Seamus Heaney famously wrote “no glass of ours was ever raised to toast the Queen”, but I suspect that won’t be the case at hundreds of street parties and in thousands of households next week as the Platinum Jubilee is celebrated across the UK. Heaney did, after all, dine with the royals at the palace and Prince Charles is a huge fan of his work, so I suspect that, were he still with us today, even the mighty Nobel Prize-winning poet would have given a nod to the monarch’s spectacularly-long reign.
If you’re one of those looking forward to raising a glass to toast the Queen’s 70 years on the throne, and you’re searching around for something special to put in it, you could perhaps take your cue from what the royals enjoy drinking. Buckingham Palace, it’s said, has a wine cellar lined with more than £2m worth of alcohol, and although most drinks cupboards will be considerably more modest, that doesn’t mean you can’t add a touch of royal style to your Platinum Jubilee celebrations.
You could try mixing a glass or two of the Queen’s favourite drink by pouring two measures of Dubonnet and a measure of gin over ice and adding a slice of lemon. Dubonnet — you can get it in most off-licences for under a tenner — is a blend of fortified wine with herbs and spices and a little quinine, hence its affinity with gin.
The cocktail was said to be a go-to drink for the Queen Mother and the Queen was reported to enjoy a daily glass before lunch and sometimes up to four a day. However, her former chef Darren McGrady laughed off that particular rumour, insisting: “She’d be pickled if she drank that much.” Nevertheless, the cocktail is known to be a firm favourite with the monarch, and only last year the Queen awarded a royal warrant to Dubonnet.
If you fancy serving the Queen’s favourite to a houseful of party guests next week, you can turn the cocktail into a longer drink by adding double the amount of Dubonnet to a quantity of gin in a jug and topping it up with plenty of tonic or soda, ice and four or five lemon slices.
Some, however, will undoubtedly want to toast the Platinum Jubilee with a glass of champagne, and although the Queen’s favourite brand remains uncertain — apparently she does enjoy an English sparkling wine called Nyetimber — a champagne said to be much to the royal taste is Pol Roger’s Brut Reserve. Selling for around £40-£45 a bottle, it also has a royal warrant from the Queen and was the bubbly of choice at the weddings of Kate and William, Harry and Meghan and Princess Eugenie to Jack Brooksbank. It was even said to be a favourite of Winston Churchill.
If whisky is more your thing, you could charge your glass with Prince Charles’ tipple of choice, Laphroaig. A pungent smoke-and-seaweed Islay dram, which by its makers’ own admission divides opinion, it was awarded the Prince of Wales’ royal warrant in 1994 and remains the only single malt to have received the honour.
Highgrove, Charles and Camilla’s family residence in Gloucestershire, has a special bottling of a 12-year-old Laphroaig on sale for around £75.
Dishing out the Laphroaig to Platinum Jubilee party guests could prove expensive, but not nearly as costly as serving Prince William’s favourite Treasure Chest cocktail — or at any rate the £135-a-glass version quaffed by the prince at ritzy London bar Mahiki during his man-about-town days. This OTT cocktail mixes three different types of rum as well as brandy, peach schnapps and champagne with various fruit juices.
A few years ago, cut-price supermarket chain Aldi devised a more budget-friendly version of the drink and called it an Aldiki. So if you fancy making a few pitchers of William’s cocktail without taking out a mortgage, log on to YouTube and search for ‘Aldiki cocktail’ for a video demonstration.
Kate was also into her cocktails in days gone by, with one of her favourites being the unfortunately-named Crack Baby, which was served to guests at her wedding. You can make enough Crack Baby for 10 by mixing a litre of passion fruit juice with a punnet of strawberries, 375ml of vodka and 280ml of Chambord raspberry liqueur in a blender and then stirring in a bottle of champagne or sparkling wine. Lately, however, both Kate and William have been showing a growing enthusiasm for Guinness — the couple had a sup of the black stuff during a visit to the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin in 2020 and again last year at the Students’ Union in Magee College.
So there you are: if you want to drink like the royals on the Platinum Jubilee, you can mark this unique occasion with drinks as diverse as gin and Dubonnet, Pol Roger champagne, an Aldiki or even a pint of Guinness. And you never know, some members of the royal family might be doing exactly the same thing.
The Crafty Vintner in south Belfast has teamed up with Italian gin brand Malfy to create an eye-catching flower-decked terrace aimed at bringing a summery Dolce Vita vibe to the popular Lisburn Road venue. The Malfy Terrace will be in place throughout the summer, providing a laid-back setting for cocktails, charcuterie and food. Aislinn Sloan, marketing manager of JAR Group, says: “Expect to find some Malfy-inspired dishes across our menus this summer.” The Crafty Vintner operates on a first-come, first-served basis with no advance booking, from breakfast through to small plates at night.
Poderi Dal Nespoli Trebbiano
A fresh and zesty Italian organic wine, with a clear yellow colour and citrus notes of lemon and citron, plus warm hints of tropical fruits. Similar flavours shine through when you taste the wine, which presents a well-balanced acidity and a freshness typical of the Trebbiano grape variety. Great with mixed salads, pasta with salmon sauce, shrimp salad and pan-fried fish served with rice. RRP £9.99, available from Donard Wines, Newcastle; Carlisle’s Fine Wines, Ballynahinch; Biesty’s Cellar, Ballymoney; The Grange, Holywood; Magee’s, Crossgar; Madigan’s Court, Belfast.