“Cocktails? I’ll be over in a minute!”
It didn’t take long to convince a friend to come and help me sample the new collection from Edinburgh-based Kocktail.
The package of four expertly shaken drinks landed on my doormat with a satisfying thud at the weekend – just one of a long string of ‘through the letterbox’ treats I’ve indulged in over the last 12 months.
There have been many (many) drinks kits to sample, but this collection is up there with the best.
Let’s start with the packaging. A chunky, recyclable box with recyclable inserts, and dainty, hip-flask sized bottles (ideal for carrying your own cocktail creations).
There are sachets of garnishes.
Oh, and cutesy cards with the story of each drink on one side to get your tastebuds tingling, and everything you need to know on the flipside – how to serve, the recipe, garnishing tips.
Slightly larger than a playing card, the slips are designed to be neatly tucked into a box atop your home cocktail bar (naturally darling), so you can whip up your favourites whenever your heart desires.
As for the drinks themselves...they’re designed by multi award-winning bartender (formerly of the Savoy) Neil Donachie, and use the finest raw ingredients and spirits. This includes Valentine Warner and Nick Strangeway’s Hepple Gin – thought to be one of the purest expressions of juniper in any UK gin, taking five times longer to make, and produced with raw ingredients from the brand’s wild juniper sanctuary.
You can choose light, dark or mixed cocktails in your four-piece package...or, if you’re really up for a party, all eight from the month’s collection. Well, why the hell not?
We were suitably impressed by May’s mixed offerings, which danced between rich and dangerously smooth, to perky and fruit-laden.
Spicy Flamingo – This one’s a take on a short made by Sam Ross of Brooklyn’s Diamond Reef Bar, blending fresh lemon and watermelon juices, Pueblo Viejo tequila, grenadine and agave. Rub the edge of your glass with lime and dip into the provided chilli salt, shake the contents of your bottle with ice, then strain over the rocks. On the nose it’s super smoky. The watermelon and lime combo lends an almost tomato-like tang to the finished drink which, with the chilli, make it taste curiously like a Bloody Mary’s sweeter little sister. Ideal for brunch with a plate of huevos rancheros.
Andalusia Calling – A riff on the classic London Calling. Shake, and serve over ice with the provided sprigs of thyme. Give it a sniff and you’re sitting high up in the olive groves of Spain or Italy, surrounded by ancient trees...herbs growing in the scrubland and hedges around you. Fresh and bright, this is a zesty number, the gin, lemon and sherry mellowed slightly by the addition of peach syrup.
Banana Cognac – Ooh yeah, this one’s very naughty but nice. Siegnette Cognac whirls with banana liqueur and a few dashes of chocolate bitters. Dark, strong, smooth and almost too drinkable.
Sunflower – Our favourite (and with a much more cheery name than the cocktail it’s based on – Corpse Reviver No. 2!). Sunflower mixes gin, Cointreau, elderflower spirit, fresh lemon juice and a dash of absinthe. On the nose it’s floral..almost with a hit of vanilla. The flavour is of its own. Completely unique. I could only liken it to one of those giant, lurid pink coconut liquorice allsorts – the absinthe giving an almost coconutty aftertaste. Absolutely flipping gorgeous.
How to buy
Visit kocktail.co.uk where you can subscribe monthly, or buy one-off boxes of four for £39. There are regular offers with discounts on the first two subscriptions. And you’ll also find a summer spritz box (just add ice and tonic) at £29, including Rhubarb and Cucumber, Lychee and Elderflower, Earl Grey, and Venice Beach (honey, passionfruit and Campari).