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Distilled – A new range of British cocktail bitters

Our latest round-up of trends from the top shelf, including a new range of British cocktail bitters, how to make a Tommy's Margarita and an explanation of the term 'bottled in bond'.

Bitter beginnings: British cocktail bitters

The Bitter Club is a new range of premium British cocktail bitters inspired by luxury perfume and beauty brands. Created by Ro Murray, the range consists of three flavours: Grapefruit & Elderberry, Cinnamon & Orange and Hibiscus & Rose (all Alc 39%). Made without artificial sweeteners or flavourings, they can be used to add a twist to cocktails or simply dashed into soda or tonic. ‘Our commitment to using only the finest natural ingredients ensures that each drop of our bitters can enhance the flavour profile of any pour – alcoholic or not,’ explained Murray. ‘As the “spice rack” for cocktails, The Bitter Club hopes to add depth of flavour and balance to both the simplest and most complex of serves.’

Try a dash of Hibiscus & Rose to add floral notes and a pink hue to a Martini. My favourite is the tangy Grapefruit & Elderberry: delicious with tonic for a fresh, low-alcohol summer serve. Presented in chic fragrance- inspired dropper bottles, they would make a stylish and creative addition to your home bar.

What is… bottled in bond?

Bottled in bond, or BiB, is an American designation for a distilled spirit that has been produced according to very strict government regulations. It dates back to the Bottled in Bond Act of 1897, which was passed at a time when alcohol sales were unregulated and whiskey was typically sold direct from the barrel and was often adulterated by cheap or harmful substances, including methanol. The new regulations aimed to protect consumers, so that they knew what they were buying. A BiB whiskey must be made by one distiller at a single distillery and produced within one season (spring, from January to June, or fall/autumn, from July to December). It must be bottled at precisely 100 proof (50% abv) and matured for at least four years in barrels at a US bonded warehouse. With the American whiskey market currently booming, BiB has become an increasingly important quality stamp.

What to drink now… Tommy’s Margarita

The Margarita – a mix of tequila, lime juice and triple sec – was given a far-reaching makeover in the late 1980s by Julio Bermejo, beverage manager at the now-iconic Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant in San Francisco, founded by his parents in 1965. Bermejo simply replaced the triple sec with agave syrup, an ingredient that helps to ramp up the agave flavours in the tequila and produces a cocktail with the perfect balance of sweet and sharp flavours.

If you’re mixing a Tommy’s at home, try Olmeca Altos Plata (Alc 38%, £26.50- £36.60/70cl Widely available), a fresh, grassy, floral tequila with notes of spring blossom and citrus.

Ingredients: 50ml tequila, 25ml fresh lime juice, 12.5ml agave syrup

Glass: Rocks

Garnish: None

Method: Put all of the ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake until your hands are cold, then strain into a rocks glass filled with ice.

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