Aperitifs, anyone? While the fine wines served on hotel barges just might be more ubiquitous than the water on which our vessels sail, the cocktail culture found on the French canals offers an equally epicurean experience.
For those who enjoy the elevated pleasures of a craft concoction, the open bar on a barge cruise is an attractive amenity. Fully stocked with brands both international and local, guests enjoy a nightly cocktail hour, sipping their cruise region’s bounty served with a bit of French flair.
“Cocktail parties on the Esperance are always a highlight of our small ship cruise experience,” says barge owner and operator Mathias Gilles. “The crew and I especially enjoy when the guests are pleasantly surprised by the quality of the local spirits, the beautiful produce, and even the glassware and presentation.”
Made on request by the crew, these exquisite tipples are creatively crafted to showcase the fresh fruit and botanicals found at the distilleries, markets, and breweries along the cruise route.
“Recently I have been making my own lemonade and then started adding strawberries into the mix,” explains Hostess and Chef Emily from the barge Saraphina. “I am looking forward to serving it to passengers on deck, as it tastes so refreshing in cocktails when the weather heats up.”
While Barge Lady guests are eager to savor the wonderful wines for which France is celebrated, there is little more satisfying than sipping a freshly mixed alcoholic elixir while lounging on deck, watching the sun leisurely set in the French countryside, bien sur! The Barge Ladies are delighted to share two cocktail recipes from a few of our favorite barges floating in the south of France on the rustically beautiful Canal du Midi. Bottoms up for the cocktails on barge cruises!
Saraphina’s Spiked Strawberry Lemonade
- 1 cup of granulated sugar
- 1 cup fresh or frozen strawberries
- 1 and 1/2 cups fresh lemon juice
- 1 litre of water
- Vodka to taste
- Add 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water to a saucepan, and boil until sugar has dissolved, let cool for at least 15 minutes and put in the fridge
- Add 1 cup of strawberries and 1 cup of water to a saucepan, and simmer until the strawberries have made a nice syrup – approximately 20 minutes
- Press 5 – 6 lemons into a pitcher , until you have 1 and 1/2 cups of fresh lemon juice
- Add the cooled sugar syrup and the strawberry syrup (passed through a sieve) to the pitcher of lemon juice
- Top off with water (approximately 6 cups) depending on how sweet you like it
Note: It’s important to taste before you dilute too much as it’s nice to be able to add lots of ice later.
- Add a little of the lemonade mix, along with ice and vodka into a blender, making a lovely crushed ice with the mixture
- Add crushed ice mixture to your glass, and top off with lemonade mix
- Garnish with a slice of lemons and sprig of mint – Enjoy!
Esperance Canal Sunset Cocktail
- 1/4 Champagne
- 1/4 Sparkling water
- 1/4 Orange juice
- 1/4 Campari
- 1 orange slice and 1 strawberry
Mix Campari and orange juice, and pour an equal amount into each glass.
Then, top with sparkling water and Champagne, and garnish each drink with an orange slice and strawberry.
Barge Lady Stephanie thoroughly enjoyed sipping the Canal Sunset cocktail during her Canal du Midi cruise aboard Esperance.
Read more about Stephanie’s Esperance cruise here.