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Distilled – Chapel Down and Capreolus Distillery to produce an aperitif spirit

Our latest round-up of trends from the top shelf, including a collaboration project between English wine producer Chapel Down and Capreolus Distillery, the recipe for an Aviation cocktail and a definition of pastis.

Acres of flavour

English wine producer Chapel Down has joined forces with Cotswolds-based Capreolus Distillery to produce an aperitif spirit: Aker English Dry (Alc 18%). Created by Ian Bayliss and Katherine Hagan, the new drink combines Bacchus from the Kent winery with Comice pear eau de vie, a selection of macerated botanicals – blossoms, roots, spices and wormwood – and Chardonnay grape skin distillate. The result is an aromatic vermouth-style aperitif, with a crisp palate of ripe orchard fruit, white grapes, fresh herbs, elderflower, lemon and lime. Serve it with tonic for a refreshing, lower-alcohol alternative to a G&T: fill a highball glass with ice, add 60ml of Aker English Dry with 100ml of tonic, stir gently to mix, and garnish with a long lemon twist or sprig of rosemary. If you like sweeter drinks, Aker English Rosé (Alc 17%) pairs Chapel Down’s Pinot Noir Rosé with raspberry eau de vie, for a fruitier aperitif with red berry notes. Serve it spritz-style with English fizz. Keep opened bottles in the fridge. Available though Amazon UK: Aker English dry, Aker English Rosé

What is… pastis?

Pastis is an anise-flavoured spirit, typically drunk as an aperitif. While it is particularly associated with France – Ricard, the first commercial brand, was created by Paul Ricard in 1932 – anise spirits have a long history around the Mediterranean, dating back to the Middle Ages when they were likely used for medicinal purposes. Their fresh, liquorice-like flavour comes from a compound called anethole, also found in fennel seeds and star anise. Anethole is soluble in alcohol but not in water, and when added to cold water it forms a microemulsion that turns the liquid cloudy.

What to drink now… Aviation

This gin-based cocktail first appeared in Recipes for Mixed Drinks, written in 1916 by New York bartender Hugo R Ensslin. It took its name from the rapidly developing craze for planes and flying: the world’s first commercial passenger airline took off in 1914. It was also included in Harry Craddock’s 1930 The Savoy Cocktail Book – omitting the crème de violette. Both recipes were ‘rediscovered’ as part of the 21st-century cocktail renaissance. Traditionalists tend to favour Ensslin’s. For the violet liqueur, try Briottet Liqueur de Violette from Dijon (Alc 18%, available through Amazon UK).


Ingredients: 50ml gin, 15ml fresh lime juice, 8ml maraschino liqueur, 5ml crème de violette

Glass: Martini

Garnish: Maraschino cherry

Method: Put all of the ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake with ice until your hands are cold. Strain into a Martini glass and garnish.

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