Fancy a drink? Our drinks columnist Sam Wylie-Harris suggests some fruity cocktails, perfect for a summer's day.
By Sam Wylie-Harris
Refreshing, clean tasting with oodles of ice, there's a reason why cocktails are so popular in the soaring temperatures of the tropics. To tune into this island life - and make the most of our own summer's soaring temperatures - a punch bowl, large pitcher, cocktail shaker and a jigger (for measuring alcohol) is all you need. If you want to be a real pro, add an electric blender - and a Club Tropicana soundtrack - and it will feel like true paradise found.
:: Sipsmith Summer Cup (£18.50, 50cl, Sainsbury's) is the gin-based spicy spirit that's currently on everyone's lips. It cries out for lemonade and citrusy fruits, and the infusion of Earl Grey tea marries well with plenty of cucumber.
:: The perfect serve
One part Sipsmith Summer Cup with three parts lemonade
Combine over ice with seasonal summer fruits for a deliciously refreshing long drink bursting with natural flavours.
:: More sophisticated than a pina colada, this creamy infusion requires measuring, shaking and straining, but the purity and softness of Zapaca XO (£49.75, 70cl, www.alexanderandjames.com) dark rum from Guatemala will easily make up for all the fuss. Smooth and rich with a warm, fruity palate and vanilla sweetness from the sherry cask, it tastes more like a fine whisky. If the price is too steep, try replacing Zapaca XO with Santa Teresa Anejo Rum (£18.50, 70cl, Waitrose) and this Venezuelan golden rum with its deep sweet citrus fruits will do the trick.
::Mile high milk punch
50ml Zacapa XO, 10ml apricot brandy, 40ml Half & Half (half milk, half cream), 2 drops almond extract, dash of Jerry Thomas Decanter Bitters (Bitter Truth), dash egg white, 1/2 bar spoon English breakfast marmalade, grated nutmeg
Half-fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the ingredients and shake well. Strain into a chilled wine glass and garnish with grated nutmeg.
:: Rum is increasingly popular, and the taste can be as varied as the islands in the Caribbean. Rum's good fortune stems from sugarcane juice and molasses which is distilled into a range of varieties such as Appleton Estate V/X Jamaican rum (£20.95, 70cl, Sainsbury's). A blend of between 15 and 20 rums of different ages, it is rich with rum-raisin aromas, spice and a pleasing palate of banana and candied fruits.
Here's an easy pour to try at home.
:: Jamaican rum punch
45ml Appleton Estate V/X, 75ml pineapple juice, 75ml orange juice, 2 tea spoons sugar, or 10ml gomme syrup, 1/4 lime, 2 dash's of Angostura Bitters
Build in a tall glass with lots of ice and stir. Garnish with a mint sprig and lime wedge.
:: Elsewhere, the 'gin O'clock' crowd may be partial to their tonic, ice and slice in the sunshine, but gin's botanicals and juniper notes also strike the right chord when mixed with a sparkling wine and seasonal fruits. Try using Beefeater London Dry Gin (£17.85, 70cl, Tesco) as a building block for the following recipe.
:: Beefeater garden party punch (serves 4)
3 parts Beefeater London Dry Gin, 3 parts Sparkling English Wine, 2 parts good quality pressed pear or apple juice, 1 part fresh lemon juice, 1 part elderflower cordial, 1/2 part sugar syrup
Pour the ingredients into a chilled punch bowl or large jug. Stir well with a large ice block. Garnish with pear and apple slices and serve in a wine glass.
Note: For a large ice block, fill a clean, empty juice carton three quarters full with water and freeze. When frozen, carefully cut carton away from the ice.
:: Another white spirit that enhances and boosts just about everything with its clean, crisp mouthfeel, vodka is a must for sundowners on a balmy night.
For a striking addition to your bar, try Mamont Vodka (£32, 70cl, www.thewhiskyexchange.com) which hails from Siberia and is presented in the shape of a mammoth's tusk. Six times distilled and filtered through silver birch charcoal, it's pure enough to enjoy neat over ice.
:: Siberian garden punch
50ml Mamont, 25ml freshly squeezed lemon, 20ml Monin Lavender Syrup, 1 dash orange bitter
Half-fill a rocks glass with ice. Add the ingredients and slowly stir. Top with still water and garnish with a lilac blossom.
Alternatively, try mixing Adnams Copper House Barley Vodka (£14.49, 35cl, www.adnams.co.uk), which is exceptionally soft and gentle with the merest hint of sweetness with Adnams Morello Cherry Liqueur (£15.49, 35cl, www.adnams.co.uk), which makes a delicious alternative to kirsch.
:: Morello punch
35ml Adnams Copper House Barley Vodka, 35ml Adnams Morello Cherry Liqueur
Half-fill a highball with ice. Add the ingredients and top with traditional cloudy lemonade and garnish with a slice of fresh lemon.
:: Best buy
Savvy serve... If Southern Comfort's 'Beach' commercial has made you smile this summer, the New Orleans favourite is giving fans another reason to celebrate. Every bottle of Southern Comfort Lime (£15, 70cl, Tesco) comes with a free branded pitcher to ensure their Stay Comfortable slogan remains firmly in the spotlight.
:: Liquid news
Oddbins rewards vino lovers for new discoveries... Holidaymakers who come across a wine they'd like to recommend back home can earn commission of up to 10% on every bottle sold - potentially adding up to hundreds of pounds.
The Oddbins team will pick out the best suggestions from 'The Listing', then source a sample of the wine and - if they also think it tastes good - endeavour to list the wine on the website and make it available in its 34 branches nationwide.
Ayo Akintola, Managing Director, Oddbins says: "Nearly every day someone walks into a wine shop to see whether they can buy a wine they enjoyed on holiday.
"Almost always the answer is a 'Sorry, no, but we have this instead'."
For more information visit www.oddbins.com