Last Orders – Kate Harrison

Kate Birds portrait (C) Chris O Donovan Cropped Today’s Last Orders comes from Kate Harrison, 5:2 Diet superstar and fabulous fiction author. She’s also my go-to guru for all things cocktail-related so I’m delighted that she’s sharing one of her delicious recipes with us below. Enjoy!

“I am a cocktail obsessive.

I can’t tell you exactly when mixed drinks first shook my world: perhaps when I first tasted a bright blue Slush Puppie iced drink, laden with unknown ingredients and icy promise. 

Then again, it might have been in the dodgy night club where I worked aged 18, where we made cocktails from day-glo ‘fruit’ sachets mixed with Smirnoff. Well, it was the late 80s, the decade that style forgot.

Thankfully my tastes and cocktail culture have evolved since then. We’re enjoying a cocktail renaissance, thanks to Sex and the City, Mad Men and a few New York bartenders who went back to the golden age of 100 years ago to reinvent the drinks I now love: classics like sidecars, white ladies and rickeys, plus their modern versions, featuring smoke, foams and outlandish stories.

We even named our puppy after Bond’s famous Vesper Martini. And she is never shaken, and cannot be stirred before 9am.

Vesper & Vesper (1)

It’s the stories behind cocktails I love, the sense that you’re drinking something that might have been tasted by hundreds or thousands of others, around the world. As a woman with boobs, twenties flapper style has always appealed but never suited me: this way I can experience that era without looking like a sequinned sausage.

A great cocktail is also about the setting, the bar or pub and location where you’re sipping, and the skill and charm of the bartender who serves you.

So when Holly asked for ideas for her first cocktail at the magical Star and Sixpence, I had to oblige… the crème de violette is an exotic, historic ingredient, with its parma violet taste and pale blue hue it gives. You might have tasted it in an Aviation, with its summer sky colour and suggestion of the past: but it’s only nice in the smallest quantities.

At home, I think you can’t beat a simple White Lady, a cloudy and ghostly version of the basic ‘sour’ which is the basis for hundreds of drinks. I’m also planning to make a pink lady for Christmas with my home-made damson gin.

A few tips: don’t even think about using bottled lemon juice in this drink (or any, in fact). It’s pretty sour, and if you have it, you can add sugar syrup, or an egg white to fluff it up: just add those to your shaker.

From all my experimentation, I have one life-changing cocktail tip: chill out. Ice was essential for a Slush Puppy and it’s even more so with a cocktail. Chill your glass with an ice cube or two first and you’ll be halfway there.

Iced glasses
2015-05-30 19.00.39 White Lady

2 measures London Dry Gin

1 measure triple sec (e.g. Cointreau)

1 measure fresh-squeezed lemon juice

1 measure sugar syrup or an egg white (optional)

Shake with plenty of ice in any covered container – even a large jam or Kilner jar will do. You’ll hear the sound of the drink change subtly – at least 30 seconds should do it.Serve in small, iced glasses: the ghostly colour needs no garnish but a twist of lemon can be a pretty addition.


Thanks, Kate! I can honestly say that writing The Star and Sixpence has converted me to The Way of the Cocktail. And happily, I have all the ingredients for this one!

Kate’s most recent fiction is the mouthwatering A Batch Made in Heaven.

Could the Pudding Lake Bakery reveal the recipe for true love? From the author of the 5:2 Diet, a delicious romance previous published as The Bride Hunter.

Is there a recipe for true love? Becca Orchard believes the ingredients are science, psychology and faultless date planning. It’s a formula that’s made her one of the most successful match-makers in London.

Craft baker Adam Hill is more interested in recipes for bread than love: at his Pudding Lane Bakery in the heart of the City, he mixes old and new to create irresistible food, from Elizabethan Maids of Honour to flowerpot rolls.

But then Becca the Bride Hunter sets Adam up with one of her most awkward clients – and in the chaos that follows, she begins to wonder if she knows anything about finding the perfect match.

Final Batch Made in Heaven cover Nov 2014

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