Drink of the Week: Wood’s Shropshire Beers

Shropshire Lad

Shropshire Lad

Well the sun is out, so it’s time to hop in the Virtual Hot Tub and enjoy a nice, refreshing beer.  Plus with all that travelling to conventions and whatnot, I think a nice chill in the tub is very much called for.

This weeks tipple is the result of a gift I received not too long ago – two bottles of beer from Wood’s Brewery in Shropshire.  I received a very nice gift pack with two ales and a rather cool glass.

First up was Shropshire Lad, described as a “Spring bitter”.  It was a glorious copper colour and held a slight sweet taste to contrast with the bitter.  This is the flagship beer of the brewery, and it’s easy to see why.  Brewed at 4.8% alc. vol., Shropshire Lad was jovial, full of character and also laid back.

Shropshire Lass

Shropshire Lass

The other beer in the pack was Shropshire Lass, a golden pale ale counterpart to the previous drink.  Described as a “blonde stunner”, this 4.1% alc. vol. beer was light and refreshing, together with a warm and welcoming flavour with a slight citrus taste.

I really enjoyed both beers, no favourites – and highly recommend them.  Check out the website below for information on where to buy.

http://www.woodbrewery.co.uk/

Seasonal drink: Snowball

If you’re still in a party mood – and who isn’t, with New Year’s Eve on the way? – here’s a recipe for a seasonal cocktail that I’m sure you’ll enjoy.  The festive season may be coming to an end, but this tipple is still a top recommendation.

The Snowball is well known, and can be made to your particular taste.  You may know the ingredients already, so consider this a reminder of a winter classic.

Why not pull up a chair at the Virtual Tiki Bar and ask Veronica, our Virtual Bar Attendant, to concoct one of these for you?  Made just how you like it. IMG_2740

Snowball

  • Advocaat
  • Vodka
  • Lime juice (cordial)
  • Lemonade
  • Ice

The amounts required for this drink depend on the drinker’s taste, and the size of glass used.  Experiment and adjust to your preference.

Add ice at first, then pour a small amount of lime cordial.  Throw in a shot of vodka – this can be substituted by brandy, if desired.

Pour in a big old dose of the Advocaat, then top up with lemonade.  Veronica was a bit sketchy on the measures, so just play around.  Mix with a stirrer and enjoy.

Drink responsibly!

Soundtrack: Christmas with the Rat Pack, or Ultra Lounge Christmas Cocktails (Vol I and II).

Drink of the Week: Monkey Wrench

Better hurry and mix this drink while you can – it’s an ideal summer refresher and there ain’t much summer left…

The Monkey Wrench is a popular warm weather tipple here at the Virtual Hot Tub.  Ask Veronica, the Virtual Barmaid, to throw one of these together for you – and join me in the tub for a soak. IMG_3137

Monkey Wrench

  • White rum
  • Grapefruit juice
  • Lemonade
  • Ice

Crush the ice and add to a tall glass.  Add two measures of white rum, then pour in the grapefruit juice.  Finally top up with lemonade and give it a stir.

Grapefruit juice can be a little sharp, but don’t worry if you’re not a fan – the lemonade can take the edge off.  Experiment with the quantities to achieve a taste you like.

Enjoy!

Soundtrack: “Monkey Wrench” by Foo Fighters.

American Beer – Cheers!

Despite the well stocked Virtual Tiki Bar here at the Virtual Hot Tub, it’s not that often that I actually drink cocktails.  When I’m soaking in the virtual warm water, in reality I usually drink beer.  So it’s about time I featured some beer on this blog.

I have grown to admire American beer over the last few years.  In particular, a few of the less obvious brands that are now turning up in the UK.

Samuel Adams Boston Lager

Samuel Adams Boston Lager

Back in 2000, I made my first visit to the United States of America, after wanting to travel there for a long time.  That first trip I was introduced to Samuel Adams Boston Lager.  It was love at first taste.  Unlike other American beers I was familiar with, Sam Adams has a full flavour.  Now available in supermarkets such as Tesco, Asda and Morrisons, this beer is highly recommended.  I was really happy to see this beer so readily available, it’s a definite favourite.

Visit the Samuel Adams web page here.

Another bottled beer that is now available on our shores is Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.  This is a newer discovery for me, again it can be easily found in your local Tesco.  Sierra Nevada is no fizzy lager either, rather you’re going to experience a quality drink with character.

Visit the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale web page here.

Sierra Nevada - left, Brooklyn Lager - right

Sierra Nevada – left, Brooklyn Lager – right

Finally, we have Brooklyn Lager.  I’ve discovered this beer in the supermarkets; though now it is starting to appear in bars/restaurants, where it’s a great accompaniment to pulled pork burgers!  Described as an amber lager, this beer has a great flavour far removed from the typical US beers we’re often exposed to.  It’s easy to pick up in Tesco so give it a try – again, recommended.  If you’re lucky enough to find this beer on draught, treat yourself to a pint.  You can thank me later.

The web page for Brooklyn Brewery is here.

The USA is not a country famed for alcohol.  Prohibition?  What the hell is that all about?  And just what is a “light” beer anyway?  But these breweries are building on traditions that were long lost, delivering great tasting beer that is well worth investigating.

Iechyd Da, America!

Drink of the Week #3

Lemon, Lime & Bitters

This is another cocktail that may be of interest to anyone trying to be good and cut down on the booze at this time of year.  Technically this isn’t an alcohol free drink, as there is alcohol in Angostura bitters.  But you’ll only be using a tiny amount of that ingredient in this drink.

Lemon, Lime & Bitters 

IMG_2569

  • Lemonade
  • Lime cordial
  • Angostura bitters
  • Ice

Take a tall glass and pour in some lime cordial, enough as though you were making just a lime and water drink.  Then add the ice.

Next add the Angostura bitters – just add drop by drop.  Aim for a half to one full teaspoon full of bitters, and play around to see how you like the taste.  The bitters will affect both the taste and colour, so experimentation is key.

Finally, top the glass up with lemonade and stir.

Drink of the Week #2

Shirley Temple

Are you being good after indulging during Christmas?  Have you sworn off alcohol for a while, maybe even the whole of January?  If you have, but you’re after something more than a cup of tea, this one’s for you.

The Shirley Temple is a non-alcoholic cocktail, or mocktail, if you will.  The legend is that it was concocted in a Hollywood hotel for the then child star, and of course is alcohol free.  It’s a great drink to enjoy if you’re staying off the booze – the ritual of mixing a drink makes it seem special.  Plus it’s easy to make.

Shirley Temple IMG_2583

  • Grenadine
  • Sprite or 7Up
  • Ice

Pour a small measure of grenadine syrup into a glass.  Think of it as if you were making a cordial drink: the grenadine is the cordial which you will add to.  Of course you can experiment with the amount of grenadine to achieve the taste you like.  Add ice and pour in the Sprite/7Up.

Don’t forget – you could use diet versions of the Sprite or 7Up if you want a slightly healthier version…

Grenadine is easily available in supermarkets.  It’s not expensive and is a common ingredient in many other cocktails, so useful to have in your cupboard.

Soundtrack: The Aquabats! – “Hi-Five Soup!”

Christmas Drink of the Week

Chocolate Smarties

Also known as “Chocolate Orange” or “Christmas Smarties”, for some reason this great drink has become linked to the festive season for me.  I can’t remember now how I was first introduced to this tipple (if it was you, and you’re reading this, please remind me); but I’m sure you’ll love it if you try it.

Basically, what we have here is an alcoholic drink that tastes like chocolate orange.  If for some reason that doesn’t entice you, give this a go anyway – you may be pleasantly surprised. IMG_2721

Chocolate Smarties

  • Tia Maria
  • Orange juice
  • Ice

Take a standard tumbler (the glass in the picture is a typical pub half pint glass).  Pour in two measures of Tia Maria.  Add a few ice cubes, then top up with fresh orange juice (the carton type or some good old Britvic).  Enjoy!

Play around with the measure to get a taste you prefer.  You may like a single measure of Tia Maria, you may want more or less orange juice.  Feel free to experiment till you get the desired flavour.

Soundtrack: “Merry Christmas Everybody” – Slade.

Drink of the Week

I refuse to accept the summer is over.  With some warm weather over the last few days, it’s been quite easy to pretend that summer will go on.  Here’s a drink that’s great for warm evenings, with a melon taste that oozes mellow.  

Midori & leomonade

Midori & lemonade

And what a fantastic colour!

Come on over to the Virtual Hot Tub, take a dip in the virtual water and don’t forget to pick up one of these drinks from the Virtual Tiki Bar.

Midori & Lemonade

  • Midori
  • Lemonade
  • Ice

I don’t really need to tell you how to make this, do I?  Take your glass, add midori, ice and top up with lemonade.  Enjoy.

Soundtrack: “Green Hell” by The Misfits.

Cheeky Vimto

It’s time for a tipple at Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub.  This one’s an old classic – I’m sure you’ve tried it, if not – enjoy!

Cheeky Vimto

  • 1 measure ruby port
  • Blue WKD
IMG_2003

Cheeky Vimto

Really simple to make: pour one measure of port into a large tumbler.  Top up with WKD of the blue variety.

You will create a drink that looks, smells and tastes just like a fizzy Vimto – but with a hidden punch.

Play around with the amount of WKD you add – but the colour should be a dark purple, not translucent at all.

It’s been a long while since I was introduced to the Cheeky Vimto, and it became a favourite for a while.  It was the Vodka/Redbull of it’s day.  I have fond memories of introducing this drink to several weary travellers when we got home from Amsterdam on Baz Coppack’s stag do.

Well worth re-discovering.

Soundtrack: Stereophonics

By the way, I say “W-K-D” (the initials) not “Wicked”.  I hate the word “wicked” when used in that way.  You do not sound cool if you say, “Hey, that’s wicked!”.  You sound like a pretend cockney who thinks they’re a “geezer”.

Say “rad” or “killer” instead and avoid looking like a chimp.

Bloody Mary Morning

Hey there!

Here at Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub, soaking in the tub isn’t the only thing we offer.  There’s also our Virtual Tiki Bar, offering drinks of all descriptions to get the party started.  Here’s a recipe for one of our favourites.

Bloody Mary

  • 2 measures vodka
  • Tabasco sauce
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Lemon juice
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Thick tomato juice
  • Ice cubes

Ideal as an aperitif, the Bloody Mary is an all time classic – and Platinum Al likes ’em spicy.

Start by throwing some ice cubes into your cocktail mixer, and then add lemon juice.  To make this spicy (recommended), add your Tabasco sauce and Worcestershire sauce liberally.  Add salt and pepper – not any kind of specialised cocktail condiments, use the stuff from your kitchen cabinet.  And don’t be shy.  Then it’s vodka time.  Finally top off with as much tomato juice as you can fit in the shaker.

Now you need to give the mixture a good shake.  Pour out into a tall glass, serve with a straw and mixing stick.  An olive will make a nice addition.

Feel free to experiment to your taste (note the lack of recommended amounts for most of the above ingredients).  But again, please note that I recommend this drink nice and spicy.  It’s ideal to start the night off, but I wouldn’t be trying to down Bloody Marys after a full meal.

Be careful out there.

Soundtrack: “Bloody Mary Morning” by Supersuckers