Our resident chef Mark Hix on Britain's recent drinks upheaval and why should all be cheering on our distillers

 
Mark Hix
The Temperley Sour, a boozy Mark Hix creation and a refreshingly light cocktail

I love the way the British drinks revolution is going. Well, maybe I’m exaggerating when I call it a revolution, but there’s certainly been a huge increase in the production of distilled drinks, especially gin. A new gin is landing on my desk almost weekly, which is great news for bars, mixologists and, of course, the customer who will be spoilt for choice if this carries on.

Historically, we’ve made a hell of a lot more whiskey than gin in this country. But this is changing as licences to distil the white spirit are more relaxed these days, resulting in a wider variety of British gins on the market. I think it’s great to see other options on the shelves in off-licences and bars apart from Beefeater and Gordon's.

Cider has seen a similar resurgence. A great example of its new popularity is the rise of Julian Temperley, who’s been distilling cider brandy for 25 years in Somerset. Originally simply a cider maker, he had the vision to diversify a little from the fermented apple juice to a distilled equivalent of the French Calvados, rather like our dairy farmers who started making cheese when milk prices hit a low.

Julian now has a unique and fantastic product. Every five years a new vintage will be released, and the last was the 20-year-old with a Damien Hirst- commissioned label.

When the Napoli sunk off Branscome in Devon a few years back, Julian saw an opportunity and legally rescued the new oak barrels that were washed up on the beach. He ages his 10-year cider brandy in them and calls it “shipwreck”. Now that’s a proper artisan who inspires without needing to shout about his credentials.

For those of you who love a calvados post supper, I heartily recommend Julian's stuff. If it's a tad harsh, try apple aperitif's Kingston black or Pomona, which are cider brandy-based but mixed with apple juice.

I like to enhance the straight up version by using it in a cocktail, like the Temperley Sour below, which is an apple-based take on the whiskey sour.

Temperley Sour

  • 45ml Somerset 3yr cider brandy
  • 20ml Burrow Hill apple juice
  • 15ml Somerset Pomona
  • 10ml white sugar syrup
  • 25ml egg white
  • 1 Morello cherry for garnish

Method

  • Shake all of the ingredients without ice briefly to combine all ingredients. Then fill with cubed ice and shake for roughly ten seconds to ensure sufficient chilling and dilution.
  • Strain into a Champagne coupe and garnish with a cherry. The liqueur that coats the fruit should leave a mark on the surface of the foam.

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