Last Orders – Allie Spencer

Today’s Last Orders is from the wonderful Allie Spencer and comes with both a blast from the past and a very timely warming cocktail recipe…

“I was a student in York and, if I’m being brutally honest, there were two things that attracted me to the place. The first was that the university was made up of seven colleges, each with its own bar, and this meant a handy, ready-made pub crawl every single night – the only proviso being that you didn’t get so drunk that you fell into the lake in the middle of the campus. (Apart from being a very uncool thing to do, university legend had it that you would be mauled by the mutant fish who patrolled its murky depths, looking for hapless students to drag under to their deaths #truefact.) The other – not wholly unrelated – reason why York seemed a Good Place to Live was that it allegedly had more pubs within its city walls than there were days in the year and, to the eighteen year-old me, brought up in the wilds of rural Devon ten miles from the nearest cocktail shaker, this sounded like just the ticket.      

I can’t say that I visited all 360-odd of them but I did my best and a few still loom large in my memory: there was The Spread Eagle on Walmgate which served chip butties the size of Lichtenstein; Ye Olde Starre Inne, believed to be the oldest licensed premises in the city and whose ghostly residents (still) include a pair of spectral cats who spend their time encouraging customers’ dogs to run, barking madly, slap-bang into the bar; and, my haunt for the last year of studenthood, the Punch Bowl Inn at the bottom of Stonegate. My memories of the Punch Bowl are suitably hazy: a labyrinth of nooks, crannies, snugs, live music, chat, laughter, dark oak panelling and their stand-out drink, guaranteed to warm your cockles on a freezing cold Yorkshire night – the Hot Port Toddy.

You will need:

One, two (or possibly three – flexibility is very important in these matters) measures of port  

One slice of lemon studded with three whole cloves

A heaped teaspoon of brown sugar

Hot water

Pour your measure(s) of port into a heatproof glass and add the lemon. Top up with hot water. Stir in the brown sugar until dissolved. Sip slowly and feel the warmth ooze up from your stomach, down your arms and legs and into your fingers and toes. Repeat until thoroughly defrosted and boozily content. Happy days!”

Thanks, Allie – I can’t think of anything better for a chilly November night!

Allie Spencer’s Summer Nights is perfect to chase away the winter blues.

There’s nothing quite like a holiday with your boyfriend…

Flora Fielding can’t wait for Barney to join her in San Francisco so they can begin their dream holiday. Until Barney dumps her, leaving her stranded. Luckily, Flora’s cousin Bella lives in San Francisco and, with nowhere else to go, Flora pitches up at her door.

As a singer in an Abba tribute band, Bella’s life is a whirlwind of gigs, sparkly jumpsuits and nights on the town. And as Flora gets caught up in the excitement, she doesn’t have time to worry about her broken heart.

In fact, she’s so distracted that before she knows it she’s running along a moonlit beach with a very handsome stranger…

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