Louis Fernando started out in the wine trade at home in New Zealand and has followed a career in communications within London restaurants and the drinks industry, while writing freelance for a number of publications and websites. Inspired by upcoming Notting Hill Carnival, he kicks off with some delicious exotic fruit cocktails
Words: Louis Fernando
Londoners of all ages and backgrounds gather annually for the Notting Hill Carnival, a long weekend of celebration and revelry centred in west London. Falling on the last few days of August, Carnival also marks the end of the holiday period which, for many, is summer’s last hurrah.
Borough Market has a wealth of Caribbean and tropical produce, essential in your checklist of ingredients which can quickly be transformed into crisp, refreshing drinks for this weekend’s festivities. The following examples are easily scaled up to accommodate occasions and gatherings of almost any size.
For tropical drinks, the logical place to start is with fruit. At Turnips, you’ll find an assortment of exotic varieties—crucial elements of communal drinks and punches, but also enjoyable simply juiced. Turnips currently have a huge variety of watermelons from all over Europe. I’d recommend grabbing a fresh cup of watermelon juice from their adjacent stall so you can see for yourself how juicy these really are.
A summer drink that watermelon lends itself well to is the daiquiri. Cuban in origin, this classic cocktail is a simple combination of rum, lime and sugar and hence, is a natural partner to tropical influences. While using frozen watermelon as a base may be met with raised eyebrows from traditionalists, it’s certainly no compromise.
To make your daiquiri, take ½ a large watermelon (enough for 4 cups) cut into cubes and freeze. In a blender, add the frozen watermelon, 120ml white rum, 60ml fresh lime juice and 60ml of orange flavoured liqueur.
Fill the remaining space with ice cubes. Blend thoroughly and serve immediately with a sprig of mint to garnish. This should make four generous drinks. Double or triple as required.
A slightly more exotic non-alcoholic drink which brings together elements of sweet and heat is a pineapple chilli ripple. To make this you’ll need to pick up a small or medium sized pineapple from Paul Wheeler Fresh Supplies, some British grown chillies and a stem of ginger, both of which you can find at Elsey and Bent.
Cool and infuse
In a large bowl combine 120ml water and 200g sugar and stir. Skin your pineapple and cut in half. Take ½ the pineapple, the ginger and the chilli and cut into pieces. Put all of this into the bowl and pour over another 120ml boiling water. Cover and leave to cool and infuse. This can be done overnight.
The following day, remove the pineapple, ginger and chilli. Press the pineapple gently to squeeze some juice into the mixture. Stir the mixture again and strain into a glass bottle. You now have a chilli-infused pineapple syrup which you can use as a base for your drink.
To make the pineapple chilli ripple, add 40ml of syrup to a tall glass filled with ice, top with the juice from the remaining half pineapple—add more syrup or juice to reach your desired sweetness. The final result should be sweet, smooth and finished with the slightest touch of heat.