Holidays have finally arrived, and after only an hour and a half delay at Birmingham airport I've completed the first leg of the journey to Shetland by getting as far as Inverness. The trip to Shetland has become both more complicated and more expensive since last year (which will continue to piss me off for the foreseeable future).
The stop in Inverness has not been our normal route, but it's proving a lovely way to start a holiday. A quick tea and scone in the tartan carpeted hotel by the station, a good browse around Leaky's splendid second hand bookshop, time to look at the ever increasing array of Scottish gins for sale around the town, buy a bottle of whisky (ostensibly for my father, but I'm sure he won't mind sharing) and finally find some of the plain chocolate Tunnock's tea cakes I owed D from a bet back in March.
It was hard to resist buying books in Leaky's, but we're stopping here on the way back south too, so I'm going to wait...
Meanwhile I think I cracked the Sherry cup conundrum. The Fino I was playing with last week would not make a drink that I felt would have sufficient popular appeal for my work colleges (the intended drinkers). Happily I had a bit of a very good oloroso hanging around so I tried that as well. It was a much better drink.
An altogether more economical alternative was an amontillado (and frankly a decent Oloroso is better enjoyed as it is). Amontillado is generally described as medium, but it's a dry sort of medium, with a nutty kind of flavour. It proved the perfect background for my cup, tying all the other flavours together beautifully.
The basic recipe is 1 part Sherry to 4 parts sparkling water, with Brandy and triple sec to taste, and the all important slither of cucumber, along with plenty of ice. You can use lemonade along with the water if you want something a bit sweeter, and add some summer fruits which makes something not unlike a Pimm's, though not quite as sweet.
I'm very pleased I've finally made this, I really like Sherry both to drink and to cook with, but sometimes struggle to get through a bottle in a timely fashion (it doesn't keep indefinitely, and in the case of a Fino or a manzanilla ought to be drunk within a couple of weeks of opening) turning it into a cup or a cobbler is an excellent way finish off bottles.
Given the popularity of Pimm's and an increasing array of other commercially made alcoholic fruit cups it's strange that we've more or less stopped making these from scratch - it's only a very minimal effort to end up with something tailored to your personal taste, and there's so much variety to be explored - so much more fun than buying something off the shelf.