The recent Eat Cambridge festival has left me rich in new food and drink ideas. I'm looking forward to next year's events already although I might have to go a bit easier next year (the three courses of beef at the Pint Shop may have been a step too far).
The main event in The Corn Exchange was great fun. So many fabulous local producers and suppliers. I managed to get my first Pint Shop scotch egg, it was definitely worth waiting for.
I was delighted to have been asked to give a talk on cocktails and I took the chance to sit in on all the talks in the afternoon session I was speaking in. Tim Hayward gave a passionate speech on food trends and I really enjoyed Bev Sedley's talk on sustainable food which gave me a lot to think about. The audience at the Chocolat, Chocolat talk almost revolted when no samples were forthcoming so I was quite relieved I had brought cocktail samples with me.
In fact I had been up early making a big batch of my rhubarb sour cocktail. The things I do for you, Cambridge. I only juice lemons before breakfast for very special people. I wanted to use the talk to describe my fail safe cocktail formula which often gets me out of a tight spot and allows me feel creative and inspired when I'm actually knackered and zombie-like. If you missed my talk (you better have a good excuse) then I suppose I can let you in on the secret:
4 parts alcohol: 2 parts sour: 1 part sweet
That's it. A good example of a classic cocktail that follows this formula is a whiskey sour. There is also a variation:
2 parts sweet alcohol: 1 part sour
A great classic cocktail which follows this formula is the amaretto sour.
What I love about the formula is that it enables me to use my homemade spirits and simple syrups without having to think too much about creating a brand new cocktail each time. With minimum tasting and tweaking I can produce an extremely tasty cocktail. Some of my most popular combinations are sloe gin, rosehip syrup and lemon juice; blackberry vodka, lemon verbena syrup and lemon juice; blackcurrant vodka, star anise syrup and lemon juice. And then of course, my darling rhubarb: rhubarb vodka (or gin), lemon verbena (or lemon balm) syrup and lemon juice. This is the cocktail that the lucky folk of Eat Cambridge got to taste and they seemed to enjoy it.
I've given away my secret but I hope it inspires you to make a cocktail. It's really not difficult, don't let anyone tell you it is.
rhubarb sour (serves one)
rhubarb vodka or gin 60mL
freshly squeezed lemon juice 30mL
lemon verbena (or lemon balm) infused simple syrup 15mL
3-4 drops rhubarb bitters
Combine all of the ingredients in a large glass or cocktail shaker. Add plenty of ice. Stir until chilled. Strain into a prepared cocktail glass.