I'm always trying to think of new ways to use citrus, from baking, to savoury dishes, to a hot toddy, to cocktails. Limes are so abundant and cheap in winter it feels like we should be having Mexican feasts, drinking mojitos and making ceviche now - even though those things are traditionally associated with summer, when limes are about $40kg. Cocktails are a good one though, and something I've got more and more into making over the past few years.
Having a few good-quality bottles of spirits in your cabinet is a great base for making drinks. I love gin, especially learning about all the artisan producers around NZ and the world, and all the different ways botanicals are used. I've also got into good-quality darker spirits and have enjoyed teaching myself the classic cocktails - old fashioneds, negronis and manhattans especially.
These ones utilise the abundance of limes while maintaining a slightly wintery feel, thanks to the fresh ginger, and the cranberry syrup. They're simple to make and a great start to an evening.
Dark and stormy with a twist
Ginger is great in winter, limes are cheap, and a splash of rum is probably just what the doctor ordered. This is a bit of a mixture of a mojito, a moscow mule, and a dark and stormy. Whatever you call it, it's a great combination.
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45ml golden rum
Juice of 1 lime
Plenty of ice
A slice of fresh ginger
2 mint leaves and 2 thai basil leaves, roughly chopped, plus a little extra to garnish
Fill your glass with ice. Add the rum, lime juice, and chopped mint and basil. Top with ginger beer. Taste and adjust as necessary.
Cranberry gin and tonic
Cranberry lends itself well to the botanicals in gin and limes are abundant in winter. Making a cranberry sugar syrup means you can utilise for other cocktails too.
For the cranberry sugar syrup
1 cup frozen cranberries
1 cup white sugar
1 cup water
Gently heat all ingredients in a small saucepan until the sugar is dissolved. Mash the cranberries gently with a fork, and then set aside to cool. Strain and keep in a jar or container in the fridge until you're ready to use.. Sugar syrup will keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge and makes enough for about eight cocktails.
For the cranberry gin and tonic
30ml cranberry sugar syrup
Juice of half a lime, plus a slice to garnish
Plenty of ice
A couple of cranberries, to garnish
Fill your glass with ice. Add the gin, syrup, and lime juice. Stir well, then top with tonic. Garnish with a lime slice and a couple of cranberries.