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Winter Warming Cocktails

During lockdown last year I wrote a series of columns about delicious food you could make at home, some were quick and easy made from store-cupboard ingredients and some required a bit more input from readers. Kevin Hopgood and Aaron Ballantyne very kindly supplied me with a range of restaurant-style dishes you could make at home and these proved very popular with you, the regular readers of this column.

I have reached out to some of my favourite chefs and hospitality venue owners in the region to ask them if they would like to send me a recipe you can make at home, I will write about these people and their recipes over the next few weeks.

Quite fittingly, as we leave dry July behind for those who took on the challenge, comes a couple of cocktail recipes from Nick Widley and his team at Kismet Whisky & Cocktail Bar on Hardy St.

Nick is a cocktail specialist and has passed his passion on to his staff who are just as keen as he is on creating delicious drinks for their customers to enjoy in the sophisticated cocktail lounge they have created.

The key thing to remember is that many cocktails are exceptionally easy to drink, some even taste like they don’t have alcohol in them, but they will kick you hard if you over-indulge so always respect the alcohol measurements and don’t get blasé about drinking them.

If you are having a cocktail party at home make sure you’re the responsible host and stick to the proper measures so your guests know how much they have been drinking.

Nick says “I always wanted to be a magician but my hands were too tiny, I couldn’t hide more than one scarf at a time. After a short spell as a movie usher, I decided to pursue a career in beverage dispensing. To make things fun, I took to mixing drinks together to create new and interesting concoctions. One of them would lead to the downfall of even the most-Godly of us. I call it, the Missionary’s Downfall.


20ml Creme de Peche

45ml Fresh lime juice

45ml White Rum (Bacardi is great here)

60ml Pineapple Juice

8 – 10 fresh mint leaves

10ml Sugar Syrup


Place all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with a large scoop of ice. Shake hard – 10 to 15 seconds.

Strain into an ice filled glass and serve with a straw, mint sprig and a wedge of fresh pineapple! 

The Espresso Martini has been hailed by many as the drink to pick you up and … up! “We however, like a more refined version, we called it, The Pharmaceutical Stimulant.” 


30ml Fresh Espresso (or a nespresso shot will do)

30ml Vodka

30ml Patron Tequila XO

15ml Sugar Syrup. 


Place all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with a large scoop of ice. Shake hard – 10 to 15 seconds.

Strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a coffee bean or 3.


Simple syrup is used in many cocktail recipes, it is very easy to make so Nick recommends you make your own, pour it into a bottle and have it on hand for your next cocktail adventure.

Add one cup of white sugar and one cup of water to a saucepan, bring to a gentle boil, stirring so all the sugar is dissolved, and then let it cool. It will keep for many weeks.

Published in the Nelson Mail 11-08-2021

I have been writing a regular wine column for The Nelson Mail newspaper since 2000.

Unfortunately the column space is not big enough to include my thoughts on all of the many wines I taste. Hopefully this blog will fix that. It also gives me somewhere to archive the many columns I write. I will also include some favourite recipes from my dearly beloved who loves cooking and of course because wine and food simply go together. I will also point you in the direction of upcoming events and websites I think are great. Enjoy, Neil

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