Category Archives: Beverage

New Year Cocktail: Raspberry Fizz Bang

This is the last in our series of seasonal cocktails, and we wanted to go out with a bang with a New Year Cocktail. Our sparkling Raspberry Fizz Bang is the quintessential recipe for fun and celebration! We recommend practicing before the big evening, or failing that do pop in to our bar and our team would be delighted to make one for you.


Raspberry Fizz Bang


  • Champagne Flute
    Raspberries to garnish
    15ml Jensen’s Old Tom Gin
    35ml Sweet Vermouth
    Prosecco to top

Method of Making

1. Fill your glass with ice to chill and shake the gin and vermouth ice cold.
2. Empty the glass and strain the mixture into it.
3. Top with prosecco and garnish with 2-3 raspberries, frozen if desired.

Splendidly sparkling, and wonderful to ring in the new year.

Christmas Cocktail: Midwinter Warmer

Here is the second in our series of seasonal cocktails from our Bar Manager Iain. This Christmas cocktail is delicious, especially for hot chocolate lovers, and it will keep you warm on these cold winters’ nights. Pop in to our bar and our team will be delighted to make this for you.


Midwinter Warmer


  • Milkshake Glass
    Chocolate shavings for garnish
    350-500 Hot Chocolate
    25 ml Raspberry Vodka
    25 ml Thortons Chocolate Liqueur

Method of making:

  1. Shake all the ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled milkshake glass.
  2. Top with whipped cream, if desired, and garnish with chocolate shavings.

    Dangerously delicious – Enjoy!

Christmas Cocktail Recipe: Chrimbo Cosmo

The Christmas season is here and this calls from some relaxation and perhaps a tipple or two. Lovingly crafted, you can either try these at home or pop in to Donnington Valley Hotel and our bar team would be delighted to make these for you.

tumblr_mj6oxiqXuW1rb1u9do1_r1_1280Here is the first in three of our Seasonal cocktails from Iain our Bar Manager. Called the Chrimbo Cosmo, it is fresh, warm and fruity with flavours of citrus, cranberry and ginger in there, adding a little winter spice. Go on, try it!

Chrimbo Cosmo


  • 25ml Citrus Vodka
    25ml Cointreau
    25ml Ginger Wine
    25ml Cranberry Juice
    Lime Rind to garnish
    half of a Lime

Method of making

  1. Fill a shaker with ice and add all the ingredients.
  2. Shake well and strain into a chilled Martini Glass.
  3. Garnish with lime zest and serve.


All Hallow’s Eve

The origins of the Hallowe’en are well established, but not always well known. Our Bar Manager Iain Hewitt sheds some light on this ever popular occasion, and offers some tasty beverages to go!


Based on a Pict/Scots Celtic tradition and adopted by the Catholic Church and renamed All Hallow’s Eve in an attempt to ease the transition of the barbarian hordes to the new Christian sect; it has become one of the most popular holidays, especially in America, where the adopted tradition of trick and treating has become one of the most popular excitements for children and adults alike. This is slowly making its way over here, as kids look to supplement their sweet intake without having to wait the extra few days to go door to door with a stuffed Guido Fawkes.
Of course, more interesting to people of my mind-set are the parties that go on into the early hours, where the drink flows steady and the guests slowly slip into gentle inebriation. In that vein, of course there are a few interesting things you can do with the drinks to help the atmosphere of the party. Simple things like the addition of Blue Curaçao (a slightly tart orange liqueur) to orange or pineapple juice will turn things a nice sickly green; drop in some grenadine or a red liqueur such as Cherry Brandy or Campari and suddenly things start to look rather ghoulish (much like our special Hallowe’en Cocktail this year – the delightfully named Ectoplasm!). Of course you can mix those flavours up with the addition of whatever takes your fancy – a whisky adds a great smoky finish, while Fruity liqueurs can subtly amend the flavour in other ways – experimentation is the key. In the same way, you can mix things up long or short; in a classic martini glass, dropping things through can look particularly effective.
For alternatives, thick red liqueurs mixed with apple juice or even lemonade can look fantastic. Mixing Campari into a classic Collins is easy and interesting, but do look out for that sharp edge!
As I always say – experiment, find your own mixes, and what works for you works for you, but be wary of drinking too many before the kids have gone to bed!

Wine Tasting and Cocktail Making

Are you are looking for something a little different to reward your delegates with after a hard day’s work? Why not test our experts and try a wine tasting session before dinner? Julie Weston, our Events Manager, explains more.


Blind tasting is always a fun way to challenge your taste buds, (don’t worry, no blindfolds are used). The wine is poured before you arrive to ensure there will be no cheating.

Throughout the session, our knowledgeable sommelier will give you a lesson in how to taste wine, and pass on lots of interesting facts about grape varieties and regions to wet your appetite for the tasting. And possibly help you determine their origin.

If you fancy yourself as a budding Tom Cruise, we could arrange a cocktail making master class, with plenty of testing and even the opportunity to mix your own creation!

Don’t have too much fun, in case there is a second day of concentration required!

Ask our conference experts about adding on something different to your residential conference, or for their team building ideas.

Wedding Tips at Donnington Valley

When planning for your wedding day, catering will be one of the biggest decisions you will make. The food is one of the main things your guests will remember from the day, what they had, was there enough, was there too little and how did the food reflect you as a couple? Here are our best tips.


When it comes to deciding on catering for your big day there are a number of choices: a traditional three course wedding breakfast; a relaxed summer barbecue or even a Champagne afternoon tea. Try and be different – and think about the best bits from previous weddings you would have attended. Make it more about you and your partner.

Upon arrival following your ceremony, guests might be a little peckish; the perfect little appetiser would be individually handmade canapés. Time of year is key as to what this might entail – hot, cold, heavy or fresh. You might want the freedom to choose, some venues are more flexible here than others.

Drinks are also a very important part of the day and not everyone wants to drink, though some do! A range of beverages for your reception depending on the time of year including a Summer Pimms or hot winter cider toddy will go down well and don’t have to break the bank.

The main meal, often called the wedding breakfast, can come in a variety of guises – and our Head Chef, Kelvin Johnson, is happy to design a menu for our guests’ wedding day. Kelvin’s menus are influenced by the seasons, using the freshest ingredients from our local suppliers. Importantly for many, wines to compliment your menu sounds like a minefield but needn’t – our award winning wine sommelier, Chris Neeves would assist on selecting exactly what went with your chosen dish. Whatever you choose though, again consider what you and your partner like.

It is also nice to cater for others for example the vegetarians and children who might need something different to the rest. At Donnington we create ‘Little Meals’ – mini fish & chip cones or mini burgers and chips . If you have a large number of evening guests attending or have a family with a large appetite, a finger buffet is perfect, and we are able to customise to suit any dietary requirements. If you fancy something simple; a bacon, egg or sausage roll will go down a treat too and once the party starts can often be the saving grace!

And throughout the evening, something fun will keep everyone entertained and energy levels high! How about going for your favourite retro sweets, a popcorn machine or even candy floss! A great Summer treat is a slush machine which you can make alcoholic, adults only or even an ice cream stand- everyone loves ice cream!

It can be overwhelming trying to accommodate all of your family and friends’ needs. But most importantly remember the day is your day, and if you choose to have it at Donnington, we are here to make your day as special and memorable for you as possible.

Great British Summer Cocktails

The British Social Calendar is upon us – something that drink and food go hand in hand with. Whether making them at home or choosing from the bar menu, fresh, fruity cocktails needn’t be tricky yet will enhance the fun, attests Iain Hewitt, our Bar Manager.

Festive cocktails


Our Great British Summer is the season for cocktails. Whether you’re entertaining friends at home or out on the social scene (Wimbledon, Ascot, Henley to name a few) the fresh and varied flavours lend themselves to balmy summer evenings and picnics out on the lawn.

A personal favourite is the classic Tom Collins: homemade lemonade with a good shot of old fashioned Old Tom style gin. You can mix the same recipe up with a range of different bases, but somehow I always come back to Christian Jensen’s self-named 1830’s recipe Jensen’s Old Tom Gin. Naturally, adding summer fruits such as strawberries, raspberries and blueberries into the mix before we shake makes for another experience altogether.

The same can be said for the Mojito or the Caipirihna: fresh fruit makes all the difference in these rum-based cocktails and when you throw in something extra into the concoction, you can tease your palate with a wholly different experience. Mixing things up like that is the mark of a true cocktail bar – somewhere you can trust the bar tender to adjust the recipes to your needs and desires at a moment’s notice (assuming they have a fully-stocked kitchen to help out with the ingredients!).

Champagne is a versatile drink on a warm summer’s evening, whether as an aperitif, alongside food or as a digestif afterwards. Simple additions like fruit purée for a Bellini (traditionally peach, though raspberry, strawberry or even mango purées are delicious too) is a longer, fresher drink that will keep you going for a while.

That said, alcohol, fun as it is, isn’t the be-all and end-all when it comes to cocktails, especially with kids present, being the designated driver, or if you just don’t fancy it. A good Florida Cocktail, Mockito or Cranberry Crush will refresh and hydrate wonderfully while keeping you sober to enjoy your days and evenings in the sun.

So now onto the making!

Australian Wines

Wines at Donnington ValleyMost people will have tried an Australian wine at some point I’m sure. This country has the reputation for producing exclusively large chardonnays and big bodied shiraz. Some may even be surprised to learn there are many different styles of wine available for you to enjoy from this wine producing country.

For example I have found one producer that I particularly like who are creating wines in a range of styles. That producer is Larry Cherubino.

Larry Cherubino’s wines have set a new style benchmark for Australian wines. These elegant, beautifully crafted, serious, yet amazingly drinkable wines are the pinnacle of cooler climate Western Australia.

James Halliday, the undisputed authority on Australian wine, has inundated the winery with honours since its inception in 2005. He named the winery as one of the country’s ‘Ten Best New Wineries’ in the 2010 Australian Wine Companion, and awarded it the prestigious ‘Winery of the Year’ title in 2011. Also in the 2013 edition Cherubino is the highest rated producer since the inception of Halliday’s annual review in 1986. All 31 wines submitted were award more than 90 points while 19 scored over 94 points – an unprecedented achievement in a country of stellar wineries!

Larry’s philosophy is simple. By spending most of the year focussing on the vineyards and in paying close attention to the management of the vines and of course picking at the right time he can ensure that only the best grapes make it to the bottle.
Allowing him to create everything from delicate whites to big reds of exceptional class and finesse.

Larry Cherubino wines available at Donnington Valley:


Larry Cherubino, Ad Hoc, Hen & Chicken, Chardonnay, Pemberton, W.Australia – £36

This wine shows delicious notes of melon, citrus and apple fruit enhanced by a refreshing streak of minerality. A generous palate with a creamy texture is balanced by a vibrant acidity, giving this wine a long, lingering finish. The Hen and Chicken refers to a natural unevenness in ripeness of the grapes called millerandage and gives this wine its fabulous balance.

Larry Cherubino, Ad Hoc, Wallflower, Riesling, Westerern Australia – £37

Vibrant lemon and lime fruit flavours with subtle notes of minerality. The wine is softly textured with a refreshing acidity and a long, persistent finish. An excellent accompaniment to shellfish or as an aperitif. A wine that marries the heady aromas of Australia with a delicacy and balance from this cool climate region.

Larry Cherubino, Cherubino, Sauvignon Blanc, Pemberton, W.Australia – £65

A complex, fruity wine with a hint of oak adding great texture to the fruit. A good intensity and balance of ripe citrus and tropical notes in the wine. It has a delicate acidity and good length. Intriguing and restrained, not your typical Sauvignon Blanc.


Larry Cherubino, Cruel Mistress, Pinot Noir, Westerern Australia – £37

A wine with a pale ruby hue and sweet clove and black cherry aromas. A light Pinot with sweet spice, smoky, leather and black plum flavours on the palate, all beautifully balanced. A delicious and superbly balanced wine- the name Cruel Mistress refers to Pinot Noir’s temperamental nature!

Larry Cherubino, The Yard, Acacia Vineyard, Shiraz, Frakland River, W.Australia – £47

A complex wine which displays all of the hallmarks of the Great Southern region of WA and in particular the Frankland River region. Aromatic spice and blueberry fruit notes carry through to the softly textured palate which has ample, soft tannins. The balance and structure of this wine make it an excellent choice with lamb and even spicy dishes.

Larry Cherubino, Margaret River, Cabernet Sauvignon, Westerern Australia – £91

Dark and inky in the glass, which leads to a lifted aromatic nose of cassis and cigar box cedar. Gentle oak support allows the fully ripe dark fruit to shine on the palate, and powerful. There is great persistence of flavour, complexity and ample fine tannins for structure. The wine – although medium bodied, has depth, power and gentleness. The finish is long and persistent.

I look forward to welcoming you this summer and hope you take the opportunity to sample one or maybe even two of these exceptional wines.

Chris Neeves

Beverages Manager

Classic Cocktails

Classic Cocktails and how to make them.

As summer arrives, the idea of relaxing in the garden with a nice refreshing cocktail becomes more tempting. So I thought I would share a few classic recipes to kick-start the summer season.

Classic tequila margarita

• 45ml Tequila
• 15ml cointreau
• ½ lime (squeezed)
• Salt or sugar rimmed martini glass

Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with plenty of cubed ice, shake away and strain into a chilled martini or margarita glass garnish with a lime segment. There are many variations on the classic margarita for example neat (which this one is) frozen or on the rocks or if you just prefer it a little sweeter add a dash of sugar syrup to even it out.

Harvey Wallbanger

• 100ml orange juice
• 15ml Galliano
• 15ml vodka
• Orange segment

Add the orange juice and vodka into a tall cocktail glass and stir well with several ice cubes, float the Galliano on top and garnish with the orange segment, perfect for any party!

Feels like holiday

• 15ml vodka
• 10ml grenadine
• 100ml champagne/prossecco

With ice stir together the vodka and grenadine, pour into a champagne flute (without ice) and top up with the champagne/prossecco.

Perfect on those nights where a glass of wine just won’t do!

Kirsty Smith

Assistant Bar Manager

The Bacchus Bar Winter Cocktail Menu.

The Bacchus Bar at Donnington Valley has launched its first winter cocktail menu, with something for everyone over the festive period and into the New Year, it has never been a more exciting time for you to treat yourself to one of our specially designed cocktails.

Our Jack Frost cocktail was the winner of our in house cocktail competition and is proving to be extremely popular during the party season. If you want to try this at home we’ve given the recipe below.

We have also introduced The Bacchus Hot Chocolate Liqueur, so curl up by the fire and indulge in our steaming hot chocolate with Thornton’s chocolate liqueur, whipped cream and marshmallows, every chocolate lovers dream.


Jack Frost

  • First chill a martini glass by filling it with ice. 
  • Prepare melon and peppermint by balling fresh melon and crushing extra strong mints.
  • Empty the ice from the glass and rub an ice cube around the rim of the glass, once this is done turn the glass upside down and coat the rim with a peppermint dusting also coat two melon balls with crushed peppermint. 
  • Take a Boston shaker and fill it with ice, add 35ml of vodka and 35 ml of blue bols and shake.
  • Add three/ four melon balls to bottom of the glass and fill ¾ of the way up with crushed ice. 
  • Then strain the contents from the shaker over the ice, top with lemonade and garnish with the peppermint coated melon balls.

By Victoria Joy
Bar Manager