At least the March lockdown had novelty. Making four loaves of bread each week felt wholesome, while starting on the evening’s wine at 3pm and spending the next four hours cooking a meal for two was a perfectly normal evening plan. Despite the restrictions we found new walks to go on and we had barbecues with our neighbours. In hindsight, aspects of it were actually quite fun.
Saturday’s announcement didn’t fill me with much nostalgia. I was slightly daunted by the prospect of having to actually prepare a shopping list with enough food on it to last more than three days, and already resenting the seven emails I’ll receive on Monday morning that “hope I’m keeping well in these strange times”. A small consolation of the second lockdown is knowing what to expect, so alongside stocking up on jigsaws, basic DIY tools and coerced optimism, the drinks cabinet is nicely replenished. Here’s what I’ve filled it with:
I’ve been a fan of Black Cow Vodka for a while now. The branding has always been pleasantly understated in a way that is slightly ahead of its time, and the creamy texture of their spirit is an example of what a decent Vodka should be without breaking the bank. Their latest release is a ‘Christmas Spirit’, which is pleasantly warming with festive fig, raisin, orange zest and cinnamon flavours, while a good ABV to it that stops it falling into the sticky liqueur territory. It’s a smooth enough spirit to drink over ice, however I’ll probably be adding Champagne to it and drinking the rest on Christmas morning.
Stargazy Rum is a new product from the team behind the original Dead Man’s Fingers, and this Rum has some definite characteristics of their now ubiquitous first product. This probably isn’t the sort of rum I’d usually reach for – as I like something rich with a bit of cask ageing that I can be snobbish about – however I was impressed by this spirit. It’s a sweeter liqueur style with caramel notes, which are cleverly balanced by Cornish sea salt and floral notes from gorse flower. It’s also a nicely presented bottle, and I’m expecting to see it featuring on a lot of bars in the (sporadic government policy permitting) near future. Personally, I like this after a meal over ice, but you can add a splash of ginger ale if you prefer a longer drink.
Obviously, coffee is a working from home essential. Based in Liskeard, Lars and Margo (a husband and wife team, their names are actually Peter and Mandy) roast the finest arabica beans with as little environmental impact as possible. My personal favourite of the lot is their #00P Peruvian, a medium-roast with redcurrant, cranberry and praline notes. Beans can be ground however you like, and you can choose from a single bag or a particularly good value monthly subscription.
The non-alcoholic facet of the drinks industry has been significantly growing over the last year or so. 1 in 3 people are now actively moderating their drinking and this has in part been made possible by a wider, and importantly better, range of options. Until recently I’d been a little dismissive of non-alcoholic beer; it seemed to me to be a bottle that sat in the far corner of a pub’s fridge and tasted of wet bread with a little bit of Lemon Pledge mixed in. Lucky Saint has changed that for me. It’s a deliciously clean Pilsner with biscuit and citrus notes, which is only 53 calories a bottle and vegan friendly.