Friday, 21 June 2013

Friday Cocktails: Homegrown Cocktails & The Longest Wine List Ever at The Pig


When visiting The Pig hotel recently, I was expecting to be impressed by the homegrown food from their seriously impressive kitchen garden. What I wasn't expecting, however, was to be blown away by their cocktails and wine list.

The Pig is renowned among my friends for providing a cosy, foodie retreat in the New Forest, with its shabby chic interiors, we've-thought-of-everything bedrooms, and the botanical delights of their grounds in which they rear their own pigs and quails, and have a smoking shed for meat and fish.

The Victorian greenhouse dining room is a magical, A Midsummer Night's Dream-like treat where you can eat and drink fresh home-grown delights while looking out in all directions at the enchanting lands from which they came.

To read more about their food, have a look at my personal blog, but for me the biggest, most brilliant surprise was their five-mile-long wine list and ridiculously refreshing cocktails.

Wine List

How long is too long for a wine list? Well, it all depends on how excited you get about the red, white
and rosé stuff. If you just want to pick the cheapest bottle, you probably don't care. Likewise, if you're only interested in the biggest, most elite names in the wine world then you will find The Pig's list a chore.

But if like me you're genuinely, helplessly excited about exploring new, deliciously different wines from all around the world, you'll find The Pig's wine list as heavenly as I did. It's two huge, double-sided A3 cards, one each for red and white/sparkling, with about fifty wines listed on each side.

Their list is so extensive it naturally changes regularly, but as well as all the names you'd want to find they also have intriguing offerings from Armenia, Turkey, England, Uruguay and Hungary, among others.

One thing that pleased me (in a nerdy way) was that they list the grape variety first. Not only does this mean that the geeks can enjoy looking through a pleasingly varied list of names, it means the less-experienced can pick out a few familiar faces and learn a thing or two as well.

They have the uber-fashionable picpoul and gruner veltliner, but they also have grapes people simply should drink more of (or at least be aware they're drinking) like single-varietal cabernet franc, plus tannat, torrontes and viura.

Cocktails

As well as a pleasing array of old favourites (cosmo, negroni, and a bloomin' marvellous Bloody Mary) they also have a seasonal list of specials using ingredients they've grown themselves: from fresh mint to homemade quince and cranberry puree and fruit syrups.

A favourite of mine was The Farmer's Chase: vodka, elderflower, apple juice, fresh lemon and cloudy bitter lemonade. I also loved the slightly spritzy Lady Marmalade, and the gingery, zesty The Pig's Tail, but there wasn't a cocktail on the list I didn't enjoy.

It's left me committed to building up a cupboard/garden of staple homemade goodies I can use to make my own cocktails hopefully taste even half as fresh as The Pig's.

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