Tag 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!

A tour of West Berkshire Brewery

West Berkshire Brewery Tour

On a Saturday in early April a group of the bar staff from Donnington Valley went to the West Berkshire Ale Brewery in Yattendon for their very popular brewery tour. As we arrived we all were offered a pint of the West Berkshire ales which include: Good Old Boy, Dr Hexters Healer and Mr Chubbs plus a few more, we then waited for another tour to finish while being entertained by the cutest tiny dog called Bertie who had a love for flopping down on to your feet until you stroked her belly. Needless to say this kept me entertained for a while.

As the tour started we were introduced to the head brewer and our tour guide for the day, Will Twomey. Will has been with West Berkshire Brewery since 2006 and became head brewer in 2011. We started by sampling some of the different barley and hops (we didn’t eat the hops, not nice) I can’t say I liked the taste of the barley as mine did make its way to the floor, but you could taste the difference in flavours from caramel to a bitter smokey flavour, all of which all add to the different flavours and characters of the beer.

As we made our way through the brewery, we learnt how the process has been made ‘green’ by reusing the water used utilising a reed bed drainage system. This is a natural treatment system filtering the brewing effluent and returning it to the ground as clean water, it was easy to see that a great deal of care, attention to detail and hard work goes into making all of the ales on offer here. As a bonus and keeping an eye on those ever increasing food miles, almost of all the hops and barley used is sourced from English growers.

The Brewery have also just developed their first lager which is the Isis pilsner which is based on a traditional Bavarian lager, hay coloured with English malts and continental hops adding to the crisp flavour. And if you wanted to try these yourself at Donnington Valley we currently have Good Old Boy on tap and Mr Chubbs Lunchtime Bitter by the bottle. We also often have seasonal beers made by West Berkshire Brewery so make sure to enquire when you next stop by to visit us.

Elizabeth Ward
Operations 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