From Thursday we’ll have to stay home, but this winter’s trend for glittery drinks promises to put a shine on your nights in. So… Make mine a VERY sparkling tipple!
- Harry Wallop takes a look at a range of alcoholic drinks that contain sparkles
- A range of gins, licquers and vodkas now contain traces of gold inside them
- One Marks and Spencer bottle even lights up if you give it a shake
Most people who want to jazz up their cocktails might add an olive to their martini glass, or track down some unusually shaped ice cubes. But this year you can take your tipples to another level by using a spirit that contains gold.
In many supermarkets and drinks shops, you’ll find a range of gin, liqueurs and vodkas that shimmer and sparkle.
Some contain actual flecks of 22-carat gold — also known as the food additive E175. Give the bottle a shake and you can see the tiny fragments float in it. One sold by Marks & Spencer even lights up (thanks to a hidden bulb in the bottom of the bottle), making the gin liqueur look like a very pretty, very grown-up snow globe.
‘When you go to a cocktail bar, you want a bit of theatre, a bit of glamour — and I think these shimmer drinks really deliver that,’ says Aaron Darke, managing director of a Manchester-based drinks company called Zymurgorium, which makes four different liqueurs that glisten. ‘They are a great bit of fun.’
This year, festive hosts can upgrade their alcohol offerings to guests by serving drinks with gold floating in it
Not only is edible gold completely tasteless, it is also (without wishing to get too gastro-intestinal) indigestible, which means any gold you swallow will end up downstream, being processed by a sewerage plant.
Most of the drinks, however, use potassium aluminum silicate (E555), sometimes known as mica powder. Often found in cosmetics, it can also transform an otherwise dull liquid into a pearlescent spirit.
To give it a real shimmer, however, you need to coat these minuscule particles with either titanium dioxide (E171), for a silvery effect, or iron oxide (E172), which some people will know as rust.
While that doesn’t sound very appetising, the version used by the food industry is what can give products such as Christmas puddings or liqueurs a beautiful gold lustre.
The result? Some of the latest batch of drinks look as pretty as a jewel, others look more like cheap bubble bath. But what do they actually taste like? We put ten to the test …
Fox & Foreman Bramble Shimmer with Blackberry and Raspberry, Gin liqueur — 50cl, 20 per cent alcohol by volume.
This certainly looks rather fancy — a dark, deep pinkcoloured gin liqueur (watered down and sweetened gin) with a gold sheen — and the chunky bottle is satisfyingly hefty.
However, the drink, unfortunately, smells a bit like Benylin cough medicine, though it tastes moderately nicer — more cherryade than decongestant. 2/5
Light Snow Clementine Gin Liqueur — 70cl, 20 per cent.
This is the cleverest and prettiest of all the packaging. A tiny button on the underside of the bottle turns on a light that makes the floating flecks of edible gold leaf inside dazzle. It’s not all show, however. The liqueur actually tastes like gin, with fresh hints of frangipane and citrus fruits. Crucially, it’s not too sweet. This would glam up any drinks cabinet this winter. 5/5
Extra Special Rhubarb & Custard Gin — 70cl, 40 per cent.
A deep pink gin (an actual gin, not a liqueur), with a gold shimmer, this really does catch the eye. It smells like an old-school rhubarb and custard sweet, which will enthral some and appal others.
Drinking it is like chewing a packet of Haribo while supping a G&T — an odd experience, but possibly great novelty value. 3/5
Extra Special Cherry Blossom & Lychee Gin Liqueur — 50cl, 20 per cent.
This baby-pink liquid with a subtle silvery shimmer is almost sophisticated. The liqueur is far too sweet, though — which is a real shame as its gentle lychee flavour is excellent. 3/5
Gold Cuvee, Gold Spirits — 20cl, 12.5 per cent.
This comes in a tiny bottle — just enough for two small glasses — and contains little flecks of 22 carat gold. The drink is neither prosecco nor champagne, but an ‘aromatized sparkling wine-based drink’ made in Germany.
It tastes considerably better than it sounds: definitely more fizz than foul. Could be perfect for your inner footballer’s wife. 4/5
Diamond Pink Vodka, Gold Spirits — 50cl, 20 per cent.
Don’t know what to get Kim Kardashian for Christmas? Can’t afford a hologram of one of her loved ones? Then this is the answer.
It comes in a chunky diamond-shaped bottle that is almost impossible to handle. Inside is a lurid pink liquid with real gold flakes. Sadly, it smells like cough sweets and tastes no better. All show, no substance. 1/5
Zymurgorium Flamingo Electric Blue & Scottish Raspberry Gin-Based Liqueur — 50cl, 20 per cent.
‘Strong and powerful refreshment, finishing with a soft and smooth diminuendo of ripe fruit, leaving your senses crying “Encore! Encore!” ’ says the somewhat optimistic marketing spiel.
The nicely chunky bottle, covered in pictures of flamingos playing guitars, contains a purply-blue liquid with a silver shimmer that tastes far stronger than its 20 per cent alcohol content suggests.
The flavour is more fruity slushie you get from the end of the pier than a sophisticated tipple you might find in Claridge’s. Students might like it. 2/5
Corky’s Passion Fruit Glitter Schnapps — 70cl, 15 per cent.
What’s the point of having a shimmer and then covering the bottle with an environment-destroying plastic sleeve? You can’t see the contents until you pour — and then you realise it looks like Irn-Bru with only a small amount of sheen.
This lowered expectations. But the orange liqueur is surprisingly tasty. Too sweet, but at least it has a proper hit of passion fruit. Would lift a porn star martini. 3/5
The Infusionist Icy Blueberry Gin Liqueur — 50cl, 20 per cent.
Is this a novelty bubble bath or a liqueur? It comes in a glass bottle covered in pictures of snowmen. The liquid inside is clear, with a pearlescent blue sheen. The shock, however, is opening the vessel. It smells horrendous and tastes as bad. 1/5
Riverside Spirits, Rose Shimmer Vodka Liqueur — 70cl, 20 per cent.
Another bottle that looks like bubble bath, but at least an upmarket one in a solid, urbane bottle, with a stylish, understated label. The liqueur is pale pink with a pearlescent sheen. It doesn’t really smell of anything, and it tastes of a sweetened vodka with a slightly aromatic hit of rose water. Subtle and grown up. 4/5
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