The innate connection between drink and underwear will vex me no longer. We may lust after both, but it’s actually their simplicity that they share, according to mixologist Giles Looker. He is the man famed for the Mahiki treasure chest cocktails and was the host of an intimate Southern Comfort drinks evening recently at Match Bar.
‘I’ve got a mate who owns a lingerie business,’ Looker begins. I look unsure, but he continues. ‘One night I was at her place telling her about all these exotic drinks that I’ve been making. Champagne, rum, gin-based cocktails, you know. She just looked at me and said, “Giles, they’re just drinks. And I just make knickers”. And that was that! It was like an epiphany. I needed to make something that people could make at home, something easy.’ And there you have it: cocktails have gone domestic.
You might be forgiven for believing that the cocktail has fallen out of favour recently, what with the boom of sleazy joint Vodka Revolutions and even Wetherspoon’s throwing its hat in the ring with the pitcher of sickly liquid for a fiver. I’d always thought I was more of a lager and curry kind of girl – because a lager is easy. You know what you’re getting with a Fosters.
Looker believes that cocktails can be just as easy, which was the driving force behind his latest venture, the Louisiana Jam. Inspired by the seminal Mardi Gras festival in New Orleans, the cocktail is fun, super-tasty and made from the contents of your kitchen cupboards. All you need is some apricot jam, a shake of lemon and apple juice, a shedload of ice and 35ml of Southern Comfort. Hell, it’s even drunk out of a jam jar, so no need to unpack the dishwasher. Who says you can’t make that at home?
Wine-based cocktails are also to be a big hit, he predicts. Again, I empathise with this. I like wine: open screw cap, reach for bucket-shaped glass, done. It’s easier than faffing around with multiple spirits and then running out to the corner shop for extra soda.
Voodoo Jam is the Martha Stewart of cocktails, featuring all the ingredients you would find in any middle-class kitchen: red wine, a dollop of strawberry jam, orange juice, lemon juice and 35ml of Southern Comfort, all served in a gorgeous jam jar. It tastes like sangria and has the colour of dried blood – in essence, the perfect Halloween drink.
Years ago, Southern Comfort was the drink du jour of the over-60s. Now, it’s beating a fierce path to speakeasy chic with its unique jam jar concoctions. It’s official: mixologist Looker has unearthed the future of the cocktail. And thankfully, it’s all about keeping it real.
Visit www.bigeasycocktails.co.uk for more Southern Comfort cocktail ideas.
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