Early last Sunday morning, Kathryn and I bundled into her Mini to head up to Berkshire to help the guys at Appletiser celebrate their 50th birthday in style at The Prince's Countryside Fund Raceday in Appletiser's box at Ascot, where they are the official soft drink sponsor. A new experience for the both of us, as neither of us had ever been to Ascot, as our version of going to the races usually means wrapping up in our Barbours and wellies and watching Point to Point (which we sadly missed this year) in a (hopefully not too muddy) field!
So, while Appletiser may be the official 'soft' drink of Ascot, we were celebrating their 50th after all, so obviously the morning was all about boozing it up. Aside from my discovery that Appletiser makes an excellent mixer for gin (great if, like me, you don't really like tonic water), before the races we were treated to a cocktail masterclass from Rich Woods, who keen Instagrammers among you may know as The Cocktail Guy.
We kicked things off with a vermouth and pine based aperitif (the 'Pine Needle High Ball'), and a drink I was rather taken by, the 'Hoppy Ever After': a blend of gin, sweet vermouth, and IPA reduction (giving it a wonderful elegant, but still hoppy beer flavour), chased with apple and pomegranate Appletiser.
The third cocktail we produced, the 'Orchard Fizz' was just as delicious and refreshing as the first two drinks we made, but much more attainable for you at home (who has IPA reduction or sprigs of food grade pine kicking around at home?): a blend of gin, apple liquor, sugar syrup (you can make your own by dissolving equal parts of sugar and water), lemon juice, egg white, apple and pomegranate Appletiser, and tartaric acid solution (which you can easily switch out for tarter citrus juice, such as a splash of lime, and still achieve a delicious cocktail).
- 35ml (2 tbsp + 1 tsp) Gin
- 25ml (1 tbsp + 2 tsp) Fresh Lemon Juice
- 10ml (2 tsp) Sugar Syrup
- 1 Small Egg White
- 3 drops Tartaric Acid Solution
- Appletiser Apple & Pomegranate
Combine all of the ingredients, except for the Appletiser with a large handful of ice in a cocktail shaker, or a jam jar with a very tight lid. I have a 3 part stainless steel shaker like this one, but really I want to invest in a Mason Jar shaker! Strain (using a cocktail strainer or a mini plastic sieve) into a coupette glass (or similar), and if you're going for the pretty effect, garnish with a piece of dried apple and a few pomegranate seeds.
After the class, everyone was challenged to make their own cocktail featuring Appletiser with anything we could find in the room in 15 minutes, for Rich to judge. Obviously Kathy and I's creation won, and I think our winning method has a lot to teach about how to mix foolproof cocktails yourselves at home. I think where everyone else went wrong was that they just through everything in the mixer, tasting as they went along. We started with the blueprint of a classic cocktail I roughly knew the ratio for (a gin sour), switched the sugar syrup for honey sugar syrup to make the drink a bit more unique, and tasted it for balance once we'd chased the usually short drink with Appletiser. So, when you're experimenting at home, start with a tried and true blueprint. And always have an idea of what you want the finished product to look like before you start.
After our victory we settled down for a spot of lunch (you can never go wrong with Coq au Vin, roasted root vegetables and homemade bread) and to watch the first few races. We placed one bet (it felt very strange to me to be betting on horses based just on odds, without going to see them first), and watched some of the horses go past. Do you know what? I think I may prefer the field. Yes it is great to have a chance to dress up and it is nice to have a comfortable box to sit in, but I don't think you get the same excitement as you do at Point to Point, up close and on the ground where the action is.
After a few races, we headed out of our box to see some of the horses due to compete next, and for the first Mr. Whippy ice cream of the year. Okay, we felt a bit short changed as they were all out of Cadbury Flakes, but rainbow sprinkles are a good compromise, right?
More important than watching the horse races at the Prince's Countryside Fund Raceday is that you don't miss watching the lambs race. Ladies and gentleman, let me introduce you to the Lamb National. Yes, we settled down to watch lambs with names like Mint Sauce and Wooly Jumper race around the track with teddybear jockeys strapped to their backs. So much better than watching the horses!
And how do you get a bunch of lambs to make their way around a race track, clearing (most of the) jumps on their way around? A super sassy sheepdog, of course! I'm not joking, if you're at an event that happens to be running a lamb national, go and watch - I promise you it will be the highlight of your day! Also, if you're holding an event, you can hire the Lamb National team here.
Jigsaw London Cross Hatch Jacket | Hobbs Twitchill Dress | Aspinals of London Essential Tote | Russell & Bromely Eye-Candy Strappy Espadrilles
While I still get questions all the time about what I'm wearing in various photos, I'm rarely captured wearing anything new these days, so I made sure to get a few outfit shots at Ascot to make sure I could share what I was wearing with you all, because my entire look is actually shoppable at the moment! I got so many compliments on my dress: it is a beautiful fabric which is a cross between an evening dress and a cotton summer dress, making it perfect for events like this where you want to dress down a formal garden party dress.
I also want to talk about my handbag. It's actually new, but those of you who have been following me for a while might point out that it is the same bag I've always carried. Actually, my parents got me a new one for my birthday as my last one was starting to look a bit worn up close. The reason I'm flagging this is because Aspinal's have recently updated their essential tote, reinforcing the sides and widening it only slightly, making it sharper to look at, and much better if, like me you usually have to carry your laptop and some paperwork around with you, too. The perfect working girl's bag, if you will.
I would like to say a big thank you to the guys at Appletiser for inviting us along; it was certainly a different way to spend a Sunday! Oh, and while I'm at it, while I hope to have a post or two scheduled for while I'm away (I'm off to one of my bucket list restaurants for lunch tomorrow in London, so stay tuned!), this is my last post before I'm off to France bright and early Thursday morning. I've made the decision to unplug; I'm not going to set my phone up for data roaming, so I won't have any phone or internet while I'm there. So, if I seem a little quiet on Twitter and Instagram, don't worry!