bubbles! fabulous fizz

So many bubbles, so much choice! When we think of sparkling wine familiar names spring to mind. Champagne, prosecco, cava are all fantastic examples of sparkling wines with wonderful reputations and ones which I’ll admit I have quite a soft spot for.

So for this drinks selection on TV3’s Late Lunch I though it would be nice to broaden our sparkling horizons and try 3 new world sparkling wines just to mix it up a bit.

All three wine use traditional champagne grape varieties ( chardonnay and pinot noir) and are either fermented in the traditional method, meaning second fermentation ( the one the makes the bubbles) happens in the bottle, or second fermented in tank. Obviously the traditional method requires more time space and skill so commands a higher price tag than the more hands off larger scale tank method in which the second fermentation happens in pressure controlled stainless steel tanks.

The traditionally method produced a finer mouse with tiny bubbles. The tank method is considered a little less refined but still can produce very drinkable and affordable sparkling wines.


Wine 1
Cono Sur Brut from Bio-Bio in Chile, produced using the tank method

  • Approx. 93% Chardonnay, 7% Pinot
  • RSP €18.99 widly available



Wine 2
Croser Vintage, 2007 from Adelaide Hills,Australia,

  • Pinot noir, Chardonnay ( approx 70% 30% but its vintage dependant)
  • RSP €32
  • The fizz of choice on Home and Away!
  • Its a little trickier to find, Next door off-licences carry it and a few other good wine shops.

Wine 3
Graham Beck Brut from the Western Cape in South Africa

  • Approx. 53% Chardonnay, 47% Pinot
  • This is made via the Method Cap Classique – i.e. the Champagne method, so the 2nd fermentation (the one for the bubbles) happens in bottle
  • It’s been used in the inaugurations of both Nelson Mandela and Barak Obama!
  • RSP €26.99 widely available in good off-licences





Sangria is a drink that always reminds me of summers in Spain. It’s really lovely and easy to bring a taste of Spanish holidays home, the hardest part is chopping of fruit! The nice part is you can really make something unique by using any fruit the you fancy. I like white peaches, cherries, apple, orange and lemons but you can mix and match as you like maybe adding strawberries, peaches, mango, grapefruit or raspberries. Frozen grapes make a lovely addition too and help keep the sangria nice and chilled.

Step one is to chop your chosen fruit and sprinkle with some sugar to bring out the sweetness as the wine is served cold this extra sweetness helps balance the tannins in red wine and counter the acid of white wines. If your fruit is tart or not full of ripe sweetness, you may need a sprinkle more sugar, use your judgement. I would recommend using a wine that you actually like to drink. If it’s not palatable no amount of fruit will help, so choose something that’s tasty enough to drink on its own.

You can also add a splash ( a table spoon or two) of orange liquor, brandy or spiced rum if you have it to you fruit mix for a little extra flavour.

Here are 3 options for you to try using a red wine, a white wine and a sparkling.

I decided to use wine from Torres. They make some incredible wines but also some simple delicious easy drinking and reasonable wines too. Torres is Ireland’s number one selling Spanish wine brand to so I know it’s popular and easy to pick up. I choose Vina Sol for the white sangria and Sangre de Toro for the red. My pick for the sparkling is Freixenet Cava, a favourite since visiting the vineyard a number of years ago.

Ariel view of my white sangria: lemons, granny smith apples and white peaches
Ariel view of my white sangria: lemons, granny smith apples and white peaches
what a pretty pitcher!
What a pretty pitcher! could resist the pun, profile of my white sangria

White Sangria

  • a green apple
  • a lemon
  • a white peach
  • a spoonful of sugar
  • a splash of brandy if you fancy  (I used Longueville house Irish apple brandy because it’s amazing!)
  • 1 bottle of Torres Vina Sol

Chop the fruit however you like

Sprinkle on the sugar and a splash of brandy

Pour over the white wine leave in the fridge for a few hours or over night

serve over ice!

Plumbs and cherries for red sangria: There's your 5 a day right there!
Plumbs and cherries for red sangria: There’s your 5 a day right there!


My Classic Red Sangria

  • handful of cherries halved
  • 3 plumbs
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 1 orange sliced
  • a splash of spiced rum
  • a heaped tablespoon of brown sugar
  • 1 bottle of red wine

mix all ingredients, leave in the fridge, drink over ice!


Sparkling Sangria

  • 3 white peaches
  • a few cherries or strawberries
  • a spoon of vanilla sugar or castor sugar and a few drops of vanilla extract
  • a small pinch of ground star anise
  • a bottle of cava

mix the fruits and sugar

leave in the fridge over night

pop in the fruit mixture in the bottom of a glass

top up with cava or sparkling wine!

Ice-cream and …booze!

The sun is still shining and that puts me in the mood for ice-cream. To be honest, I’m mostly always in the mood for ice-cream.

I spent a J1 summer in Chicago working in a Ben and Jerry’s ice-cream parlour and really landed in ice-cream heaven. Along with wearing tie-dye t-shirts as part of my job I had to familiarise myself with every flavour they made! Tough work, eh? Do you know what goes into Chunky Monkey? The down side is that ice-cream is actually pretty hard work;  lots of lifting heavy cold blocks, quite a bit of time spent in freezers and you can get weird rash along the inside of your arms from scooping ice-cream if you don’t keep your arms clean and dry (who would have thought!). I became a dab hand at ice-cream cakes and spent much of my time at block parties throughout the city working the ice-cream cart. As I was a student working in an ice-cream it was pretty inevitable I would start experimenting with ice-cream and alcohol, my inspiration was the traditional root beer float. I was never a fan of root beer, I much prefer real beer but I wanted to creat the fizzy foamy magic that happens when you combine fizzy drinks with ice-cream. I also have very happy childhood memories of slurping HB vanilla in a glass with red lemonade!

ben and jerry's ice-cream truck! ben and jerrys outside the Lincon Park shop

where I worked, the internet telle me its now closed
where I worked for a summer, the internet tells me it’s now closed

Even though I LOVE ice-cream I’d never actually made any myself untill last night. I am now the proud creator of a nice big pot of raspberry sorbet which I’m sure won’t last long but gave me incredible satisfaction blitzing up this morning. To be fair my sister did most of the hard work, I just took a hand blender to it after a night in the freezer. I’ve found the only really useful bit of the ice-cream maker I used was the cold bowl I will follow-up with a detailed description of how I made the sorbet but let’s focus on the recipes I’m making on Late Lunch

So this week on late lunch live I’m mixing ice-cream and booze!

Drink 1

This is a refreshing sorbet based drinks so it gluten, egg and dairy free!

rasperry sorbet (from the shop or make it yourself)

Limoncello ( Italian lemon liqueur: lots of places have it such as Bradley’s in Cork or you can make it yourself with lemons vodka nd a bit of sugar)

Prosecco (I used delicious So Prosecco, from Nextdoor Kildare, Fallon & Byrne or good off-licences) or sparkling water

Put a scoop of sorbet into a glass, drizzle over the limoncello, top up with prosecco or sparkling water!


raspberry lambic float!

Drink 2

Raspberry lambic float

This is the simplest and most delicious this! I have a very soft sopt for lambic beer it it quite an amazing thing!

1 bottle raspberry lambic  ( I used Timmerman’s you can get it in spelicised beer shops €3.60 approx Kreik, sour cherry works well too)

put the ice-cream in a glass and top up with beer… easy as that!

Drink 3

A real experiment! I have been a fan of Toruble Brewing for some time and their dark arts porter is smooth and rich and delicious. So it’s a pleasure to mix it up with something also delicious, chocolate ice cream. I added some Muldoons’ irish whiskey liqueur. I discover the hazelnut butterscotch whiskey liqueur while at taste Dublin recently.

Trouble brewing *hearts* Muldoons
Trouble brewing *hearts* Muldoons

Trouble Brewing Dark Arts Porter€3.50 ish ( Nextdoor, Kildare, O’Briens, good beer shops!)

Muldoon’s Irish Whiskey Liqueur €22-ish ( Celtic Whiskey shop)

Chocolate ice-cream

Pop the ice cream in a glass, drizzle over the Muldoon’s, top up with dark arts… you have to try this!

DIY hot weather drinks: delicious drinks you can make at home

I’m blaming the sunshine for this weeks drinks topic. That and the fact that I have a summer cold. A summer cold is one of those anomalous things, a seasonal mismatch. I imaging people who grew up in the Northern hemisphere feel similarly about celebrating christmas at the height of southern hemisphere summer! I know well how to make myself feel better in dreary November; lots of tea spiked with honey, ginger and whiskey usually does the trick, strictly prescribed hot water bottles, slippers and some of those posh balsam tissues and  regular doses of over the counter remedies. In June and in this heat wave I find myself all at sea; never one to mope around I just had to figure out other ways to make me feel a bit better  and so I though of vitamin C packed lemons and that made me think of lemonade: homemade, honest, lemonade.

making lemonade

Cold or no cold, I love this time of year especially when the air is heavy with blossoms and the sky is blue. This is perfect lemonade weather and jam-packed with immune boosting cold thwarting vitamin C it’s just the tonic. It is also a delightful alternative to commercial fizzy drinks and is a delicious children’s treat. I make up this lemon concentrate and keep it in the fridge and then add still or sparkling water when serving. You can also make a much more grown up version by adding a splash of vodka or top it up with sparkling wine or even ice cold beer…. yum.  It only takes a few minutes to squeeze the lemons, you have no excuse!

Homemade Cloudy Lemonade to make approx 1 liter

Juice of 3 lemons

225ml simple syrup (a 1/4 cup of sugar to 2/3 cup of water, bring to the boil until clear and let cool)

700ml still or sparkling water or sparkling wine

Mix all ingredients together in a large jug filled with ice, or mix the lemon juice with the simple syrup and leave it in the fridge and add still or sparkling water  or sparkling wine when every you want some.


Next on my list of fab summer drinks is ice tea

Savannah Georgia peroid home

A couple of years ago I spent a month in Savannah Georgia. Savannah sighs in the sunshine and is all sundowners on verandahs while curled up on  porch swings sipping never-ending sweet tea. Considering we have such a love of tea in Ireland I find it hard to believe we haven’t embraced ice tea, and not the pre bottles sugar laden variety. Below is my recipe for perfect ice tea best served fresh brewed but will keep for a few days in in fridge. I adore tea in all shapes and forms but my go to everyday tea is Barry’s Gold blend. I love Barry’s tea so much  I’ve bought personalised boxes of tea for all my family.  I’m also a big fan of the fact that it is blended in Ireland by master tea blender Denis Daly and has a history of tea blending since 1901. Obviously tea doesn’t grow in Ireland but Barry’s is really the closest thing we have to a truly Irish tea and check out their website for tea related gifts they have a great range of “TEA”- shirts!

Personalised box of barry's tea, check out their online shop for lovely tea gifts!
It’s not Barry’s Tea, it’s Judy’s tea!

I like my ice tea not too sweet and with some mint and lemon. It’s also great with a slice of orange and a dash or two of whiskey or bourbon or if you are one for milky tea why not try it over vanilla ice cream?

delish with some lemon and mint!
delish with some lemon and mint!

Ice Tea

1 pot strong Barry’s tea

Brown sugar to taste

Fresh mint and lemon slices to serve

Lots of ice

I add the sugar while the tea is still hot so it disolves. Then if I have time I let this get cold, if not I pour it straight over lots of ice to chill it and add mint and lemon…yum!


Beer o’clock? more like beer o’cocktail!

The world of beer cocktails is pretty new to me. At the Alltech International Craft Brews and Food Fair earlier this year I tasted a couple of JW Sweetman’s concoctions which didn’t rock my world. But the week before last I tasted a really fun take on a French 75 topped up with Blue Moon Summer Honey Wheat rather than champagne at House in Dublin made by Des McCann and this got me thinking about beer cocktails again. I think the trick is not to be too fancy and to work with flavours that you know go together so I came up with this recipe below. Ginger beer is a classic old school drink that I have often made at home. My grandmother used to make it for me when I was little and I was enthralled by the ritual of feeding the ginger beer plant and the magic of fermentation that results in bubbles. This take on ginger beer lets someone else do the brewing for you and the ginger and lime and beer combination is super refreshing!

Give it a go and let me know what you think!

Beer Ginger cocktail

juice of half a lime

1/2 inch piece of fresh root ginger grated finely

splash of brown sugar syrup ( 1 cup brown sugar to 2 cups water heated until its clear, then leave to cool)


My resident beer sommelier suggests Carlsberg is a good easy to get macro brewery choice, Peroni brings a little more citrus to the party and grolsch would be a good choice too!

Mix lime juice and ginger with the syrup, strain over ice and top up with beer!


Disclaimer: I taste lots of drinks at trade events and I am always looking for stand-out great products with interesting stories that I can pass on to you lovely readers and viewers. Along side theses tastings I also buy lots of things that tickle my fancy. I taste and select the products I want to feature on Late Lunch and here on my website. For or the purposes of my television slot, I request product samples to use on air. I aim to maintain my objectivity, I am guided only by my taste buds and I am not paid to endorse particular products.



Save the world … have a drink?

So I’ve been thinking about sustainability and how the little steps we take can make our world a nicer place to live in, now and for future generations… big thoughts eh? I think it’s really empowering to take agency over the decisions we make and support producers who make their products in line with this way of thinking. So I decided to feature a few drinks I’ve come across with a particularly green or philanthropic ethos. It helps that they all taste fantastic too so maybe you can save the world one beer at a time

First up Toby’s Cider you can find out where to get in on their website! €4.20

toby's cider bottle


Toby’s mum and dad, Craig and Karen make great cider, so great it recently won the gold award for the best international cider at WPCS conferance in Wales . When Toby fell ill his parents wanted to give back to the hospital who had treated him and so the decided to turn their cider hobby into a business and now a portion of the profits from Toby’s cider goes to The Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Belfast and helps support children and their families battling serious illness.
All theire apples come from local Armagh orchard and they use very light carbonation which helps lock in the natural flavour of the apples, and provides a delicate fizz.
2. Brooklyn Brewery larger €2.50
The Brooklyn Brewery is the first New York City company to use 100% wind-generated electricity; they recycle all our paper, plastic, and bottles. Moreover they recycle their spent grain into animal feed and compost. They recycle all the hot water from the brewhouse; all their cold and hot pipes are insulated with high-tech foamglass insulation. The solar panels on the roof of their warehouse provides about 1/3 of their total power needs. They even use compostable cups in their tasting room.
3. Chimay Blue €3.99
chimay blue

Chimay is an authentic Trappist beer. That means that it is brewed within the walls of a Trappist monastery under the control and responsibility of the community of monks, and whose revenue is devoted to social service such as health and education projects.

Chimay Blue is full of rich flavours and has lively carbonation it is low in bitterness and has a delicious spicy alcohol finish.





World Gin Day… another date for you diary!

World Gin Day!
World Gin Day!

Does a week go by when it’s not international or world something, something day? Clearly these things are a bit of a marketing ploy but I’ve found they are a great focus for my drinks segment on Late Lunch. If something is in the public consciousness then it makes sense to hop on board with that theme. World sherry week was a great example this I loved how sipping a glass of fino connected you to lots of other sherry lovers across the world and fostered a sense of community both in real life with plenty of tastings and online too my time line was flooded with sherry tweets, there was even a dedicated twitter sherry tastings which sadly I found out too late to partake in, but I’ll be keeping an eye out for next year’s one!

So what next on the drinks calendar well as luck would have it next Saturday June 14th is world gin day! If you happen to be in Dublin The Gin Palace is the place to be for all things gin on Saturday. In advance of this auspicious date I started to think about gin… and what a pleasant topic that really is.

Let’s start with the basics: gin is a classified as a juniper-flavoured spirit made not via the redistillation of botanicals, but by simply adding approved natural flavouring substances to a neutral spirit of agricultural origin. The predominant flavour must be juniper. Distilled gin is produced exclusively by redistilling neutral spirit (ethyl alcohol of agricultural origin with an initial strength of 96% ABV) in stills traditionally used for gin, in the presence of juniper berries and of other natural botanicals, again juniper is the predominate taste.

I really like gin as it has such dept of flavour and there is a great opportunity to for the distillers to compose a complex and interesting spirit by playing with various botanical.

Recently I had a fascinating discussion about gin botanicals with Sarah Thompson who makes Blackdown Gin and the cracking Blackdown Vermouth in Sussex. This is one incredible lady with the most amazing ability to compose flavours and understand the fine balancing act of making a great gin. Sarah loves silver birch and so uses it in her drinks to wonderful effect. Silver birch can be tapped much like maple trees and the sap can be collected and reduced to produce a syrup. I know this as my Dad did it once to the silver birch in our front garden (that was the kind of house I grew up in.) Be warned before you try it: birch seeps lots of sap and you have to really boil it down to get delicious syrup which can be quite the labour of love! Take the easy way out and find some delicious Blackdown Gin instead. Combine it with their Bianco Vermouth to make the most sophisticated and taste bud tingling martini I’ve ever enjoyed. If you happen to be visiting Imbibe Live in London next month Blackdown Spirits will be there; they are not to be missed.

So on to the gins I’m trying with Lucy and Martin on Late Lunch this week.

Dingle Gin ABV40%  RRP €34 approx

dingel gin

This is one of only two gins made in Ireland. I have yet to visit the distillery by my friend David over at LiquidIrish has blogged about his visit and it’s well worth a read, his pictures are gorgeous too! This gin is made with botanicals specific Dingle, the gin is striving to capture the spirit of where it is made similar to the way great wines reflect their terroir, so along side a secret recipe of botanicals you’ll find rowan berry from the mountain ash trees, fuchsia, bog myrtle, hawthorn and heather for a taste of the Kerry landscape.

On air we are tasting it over ice with tonic and a slice of lime to experience a classic G&T with an Irish twist


Sloe Gin ABV40% -ish  Hand crafted by beer sommelier, forager, maker of fab drinks and my sister Judith Boyle

These are sloes
These are sloes

This is one of my favourite things that my sister makes, ( well actually I love all the things she makes, we tasted some of her elder flower fizz  on Late Lunch couple of weeks ago) Judy gifts it at Christmas to lucky relatives and close friends. My cousin Macdara calls it “fast” rather than sloe gin because it disappears so quickly! Judy won’t give me her secret recipe to post here but Jamie has a good one if you want to make your own.

Judy’s Sloe Gin is a magic combination of sloes (the purple tart fruit of the blackthorn bush related to plums) foraged in autumn from the edge of Lullymore bog, any gin you fancy, a spoonful or two of sugar and about 3 months in bottle to infuse. The result is a vibrant intense pink hewed, fruity drink, with a tart bite from the sloes

We serve it over ice with a squeeze of lemon and either soda or tonic water.

Slow Gin Fizz: Sloe Gin, Tonic, squeeze of Lemon and Ice
Slow Gin, Tonic, squeeze of Lemon and Ice


Hendrick’s Gin (check out their website, it is beautiful!) €42 aprox ABV 40%

Hendricks Gin

This is just such a fun idea I had to feature it! Hendrick’s Gin from Scotland uses cucumber as one of its defining botanicals. I have long loved their quirky approach to marketing their gin and how they have made a virtue from the fact that just like cucumber, Hendrick’s Gin not to everyone’s taste. I also have a soft spot of prohibition tea-cup cocktails ( if you are in New York you have to visit The Back Room) So I love the idea of Hendrick’s tea. The Atrium Lounge in the Westin hotel Dublin serve a “Most Peculiar” Hendrick’s afternoon tea (replete with finger sandwiches) that’s really worth checking out.

On Late lunch Live I’m serving our Hendrick’s Gin with cucumber, fab Fevertree elderflower tonic water from a lovely teapot with lots of ice!

hendricks tea cup


elderflower tonic water


hendricks tea!
Hendrick’s Tea at Lillies Bordello Dublin


Disclaimer: I taste lots of drinks at trade events always looking for stand-out great products with interesting stories that I can pass on to you lovely readers and viewers. Along side theses tastings I also buy lots of things that tickle my fancy. I taste and select the products I want to feature on Late Lunch and here on my website and for the purposes of my television slot I request product samples to use on air. I aim to maintain my objectivity, I am guided only by my taste buds and I am not paid to endorse particular products.

Sherry for International Sherry Week 2014

Ah sherry…

The wine nerd in me LOVES sherry. I adore that one region Jerez in Spain offers so many contrasting styles, such dept of flavour and packs such a tasty mouthful into each bottle. I am in awe of the care and the history and the craft that sherry exemplifies. It’s also excellent value for money, you can pick up 30 year old sherry for much less than €30. Yet I worry about sherry when I have to introduce it to other people. Sherry conflicts me. Not that long ago it lived in a place in my palate reserved for things I just wasn’t too sure of, olives, asian fish paste, the brown cheese from Norway… you get the picture, acquired tastes as my mother would put it. Each unique and brilliant in their own right but equally things that will divide many people who taste them. For every fan there is another with a wrinkled nose wondering what all the fuss is.

Historically here in Ireland we have always held a sherry in high regard and Ireland was considered a very significant market for sherry. Every person I mention sherry to, has a sherry story it really it seems to infuse so many christmas and special occasions.

So this week on my Late Lunch Live drinks segment, I’m going to be brave and have a live sherry tasting. I’ll admit I’m a bit nervous. I wonder if parents feel like this when they bring their kids to a birthday party? You know you child is wonderful and curious and delightful but you hope the other kids realise how unique and special they really are. Like a little girl in pigtails, and the best present this week, I’m going on a charm offensive show the sherries best side.

We’re going to easy into things with a fino cocktail. Kevin O’Mahony from Barry and Fitzwilliam tipped me off on this brilliant concoction. he said that it’s drunk by the pitcher in Jerez during the Feria which is the big festival in Jerez each May.  It’s basically a mojito with dry fino sherry in the place of rum. I’ve used Tio Pepe  Fino Muy Sec, Palomino Fino (€15.99-ish, widely available). This fino drinks great super cold with salty delicious Iberico ham and there really is nothing like a fino to whet your appetite. A good glug transforms a risotto and gives soups a delish dept of flavour. I’m also partial to sloshing some into a big pan of mussels with crushed garlic, a spoon of butter and a handful of roughly chopped flate leaf parsley…with of course more fino on the side!


here’s my rebujito recipe

You will need:

  • Fino Sherry
  • Ice
  • Fresh mint
  • Limes
  • simple syrup
  • soda water

(instead of soda water and syrup at a push you can cheat and use sprite…sounds daft and totally wrong but in my side by side taste test it really worked)


  • In a pitcher muddle a lime cut in 1/4 with a good handful of fresh mint.
  • combine equal measures of Fino (about 1/3 bt.) and soda water a splash of simple syrup to taste
  • add lots of ice


Up next is the Del Duque Amontillado 30 years RRP €22 O’Brien’s

This is an intense deliciously dry sherry. On the nose I got lots of burnt salt toffee, vanilla and roasted nuts this followed through on the palate with strong savoury salty umami qualities. This a great food wine and with even just  a sliver of nutty parmesan cheese! This sherry has been aged for at least 30 years.  Check out my sherry go to guy The Vine Inspriation for a more indepth and fact filled post!

Del Duque Amontillado Sherry

Finally a personal favourite. A drink more associated with an older generation of lady I hold a torch for Harvey’s Bristol Cream.

I like it straight over ice with a slice of orange. If there’s any left over it’s the perfect excuse to make trifle! This sweeten style of sherry is sadly often overlooked but I’m quite  fan!


Harveys over ice with a slice of orange!
Ice and a slice?