Promenade Cocktails: The Cafe Royal Special ~ a guest blog

Morning all !!

Doesn’t a week fly by when you are having a great time? As I’m writing and loading this post its mid week, I’m in East Devon and so far I haven’t had a cream tea. What is the world coming to I ask myself?! Hopefully by the time you all read this I will have amended my omission.

OK, so today’s treat is a glorious cocktail from my friends at Putney Farm. I remember seeing their blog name for the first time and smiling away; you see I lived in Putney for a year, that is the Putney in South London – think of the river Thames and the boat race and that was me sitting in a pub nearby watching !!

But let’s get back to Putney Farm of California, the main reason I stopped by and lingered and thoroughly enjoyed the blog (and still do !!) was that there is a heady mix of gardening and food and a weekly cocktail to keep my spirits up 😉 A delightful mix if ever there was. So informative, and another glimpse of California life for this little Brit. The recipes and the photographs are stunning, I can’t recommend enough a visit to Putney Farm, besides there’s a warm welcome!

And joy of joys I’ve learnt something new today, all about Meyer Lemons, one of those things I’ve read about on blogs but never quite understood what they were, well thanks to Stewart of  Putney Farm  I’m enlightened, but less of the chat let’s get the cocktail mixer out!

Promenade Cocktails: The Café Royal Special

A few weeks ago, our friend Claire at Promenade Plantings asked for some guest blog posts. As we are big fans of Claire’s gardening blog, we asked to be included and we were very happy when Claire gave us the OK and suggested a cocktail. We thought that was great and started working on a “UK meets California” cocktail.

We knew the cocktail would have to have gin, since nothing is more British (at least to an American) than gin. Well, maybe the Queen….. Anyway, the next question was what would California bring to the table? So we looked around the garden and orchard for a seasonal ingredient and one of our Meyer Lemons was just ripening. If you are unfamiliar with Meyer lemons, they are a cross between a lemon and a tangerine and have slightly sweeter and less acidic juice than most commercial lemons. Meyers are great in cocktails, but you can always substitute a dash of orange juice to regular lemon juice to approximate the Meyer’s flavor. Meyers are usually in season from November to April, but we do get a few early arrivals….and they don’t go to waste.

So now we had gin and Meyer lemon juice, what else could bridge the UK and the USA? In this case, the inspiration came from one of the UK’s first great cocktail books, The Café Royal Cocktail Book. The Café Royal is a 1937 collection of recipes from the United Kingdom Bartenders Guild published by guild council member and Café Royal bartender W.J. Tarling. After a little perusal we chose to make the Café Royal Special Cocktail, one of Tarling’s own creations.

The Café Royal Special combines dry gin, sloe gin (Plymouth sloe gin, from the UK is the standard), dry vermouth and lemon juice. It is a very good cocktail with regular lemon juice, but somewhat dry in flavor. The Meyer lemon juice softens and sweetens the sip ever so slightly and gives you a very tasty cocktail. But either version is worth trying.

One other fun note. We chose to use Bluecoat Gin, from the US (Philadelphia) to match with the Plymouth sloe gin. Bluecoat gin is named after the American soldiers in our Revolution, and it seems fitting to go against the “Redcoat” of the British sloe gin. And that we also have some French vermouth in there also seems fitting, as the French helped us Americans out a bit back in the 1700’s….As it is, the British and Americans have since become a bit friendlier. We get to share our gardens over the web, which is a true delight. And if we get to share a drink, so much the better.

The Café Royal Special:


  • ¾ oz. dry gin
  • ¾ oz. sloe gin (Plymouth)
  • ¾ oz. dry vermouth
  • ¾ oz. Meyer lemon juice


  1. Place all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake thoroughly and strain into a chilled cocktail glass, coupe or flute. Serve.


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