Irn-Bru is dubbed "Scotland's other national drink" with good reason. The nuclear orange liquid is the most widely sold soft drink in the country, which supposedly makes Scotland one of the only places in the world not to be ruled by Coca Cola.
Irn-Bru is also known for containing a shitload of sugar, artificial colourings technically banned by the Food Standards Agency, and frankly, making you wired as hell. Suffice to say, it's not something you'd think to mix into a high-end cocktail.
That is, unless you are Chris O'Neil. The bar manager at London barbecue restaurants temper and temper City took the revered Scottish beverage, chucked in some tequila (because why not), topped it up with fizzy wine, and created the Irn-Bru Spritz.
RECIPE: Irn-Bru Spritz
"I've grown up with Irn-Bru. It was a childhood favourite of mine and because Neil [Rankin, the co-owner and head chef at temper] is Scottish, we had to have it on the menu," says O'Neil. Rankin had also experimented with a similar cocktail at a dinner with friends. "At first I was just mixing spirits with straight Irn-Bru and then I started to play around with the liquid, cooking it down (with some burnt pans along the way). Then I thought that Irn-Bru is so super orange, why not just make a spritz with it? So it looks like an Aperol Spritz."
And just like a regular spritz, O'Neil's Irn-Bru creation is really easy to make. His ode to the teeth-rottingly addictive soft drink contains just five ingredients: Prosecco, soda water, tequila, lemon juice, and Irn-Bru.
"You can use straight Irn-Bru in the cocktail (in that case, I would suggest replacing the soda water with the Irn-Bru) but I use a reduction," explain O'Neil. "We take a two-litre bottle of Irn-Bru, throw it into a pan over a medium to high heat, and just reduce it by about two thirds and let it cool. You'll be left with a flat syrupy liquid that tastes exactly like an Irn-Bru bar."
O'Neil starts by adding tequila, a glowing orange Irn-Bru reduction he made earlier, and lemon juice into a large wine glass.
"The Irn-Bru Spritz is really popular but we actually just sell it straight too. It's the only commercial soft drink we do and we get requests for a glass of Irn-Bru all the time," says O'Neil. "People even have mixers and Irn-Bru. Rum and Irn-Bru. Bourbon and Irn-Bru. Vodka and Irn-Bru."
He continues: "We also do a Buckfast cocktail so I developed a secret off-menu drink called a Buckybomb. It's like a Jägerbomb but you put vodka and Irn-Bru in a glass and then drop in a shot glass of Buckfast. So many cocktails take themselves too seriously and use loads of tinctures and extracts. We wanted to shine a light on ingredients, that are really great ingredients, but have had a rough history."
After a brief wave of nausea at the thought of ingesting a Buckybomb, I watch O'Neil finish the spritz by adding ice and filling up with soda water and Prosecco. The final garnish is a slice of grapefruit and single black olive.
He says: "We just wanted to inject the fun back into cocktails and it makes a great lunchtime drink. It's like Irn-Bru for adults, or the Scotsman's Aperol Spritz."
Please drink responsibly.