My Round: Your cup runneth over

Here's how to make perfect G&Ts, stay sober while drinking all night, and win free tickets to the Chelsea Flower Show
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Indy Lifestyle Online

It must be spring, proof number one: the imminence of the Chelsea Flower Show (beginning on 23 May). And I'm pleased to play Lord Bountiful by announcing that there are five pairs of free tickets to the show available solely to readers of this column. They're being donated by the people at Fetzer, who plant a garden there every year. I've never seen what their Chelsea plantings look like, but their home garden in Mendocino county, California - a veritable shrine to biodiversity - makes me expect great things.

It must be spring, proof number one: the imminence of the Chelsea Flower Show (beginning on 23 May). And I'm pleased to play Lord Bountiful by announcing that there are five pairs of free tickets to the show available solely to readers of this column. They're being donated by the people at Fetzer, who plant a garden there every year. I've never seen what their Chelsea plantings look like, but their home garden in Mendocino county, California - a veritable shrine to biodiversity - makes me expect great things.

The wine/gardening connection is a matter of the highest importance for Fetzer's organic Bonterra range. It recognises that their vineyards are not just a grape-factory but a living environment. Bonterra farms its vineyards as conscientiously as any winery of my acquaintance - indeed, as conscientiously as many home gardeners. I'd love to be there right now, with spring officially in residence. But Chelsea is a very good second best. The tickets on offer are for Friday 27 May. To make yourself eligible, all you need to do is send an email with your name, address and telephone number to fetzer@randr.co.uk. Names will pulled out of the proverbial spring bonnet and winners informed by 20 May.

It must be spring, proof number two: G&Ts are back. They must be, because I've been getting so many communications from industry sources telling me how to make them better. One improvement is highlighted to the right, and it's for real: an excellent tonic that competes easily with the brand leader. Or even surpasses it, for those who don't want a sweetish tonic. But while you're at it, don't forget the fundamentals, which you may have forgotten in the long, G&T-less winter: tall glass, lots of fresh ice, G&T in a ratio of 1:3, squeeze lemon juice into glass, stir with the wedge, then plop wedge in.

It must be spring, proof number three: longer hours of daylight, which means more time to be outside drinking delicious cocktails, but also a need to find ones which won't put us under the table before sunset. Solution: dilution. There are some cocktails which lend themselves well to this. Take the Sea Breeze, for instance, one of the great summertime cocktails. In its true form it's made with vodka, grapefruit juice and cranberry juice in approximate proportions of 3:4:6, stirred (or shaken, better still) with loads of ice and garnished with a wedge of lime. For daylight drinking, you could cut the vodka by around half: call the proportions 3:8:12 and see who complains.

You can even make a more dilute Martini, as the great Dick Bradsell advocates. This is essentially good vermouth flavoured with a little gin, something closer to how the first Martinis were probably made. Let's start with proportions of 6:1 vermouth to gin, served as a tall drink with lots of ice. Once you get used to this role-reversal, it becomes that almost unnatural being: a Martini you can drink at lunchtime without ordering your ambulance in advance.

If the high proportion of vermouth seems weird, however, you can also drink Martinis like those preferred by the American poet Conrad Aiken. He loved Martinis but couldn't drink them over long periods while talking with friends, so he simply diluted them with a lot of water. I've done this. It works. Add four parts water for one part of Martini and you end up with something like an alcopop for adults.

It must be spring, proof number four: the instant and overwhelming appeal of the third bottle below. The idea of pomegranate juice may sound weird - and it's all the rage in Hollywood, apparently - but don't be deterred. Just try it and you'll see what I mean.

Top Corks: Three springy sips

Bonterra Chardonnay-Sauvignon Blanc-Muscat 2002 (£6.99 to 7.49, Sainsbury's and Budgens) A lively blend. Fresh flavours of the first two varietals made grapily aromatic by the third.

Fevertree Tonic (£1.30/200ml, tel 020 7349 4922 for stockists) Classy stuff from the company behind the excellent Miller's Gin: fresh, clean and complex. A drink in its own right.

POM Wonderful Pomegranate Juice (£3.29/473ml, Waitrose and Budgens) Bracingly astringent. Serve ice cold with tonic, a dribble of crème de cassis, or a splash of good gin.

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