Club Tropicana – cheese-based cocktails are free

cheese and gin cocktail

As I posted here in a fit of excitement last week, I recently won a toastie maker. This has opened up a whole new world of culinary excitement but in particular there was one toasted cheese ‘combination’ that I’d read about and, despite my best attempts to suppress the memory, it kept returning to me. Apparently – and I know this is hard to believe – there is a Stateside trend for cheese toastie-based cocktails (or ‘grilled cheese sandwiches’, as they’re known over there). Spirits plus cheese toastie. Seriously? Seriously. You can find it here.

I know, I know, you’re dry-heaving even as you read this. I was too. But nevertheless the thought kept coming back to haunt me and I’d find myself in the kitchen, eyes flickering from toastie machine to spirit bottles and back again. It had to be done. Gin’s my preferred tipple of choice and I’ve been dabbling around, matching it with cheeses for a while. This may sound anathema to some but a nice floral gin really does go well with a soft lemony goat’s cheese (less so with a blue but I’m working on it). But I had a different cheese in mind for this one: Appleby’s Cheshire.

Appleby’s is a bit of a special cheese. If the words ‘Cheshire cheese’ conjure up a brick of sweaty white nothingness, this cheese could change your mind. Cheshire is the oldest named British cheese, mentioned in the Domesday Book but probably dating back to the Roman occupation or beyond. But whilst the cheese used to be made by nearly every dairy farm in the northwest a couple of centuries ago, with thousands of tonnes of it being shipped down to the London markets, the Appleby family is now one of the last producers of traditional clothbound Cheshire cheese.

Appleby's Cheshire cheese

And from a mixologist (ha get me!) point of view, it sounded like the ideal cheese. Cheshire cheese is said to derive its characteristic tang from the salt-beds that lie under the soils of the Cheshire plain. Arthur Cunynghame, former cheesemonger to the Queen, says of it that ‘its fresh character somehow brings to mind fresh sea breezes and the tang of salt on the face…a long, lingering, delightful reminder of a summer’s day.’ If you’re going to make a cocktail out of cheese (and who wouldn’t?) then a fresh, salty, summery cheese sounds about right to me. I’d even tried matching gin with Appleby’s before and dug out my notes: ‘Herby and then slightly cow-sheddy. Finally a smooth, salty finish.’ Sounds good, right? Right?

First of all I had to make the toastie, a basic toastie, on white bread with butter.

020

And then to pour the gin. The recipe for the US cocktail specifies that the toastie should be soaked in the spirit for 24 hours so I chopped it into chunks and pushed it into the gin. Into the fridge it went and I tried my best not to think about it.

021

It was the next day that I started to feel squeamish. I’ve never been a fan of white bread and, despite loving cheese, the thought of drinking neat milk makes me gip. So the idea of drinking anything with bits of bread and cheese juice floating in it made me shudder. But it was time to filter my solution. Some of the liquid poured out easily and some of it I had to squeeze out with my hands (hurl). When I’d got out as much as I could, I filtered it through cheesecloth to remove the floaty bits and film of grease at the top (boak). I then stared at the resulting liquid for a very long time. A very, very long time. Then I plucked up the courage to taste it and…it wasn’t as bad as I’d imagined. The harsh edge of the gin had been mellowed and – maybe this was my imagination – there was a saline edge to it. The only problem was a bready aftertaste.

The American cocktail calls for the addition of a tomato and basil solution at this point but that sounded like a big cop-out to me, like someone was trying to disguise a cheese-based beverage with a dash of Bloody Mary. If I was going to do this thing, I was keeping it pure. A dash of sparking water, some appropriate garnish (do you like the salty rim – classy, hey?) and voila. Appleby’s Toasted Cheshire Cheese and Gin Spritzer. (And before you even think about it All Bar One, the copyright on this baby is all mine).

Some of you will have stopped reading in horror by now. Some of you will be gagging into your hands. I know what you mean, I really do, but it didn’t taste that bad. In fact the only objectionable note was the lingering taste of bread. You’re not convinced, are you? Not even a little bit? Okay, well if you do nothing else, seek out the cheese and try it; seriously it’s a great cheese. Fresh sea breezes on a summer day, what more could you want in a cheese? Gin, you want gin with it.

29 Comments

Filed under Cheese Recipes

29 responses to “Club Tropicana – cheese-based cocktails are free

  1. Reblogged this on Linda's wildlife garden and commented:
    Awesome and thank you for sharing

  2. I got most of the way through reading this when I realise I had my hand over my mouth like a silent movie heroine in a 1920s melodrama. Oh Sir Jasper!

    My admiration of you knows no bounds – you boldly go where no turophile has been before. (Sometimes with good reason.)

  3. Oh my goodness, what a thought. Well done you for trying. I was reading about a bar in Glasgow that serves meat cocktails!! I believe it involves a beef infused bacardi. Maybe there’s new niche for savoury food based cocktails!!

  4. I think that this cocktail is weird ;-)

  5. I realised that my eyebrows were raised by the end of reading this (but no gagging, just..). I applaud your cheesy adventurous spirit and will choose, in this instance, to live vicariously through you. :)

  6. Gross! Drink gin. Eat cheese.

  7. Pingback: Introducing the Grilled Cheese Martini | Things that Fizz & Stuff

  8. I am speechless. I love grilled cheese. But this is really uniquely freaky.

  9. This is an American trend?! Well, that’s a tad embarrassing. You’re brave for trying this! (I don’t know that I can stomach this particular way of consuming cheese…)

  10. I’m sorry, but this sounds revolting. It was the squeezing it with your hands that finally did it for me. Let’s hope this is just a passing phase . . . or maybe that should be craze ?!

  11. Well that’s the theme for my summer garden party sorted – we shall be serving cheese-based cocktails, and anyone who so much as raises an eyebrow will be referred back to your blog. Not sure that gin and Cheshire will cut it in Yorkshire though… do you think gin and Wensleydale would work?

  12. You’ve given me such a good laugh tonight!!! Thankyou so much! Shame I can’t get the cheese to try in New Zealand, but maybe if I did I’d just be too tempted to try it with gin…never liked gin though….maybe a quick vodka? Thank you thankyou, I will have to read more of what you have to say about the beautiful fromage.

  13. Pingback: Fromage Friday: Five Counties | Fromage Homage

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