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cheers! it's bank holiday cocktail time

Tonight you wont find us drinking from the bottle or sipping on gin and juice - we're going fancy for the bank holiday weekend. Everyone should know what a real cocktail tastes like, so stock up on the basics and add the shiny extras as and when you need them. All you really need is access to a supermarket and a cocktail shaker, and even that can be avoided if you have a jug, a shot glass to measure and a spoon to mix. Just promise you won’t buy the cheapest alcohol available and we’ll get along famously.

Text David Ettridge

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  • martini

    We may as well start with the classic. Possibly the simplest to make – you only really need one ingredient as the vermouth is arguably optional – and the end result is so smooth you’ll drink two before you can blink. Just one word of warning: ignore Mr Bond because the martini is best stirred, not shaken.

    - 5 parts good quality gin
    - 1 part vermouth
    - optional drop or two of orange bitters
    - stir through with ice and strain into a martini glass
    - a queen olive or twist of lemon to garnish


  • classic champagne cocktail

    Make like Bergman and Bogart in Casablanca and enjoy yours in a coupe with a twist of lemon. Try it with pink champagne and a twist of orange like Grant and Kerr in An Affair to Remember. Experiment with different bitters, but whatever you do, don’t go for the cheapest bubbles – this is a cocktail to make you feel elegant and sophisticated.

    - 1 sugar cube, soaked in angostura bitters
    - place in a champagne flute and cover with brandy
    - top up with chilled champagne (or prosecco/cava)


  • margarita

    Forget everything you know about the humble margarita. The version you get in most bars is a poor, distant cousin, not fit to be in the same room. Three ingredients are all you need and it’s an excellent base for other flavours such as passion fruit or strawberry. It works equally well on or off the rocks and before you know it you’ll be kicking back and dreaming of the beach.

    - 1 part tequila
    - 1 part triple sec
    - 1 part freshly squeezed lime
    - dash of sugar syrup, fruit syrup, or fresh fruit
    - shake over ice and pour into glass (margarita glass if straight up, highball if on the rocks)
    - salted rim optional

  • chelsea sidecar

    This is the point you may discover that a lot of cocktails follow one very simple recipe. 2 parts alcohol, 1 part mixer, dash of something to taste. Once you’ve stocked up your cabinet (not a task to be taken lightly; it takes years to pick up all the random extras) you’ll start creating all sorts of wonders. Until then, try this little concoction, a variation on the standard sidecar (replacing the cognac with gin) that is a drink of almost sublime beauty. If you can’t be bothered with the sugared rim, try a dash of sugar syrup to just slightly cut the lemon.

    - 1 part gin
    - 1 part triple sec
    - 1 part freshly squeezed lemon
    - shake over ice and strain into a sugar rimmed martini glass

  • aviation

    It’s time now to dip a toe into the less standard side of the cocktail cupboard. The sort of thing that would cost you an arm and a leg in a decent bar and as such is definitely worth the effort to make at home. There’s no queue, you’ve chosen the music and the cost at the point of consumption is zero. Enjoy!

    - 2 parts gin
    - ½ part maraschino 
    - ½ part freshly squeezed lemon juice
    - ¼ part créme de violette
    - shake over ice and strain into a coupe