Archive for January, 2009

Absinthe and laptops

January 31, 2009

…no longer guaranteed to end in catastrophe!

[Via The Mixoloseum]

Now in glorious Panovision

January 30, 2009

Made in Pano (opens iTunes).

Week Four: a Barbore Martini

January 29, 2009

There are a number of things I want to talk about.

  1. Angus Winchester has promised a bottle of Tanqueray No. Ten and a book from his extensive library of vintage and modern mixellany to the inventor of the drink named as the official Martini of Barbore. This is madness. I am, of course, totally there.
  2. Tea. A liking of tea is culturally hardwired into anyone who lives in the UK for more than six months. But there’s way more to it than the bags of gunpowder routinely sweetened and enmilked in mugs across the land.

On the first, I really don’t need a lot of encouragement to play around with Martini variations. I’m on the record saying that I think the Martini is a great drink but the current fashionable serve – vodka with next-to-no vermouth and no bitters – is hard work. So, honestly, the mere possibility of more cocktail reading and free gin (free gin!) is another carrot. Read the rest of this entry »


January 27, 2009

Britain is known for many things – our royal family, our long and storied history of making war with the nearest major landmass and, more recently, binge-drinking. This latest scourge of our civilisation has now spread to the middle class, according to new statistics from the, uh, Office for National Statistics (PDF link). Cue up the highlights reel:

  • 37% of adults exceed the Government’s recommended guidelines for alcohol intake.
  • 43% of adults in professional and managerial households overindulge, which colours professional managers screwed.
  • 22% of adults in professional and managerial households drink on at least five days in the week.
  • When surveyed, 16,000 adults felt that public health advertising had succeeded in raising awareness of the dangers of excessive drinking.

All of which makes for pretty grim reading, really. But it’s unlikely that entire swathes of British society are not going to disappear into a booze-fueled haze. Amid the headline statistics, the ONS also notes that alcohol consumption has not significantly changed over the past decade, excepting 2006 when a new method of calculating the unit strength of alcohol lead to a “statistical glitch”. Read the rest of this entry »

Newsdesk: what is best in life?

January 27, 2009

An electric field. Handy for making tasty wine, according to science.

There is – or should be – a list of things you should never type into Google Image Search and right near the top of it are the words “erectile dysfunction”. There’s probably also a good way to tie this into the following compilation of drink related links but God, my mind is scarred.

Week Three: Coco Arándito

January 19, 2009

Last Thursday I was lucky enough to be competing in the Scottish regional of the Gin component of Diageo’s World Class competition, which involved spending the afternoon in the shiny surrounds of Hawke & Hunter. ‘Course, when you get a bunch of bartenders in one place, there’s only one thing we talk about and one topic stuck in my mind.

Someone had mentioned that most bartenders tend to resort to similar drinks when they get asked to make something on the fly. I have a tendency for subbing ingredients into a standard Cosmo recipe (see last week’s Bloomsbury Cosmo, for example), so I decided to branch out, leading to this little creation. It’s a simple twist on a Mojito.

Coco Arándito
50ml Koko Kanu
25ml lime juice
2 barspoons vanilla sugar
8 mint leaves
Muddle mint, sugar and lime juice in the base of a highball glass. Add the Koko Kanu, fill with crushed ice and mix well. Top up the crushed ice and float 25ml cranberry juice. Garnish with a mint sprig and lime wedge.

MxMo: on the bench

January 19, 2009

It’s about time for another Mixology Monday – this month’s theme is New Horizons, hosted over at A Mixed Dram. It’s a project I’d love to contribute to, but a couple of things got in the way. The last week has been spent (in descending order):

  • in bed dying from bird flu
  • at work
  • trying to formulate recipes for the Reserve Brands World Class Gin regional
  • failing to win the Reserve Brands World Class Gin regional
  • organizing and working an event for 400 thirsty bar staff

…all of which means that I’m going to be spending this MxMo on the bench.

Week Two: Bloomsbury Cosmo

January 11, 2009

I’ve been kicking around some ideas ahead of Thursday’s regional for the Diageo World Class competition. The heat could involve presenting up to three different drinks, including one classic or twisted classic gin cocktail. I’m not sure if this one is right for the comp, but y’know, still tasty.

Bloomsbury Cosmopolitan
40ml Tanqueray Gin
10ml Elderflower cordial
30ml Cranberry juice
15ml Lime juice
1 dash Fee Brothers Orange Bitters
Shake all ingredients with ice and fine-strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a flamed orange zest.

Anyway you do it, it’s going to hurt

January 5, 2009

Seriously, I’m confused. One week, hangovers are basically incurable. The next week, of course they’re not. This week, they might be, but only using an exciting new supermolecule designed for removing specific toxins from the bloodstream. Decide, people!

I’ve only come across two effective methods of dealing with hangovers: 1) sleep for three days, or 2) keep drinking.

Week One: Homecoming cocktail

January 4, 2009

It seems that I thought it would be a good idea to post a new cocktail recipe every week through 2009, which is what happens when you leave me in a room with a bottle of 10 Cane. So, without any further ado, I present the first of the fifty-two.

2009 marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns, a man who would, over 37 short years, come to embody Scottish literature. Moving between rural Ayrshire and Edinburgh high society, Burns became a major celebrity – his intemperate ways helped him to premature aging and an early grave which is about as rock’n’roll as you can get before Rolls Royces and swimming pools were invented.

Every year, Scots celebrate January 25th the same way – with a dinner for Burns Night. There are toasts to the poet’s immortal memory, the Selkirk Grace, even an address to a haggis. In addition to the traditional celebration, the Scottish Government has launched Homecoming 2009, a series of events aimed at attracting people with Scottish ancestry to visit the country. The fun kicks off on Burns night and, over the course of the year, will cover events like the Edinburgh International Festival, the Heineken Cup Final and the Royal Highland Show. One thing that isn’t included in the calendar is, of course, anything cocktail-related.

See that? Smooth.

Homecoming CocktailThere are a decent clutch of contenders for a Burns night cocktail. You could go for a Rob Roy, or a Whisky Mac or Rusty Nail could be in with a shout. Then again, there’s always the Bobby Burns, detailed in the Savoy Cocktail Book, a blend of Scotch, sweet vermouth and Benedictine. It’s a good starting place and a great drink, so I haven’t made any huge changes to it. The major change is that I decided to use Drambuie instead of Benedictine, mainly because it’s Scottish and it fits the idea of the drink. There’s a bonus given that as a whisky-based liqueur, it blends well with pretty much any Scotch as well as bringing a bunch of interesting floral and spicy flavours. On top of that, I decided to push the boat out and use a single malt for the whisky. I had wanted to use Auchentoshan – a Lowland malt – purely because it’s made closer to where Burns grew up than most others, but it’s also triple-distilled and unpeated and didn’t come through against the Drambuie. In the end, I went for a 12 year-old Bowmore, kinda smoky and a bit peaty, but nowhere near as full on as some other Islay malts. Finally, I lobbed in a couple of dashes of Fee Brothers Peach Bitters. It’s not a hugely exciting recipe, but it is a tasty drink and at least it’s a start.

Only fifty-one to go…

Homecoming Cocktail
40ml blended Scotch Whisky (I used Johnnie Walker Black Label)
15ml Drambuie
25ml sweet vermouth (Martini Rosso)
2 dashes Peach Bitters
Stir all ingredients with ice and strain into an ice-filled Rocks glass. Garnish with an orange zest twist. It doesn’t have to be as mental as the one in the photo.