Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Sipsmith Summer Cup: Testing mixers and beer cocktails

The calender may be telling us it's summer here in the UK but the weather is telling us a very different story. In an attempt to cheer ourselves up one rainy Sunday afternoon we decided a Sipsmith Summer Cup cocktail session was in order.

Sipsmith is the independent London distillery who have gained a fervent following of gin fans since their launch only three years ago. This year they released their second edition of Summer Cup, a gin based fruit cup made with Earl Grey tea, cucumber and lemon verbena. We decided to put it through a varied and thorough taste test ranging from the traditional to some slightly more off the wall ideas. I returned from the supermarket laden with fresh strawberries, lemons, cucumber, mint and a range of bottles. This was lining up to be a fun afternoon.

Traditional Summer Cup

First up, in the style of the traditional fruit cup, with strawberries, cucumber, mint and lemonade. This is a superb drink for sipping whilst tending to a barbecue in the rain. The zesty lemon verbena and strawberry refreshed me in front of the burning coals while the bitterness from the tea and herbs matched my mood as the rain continued to pour.

Gentleman's Wheat Summer Cup

This cocktail is inspired by Camden Brewery's Gentlemen's Wit, a limited release wit brewed with roasted lemon and bergamot. The roasted lemon gives the wit a refreshing sourness and a delicious burnt caramel note. The fragrant bergamot lifts this beer into another league and made it the most interesting Camden beer I've drunk. It got me thinking, would the combination of the lemon verbena and Earl Grey tea in the summer cup create the same blend of flavours with a wheat beer. It turns out it does.

1 part summer cup to 5 parts wheat beer with a garnish of a caramelised lemon slice* is something magical. I will make this cocktail again and again and I suggest you do too.

Cider Summer Cup

A 1:3 ratio with Henney's dry cider and a handful of sliced strawberries. The sweet flavours of the summer cup are up front with the dry cider following closely behind. As the strawberry juices begin to mingle it brings the whole this together as a fresh fruit punch.

Pale Ale Summer Cup

A 1:4 ratio with Sierra Nevada Pale ale and a slice of caramelised lemon* makes a balanced if very bitter cocktail. This comes across as bitter on more bitter but it works. Certainly a cocktail for beer lovers. 

 Summer Cup with Fever Tree ginger beer

I'm not going to give you the recipe. Don't even bother, the ginger beer kills the summer cup leaving a touch of cucumber and little else.

* to make caramelised lemon slices, dry fry some slices of lemon in a non stick pan for a minute on each side. 

Sipsmith Summer Cup is available from Waitrose and other drinks merchants. 

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