The sun shines and we want fresh, herby, floral cocktails. Well, to be frank we want them whether it's shining or not, and that's why going DIY has so much to recommend it.
Forget the catch-all bowl of punch: we've consulted the experts from bars, restaurants and drinks brands and selected 15 master mixes to make at home.
While some are easy to build (and even easier to sip), others require a little forward planning or a refresh of your drinks' cupboard, but don't be intimidated or afraid to experiment; many ingredients are easy to swap out and we've included some shopping links to make it even simpler.
Remember: elements like sugar syrup are easy to make yourself, but if you buy it in nobody will judge you. They'll be too busy sipping your delicious, impressive cocktails and wondering when the hell you got so good at hosting.
To celebrate the arrival of blossom, central European restaurant German Gymnasium in London has a selection of new cocktails, including the gin-based Ikebana with matcha tea.
60ml clear apple juice
35ml Tanqueray 10
20ml elderflower cordial
1 tsp of matcha tea powder
Juice of half a lemon
Method: Add the matcha tea to a bowl and then, using a kitchen whisk, whisk continuously as the other ingredients are added. Pour into a rocks glass over ice and garnish with a beautiful flower.
This is a simple mix based on the zesty, herby and citrusy notes of Belsazar's pink vermouth: a floral spring twist on the classic G&T.
30ml Belsazar Rosé
Lemon zest to garnish
Method: Pour the vermouth and gin into a highball glass, fill with ice cubes and top up with the tonic water to taste. Serve with lemon zest.
Head barman of modern Asian restaurant Bó Drake in London, Darren Farmer, has created Carrot Top for the spring season, a tequila-carrot mix we can definitely claim as healthy. Tiny marshmallow kebab optional.
20ml lime juice
20ml egg white
Pressed carrot juice
Method: Shake all ingredients together with ice in a Boston shaker (ensuring you shake enough to create a nice foam). Double-strain into a tall glass.
This sparkling aperitivo is served in Jason Atherton’s Japanese izakaya-style restaurant Sosharu. If you can get your hands on fennel flowers, do: the slightly sharp, anise-like scent provides a beautiful sensory contrast with the rich, fruity notes of the drink itself.
Method: Build the vermouth and sake in a Champagne coupe, top with Prosecco and finish with the fennel flower. Slightly bruise the flower before placing it in the glass to release the scent.
Method: Put all the ingredients bar the orange peel into a shaker and shake well. Pour into a rocks glass over ice and garnish with the orange twist.
Image: Tom Bowles
Pine Needle Highball
This summery concoction created by ‘Appletiser Alchemist’ Richard Woods combines sweet and refreshing flavours, and can’t fail to remind you of the great outdoors. Even if the weather won’t play ball.
Method: Add the vermouth, lemon bitters and sugar syrup to a highball glass filled with ice. Pour in half of the Appletiser and stir before topping up with the remaining to taste. Garnish with the pine needle.
Dill or No Dill
This is a mix from award-winning cocktail bar The Blind Pig (above Social Eating House). The touch of smoky flavour from the salt adds depth to the lighter, fresher tastes coming from the other ingredients.
50ml Tanqueray gin
25ml lemon juice
20ml cucumber water
15ml elderflower syrup
Pinch smoked salt
Sprig of fresh dill
Method: Shake all the ingredients together in a chilled shaker and fine strain into a chilled coupette glass. Garnish with a small sprig of fresh dill on the rim.
This is Peruvian restaurant Ceviche’s take on the classic Pisco Sour, and the team positively encourage home experimentation to discover the levels of sugar and sour you prefer.
50ml acholado (blended) pisco
30ml lime juice
20ml sugar syrup
3 drops angustura or chuncho bitters
1 egg white
Method: There are two: either put all ingredients except bitters into a blender with three ice cubes and blend until smooth, or into a shaker with ice and shake vigorously for at least 30 seconds. Hold the froth back while pouring into a chilled rocks glass (you'll still get a good foam). To serve, add three drops of bitters on top.
Note: for more than one drink, one egg white makes enough froth for four if blended or two if shaken.
Herby Victorian Mojito
This herbaceous take on a Victorian Mojito comes from London distillery Sipsmith, adding notes of flora to the classic mint concoction.
40ml Sipsmith London Dry Gin
20ml elderflower cordial
15ml sugar syrup
6-8 mint leaves (to taste)
Mint leaves and thyme to garnish
Method: Add all ingredients to a Collins glass and muddle. Then top with crushed ice, churn together and serve with a sprig of mint and thyme.
Geoff Robinson, bar manager at Sosharu’s basement cocktail bar 7 Tales, created the Nikkei Martinez around the pungent, aromatic notes of mosto verde pisco, while aged sake adds a sherry-like hint. You may not have all these ingredients to hand, but should you invest you’ll be making this short and powerful sip all year round.
40ml aged sake
10ml mosto verde pisco
10ml Cocchi Americano
Dash of Hawaiian Black Salt solution
Method: Stir all the ingredients together, then strain into a rocks glass over ice. Garnish with flowers.
Berry Me Home
This heady mix is from Korean restaurant Jinjuu, using Korean spirit soju and fruit. The honey and ginseng syrup is easily made by steeping two ginseng teabags in one cup for 10 minutes, removing, then stirring in half a cup of honey until dissolved.
35ml Hwayo 41% Soju
25ml honey and ginseng syrup
20ml maraschino liqueur
20ml grapefruit juice
10ml lemon juice
Maraschino cherry to garnish
Method: Muddle the blueberries and four raspberries in a shaker, then add all other ingredients, plus ice, and shake hard for 20 seconds. Strain through a fine sieve into a coupe or Martini glass and garnish with the remaining raspberry and a maraschino cherry.
This one comes from the spring menu at Forest restaurant on Selfridges’ roof and requires a bit of forward planning. The Armagnac can be swapped for Cognac and is easily infused at home (drop in dried apricots and leave for two days), while lavender syrup is either bought sugar syrup cooked with dried flowers, or pop a pan of two parts caster sugar, one part water and a handful of flowers on the hob until the sugar dissolves. Good things come to those who wait.
40ml apricot-infused Armagnac
20ml clementine juice
15ml lavender syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Method: Shake all ingredients in a shaker with ice vigorously. Double strain into a chilled coupe glass without ice.
This from 108 Bar, part of 108 Brasserie in London, also uses gin as a base (in this case, a London dry), but replaces the bitterness of tonic with an apple, elderflower and cherry mix.
80ml apple juice
50ml Beefeater Gin
15ml elderflower cordial
5ml cherry liqueur
Cucumber and mint leaves to garnish
Method: Shake all the ingredients together in a shaker. Strain and pour into a sling glass over ice and garnish with mint leaves and sliced cucumber.
Chambord Chapter Eight
The black raspberry liqueur and the jam bring sweetness to the table (or bar), but the lemon and grapefruit balance with sharpness. Tweak sage to taste.
30ml grapefruit juice
10ml fresh lemon juice
2 sage leaves
Dash of soda water
Good quality raspberry jam
Method: Add all except the jam to a cocktail shaker with ice and shake hard. Paint the inside of a chilled coupette or Martini glass with the jam, strain the mix into it and top with soda water.
The Lotus Collins is from Vietnamese restaurant House of Ho in London, and yes, requires a little prep to do it properly (leave cut-up lotus root to soak in gin for a couple of days), but the result is surely worth it. Sherbet here refers to lemon juice, sugar and lemon zest mixed together to taste.
40ml lotus root-infused gin
20ml lemon sherbet
15ml creme de violette
Lemon to garnish
Method: Put ice in a shaker with the gin, lemon sherbet and creme de violette and shake until chilled. Strain into a highball glass over ice, top up with soda water and garnish with a lemon wheel.