In Depth

Four cocktail recipes from around the world

A sundowner will salvage even the most punishing of days, says Alice Lascelles, who presents a twist on four classic tipples

It’s a little-known fact that cocktails were originally morning drinks. Fog-cutters, phlegm-drivers, eye-openers, corpse-revivers – in 19th-century America, they were designed to clear the cobwebs of the night before.

These days, most of us prefer our ‘eye-opener’ a little later in the day. Go anywhere on the map where liquor is made and you’ll find the sundowner is alive and well – usually in a form that’s effervescent, refreshing and, most importantly, easy to make. Here are four cocktail recipes from around the world to try next time the sun is over the yardarm. All make one serving.

FROM JAPAN: WHISKY, MINT AND ROSEWATER HIGHBALL

People can – quite wrongly – get very snooty about adding water to whisky, but in Japan they’ve turned it into an art. On a steamy evening in Tokyo, the whisky highball (aka a whisky and soda) reigns supreme, whether in easygoing bars or high-end restaurants, where hosts can be found mixing highballs for the whole table using cut glass and hand-carved ice. The Hakushu whiskies from Japan’s southern alps have cool apple and melon notes that work particularly well with soda. I’ve added a little extra in the form of rose water and a mint garnish, but this drink is also good with a simple twist of lemon peel. 

50ml Hakushu Distiller’s Reserve or Hakushu 12-year-old whisky150ml chilled soda water1 or 2 spritzes of rose waterSprig of fresh mint

Combine the whisky and soda in a glass over ice, spritz with rose water and garnish with mint.

FROM ITALY: NEGRONI SBAGLIATO

If you visit Milan during the annual Salone del Mobile, you’ll find the street outside the famous Bar Basso teeming with furniture designers sipping this wonderful aperitivo in the early evening. Literally a ‘bungled negroni’, this cocktail was supposedly created when a bartender making a negroni (gin, vermouth and Campari) mistook prosecco for gin. Lighter, drier and more easy-drinking than a traditional negroni, it’s a wonderful sundowner. It’s also a great party drink – I often knock it up by the jugful.

25ml Campari25ml red vermouth50–100ml chilled proseccoOrange wheel

Combine the Campari, vermouth and prosecco in a glass over ice, garnish with an orange wheel.

FROM MEXICO: THE PALOMA

The margarita is a fine drink, but it’s not the way most Mexicans take their tequila. If they’re not sipping it neat, with a chaser of sangrita, then Mexicans tend to drink their native spirit in a refreshing, citrusy paloma. If you want it really tangy and crisp, use an unaged blanco tequila such as Ocho. The classic grapefruit soda is Ting, but I prefer San Pellegrino Pompelmo. And don’t skip the salt – it’s what makes this drink so thirst-quenching.

50ml tequilaPinch of saltSqueeze of limeGrapefruit soda, to topLime wedge

Combine the tequila, salt and lime in a tall glass over ice. Top with grapefruit soda and garnish with lime.

FROM ENGLAND: THE GIN CUP

You may not have heard of a ‘gin cup’ before, but you will definitely be familiar with Pimm’s, which is just a branded version of a drink that used to be popular in Victorian England. A cup comprises spirit, liqueur, wine (or vermouth) and a mixer, but the spirit can be anything. Gin is best, though, and even better in a homemade gin cup, which you can tweak to your taste. This recipe also works with rosé vermouth.

35ml gin12ml Cointreau25ml red vermouthLemonade or tonic, to topCitrus slices, borage and strawberries

Combine the gin, Cointreau and vermouth in a tall glass over ice, top up with lemonade or tonic and garnish with citrus slices, borage and strawberries.

Alice Lascelles is the author of Ten Cocktails: The Art of Convivial Drinking (Saltyard, £16.99), which is the result of more than a decade in search of the perfect mixed drink.

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