A quick trip to Sainsbury’s – 2 hours & £35 later…

So I needed to top up on the ‘extras’ for my cocktails (the sugar syrup, fresh fruit, fruit sodas and other weird and wonderful things) and the best way to do that? Shopping trip! Now some of the things can be expensive (like Hibiscus flowers – 11 of them in syrup can cost anywhere from £9-£20 depending on where you find them), whilst others can be cheap and cheerful.

Take the fresh fruit I got today; 4 Oranges or a punnet of strawberries £2 each or 2 packs for £3, so obviously I saved there by getting one of each. Agave Nectar was relatively cheap for what it is at £2.50 and even the Espresso Coffee Beans were on offer at £2… So really I save quite a bit today. I fact almost everything I bought on this trip happened to be on offer. Even the Pomegranate juice was on an introductory offer (a bit weird as they’ve had it for over a week, I should know I put it on the shelf!).

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Left to right: Fresh Oranges, Sweet Red Pepper, Molasses, Pomegranate Juice, Coffee Beans, Agave Nectar, Fresh Limes, Fresh Strawberries, Elderflower Cordial, Lychee Soda, Grapefruit Soda & Jamaican Ginger Beer.

Still it means I was able to get some good bits, and I even found some Molasses at a health food shop (the same health food shop that told me they’d never heard of the stuff 2 weeks ago – pays to have a look for yourself it seems)…

So how does all this tie in with my cocktail recipes?

Well overall I’m almost set up for my massive Mojito session in a couple of weeks. My next post, as I’ve already shown you a preview of it in my last post, on here will contain a small library’s worth of mojito recipes. But a few weeks after that I’ll post a series of mini-reviews on how some of them (and others) tasted, how well they worked etc… They will be made using various fruits and sugar syrups (mainly infused syrups like lavender, hibiscus, jasmine, apple and kiwi, to name but a few).

Expect this about 2 weeks after Easter. But until then I thought it would be nice to show you that you can get some really great ingredients for less than you may have thought (over here in the UK at least anyway). Granted some things can cost a bit, some of you may think £2.50 for 200ml of Agave Nectar is expensive but when you liken it to the prices of honey…

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Stick to the rule of ‘Affordable Quality’ … Save up a few quid here and there, and spend out on some fresh Pomegranate Juice and some nice new sugar (agave nectar as a sugar replacement product in case)…

My advice:

1)      Spend as much time thinking about the non-alcoholic ingredients you’ll be using as you do about the actual alcohol – it is these ingredients that usually deepen the flavours in the drink and also make a lot of them nice to drink (After all a Mojito without soda water, mint and sugar syrup is, well, just rum.

2)      Spend out on hard to find ingredients, if you have the money set aside for a selection of ingredients, don’t be afraid to spend out on some of the rarer ingredients. Whilst you don’t want to spend more than £5 per 70cl of Grenadine (if you’re not making it yourself) you should be prepared to spend out a bit more for fresh fruit, especially with the weather how it is (You’ll find fruits like strawberries relatively unaffected in price, but their quality will not be at their best – this cannot be helped without going straight to the farms, however fruits like blueberries and more exotic fruits like mangoes, guava and even farmhouse classics like Rhubarb can be difficult to get cheaply at all).

3)      Enjoy the ingredients well. Obviously don’t overuse them, but don’t be afraid to try new things out. Have you purchased a new, flavoured sugar syrup? Then try it in any recipe with sugar syrup in, Hibiscus Mojito? Yes please. Jasmine & Lemon Gin Fizz? Right on! – Experiments drive the world. Give it a go and don’t be afraid to dabble.

4)      Things don’t always work how you want. Do not let that deter you, for every 1 drink you make and love, you’ll create on average 20 drinks you hate. Fact. Science. Science Fact.

I hope this has helped some of you, and please do not feel afraid to ask for help, pop me a message if you have an ingredient you want some advice with, or leave a comment. The aim of the game: Try Something New.

Keep Drinking and Keep Living. Responsibly 😉

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