Early-Nightcaps: drinks that promote a good night sleep
With the nights closing in and pubs and restaurants shutting at 10pm for the foreseeable future, the traditional nightcap is making a return to British homes. Let's be clear, this isn't a digestif or a 'final drink of the evening'. It's so much more than that. It's a ritual that should be savoured and considered. Something that is to be looked forward to, that helps you unwind and is just for you - how you do it is just as important as the drink you mix. Rudi Carraro, Global Brand Ambassador for Amaro Montenegro, has set out the building blocks for a great nightcap:
Less is more
A massive hit of potent alcohol can make you wake up as or more tired than when you went to sleep. Big glasses of raw spirit with high ABV will interrupt sleep patterns and leave you feeling sluggish. Moderation and low ABV spirits make the perfect nightcaps, as when they’re wrapped into a comforting mixers they help to warm and unwind. 2. Where you drink, it is important: A good nightcap should have its own space and its own time. Often a change of venue is important as it takes you to a different place in the mind. Make sure that place is somewhere you can enjoy solitude to savour the flavour as you sip your drink. 3. Warmth: It simply has to be 'warming'. It needs to make the drinker feel relaxed from head to toe. So, I have picked five nightcaps that I think hit the spot and meet my criteria above. Alongside a couple of 'classics', I've thrown in three slightly left fields, and lesser-known spirits that I think will delight drinkers and aid a good night's sleep. Amaro Montenegro, £18.95 Amaro Montenegro is a delicious authentic Italian liqueur that has been a staple in the bars, restaurants, and cafes of Italy since it was created in 1885 in Bologna - the belly of Italy. The heady blend of incredibly complex sweet, citrus and bitter flavoursome from the blending of 40 different botanicals which make it wildly versatile and the inclusion of cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg within the drink itself lends it to sweet, bitter herbal cocktails, but also are perfect in their subtle balance that it can be easily sipped on its own over ice. For a great nightcap, a 'Montenegroni' is a twist on a classic serve with Amaro Montenegro, vermouth and gin are served sparingly to create the perfect balance of warming sweet and bitter flavours. The King's Ginger Liqueur - £21.09 Seductively golden in colour and deliciously crisp to taste, this hit of ginger and citrus combined with honey is warming and relaxing in a unique sort of way. For me, this is the connoisseur’s alternative to a more classic Sloe Gin style drink and offers those who like something a little sweeter and indulgent. The addition of Kings Ginger into a Hot Toddy elevates a warm cocktail before bed into something far more complex and exciting that the standard serve For the perfect nightcap, mix an ounce of Kings Ginger with four ounces of soda water for a refreshing drink designed for extended sipping. Vecchia Romagna, Riserva Tre Botti - £48.00 Thanks to its 200 years of history, expertise and innovation, Vecchia Romagna is Italy’s number one brandy. The richness and intensity of the flavours come from the clever combination of fine distillates, aged separately in three different barrels, each of which adds complexity and character to this delicious brandy making it a fantastic option for pre-bed drinking. For a relaxing nightcap, combine this rich brandy with Benedictine to create a B&B, the perfect tipple that warms you from the inside out. Green Chartreuse - £41.97 With its distinctive natural green colour, Green Chartreuse gives off powerful and unique flavours with every sip. This unique spirit is made up of around 130 plants, of which only two chartreuse monks know the identity of. Ordinarily one you would have after a heavy meal, it’s equally as good in the evening to the intense aromatics that offer almost mystical properties in helping unwind and relax before settling into bed. As a nightcap, it’s perfect when served neat, or with plenty of ice in a rocks glass where you can fully appreciate the smell and taste of this powerful liqueur. Brugal 1888 – £39.95 It would be expected to include a single malt or bourbon in this list; however, I have plumped for something a little different in the form of Brugal 1888 – a run from the Dominican Republic. This is a great choice for a nightcap as although its great in a cocktail, its utterly delicious as a sipping rum slightly warmed to release the rich flavours that come from a lengthy maturation in firstly American Oak barrels and then Spanish oak sherry casks to give a rich, unctuous and fruity sweetness.