Drinks

Our selection of the new and the notable from the best British drinks producers.
Visit Drinks of the Month for this month's Variety Show

Juiceology Apple, Lime & Mint

It was like sticking my nose in an English herb garden when I sniffed Juiceology's Apple, Lime & Mint drink – evocative and inspriing.

With its tang of apple, just the right amount of lime, and a friendly flourish of English mint, this is my style of soft drink.

It's one of a quartet of drinks launched by top mixologist Joe McCanta with the help of entrepreneur Richard Watson – he'd been bemoaning the lack of decent soft drinks.

 

£1.69; Fortnum & Mason, Whole Foods, Harvey Nichols, www.tastejuiceology.com

 

Ridgeway Bad King John

It was the week after New Year and I just happened to be stocking up in Sainsbury's, as you do. Imagine my delight when, far from empty shelves, there was a good supply of none other than the Sainsbury's Great British Beer Hunt winner, Bad King John from Ridgeway Brewery.

Easy choice that one and, sampling it now, it's lost none of its appeal.

6%, £2.09; Sainsburys & selected independent beer shops

Alfie's Revenge

Named after a notorious critter – a stuffed squirrel – that used to preside over the Driftwood Spars bar, this is full of flavour with a good balance between seasoned malt, a moreish bitterness and an enthusiastically hoppy finish.

No wonder if was crowned the 2012 Winter Ale of Britain. CAMRA judges describe this as a "strong and fruity, well-balanced premium ale".

6.5%

Pig's Nose 5 Year Old

With its jokey name and distinctly un-Scottish label it might seem that Pig's Nose is a bottle to be avoided, but there is a decent whisky hiding in there, and one with a respectable pedigree at that.

Made with a high proportion of malt – around 40% – and using whiskies chosen from first fill casks, which have more influence on the flavour, there's plenty going on in this dram.

40% 70cl/£21 from specialist retailers

King's Ginger Mulled Punch

It may not get made on these shores, but it was created for one of our monarchs by his "local", Berry Bros & Rudd. The Royal Physician had put in a request for something enlivening for King Edward VII as he dashed about town in his new “horseless carriage”, a Daimler.

Seriously gingery, there’s a zest and  a bite to this liqueur. Out of the many cocktail manifestations, my favourite is brand ambassador Scott Wallace’s own creation. It takes a bit of time, but then don’t all good things?

Adnams Stemmed Glass Selection

Need something decent for your beer to look as good as it tastes?

Adnams to the rescue. I’ve checked out loads of beer glasses over the last year as part of my research for Imbibe’s Beer Special. So I was more than thrilled to see the beautiful new glasses devised by Adnams, and I’m chuffed that you can buy them as well as use them in the pub.

ALL BEER Experience Pack

Twenty quid will buy the novice beer drinker in your life Master Brewer’s Alex Barlow’s ALL Beer Experience pack.

Complete with a glass specially designed to enhance and capture all those flavours, there’s a handy spiral-bound book – winner of the World's Best Beer Book gong in the 2010 Gourmand Awards. The pack also includes five different malt packets and a unique hop aroma card – somehow Alex has managed to micro-encapsulate the essential oils from three well-known but distinctively different hops. 

Somerset Hamper

The ultimate present for the passionate apple lover has to be a Somerset Hamper from Julian Temperley at Somerset Distillery on Burrow Hill Farm.

With elegant sparkling cider, his ground-breaking complex brandies, the delightful Pomona – a blend of brandy and apple juice to sip á la sherry – plus many other goodies, including brandy orange mamalade and Hix Fix – a delectable little jar of cherries steeped in eaux de vie Julian makes for restaurateur Mark Hix.

Vineyard investments

It’s wonderful the number of Rent-a-Vine schemes cropping up around the country.

One of the ones I was most impressed with recently is Ancre Hill’s in Wales – but maybe that’s because I’m a greedy guts!

Sacred Spirits - Traditional & Contemporary Collection

For those who fancy creating their own blend of gin, Sacred Spirit brings you its Traditional and Contemporary Collections of distillates.