Another week, another slew of reviews to cheer us all up. This time around we have delicious drinks, bargain makeup for the bit of your face your mask doesn’t hide, posh caffeine and something healthy-ish for those chocolate cravings.
Get your treat on.
Martini Vibrante, £12.00 for 75cl | Buy at Sainsburys or just £10.00 at Ocado, or £10.95 at The Whisky Exchange.
While 2020 has generally been a poor vintage year for many reasons, it has been a very good one for fans of grown up non-alcoholic drinks. This dealcoholised red ‘vermouth’ from Martini is one of my favourites, made with Italian bergamot and other botanicals, and it’s designed to be used as an aperitif. Their serving suggestion is to mix it 50-50 with tonic and serve over ice with big slices of fresh orange, and it’s complex and flavourful.
You could also use it to bring down the total alcohol content of cocktails where you’d normally use sweet vermouth, such as a Negroni, Boulevardier, or a Sweet or Perfect Manhattan. If you like spritzes, try it mixed with soda water and some freshly squeezed orange as a thirst quencher.
Fever Tree Light Clementine Tonic, £3.99 for 8 x 150ml | Buy at Sainsburys (£3.50 offer if you’re quick), or Ocado (2 packs for £7.00 offer).
This naturally low sugar tonic might be my favourite yet from Fever Tree, with a touch of bitterness and the festive flavours of citrus and a hint of cinnamon. Nice enough to drink on its own with lemon and lime wedges, great mixed with the Martini Rosso Vibrante mentioned above, and of course good with any of the more citrus or spice heavy gins on the market in an upgrade to the usual G&T.
I have a funny feeling this is a limited edition flavour and have already stocked up on another box of cans in case I scarf the first lot completely before Christmas. Also available as a large bottle at Tesco.
e.l.f. Bite Size Eyeshadow Mini Palettes, £3.00 | Buy at e.l.f. UK, or in the 3-for-2 offer at Superdrug.
When e.l.f. launched in the UK a few years back they had some dinky little eyeshadow quads that only cost £1 and were great quality for the price. They’ve rebooted them for 2020 with a different shape, a wider selection of colour options, slightly bigger ingots and even better textures. They’re also perfectly sized for a going-out bag, for anyone old enough to remember going out (honestly, it used to be a thing back in the day, I swear).
Ideal for stocking fillers or as a personal pick-me-up that will get a lot of use. The best deal this week is at Superdrug where you could buy two and get a third free, or mix and match with products from other brands. Vegan, no animal testing.
Chimney Fire Coffee ‘194’ espresso beans, from £6.90 for 250g | Buy here.
Jeez I hate drinking takeaway coffee, so if I can’t get to a good coffee shop to have a leisurely, relaxing drink out of a proper cup then I’m happier making one at home. Buying beans from your local shop is one way to help them survive, and you can get some great stuff through the post right now too. One of my favourite recent discoveries is Chimney Fire Coffee, and I like their style as well as their responsible sourcing policy.
I’ve picked out their 194 Ranmore Signature Espresso, which you can get as whole beans or ground. It has notes of chocolate, vanilla and hazelnut and it’s just right for perking yourself up on a cold, rainy day. They have loads of other roasts and blends so have a look around their site. Their Christmas Discovery coffee can be paired with Xmas pudding and is available to pre-order.
Nakd Double Chocolish Bars 4-pack, £3.00 | Available at Morrisons (£2.50 this week), Waitrose, and many others.
These are technically a fruit, nut and cocoa bar with a drizzled topping, but they taste an awful lot like a posh Fruit & Nut choc bar with a nice squidgy filling. Somehow – possibly by the power of witchcraft or festive elves – these bars contain no added sugars and they’re vegan and gluten free, and yet they don’t taste of cardboard or regret, just kinda-healthy deliciousness.
Less bad for you than cheap chocolate, handy for those evil lockdown chocdown cravings that seem to come out of nowhere, and in sensible portion sizes. I rest my case, m’Lud.
Full disclosure: All items bought with my own hard earned cash, with no outside influences. Just stuff I happen to like this week. Having said that, if you’re a PR then do feel free to hit me up with any interesting new products.