so anything that has a warming effect is welcome. I think this is why a lot of people reach for dark spirits or warm cocktails, but anything that gives that sensation works great. That can be white spirits or fresher flavours as long as they evoke something that alludes to the comfort we seek in the colder (and darker) months."
What are the best spirits/ingredients to have on hand during winter?
"I particularly like golden or herbal flavours during winter. So gin, Aquavit and spicier style vodkas, or richer brandies and whiskies. However, all the flavours that have a comforting affect are great -- vanilla, ginger, dried citrus etc."
Any winter cocktail no-no's?
"Typical Christmas spices can be very heavy hitting (cloves, cinnamon, cardamom etc) so use them with a less-is-more approach! Also, work to your setting and guests; don't get stuck in the kitchen making shaken cocktails that only work as single serves when you have a group of friends coming over."
Does warming up an alcoholic drink (or boiling) make it less alcoholic?
"Cocktails to me aren't about their alcohol content so I wouldn't fixate on that. However, it will eventually lose some but it will hold pretty well unless you're boiling it for hours, which I wouldn't advise anyway."
For those who might not make their own cocktails, what are some nice 'warming' cocktails to look for on a menu when they are next out and about?
"Look for ingredients that evoke that warming effect -- ginger, chili, port, egg -- or the best is to tell your bartender what you hate (more useful than what you like), and what mood you're in and an experienced bartender should be able to make a drink to suit your preference."
Are there any you think are overrated/would recommend giving a miss?
"Mulled wine is often made really badly, although if I trust the venue it can be an amazing serve. Conversely, people are often put off by eggnog or Tom & Jerry but if made well, it's an incredible drink."
Ryan makes some Nuked Negronis.
Nuked Negroni (Serves three)
- 60mL Tanqueray Gin
- 60mL Sweet Vermouth
- 60mL Campari
- 6 Blackberries
- 1 Sprig Rosemary
- 2 Ruby Grapefruit slices
- In a mixing glass add a sprig of fresh rosemary and six fresh blackberries. Add 60mL Campari and 60mL sweet vermouth followed by the hero of the drink, 60mL of Tanqueray gin, which really forms the heart of the cocktail.
- Transfer the mixture into a microwaveable safe container and heat for three minutes. Carefully remove the container from the microwave, allow the mixture to cool and then strain it into a beautiful bottle or jar. Once done put it in the fridge to cool.
- When serving, chill some large glasses and add ice. Add a large slice of grapefruit to each glass that will compliment the spice of the Tanqueray and then add 60mL of the Nuked Negroni to the glass. Give the ice a quick lift with a bar spoon or suitable other implement, then serve.