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10 World Cup-Inspired Cocktails 

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the-tgc.com

Good news for your next World Cup party: The Travelling Gin Company whipped up 32 cocktails for the 32 countries competing. What better way to celebrate the blending of countries and cultures than by blending drinks? Some cocktails are new inventions inspired by flavors indigenous to the respective countries, while others are new takes on old classics. Now you can watch a game with appropriate drinks for both sides.

1. Brazil: Maracujá Caipirinha

As the home country, with 5 titles under its belt, it might be a safe bet to invest in a lot of the ingredients to make this one.

Recipe: "Cut 1 & 1/2 limes into wedges and place into the bottom of a rocks glass with a teaspoon of brown sugar. Muddle the ingredients together and follow up by filling your glass 3/4 full with crushed ice. gently stir all and add 50ml of Cachaça. Finally add more crushed ice to fill the glass up to the max and a final stir.

For a finishing touch we like to open up a passion fruit (maracujá) and pour the seeds and juice goodness over the top of the ice and garnish with a slice of lime. For extra sweetness add more brown sugar to meet your taste."

2. Argentina: Messi Pomelo

Argentina has one of the best players in the world, so it's only fitting for their drink to be named after him. Celebrate Lionel Messi with this tart summer drink. 

Recipe: "50ml gin, 15ml Pink Grapefruit, 10ml White Grapefruit, 10ml Red Grapefruit, 10ml basil syrup…shake all together well in a ice filled cocktail shaker.

Strain and serve. The intense sweet, sour and tart flavour from the grapefruits works perfectly on a summer’s day, but if too strong for some, simply add some soda water and pour on ice."

3. USA: The American Cream

USA! USA! What's more American than beer and puns? 

Recipe: "Add 25ml good quality bourbon, 15ml lemon juice & 15ml cream soda cordial with plenty of ice in a cocktail shaker.

Gently shake ingredients a few times and strain. Top with a classic American lager. You want ratios of around 1 part cocktail mix to 3 parts beer."

4. Costa Rica: Pinto’s Tico Sour

This drink is named after the team's coach, Jorge Luis Pinto.

Recipe: "50ml Cacique Guaro (alternatively use more widely available Cachaça), juices of half a lemon, half a lime and half an orange, teaspoon of brown sugar and an egg white. Combine all in ice filled shaker and shake heavily until very very cold. Strain into your glass of choice with a couple of dashes of Angostura bitters."

5. Italy: Negroni Sbagliato

Evviva/Cheers!

Recipe: "Equal parts Campari, Sweet Vermouth & prosecco on ice. orange wedge for garnish."

6. Russia: Raspberryoska

It's not a good Russian cocktail without vodka and the country's signature color: red!

Recipe: "50ml good quality vodka, 25ml freshly pressed raspberry juice, 15ml lime juice. Some soda water to top your glass. garnish with some mint and a raspberry or two." 

7. Nigeria: The Chapman

The Chapman is Nigeria's signature drink, so it's only fitting to drink a version of it while watching them play. This drink might also work while watching Orange is the New Black. 

Recipe: "In a pitcher full of ice, add blackcurrant cordial  (we prefer to avoid brand names, but Ribena does work best), a dash of grenadine syrup, the juice of an orange, a lemon and a lime. Add cucumber slices and pour half a can of Sprite and half a can of Fanta - finish off the national party cocktail of Nigeria with fresh mint and 3-4 drops of Angostura Bitters.

Vodka can be added to this otherwise non-alcoholic sweet punch."

8. France: Les Bleus ‘75

Appropriately named after their team, this drink incorporates lots of blue(berries). 

Recipe: "Gin, lemon juice, St Germain Elderflower liqueur, champagne top. Garnish with blueberries."

9. England: Bramble ROYale

Feel like royalty while sipping on this cocktail that incorporates the team manager, Roy Hodgson, in the name. 

Recipe: "50ml gin, 20ml lemon juice, 15ml sugar syrup & 20ml blackberry liqueur on lots of ice, topped with a splash of English sparkling wine. Garnished with blackberries and lemon slice."

10. Spain: Sevilla Gin Tonic

Spain might not being doing as well as expected, but at least fans can find comfort at the bottom of this citrus drink. 

Recipe: "Fill a hi-ball glass with plenty of ice.Add 50ml gin (we recommend Xoriguer Mahon) and a heaped teaspoon of Seville Orange marmalade. Mix well and top with a Traditional Tonic Water. Garnish with Seville orange slices and tarragon."


Check out the rest of the cocktails on the Travelling Gin Company's Instagram and follow them on Twitter. You can find all the recipes here. 

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Is There Any Point in Letting Red Wine Breathe?
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by Aliya Whiteley

At the end of a long day, few things beat simple pleasures like watching a good film, eating a bar of chocolate the size of your head, or drinking a big glass of red wine.

By this point in the evening, most people don’t want to be told that they need to uncork the bottle and let the wine sit for at least 30 minutes before it becomes pleasantly drinkable. Yet that's (by the letter of the unwritten law) what you're supposed to do.

But why? Well, let's start with the assorted historical reasons.

Red wine has been around since the Stone Age. In fact, in 2011 a cave was uncovered in Armenia where the remains of a wine press, drinking and fermentation vessels, and withered grape vines were uncovered; the remains were dated at 5500 years old. Early winemaking often had a ritualistic aspect: Wine jars were found in Ancient Egyptian tombs, and wine appears in both the Hebrew and Christian bibles.

The concept of letting wine "breathe" is, historically speaking, relatively new and probably has its roots in the way wine was once bottled and stored.

Traditionally, sulfur is added to wine in order to preserve it for longer, and if too much is added the wine might well have an ... interesting aroma when first opened—the kind of "interesting aroma" that bears more than a passing resemblance to rotten eggs. Contact with the air may have helped to remove the smell, so decanting wine may once have been a way of removing unwelcome odors, as well as getting rid of the sediment that built up in the bottom of bottles.

It’s also possible that the concept springs from the early 1860s, when Emperor Napoleon III asked Louis Pasteur to investigate why so much French wine was spoiling in transit. Pasteur published his results, which concluded that wine coming into contact with air led to the growth of bacteria, thus ruining the vino. However, small amounts of air improved the flavor of the wine by "aging" it. In bottles, with a cork stopper, the wine still came into contact with a small amount of oxygen, and by storing it for years the wine was thought to develop a deeper flavor.

However, how much of that actually matters today?

Many experts agree that there is no point in simply pulling out the cork and letting the wine sit in an open bottle for any period of time; the wine won’t come into enough contact with oxygen to make any difference to the taste.

However, decanting wine might still be a useful activity. The truth is this: It entirely depends on the wine.

Nowadays we don’t really age wine anymore; we make it with the aim of drinking it quickly, within a year or so. But some types of wine that are rich in tannins (compounds that come from the grape skins and seeds) can benefit from a period of time in a decanter, to soften the astringent taste. These include wines from Bordeaux and the Rhône Valley, for instance.

If you really want to know if a particular wine would benefit from being given time to breathe, try your own experiment at home. Buy two bottles, decant one, and let it breathe for an hour. Do you notice a difference in the taste? Even if you don’t, it's an experiment that justifies opening two bottles of wine.

One word of warning: No matter where a wine comes from, it is possible to overexpose it to oxygen. So remember Pasteur’s experiments and don’t leave your wine out of the bottle for days. That, friends, would be one hell of a waste.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

A Beer From the Middle Ages Is Making a Serious Comeback

Hop-forward beer is all the rage today, but in the middle ages many imbibers preferred brews that skewed towards the sweeter side. Now, centuries after it fell out of fashion, Atlas Obscura reports that gruit ale is making a comeback.

Gruit beer is any beer that features botanicals in place of hops. The ingredients that give the drink its distinctive sweet, aromatic taste can be as familiar as ginger and lavender or as exotic as mugwort and seabuckthorn. The herbs play the role of hops by both adding complex flavors and creating an inhospitable environment for harmful microbes.

It may be hard for modern beer lovers to imagine beer without hops, but prior to the 16th century gruit was as common in parts of Europe as IPAs are in hip American cities today. Then, in 1516, that style of beer suddenly vanished from pint glasses: That was the year Germany passed a beer purity law that restricted beer formulas to hops, water, and barley. Many of the key botanicals in gruit beer were considered aphrodisiacs at the time, and the rising Puritan movement helped push the brew further into obscurity.

Hops have dominated the beer scene ever since, and only in the past few decades have microbrewers started giving old gruit recipes the attention they're due. In 2017, the Scratch Brewing Company in Illinois released their seasonal Scratch Tonic, made from a combination of dandelion, carrot tops, clover, and ginger. The Põhjala Brewery in Estonia brews their Laugas beer using Estonian herbs, caraway, and juniper berries. Get in touch with your local microbrewery to see if they have their own version of the old-school beer in their line-up.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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