James Bond is very precise when giving instructions to the barman for his martini in the first Bond book, Casino Royale Three measures of Gordons, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until its ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemonpeel. Got it?
This recipe reflects the commonly held belief that cocktails are a blend of spirits and also highlights the little known fact that wine, in this case in the form of vermouth (Kina Lillet), is an important ingredient in many cocktails.
Spains most famous wine cocktail is probably sangria, a heady mix of red wine, brandy, fruit and lemonade or soda. Many people are partial at this time of year to a Tinto de Verano, a refreshing blend of red wine, lemonade (Casera), ice and a slice of lemon. At feria time in Andalucia one often finds that sherry mixed with Casera is a popular way of getting into the festive spirit.
Instead of sangria made with red wine, why not try sangria made with white wine? In a large jug blend a bottle of good white wine (a Sauvignon Blanc from Rueda would be ideal), a good splash of a fruit based liquor or spirit to taste (e.g. peach/melon schnapps) add some sliced fruit (peaches/nectarines) and leave overnight in the fridge if you can wait! Immediately before serving pour in a bottle of Cava and enjoy.
The great thing about cocktails is that the ingredients can be adapted to individual taste and experimenting is always fun! Cava can be used as a replacement for Champagne in a number of cocktails such as the Bellini (three parts chilled Cava, one part peach juice); the Champagne Cocktail (touch of brandy, a white sugar cube infused with a dash of Angostura bitters topped with Cava); and the deliciously refreshing Kir Royale (crème de cassis about a fifth depending on taste- plus the Cava).
Red wine can also be a good foundation for thirstquenching summer cocktails. Why not try a Cabernet Cobbler instead of Tinto de Verano? This consists of four parts of good red wine, a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice mixed with a teaspoon of sugar and two parts soda water or fizzy water and ice. Or perhaps the evocatively named Seaside-Summerbliss will float your boat? This simply consists of two parts red wine and three parts apple juice over ice.
Perhaps you would like to start the evening with a Wicked Willy? Two parts red wine, two parts ginger ale and a spoon of passion fruit juice.
Let me finish with one of my personal favourites - Cactus Berry Wine Cocktail. This consists of two parts red wine, one part tequila, one part Triple Sec, six parts sour mix and a good squeeze of lime juice. Pour all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice, shake for thirty seconds, strain into a glass with slices of lime and reflect that the world may not be such a bad place after all!
Cheers! Salud! Prost! Skål! Proost! Santé! Slainte! Kippis!