There’s nothing quite like the circus. This festival of the weird and wonderful is a step into a whole new world and out of the daily routine of normal life. So when I heard a local bar was putting on a circus-themed evening and serving up new cocktails just for the occasion, you can imagine what an adventurous night of cocktail drinking it was going to stir up.
The appeal of the circus lies in the impact and shock factor of the performance, so your cocktail is going to have to do a lot of shouting to live up to the attention. Two of my local bar’s cocktails pulled out the stops and deliver ed that touch of wow factor.
First up was the Gypsy; a tart, bourbon-soaked tall drink with a lemon punch. It’s a simple looking cocktail, with its only real dazzle being a thin twirl of lemon peel that floats near the top.
Yet on the nose the Gypsy’s packed with lemon skin sourness and a savoury note, capturing more pith than peel. Followed through on the palette are sour boiled lemon sweets and a run of rewarding bourbon, and this gives the cocktail excellent balance. That’s where the wow factor comes in: the match of a simple bourbon – Jack Daniel’s no.7 in this case – with that zesty sting.
The second to impress was a simple cocktail that defines easy drinking. Named after the Toffee Apple, thecocktail smelt juicy and ultra-sweet on the nose and was served in a martini glass. Four slices of ripe apple were chunked onto the side and a rim of antique-looking brown sugar laced about the top edge of the glass. The liquid – an almost pineapple green – looked smooth and clean.
On the palette it was (thankfully) less sweet, instead opting for the fresh and ripe British cooking-apple character. It was as juicy as suggested on the nose and utterly mouth-watering. Full and yet easy-drinking too. A cracking cocktail, based on shaking Licor 43 well with manzana verde apple liqueur.
One things these cocktails prove is that the best drinks take inspiration from those special experiences we have, like the circus. Next time you mix up a cocktail, don’t be afraid to try something new – or, if you’re ordering from a bar, ask what experiments the bartender’s been having. You might discover something amazing.
Written by Ben Franks, www.benfrankswine.com, @Writer_Franks
Photography by Niamh Harkett
Edited by Laura Thompson