This Thursday is World Cocktail Day, and what better way to celebrate than splashing out on some new glass- and silverware with which to shake and sip your mix of sugary booze?
For collectors that means more than a cursory scroll through the Amazon listings: must-have items include Art Deco Parisian ‘Boston’ cocktail shakers and a set of late Victorian Collins glasses.
A cheaper way, however, is to try and get hold of a calabash. The first cocktail shaker, you see, was probably a South American gourd not dissimilar to a calabash. The ancient Egyptians, who always seemed to be on the lash, mixed up spices with fermented grain concoctions in hollowed out fruits, but gourds are easier to come by than pre-dynastic drinking vessels made out of Nile silt clay.
Or you could forego the bother and instead leap feet first into the world pre-mixed cocktails. Following advice from the cocktail au-courant, you can now leave all the shaking, muddling and twizzling to someone else and still enjoy some genuinely good booze. Sales of “RTDs” – ready to drink – have soared by triple digits over lockdown and the choice is now virtually endless.
Charles Anderson and Mark Thompson, formerly of Moet Hennessy, offer their “Bottleproof Elderflower Collins”. Pritish Mody’s “The World of Zing” offers ‘serve-yourself’ cocktails including Bordeaux cask aged Negroni, and Steel-Aged Manhattan made from Bulleit Rye Bourbon, brandy, red Vermouth and bitters.
Discerning drinkers are also full of praise for Darius and Emily Darwell’s Sipful’s Mimosas and Peach Bellinis, which come from the-not-very-tropical Underley Business Park in Cumbria.
Will Best and Harry Farnham’s “Bloody Drinks” (canned Bloody Mary) is the go-to RTD vodka cocktail in a tin. Daffy’s already-made Martini leads in its field and certainly has the prettiest bottle. Warner’s London Dry Gin, from the Northamptonshire Distillery, who pioneered rhubarb gin, should be the preferred base for any gin cocktail.
The cocktail can and hard seltzer-scape is changing all the time. Kent’s Karl Wozny describes himself as a “crafted cocktail merchant”, “infusions specialist” and cocktail provider to anyone who has a front door. His Cocktail In a Bottle range includes “Jungle Birds” and super-strong “Zombies”. He also makes a “Cherry Bakewell” cocktail and “Cinque Ports Smugglers Punch”, blending four premium quality rums (Smith & Cross, Banks 7 Island, and East London Liquor Co), demerara and an Indonesian arrack with homemade fennel liqueur. The drink is sweetened with citrus sugars, lengthened with speciality tea and seasoned with Orinoco bitters.
All you need to do is track down a decent-sized calabash, large pineapple or an extra large coconut. Or you could wait four days and head to a cocktail bar.