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By Graham Allen
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“I have taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me": Churchill's Cocktails Review

“I have taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me': Churchill's Cocktails Review

Winston Churchill and General Eisenhower enjoy a drink at the Raleigh Tavern, Virginia, 1948| Alamy

3 min read

With each drink minutely described along with their connection to the great man, this collection of 30 new cocktail recipes inspired by Winston Churchill’s life is both timeless and a pleasure to drink this or any other Christmas

Winston Churchill was a man of prodigious talents: war leader, orator, journalist, writer, builder, painter and patriot, his energies also extended to consuming copious quantities of spirits – though by sipping rather than swilling. Drink never seemed to dent him. He famously quipped: “I have taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me.”

The bartenders at London’s Hyatt Regency have taken our greatest Briton at his word and created 30 new cocktails inspired by Churchill’s life, loves and tastes, and arranged to appeal to everyone from the absolute beginner to the advanced Absolut vodka drinker. A handy glossary of terms and tools is also included – useful for amateur mixologists to know what kitchen utensils they need to shake and stir. 

Each recipe is minutely described together with their connection to the great man. Hence the Spitfire, inspired by Churchill’s “Finest Hour” speech in the dark days of summer 1940. The Traveller reminds us how this quintessential Englishman harboured a lifelong wanderlust, beginning with his first visit to India in 1896. The New Yorker nods toward his role in founding the “Special Relationship” – he was, after all, half American. The Writer and the Journalist are both prompted by Churchill’s fantastic flare for the English language and his love of our rich history. 

Each theme is chosen with care and their ingredients paid close attention. The Cigar Smoker even uses a smoke bubble for the purposes of pure theatricality. My favourite, the Empire, combines the floral infusion of Italicus Bergamot with the bitter aromatics of Cocchi Americano. For extra kick a dash or two of Absinthe are added. Imperialism has gone out of fashion, but this mixture (along with all the others) is timeless, a cinch to make and a pleasure to drink this or any other Christmas.

Recipe: The Empire cocktail
Add the ingredients to a mixing glass, add cubed ice and stir for approximately 20 seconds. Strain into a chilled glass and garnish with two lavender sprigs inside a tailor cut citrus leaf.

20ml Montagu Hand-crafted gin
20ml ltalicus Bergamot Liqueur
5ml grape syrup
20ml Cocchi Americano aperitif wine
20ml citrus mix [next recipe below]
2 dashes Absinthe

Citrus mix ingredients
150ml fresh grapefruit juice
150ml fresh lemon Juice
400g of white caster sugar
3 lemon peels

Seal 150ml of grapefruit juice, 150ml of lemon juice, 400gm of white caster sugar, the zest of one whole grapefruit and the peel of three lemons in a vacuum bag and sous vide at 60°C for 60 minutes. Let it cool down for approximately 20 minutes. Strain through the coffee filter into the bottle, refrigerate and consume within 10 days (mix should produce enough for 17 cocktails).

Tailor cut citrus leaf with 2 lavender sprigs.

Champagne flute.

Equipment list
Boston Shaker, jigger, bar spoon, Hawthorne strainer, fine strainer.

Homemade cooking equipment list
Kitchen scale, measuring jug, fruit peeler, vacuum bag, vacuum sealer, sous vide, coffee filter, 500ml empty bottle.

Christopher Pincher is Conservative MP for Tamworth

Churchill's Cocktails is published by Imperial War Museums in association with the Churchill Bar, Hyatt Regency Hotel


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