With February arriving over the weekend, my thoughts have naturally turned to romantic Valentine's Day plans, especially seeing as I got engaged over Christmas (EEK! No, I can't believe it either...)
Well, the fates have well and truly conspired in my favour, as this week I discovered the wonder that is Pinkster gin.
Yes, that's right, it's a pink gin! How perfect for Valentine's Day cocktails!
But why is it pink? Because one of the many botanicals used is fresh raspberries.
It didn't set out to be pink, though. Pinkster's creator (a lovely chap called Stephen, from my native Hertfordshire, who is now joined by his business partner Will) started out just making gin for his friends, and experimented with all kinds of fruits before settling on juicy, locally-grown raspberries.
At first I thought it was a raspberry gin, with tons of raspberry syrup added to make it sweeter and less alcoholic, but I was delighted to discover I couldn't be further off the mark.
This is a proper, gin-lover's gin: crisp, fresh and sippably smooth, with a subtle hint of a fruity twist from the raspberries accompanied by juniper and a peppery, almost mineral quality.
I started out sipping it over ice but then added some tonic and Pinkster's recommended sprig of mint (clap it first to release the minty oils) and it was a dream. I love how unique it is - I'd never normally serve gin with mint but this is the perfect match. And yes, the light pink tinge was just a massive bonus in my eyes.
After gaining lots of loyal fans (myself now included) the Pinkster chaps have just got themselves stocked in Ocado - woohoo! You can grab a bottle of Pinkster for £32 - or it's also £30.33 at Master of Malt.
So what about some pink Valentine's Day cocktails? They've been super generous and given me four to choose from:
50ml Pinkster gin
5 fresh raspberries (plus extra to garnish)
3 slices fresh red chilli
25ml Falernum (a tropical liqueur - well worth having in the cupboard!)
10ml sugar syrup
2 dashes chocolate bitters
Extra raspberries, to garnish
Shake together all the ingredients (in a cocktail shaker, jam jar, anything you have close to hand!) and then double strain into a coupe (Champagne saucer) for an added classy touch.
Straining is pretty important so you don't end up with bits of chilli floating in your drink! If you don't have a proper strainer, use as tight a sieve as you can find, or even a clean pair of tights!
Garnish with fresh raspberries on a cocktail stick.
Pinkster's Loving Fizz cocktail recipe (serves one)
50ml Pinkster gin
5 fresh raspberries
5 fresh mint leaves
25ml fresh lime juice
25ml sugar syrup (or a little less if you prefer it dryer)
Soda water, to top
Shake all of the ingredients together, and then strain into an ice-filled Collins glass (or pretty tumbler).
Top with soda water and garnish with a mint sprig.
Valentini cocktail recipe (serves one - a lovely twist on a classic martini!)
50ml Pinkster gin
15ml sweet vermouth (I recommend the Belsazar vermouth I reviewed last week!)
Dash orange bitters
Bar spoon of triple sec (or a generous teaspoon if you haven't got one)
Rose petals, to garnish
Well, actually, don't shake it. Simply stir the ingredients thoroughly and then strain into a chilled coupe glass (Champagne saucer).
Garnish with three rose petals.
25ml Pinkster gin
25ml Cherry Brandy
25ml Orange Juice
25ml Fresh Cream
Shake all the ingredients together, and then strain into an ice-ﬁlled rocks glass (or square tumbler).
Garnish with an orange peel twist and a maraschino cherry.
So there you have it. Four beautiful cocktails. Probably don't drink them all on Valentine's Day or it may turn from a night to remember into a night where you don't remember anything at all...