The last Mixology Monday this year is hosted by Craig over at Tiki Drinks & Indigo Firmaments and has the rather seasonal theme of spice. When I think about spice and alcohol this time of year the first thing that springs to mind is mulled wine, however despite its frequent occurrence throughout my winters since I was old enough to have a small sip from my parents glass I’ve never been a huge fan of the stuff.
By contrast, Winter Pimm’s is a drink I hadn’t ever tried until about this time last year, but now wouldn’t like to experience a cold winter without. Based on the No. 3 cup, made with brandy rather than gin as with the No. 1 cup, Winter Pimm’s is a delicious mix of fruit, spice and brandy, and makes for a perfect winter warmer when combined with apple juice and some fresh apples and oranges.
I recently learned that Austin’s, a Pimm’s-imitating brand sold in budget supermarket Aldi here in the UK, is now making a Winter Drink in an attempt to compete with Pimm’s Winter Cup, so eager to find out if it was any good I quickly went out in search of a bottle. At half the price of Pimm’s Winter Cup I certainly hoped it was decent, but how does it stand up to the real thing?
Whereas Pimm’s Winter Cup is brandy-based, Austin’s Winter Drink gets it’s alcoholic kick from wine and grain spirits. On the nose the Austin’s doesn’t seem all that different to their Summer Drink with a slightly sweet fruitiness, though there is a little more bitter orange and a definite cinnamon presence at the end. The Pimm’s has a more aromatic bouquet, with plenty of cinnamon and other spices, and a milder orange background.
In the mouth the Austin’s is fairly weak, with a slightly watery consistency and an orange-led flavour with a little spice in the background. The Pimm’s has a richer taste, with a slightly sweeter aromatic body, a zesty, slightly bitter orange, and plenty of spices going on. It also has a longer spice finish compared with the short, sweet and fairly bland finish of the Austin’s. Unfortunately where the Austin’s Summer Drink represents a reasonable (though inferior) alternative to Pimm’s when you’re on a budget, Austin’s Winter Drink is merely inferior.
Clear that Pimm’s Winter was the way forward, I wanted to try and create a traditional cocktail that incorporates the delicious marrying of Pimm’s No. 3 and apples. Given the brandy base of Pimm’s Winter a Sidecar immediately sprang to mind, so using Pimm’s as the base I added applejack for some extra oomph and the apple flavours I wanted plus some lemon juice and Cointreau to brighten up the drink, and some Angostura bitters to round everything out.
- 1¼ shots / 37.5 ml / 1¼ oz Pimm’s Winter
- ¾ shot / 22.5 ml / ¾ oz applejack
- ¼ shot / 7.5 ml / ¼ oz lemon juice
- ¼ shot / 7.5 ml / ¼ oz Cointreau
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- Shake all ingredients thoroughly with ice. Strain in to a cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon zest twist.
The result is an aromatic mixture that isn’t nearly as heavy as you might expect. The Pimm’s and applejack work well together, and while the drink doesn’t reach the simple perfection of a classic Sidecar it is a nice variation for the winter.
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