It's Friday or as I like to call it, Friyay! And there's no better way to start the weekend off than by catching up with friends or in my case MasterChef judge, cookbook author and foodie Matt Preston as part of his #madeinhouse campaign to encourage home entertainers to use the welcome drink to get dinner parties off to a great start. Together we made some seasonal cocktails – Matt’s zingy Johnnie Walker Whisky Spritz and my PIMM’S Lychee and Mint and talked about the secrets to perfecting casual get-togethers with friends.
These recipes are brought to you by Diageo.
What’s the definition of a best friend? When Mr NQN and I first started dating, I knew that it was serious when he turned to me one day and made a casual remark about me being his best friend. It was a new concept to me - my best friends had all been girls. I thought about it. We did spend a lot of time together and were inseparable so I guess we were best friends!
One thing that my girlies (and even Mr NQN) love is cocktails and every Friday night, you will find me with a cocktail in my hand. The welcome drink is my way of starting the weekend right and ushering it in in the company of friends. These simple but effective drinks designed for people like me who actually want to be at the dinner party. As host, I’ve learned the hard way that you should make entertaining as easy as possible to avoid the Cinderella syndrome (i.e. where you are stuck in the kitchen while everyone else is having fun).
Matt's drink: whisky spritz with all of the cheese in Sydney ;)
The whole idea behind the Welcome Drink is to take the stress off, have fun and relax while making things in house. When MasterChef judge and food writer Matt Preston was in Sydney I was asked to show him one of my cocktail creations and he in turn would show me one of his favourite cocktails. I wasn't sure what to make him. I wanted it to be original but it's really hard to create an original cocktail. After thinking about it I chose PIMM'S as my alcohol because it is something that I associate with friends and warmer weather. And then I had it, the perfect combo to go with PIMM'S - lychee and mint!
My recipe is so simple, it can be made in a big jug and just involves stirring (no muddling or complicated antics) and the proportions are very easy with everything being in the same amount (except for the lime juice cordial). To show you how easy it is, we even made a video…
Because cocktails are always better with food and food is never far from my mind, I decided to serve something similarly easy to go with it - crab crostini. Check out the recipe below – it’s ridiculously simple…no Cinderella here ;)
See below for the full recipe and because I am the first blogger in the Made in House series, I'm calling on blogger Jody Allen of Stay at Home Mum to show us her favourite cocktail creation with her #madeinhouse drink! Also, be sure to check out the second video below where Matt and I discuss how home entertaining in Australia is changing…for the better!
So tell me Dear Reader, tell me about your best friend! What is your favourite cocktail? Did you know the mint clapping tip? And how do you start your weekend? What’s your drinkspiration? I’d love to see some of your recipes – send them here or on Instagram using #madeinhouse!
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE? Share your creations by tagging @notquitenigella on Instagram with the hashtag #notquitenigella
Lychee Mint PIMM'S
An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott/Not Quite Nigella
Makes 4 serves to fill 1 litre jug (contains less than 4 standard drinks)
- 200ml/7.6 fl ozs. PIMM'S No.1
- 200ml/7.6 fl ozs. Lychee juice (Dewlands brand)
- 200ml/7.6 fl ozs. soda water (300ml/10.6 fl ozs. if it's very hot)
- 30ml/1.06fl ozs. Bickford's lime juice cordial
- 1 tin lychees, drained*
- 4 wedges of lime
- 1/2 bunch of mint
*If you can't find lychee juice, you can use the syrup from the tin but it will be much sweeter so add more lime to the mix or dilute it.
Step 1 - Place ice and half of the lychees in a jug. Add the PIMM'S, lychee juice, soda water and lime cordial together and stir. Squeeze in the lime wedges. Add two lychees and ice to the bottom of four short glasses. Clap the mint between your hands to release the aroma and add to the jug and glasses.
Makes a very large tray of crostini
- 1 thin baguette, cut into thin slices, toasted
- 500g/1.1lbs spanner crab meat
- Kewpie mayonnaise (amount depending on how creamy you like it)
- Finely grated zest of 1 small lemon
- 4 tablespoons finely chopped chives
- Salt and pepper to taste
Step 1 - Mix the spanner crab mixture with as much mayonnaise as you like (start with 2-3 tablespoons and taste from there), lemon zest, chives and salt and pepper.
- 30ml/1.06 fl ozs. Johnnie Walker Red Label Scotch Whisky
- 60ml/2.12 fl ozs. Ginger Ale
- 90ml/3.18 fl ozs. Sparkling Apple Juice
- 1 Lemon wedge
Step 1 - Fill a tall glass with ice. Add sparkling apple juice, whisky and squeeze lemon wedge. Top with ginger ale and stir. Makes 1 standard drink.