Five easy cocktail recipes for parties

Posted by
Megan Murray
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Feast your eyes, and your taste buds, on these delicious and beautifully illustrated cocktail recipes. 

From hosting sophisticated pre-drinks to organising a full-on dinner party, we always get a kick out of being the hostess with the mostess. And, as anyone who has ever held a house or a dinner party knows, the drinks are everything. 

To give you a helping hand, we’ve teamed up with the creators of new book, Gin Made Me Do It, to gift you with five delectable but easy-to-make cocktails (and the stories behind them). Written by Jassy Davis and illustrated by Ruby Taylor, these beautifully botanical cocktails are perfect for your next soiree.

With our handpicked mix of tipples, from botanical gin to creamy Advocaat, you’ll be wowing your guests before you know it. Just grab a cocktail shaker and strainer and let’s begin…

Fluffy Duckling 

The Fluffy Duck is one of those 1980s cocktails that makes you wonder just how drunk everyone was in the ’80s. Who was sat in a bar and thought: ‘I know! Gin, Advocaat and orange juice! That’ll be a great drink.’ 

Crazy as they were, they were also right. The hint of almond in the Advocaat marries up neatly with the citrus in the triple sec and the orange juice’s fresh zing, creating a light, appealing cocktail with a smooth finish. I’ve swapped in clementine gin and juice and, as clementines are that bit smaller than oranges, I decided it has to be called a Fluffy Duckling.


45ml (1½ fl oz) Clementine Gin, 45ml (1½ fl oz) Advocaat
45ml (1½ fl oz) triple sec
45ml (1½ fl oz) freshly squeezed clementine juice soda water, to top up
An orange slice, to garnish


Fill a shaker with ice and pour in the Clementine Gin, Advocaat, triple sec and clementine juice. Shake vigorously to mix. Fill a highball glass with ice and strain in the cocktail. Top up with a little soda water and garnish with an orange slice.

Versper Martini 

James Bond’s original drink of choice is not a cocktail for the novice drinker. In Casino Royale, Bond gives the recipe: ‘Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet; shake it very well until it’s ice cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel’. 

CIA bagman Felix Leiter is goggle-eyed at Bond’s booze-heavy concoction, but James reassures Felix he can handle it, telling him: ‘This drink’s my own invention. I’m going to patent it when I can think of a good name.’ And think of it he does when he meets the beautiful, doomed double agent Vesper Lynd. Since the 1950s Gordon’s has reduced its ABV to 37%, and Kina Lillet is no longer available, so to mix up something Bond wouldn’t raise an eyebrow at, use a London dry gin with an ABV of at least 40% and swap in Aperitivo Cocchi Americano for the Kina Lillet. 

It’s flavoured with cinchona, the bitter bark that gave Kina Lillet its tart quinine taste and is the closest thing on the market to the original aperitif. If you can’t find it, go for Lillet Blanc.


60ml (2 fl oz) London dry gin 22ml (¾ fl oz) vodka
8ml (¼ fl oz) Aperitivo Cocchi Americano or Lillet Blanc a lemon twist, to garnish


Pour all the ingredients into an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake together until the liquid is ice cold, then double strain into a chilled martini glass – double straining means straining your martini out of the shaker and through a fine mesh sieve into the glass. This helps catch any tiny chips of ice that could cloud your martini. Garnish with a lemon twist to serve.


The Bramble was invented by Dick Bradsell in the 1980s when he was working at Fred’s Club in Soho, London. As he tells it himself, he woke up one day wanting to create a truly ‘British’ gin cocktail. Some experimenting led him to the Bramble, named for the blackberry bushes he scraped his knees on as a child on the Isle of Wight. 

It’s not entirely British due to the crème de mure and lemon juice (although you can get good British blackberry liqueurs these days, Britain is still yet to grow its own lemons), but it does have something of the crisp sweetness of those British end-of-summer days, when blackberries hang heavy in the hedgerows.


60ml (2 fl oz) Plymouth gin
30ml (1 fl oz) freshly squeezed lemon juice 15ml (½ fl oz) Simple Syrup, 15ml (½ fl oz) crème de mure
A couple of blackberries, to garnish


Fill an old fashioned glass with crushed ice. Pour the gin, lemon juice and Simple Syrup over the ice and gently stir together. Top up with crushed ice so it fills the glass again. 

Pour the crème de mure over the top so it ‘bleeds’ down into the drink. Top with a couple of blackberries and serve with two short straws. (The straws are traditional, but plastic straws are so bad for the environment, I prefer to skip tradition and give this cocktail a stir before serving.)

Early to Bed

Great for de-stressing after a long day at work, this cocktail combines the soothing apple-and-hay flavours of chamomile tea with the talcum powder softness of elderflower and Lillet Blanc. The teapot, cups and saucers are a bit gimmicky, but what’s life if you can’t pretend to be the Mad Hatter now and then?


1 chamomile tea bag 120ml (4fl oz) boiling water, 1 tsp runny honey
90ml (3 fl oz) gin
30ml (1 fl oz) Lillet Blanc
15ml (½ fl oz) elderflower cordial
8ml (¼ fl oz) freshly squeezed lemon juice 2 lemon slices, to garnish


Cover the chamomile tea bag with the boiling water in a teapot and let it steep for 10 minutes. Take out the tea bag, give it a squeeze and discard. Stir in the honey to dissolve it. Add plenty of ice, then pour in the gin, Lillet Blanc, elderflower cordial and lemon juice. Stir for about 15 seconds, then put the lid on the teapot. Fill 2 teacups with ice and tuck a lemon slice in each. Pour the cocktail into the teacups to serve.

Espresso Martini 

In 1983, Dick Bradsell was mixing drinks at the Soho Brasserie in London, when a famous model (Bradsell never disclosed who) walked up to the bar and asked for a drink that would ‘wake me up, then f**k me up’. Bradsell shook a fresh espresso with vodka, Tia Maria, Kahlúa and sugar syrup and strained it into a martini glass, calling it a Vodka Espresso. 

Subsequently, he tweaked the recipe to perfect his Espresso Martini and I’ve given it a go-over of my own, swapping vodka for gin. The sweetness of Old Tom or the clean sharpness of a jonge genever are good stand-ins for vodka, and you can use either Tia Maria or Kahlúa or a mix of both – I like Tia Maria for its darker, more bitter coffee flavour. 

One essential is fresh espresso – the crema on top of a freshly pulled shot of espresso helps create that fluffy, creamy foam layer on top of the finished cocktail. The usual garnish is three coffee beans, but I like a shake of cocoa powder too for a faux cappuccino finish.


50ml (1¾ fl oz) Old Tom gin or jonge genever 22ml (¾ fl oz) Tia Maria or Kahlúa
22ml (¾ fl oz) hot, fresh espresso
3 coffee beans and cocoa powder (optional), to garnish


Half fill a cocktail shaker with ice and pour in the gin, Tia Maria or Kahlúa and espresso. Shake together vigorously for 30 seconds, then strain into a chilled martini glass. Top with 3 coffee beans and a little dusting of cocoa powder, if using.

Images: Courtesy of Gin Made Me Do It, illustrated by Ruby Taylor