I’M A BIT giddy at the moment and it’s nothing to do with alcohol. I’m giddy because of football.
My team, who I’ve spent many a Saturday afternoon chilled to the marrow cheering on, are top of the league. Even though I now live many miles from Burnley and the rolling east Lancashire hills, I still have a yearning for a lovely half-time drink that defrosts the parts that beef tea can’t reach.
So as it’s Bonfire Night soon, and you’ll be needing drinks to warm you as sparklers spitter and rockets soar, I’ve recalled the days when I needed centrally heating against the chill.
I bring you Bene ’n’ Hot. Bénédictine and hot water. It is served on match days at my club and lifts the spirits. It often needs to – this season is a welcome surprise. (Touch wood!)
The French liqueur was created in 1510 as a medicinal elixir and uses 27 herbs and spices including honey, vanilla, juniper berries and myrrh. It is both sweet and spicy and I’ve shared its warming glow at weddings, football, Christmas and funerals.
With hot water, its aromas lift out like a comfort blanket cloud. It is a classic with brandy – and an ideal toddy for horrid winter colds.
The liqueur is going through a resurgence and the brand has worked hard to increase awareness via festivals and drink competitions.
But in my old neck of the woods it has been popular for decades.
It stems from the First World War and the Pals battalions from Lancashire were based where Bene is produced.
It was drunk in the trenches to keep warm and soldiers also thought it helped recuperation.
Back home, the demand for the drink continued.
Bénédictine (50cl) is on sale at selected stores of Sainsbury, Asda, Morrisons and Tesco with prices ranging from £15.50 to £17. Find out more about Bénédictine at www.facebook.com /beneliqueur
Also in my glass …
Another French classic, Pernod Absinthe.
It has been relaunched by Pernod to the original recipe. (Waitrose, £40, 70cl, with a frightening 68% abv.)
Anise and wormwood are distilled in white spirit, leaving distinctive “aniseed” on the nose. For friends, I mixed glasses of 25ml absinthe, 125ml of pressed apple juice and filled with ice.
One pal described it as a drink she’d enjoy in summer – another said it reminded her of a gobstopper. I literally couldn’t speak. My mouth stopped working. It was lovely – but none of us dared have another.