Toilet Duck, John Lydon, And The Three Day Hangover. Introducing The Official Cocktail Of The Northern Line.

If ever you need an excuse to get absolutely (and completely legitimately) bladdered in the name of work, here’s a good one for you: spend the night inventing a cocktail to promote a magazine. That’s what we got up to the other night, and I’m still paying the price.

The brief

Not short of friends in high places, we were recently invited to create a Northern Line cocktail to be exclusively launched at a prestigious (well, kind of) cocktail night in Carlisle later this month.

The Northern Line Cocktail had to meet the following criteria.

1) it had to include whisky, 2) it had to represent the north in some way, and 3) it had to be blue (self imposed by us to match the Northern Line colours.)

Which made it trickier than you think.

First job was to nail the blue colour. Our initial choice, toilet duck, was a no go for a couple of reasons – not only would it probably taste like toilets (or maybe even ducks), but it would probably kill us, too. So that left us with our only real alternative – Bols Blue – a staple ingredient of many a student union bar drink.

Next up, finding a flavour that worked with the whisky, that didn’t dilute the blue colour, and that could honestly represent the north of England. So, after a quick jaunt to the local supermarche, we armed ourselves with bog standard cranberry juice (but only because the mythical WHITE cranberry juice that Dave insisted was available, wasn’t erm… available), white grape juice, watermelon juice (bleh), pear juice, peppermint cordial (don’t ask) and cloudy English apple juice. Definitely enough to work with.

By then it was time for recipe attempt numero uno:

- One measure of scotch whisky
- One half measure of Bols Blue
- Two measures of cranberry juice
- Throw ‘em into a shaker with a squeezed wedge of lime, shake it up, pour over fresh northern snow (or crushed ice if it’s raining) into a highball glass, top up with soda water, and garnish with a mint sprig.

The verdict? Not too bad, surprisingly… although two of the ingredients seemed to jar against each other, according to my (ahem) seasoned palate. The whisky and the cranberry, I reckoned. So, because the whisky had to be there, the cranberry was unfortunately out on its arse. That’s a technical term in the cocktail-inventing field, you know. Plus, you can’t realistically argue that cranberries represent the north, either, or at least not if you want to be taken seriously. We still drank two of them though – it would have been rude not to.

Next up, our second attempt simply swapped the cranberry juice for pear juice. And this wasn’t bad at all. In fact, we drank a couple of these each, too.

Could we improve on it, we wondered? We didn’t want to change what we had by too much because the taste was just about spot on considering the brief, so a bit of tweaking was in order. Actually, attempt number three involved less tweaking than you think because again all we did was swap the pear juice for the apple juice and then added an extra shot of juice.

But did it work?

Did it ever. And not only that, it tasted a lot better than I could possibly ever describe in words here, considering we didn’t use the erm… best quality whisky available. Plus, it looked fantastic. At least to us, anyway. And above all, we had scotch whisky and northern english apples in there – quite possibly the most on-brief cocktail ever.

So we drank six of them, just to make sure. Or was it seven? I can’t remember. However, I do remember also mixing myself an especially nasty neat whisky/neat Bols Blue shooter just a few minutes before I became uncharacteristically super enthusiastic about the two hour walk home in sub zero temperatures. A walk home that mostly involved me taking pictures of road signs, according to what I found on my camera the next day. I’ll say no more.

It’s also that shooter alone onto which I’m pinning the entire blame for this three day hangover I’m just coming out of.

But before you run off to the shops for your bottle of scotch and carton of apple juice, and before you dash out into the garden to grab a fresh sprig of mint, I’ll leave you with this, which Dave emailed to me the morning directly after the proverbial night before…

“I had some horrific nightmares last night. One about John Lydon suddenly turning into a fox-like creature and attacking me. I lashed out and only narrowly missed elbowing Lucy full in the face.”

Ha! So there you go. The official Northern Line Cocktail. Drink it at your very, very own risk.

The Northernline


  • 1 Wedge of Fresh Lime
  • 1 measure Scotch Whisky
  • 1/2 measure Blue Curacao
  • 2 measures English Apple Juice
  • Tonic Water

Fill a highball glass with fresh northern snow (If this is unavailable crushed ice can be used.) 
Squeeze and drop the lime wedge into a shaker. 
Add all ingredients apart from tonic water into the shaker. 
Shake well and strain into the glass. 
Top up with tonic water.

Glass Type: Collins / Highball  
Garnish: Mint Sprig

Created By: (26 Nov 2009)

By Barry Bell on November 28, 2009

Check out all the pics

4 Comments RSS Comment Feed

  1. I don’t know if I’m looking forward to the promotional night in Carlisle!!! What about that stuff you put in your car to stop the water in the windscreen wash freezing?? It’s blue and will probably get you drunk. Cheaper than blu bols as well. Just a thought!!!!!

    Comment by peter — November 28, 2009 @ 9:42 pm

  2. I’d just like to add… by the way… that apart from the quite horrific nightmares… I actually had no discernible hangover whatsover, despite the quantities consumed. I truly believe your downfall was down to that Bols/cranberry thing you necked at the end of the night and the bizarro desire to walk home 5 miles at 1.30 in the morning!!!

    Comment by dave — November 28, 2009 @ 10:24 pm

  3. Actually, there’s a thought…. what if I get an uncontrollable urge to walk home from Carlisle?!?

    Comment by Barry Bell — November 28, 2009 @ 11:09 pm

  4. Instructional beer mats are a MUST! Perhaps some disclaimer about the foxy nightmares?

    Comment by dave — November 30, 2009 @ 12:09 am

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.