Friday, 25 April 2014

Friday Cocktail: With Hawkes Alcoholic Ginger Beer

Spring has sprung and I'm told we're supposed to be edging our way into summer... Sure, we've had a few glorious days of sunshine, and we might have even popped the cherry on our first BBQ of 2014, but with the same grey skies and recurring spits of rain, I'm not entirely convinced.

So, whilst it might not be warming up weather-wise, we can still heat things up drinks wise - and no, I'm not talking about cracking out the mulled wine again (though I wouldn't say no*) - say hello to the new Hawkes Alcoholic Ginger Beer. It officially launched this week, so they sent me some to try!

* There's actually a corker of a recipe for Mulled Ginger Beer on the Hawkes website.

You're probably well acquainted with other boozy ginger beers on the market - Crabbie's, Hooper's, etc - and in terms of sweetness, this one is pretty similar; there's no ferocious fiery hit that catches the back of your throat like that Old Jamaica stuff that comes in a can. That said, Hawkes Ginger Beer comes at us at a very different angle.

Firstly, it focuses more on the delicate flavours and aromas of ginger, rather than an all out assault on the senses. It's a combination of natural ginger, mandarin and kiwi, which gives it a much fruitier, smoother finish that lingers and leaves you craving more. Golden amber in colour, evident through the clear glass bottle, it fizzes like a soft drink, but doesn't maintain a heavy amount of carbonation, keeping it light and fresh. It has a wonderful Fruit Salad sweet vibe about it (I do love an old skool reference, don't you?) and at 4%, it's very easy drinking. Difford's Guide currently have it rated as the best alcoholic ginger beer out there.

This leads me to the second point; Hawkes is a drink made to be shared. The folks behind this London independent brewing company came to understand that not only was their ginger beer a perfect serve on its own (maybe with added ice and a wedge of lime) but it also makes a super sidekick to long drinks and cocktails. They've embraced the full potential of their product by placing it in a unique screw cap bottle; straight up, as a mixer, a dash here and there, or save it for later; this is the most social Alcoholic Ginger Beer on the market, and one which doesn't require you to polish it off in one gulp (I wouldn't blame you if you did).

So what drinks should you make? Hawkes have kindly listed a few serving suggestions online, which I eagerly tried out, but they want YOU to go ahead and play with it. “It’s your Hawkes, not ours.”

Hawkes Mule (serves 1)
  • Hawkes Alcoholic Ginger Beer
  • 50ml Vodka
  • ½ Lime
  • Sprig of Mint
  • Ice
  1. Fill a glass with ice.
  2. Add 50ml of Vodka.
  3. Cut the ½ lime in half again, and squeeze the juice in. You can put the lime wedges in the glass too if you wish.
  4. Top with Hawkes Alcoholic Ginger Beer.
  5. Garnish with a sprig of mint.
The Hawkes Mule is a summer stunner; zingy, refreshing, with a peppery ginger finish. This would be a great party starter, whereby you could bump up the quantities to dish out to your pals in a pitcher.

Hawkes & Stormy (serves 1)
  • 150ml Hawkes Alcoholic Ginger Beer
  • 50 ml Dark Rum
  • Juice of ½ Lime
  • A few drops of Angostura Bitters
  • Ice
  1. Fill a glass with ice (preferably a highball glass).
  2. Squeeze in the lime juice.
  3. Add 50ml of Dark Rum.
  4. Add 150ml of Hawkes Alcoholic Ginger Beer.
  5. Splash in a few drops of Angostura bitters and garnish with a slice of lime.
As the name suggests, this is much moodier drink. The rum and bitters bring out the drier side to the ginger beer; therefore it would be a pleasant pre dinner drink, or an easy accompaniment to some smoky sticky BBQ goods.

Sloe Hawkes (serves 1)
  • 100ml Hawkes Alcoholic Ginger Beer
  • 35ml sloe gin
  • Berries of your choice
  • Ice
  1. Fill a tumbler with ice.
  2. Pour in Hawkes Ginger Beer.
  3. Drizzle the sloe gin over the top.
  4. Garnish with berry fruits.
A blushing pink colour (when mixed), this is quite a feminine drink. The sloe gin, being almost syrupy, mutes the heat of the ginger and accentuates the ‘Fruit Salad’ sweetness. I garnished mine with a brandied cherry, but I imagine if you were to whack a few raspberries in instead, it would add an interesting sharpness. This on a Sunday afternoon; post roast... Heaven.

If you want to try something new and exciting, something that’s extremely versatile, and something that’s begging to be shared, then look no further; Hawkes Ginger Beer is what you’re after. Being new on the scene, you might not find it in your local stores, but you can purchase the 500ml bottle online via Beer Merchants for £2.90. Out and about, you can stumble across it (literally if you like) in a number of London pubs/bars (see the website for a full list of stockists).

This ginger gent is set for big things, watch it like a HAWK.
What's your verdict on Alcoholic Ginger Beer? Yay? Nay?...

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