Wild Festival cocktails

Roberto Bava - making a martini
Roberto Bava, the Vermouth God – Fixing a Martini

As I write midsummer has just passed and that means one thing, we are right in the middle of festival season, wild festival cocktail season! Dolly might have wowed the crowds at Glastonbury and for some that signals the end of festival season. Don’t be that person, there are still many more festival weekends to go.

And if like myself, you are slowly becoming an old fart then you might just want to sit at home drinking your wild festival cocktails pretending that you are at a festival*. Wherever you might be drinking, here are a few ideas for drinking to enjoy under canvas. * I lie slightly here as I will be performing at Camp Bestival in August. Well, if I get round to signing the contract they have sent.

Wild festival cocktail 1 – Spruced up Gin and Tonics

A gin and tonic is a perfect drink to sip whilst the sun sets. This time of year it is very easy to add something a little extra to really spruce them up…. (Pardon the dad joke).

When finding spruce tips make sure you know your trees and are not picking from the poisonous yew tree.

For the spruce tip syrup

500ml water
500ml sugar
A pint glass full of spruce tips
2 tablespoons of lemon juice

Mix the sugar and water and heat, stirring occasionally until all of the sugar has dissolved. You won’t need to bring it up to the boil. Combine the spruce tips with this sugar solution along with the lemon juice and leave to steep overnight.

In the morning strain into a bottle through a clean pair of tights, before serving just a few teaspoons of the resulting spruce syrup to your Gin and tonic.

Wild festival cocktail 2- The bloodiest Mary

I don’t want to be one to advocate drinking the morning after. In a strange macabre sense I believe that the hangover should be you punishment that you have to endure. Which is why I always admire those who take their hair of the dog seriously. It really should bite you! My bloodiest Mary certainly delivers on that front. It’s made in two stages, first you have to make a bit of bastard vodka, a two to three day process. Followed by the drink itself.

Andy Hamilton with a drink
Cheers from Andy Hamilton

Ingredients for bastard vodka
10-15 Scotch bonnet chillies
Half a horseradish root chopped into chunks Vodka

Wash and thinly slice the chillies and cut the horseradish into chip sized chunks and put them into a jar. Top up with vodka and leave for at least 2 days, up to 10 if you have the patience. Then decant back into the vodka bottle.

For the Bloody Mary

60ml bastard vodka
Juice of half a lemon
6-8 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
3 dashes of Tabasco sauce (optional as it will be pretty hot already)
150ml Tomato juice Seasoning

Method If you have ice put that into a tall glass. Pour in the vodka with lemon juice and add all the other ingredients bar the salt and pepper. Season to taste.

Wild festival cocktail 3 – Andy’s perfect sloe gin cocktail

left over Sloe and damsonsOk, so you have waited since the autumn and you can’t bear it any longer, you simply have to use the sloe gin even though you are supposed to wait another 6 months. It’s probally best you do it some justice, here is my perfect sloe gin cocktail. Remember too, a few dashes of vanilla essence to your sloe gin and it will give the illusion that its a bit older, it’s a great cheat!


1 part Cocci Americano
1 part Oude Jenever
1 part Sloe Gin
3 parts Ginger Beer
A twist of orange peel (de pithed)


Rub a cocktail glass with the orange peel. Pour the vermouth, oude Jenever and sloe gin over ice in a cocktail shaker and stir rapidly for half a minute. Top up with the ginger beer.

Wild festival cocktail 4 (ok not quite a cocktail) – Thyme to save the wine

I hate seeing bottles of wine go to waste but sometimes the wine has turned or its just far too bloody awful to consider drinking (unless you are 5 drinks in and there is nothing else left). This is when you have to reach for the herbs.  Although most herbs can be infused in wine my favourites include rosemary, thyme or mint.


1 bottle (or half a bottle) of White wine
a few springs of rosemary, thyme or mint zest of a lemon


Poke all the ingredients into the bottle and leave overnight. Strain and serve.