On the topic of cocktails: #1 … Punching with Rum

Three rum based summer cocktails to bring a tropical burst to your back garden evenings.


The weather man was finally predicting a heatwave this weekend, heralding the optimistic rush to ready our gardens, bikes or barbecues to make the most of the British sunshine. I spent Saturday evening watching the sun dip over the garden wall, contemplating the merits of cocktails and drinks that extend those summer evenings late in to the night.

So in the first post of a summer series on cocktails, here’s some interesting tipples for your taste buds to try:


Mai Tai

4 parts white rum (Wray & Nephew Overproof Rum)
2 parts dark rum (Havana Club or Barcardi)
1 part curaçao
1 part orgeat syrup (optional)
1 part fresh lime juice

Mix together the white rum, curaçao, syrup and lime juice with a hand full of ice. Strain into a tall chilled glass. Then, if you can, float the dark rum over the top of the drink by pouring slowly over the back of a spoon. The traditional garnish is usually a slice of pineapple, and a some lime peel gently twisted to release the citrus oils. But an orange slice or two would do just fine.


Rum Caipirinha

3/4 – 1 whole lime per glass (depending on how sour you like things)
2 tsps soft brown sugar
White rum to top (Wray & Nephew Overproof Rum)

Slice the limes into segments, and with the brown sugar gently mash into the bottom of a tumbler glass until the sugar dissolves into the lime juices. Fill with crushed ice and top with white rum.

For more fruity variations, you can substitute the lime with skinned, seedless grapes, kiwi fruit or mango. For an entirely oriental twist try strawberries and a peach slice topped with 1 part sake and 1 part white rum.


Hot Cola Cube Mixer – a spicy take on the Cuba Libre

1 part dark rum
1 part white rum (Bacardi 151)
2 parts cola
1 part soda cream
1 inch fresh ginger (sliced) or 2 tsps ground ginger

Drop the ginger slices (or powder) into a large jug or decanter with plenty of ice cubes. Pour in both rums and stir really well. Top off with the cola and soda and serve.



Cold Cuts and Raisins

Lamb pittas with raisins

Wednesday afternoon. Time to kick back, a moment of time to myself amidst a busy week, to catch my breath. I stare out of the kitchen window into clear skies and my thoughts turn to dinner. What happy morsel can I plate up and fit into a busy evening, without succumbing to an on-the-go fast food alternative or wasting what is still left to use in the refrigerator?

With just two of us living together there is usually a substantial amount of cold roasted meat in my fridge left over from a large chicken or an oversized leg of lamb. Couple this with some kitchen staples, and I can breathe life back into those busily overlooked midweek supper slots.

A handful of dried raisins that I always store in a Kilner jar for baking scones or fruitcake, pep up a salad of watercress and Chinese leafs.  A dollop mint sauce (for lamb, or cranberry jelly for cold chicken, or honey for ham) stirred into some cold natural yoghurt makes a lovely dip or dressing.

Then it’s just a matter of pulling it all together on a slice of bread, deposited into a  warm pitta or even with a helping of couscous or pasta.

Keeping food simple and fresh, I feel is really important during a busy week. Stay inspired and there will never be any need to sacrifice taste for time.


Fresh Guacamole and Flat Breads


2 medium sized avocados
1 large tomato
1 tbsp olive oil
freshly ground pepper
a pinch of salt
juice of half a lime
2 – 3 small garlic cloves
Coriander (optional)
Peel the avocados and mash with a fork, adding the salt, pepper, oil, lime juice. Chop the tomato and mince the garlic cloves. Mix everything together well. If you chose to, mix in the coriander. That’s it! It’s ready to serve!

Minted Melon Salad

Here’s a gorgeously fresh salad idea for your summer barbecues or garden suppers. Best served ice cold, with fresh mint, it goes really well with full flavoured cold meats such as duck or lamb. Savoury fruit salad? Yes – have a go, you won’t be disappointed.


Melon (1 per every two people)
1/2 a stalk of grapes (try to buy seedless unless you are wiling to deseed them before serving)
Mint (6 sprigs)
Crushed Roasted Almonds (optional)

For the dressing:
White Wine Vinegar
Extra Virgin olive oil
Lemon juice
Pinch of Salt
Ground white pepper
1 tsp sugar

Prepare the dressing by mixing two parts extra virgin olive oil (the nicest you can find) to one part white wine vinegar. Then squeeze in some lemon juice and add a pinch of salt, white pepper and sugar to taste. I use white pepper, just for aesthetics. That way, there are no questionable specks of black pepper across the salad. If you do not want to be fussy – by all means use ground black pepper. Segment the ice-cold melon and remove the seeds. Proceed to cut the crescents into thin slices. Arrange the melon on a serving platter. Scatter over the de-seeded halves of red grapes.

Drizzle a little dressing over the salad, and garnish with torn sprigs of mint (Moroccan mint or apple mint provide refreshing contrasts to the sweet melon) and some crushed almonds for crunch.

If you are serving a few people, mix it up with a variety of melons – a cantaloupe, galia, and honeydew for an assortment of colour.