Wednesday, 18 November 2015

J20 Midnight Editions - cocktails and Winter garden in Clapham

Late last week I was invited to the Phoenix Pub in Clapham, South London ( to see their beautiful Winter garden celebrating the launch of J2O’s new seasonal limited editions. 

The Winter garden is intended to be a mystical place for people to meet during the next few days to enjoy a drink and a chat whilst immersing themselves in the woodland atmosphere, complete with twinkling lights, two romantic swing seats, outdoor log seating with throws and wraps to keep the chill away. The garden will be around to enjoy up to 22 November 2015, so do go and check it out!

The two new J20 limited editions are called Midnight Amber and Midnight Forest. Devised to be perfect non-alcoholic drinks in their own right for people attending Christmas and New Year parties, they have also been designed as super mixers and cocktail bases for the party season.

Midnight Amber is a Winter-inspired blend of fruit juices with a spicy tone. Think mince pies with their edge of warming cinnamon, cardamom and ginger. The blend of orange, lemon and mandarin juice is fresh and light. Previous J20 juice blends have been thicker and gloopier than this, and the change is a refreshing new move.

Midnight Forest is an unspiced fruit drink with a quirky list of ingredients; orange, cherry and chocolate… like your favourite Christmas confectionery! The deep red colour is perfectly seasonal. If you are sceptical that the addition of chocolate would make the drink too cloying or rich, don’t worry. It is fairly light and the dominant flavour is that of the juices. It is well worth trying this festive season.

Leeds based expert mixologists The Hedonists were present to demonstrate how these two drinks could be used to make 2 cocktails perfect for Christmas parties, whether you are having one at home or are running the office Crimbo shindig.

My cocktail guru from the Hedonists was Aaron, a dapper mixologist with nearly 10 years experience of developing his own unique recipes, influenced by his love of drinks, experimentation and cooking. Aaron is sceptical of those who say they don’t like cocktails, observing that everyone has three classic cocktail ingredients which are to their tastes. For him, the challenge is to counter their preconceived notions and work to find the perfect balance for each drinker. Truly passionate about his craft, I don’t doubt he can achieve his mission for virtually every punter.

So, let’s look at the Hedonist recipes for the J20 Midnight Limited Edition juice drinks….

Midnight Martini

Usually the name “martini” means the style of the cocktail, often referring to the glass in which the drink is served. This cocktail is a Martini because it actually contains Martini; Martini Rosso, the famous fortified wine, given extra strength through the addition of grappa. As I've said already, Midnight Amber is a juice blend of orange, cherry and chocolate. The concept is that these two components combine to create a long drink, served in a tall glass which is simple, easy to make, and keeps your guests going for longer. Better for busy hosts, better for a party; you don’t want people getting too merry on straight martini cocktails made of vodka too quickly.

Red wine (the base of Martini Rosso) and orange are a good match, due to their earthy tones. Hence their happy marriage in Sangria. Martini Rosso has been selected for this cocktail as the spices and aromatics in it add some Christmassy Wintry flavours; liquorice, tobacco leaf, espresso, cinnamon, anise, nutmeg and clove are among the goodies added in the fortification process.

Aaron advised us to take a double shot (50ml) of the Martini Rosso, pour into a highball glass, and to top up with the Midnight Forest J20. He reminded us to ensure the J20 is shaken thoroughly before pouring as the high natural juice content means it settles in the bottle very readily. Shaking will recombine the constituents quickly and effectively. Serve with a slice of orange peel for colour and aroma.

Midnight Spritz

In recent years, Aperol Spritz has become a hugely popular Summer drink. Drunk in the sunshine whilst holidaying on the Mediterranean, it’s a favourite with us Brits. But can it be tweaked for the Winter months?

Absolutely, says Aaron who advocates serving this delight in a wine glass. Why? To flag up the fact it is a seasonal update of the Aperol Spritz, but also to enhance the nose of the orange and special burnt orange peel decoration.

To make the cocktail you will need to take a large wine glass, pour in a double shot (50ml) of Aperol, add ice to 2cm to the top of the glass, then either use a spoon or a muddling stick to slow the flow of the 150ml of Midnight Amber J20 poured on top, to allow for a layer to form. Top up to the top of the glass with Tonic Water.

Next comes the moment of pure theatre – take a piece of orange skin, squeeze gently to release the oils from the zest. Then light with a cigarette lighter and FLAMBE!

Each of the cocktails should be served with the rest of the J20 bottle, allowing guests or customers to top their drink up and make it last longer. Christmas parties should be fun for everyone, and we shouldn’t be rushing our drinks, particularly if we are having a work Christmas social. Drinking responsibly has been factored into the serving.

I hope you will enjoy these creative cocktail ideas in your festive celebrations.

The Phoenix
348 Clapham Rd, London, Clapham SW9 9AR

020 7622 2645

I would like to thank the Phoenix Pub in Clapham and The Hedonists for making me so welcome.

Snigdha has not received any financial incentive or payment for this post.

1 comment:

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