Festive Cocktails with Bearded Viking Drinks
It’s Friday, lockdown has ended, and that definitely deserves celebrating in our book! And what better way to honour the end of the week than cocktails, and if they’ve got a festive twist, all the better.
So we got in touch with our friends Caitlin and Mathias at Bearded Viking Drinks for some seasonal cocktail inspiration, Mad Men style! They teamed up with Amy at May & Co, and her photographer sister Claire, for a mid century themed photo shoot that would do Don Draper proud.
Caitlin and Mathias set up Bearded Viking Drinks earlier this year, to create delicious ready to drink world class cocktails. The couple have spent years honing their skills in the innovative and renowned Melbourne cocktail and craft beer-scene, complementing it with strong scientific backgrounds, including PhDs in chemistry and physics, and diplomas in flavour analysis. Each drink is carefully developed to give you a perfect balance of flavours and designed to treat you to a cocktail bar experience in your own home.
May + co is also a new Oxford based business with an online space selling lovingly sourced and restored mid to late 20th century furniture, homeware and ethical finds. Amy started her business out of a rented garage, born from the love of hunting out vintage furniture and hidden gems at auctions, car boots and flea markets. After moving into a larger workshop, Amy decided to create an online shop where you can get a feel for her collection of beautiful finds.
So, over to Mathias >>
The Mai Tai
Classic, quintessential tropical tiki cocktail. We made this one with a mixture of white rum and dark navy rum, Cointreau orange liqueur, orgeat (almond sugar syrup), and freshly squeezed lime juice. It’s the perfect balance of fresh, boozy, sweet, and spiced flavours and an excellent choice when we want to dream ourselves away to somewhere else, like a tropical Christmas getaway. That’s also why it’s perfect for Christmas!
The Manhattan is a true classic cocktail, probably being invented around the late 1800s, and had a bit of a resurgence in the 1950s. It’s beautiful to look at and lets a good whisk(e)y shine through while allowing some tasty fruity notes from the sweet vermouth. This one was a Perfect Manhattan variation, where we substituted the rye whiskey for Scotch whisky (technically making it a Rob Roy), and used half/half sweet and dry vermouth with a dash of Angostura bitters. We love this one because whisky is delicious and the addition of a bit of fragrant vermouth just takes the whole thing up a notch, making it both lighter and livelier. Mixing half dry and half sweet vermouth lets the vermouth take a tiny step back and be slightly less assertive, acting like a carrier for the rich whisky flavours. It is perfect for that part of Christmas when you’re done with all the chores, everyone has been fed and entertained, and you can finally sit down and stir yourself a sneaky little treat with a bit of a kick to it.
The Sidecar was probably invented during or around WWI and is a delicious cognac-based cocktail combining sweet Cointreau and tangy lemon juice. It comes out fairly dry but complex despite being a three-ingredient cocktail due to the deep flavour profiles of both cognac and Cointreau. We love this one because it’s so easy to make, just shake the ingredients over ice and strain into a glass, and it results in a fresh and vibrant drink that also packs a bit of a punch. The orange flavours combine beautifully with the woody and spicy notes of the cognac to make it a perfect Christmas treat.
The Chocolate Orange Old Fashioned
No retro lineup would be complete without the grandfather of all cocktails, the Old Fashioned. We have tried many, many iterations of this cocktail, and our favourite is (still) by far the chocolate and orange version we make ourselves. The process is rather labour intensive and involves peeling and trimming dozens of oranges to get loads of orange peel we soak a beautiful bourbon in (we use the fruit for delicious orange juice yum). We let the bourbon sit for a few days until the orange flavours have been dissolved in it, and we then blend it with chocolate bitters and thick home-made demerara sugar syrup. We love this one because it has the perfect balance between sweet and spice from the bourbon and the sugar syrup, and the rich orange aroma and flavour just bind the whole thing together in a moreish and delectable fashion. The orangey flavours ooze Christmas and it comes in a bottle, so you just have to stick it in the fridge or freezer and pour it over ice to enjoy one of our favourite cocktails at any moment.