Archive for the 'Recipes' Category

Twenty Two: Twice-Shy Negroni

June 21, 2009

I’ve been using a bottle of Punt E Mes as my go-to sweet vermouth for a good while now. I’m a big fan of the bitter note it brings to drinks, but I’ve been predominantly using it as a generic sweet vermouth which has slightly warped my expectations of certain drinks at the bitter end of the scale.

Case in point: the Negroni. When I have one in a bar, I can notice the absence of the extra bitterness provided by the Punt E Mes and it takes me an instant to remember that it’s my Negronis that are slightly out of whack, not the one I’ve just bought.

But then it also occurs to me that bitter is a very divisive flavor, and that if I can up the bitter content of a Negroni, surely it’s possible to mellow it out a little.

Twice-Shy Negroni
45ml Plymouth Gin
30ml Martini Rosato
4 mint leaves
50ml Campari (in an atomizer)
Give the mint leaves a quick smack to wake them up and place them in the base of a mixing glass. Add the gin and vermouth and stir with ice. Strain into an ice-filled old-fashioned glass. Spray some Campari over the top and garnish with an orange zest and a mint sprig.


MxMo XL: Ginger

June 15, 2009

Like other stuff, Mixology Monday happens every month, but is at least 7,000% more fun than paying your rent. This month, RumDood challenges us to find a use for ginger, in any of its various forms.

Ginger is a wonderful thing. Its mere presence elevates a run-of-the-mill stir fry towards the awesome and beyond that, it’s versatile and easily fermentable. It’s worth noting that having ginger hair is often treated as a kind of social disability in Scotland, but combining the physical trait with the root can be a powerful thing.

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Week Twenty One: Blackberry

June 7, 2009

If David Embury is to be believed, mixed drinks fall roughly into two categories – cocktails of the sour type, and those of the aromatic type. The former covers drinks that include – surprise! – a sour element like lemon or lime juice while the latter comprises recipes with some kind of aromatized or fortified wine component, such as vermouth. But I don’t think that these two categories have to be mutually exclusive.

I don’t mean drinks that contain both aromatic elements and sour elements – there are some, most notably the Corpse Reviver – more I think that it is often possible to present both a sour version and an aromatic version of the same drink. There will be differences in the two versions of the drink, but the overall flavor profile will pretty much the same.

I’m going to use a Bramble to illustrate the point. It’s a gin-based drink invented by Dick Bradsell in London in the early part of the 1980s.

45ml gin
25ml lemon juice
10ml gomme syrup
15ml Creme de Mure
Stir the first three ingredients with crushed ice in an old-fashioned glass. Float the Creme de Mure and garnish with a lemon wedge and a couple of blackberries.

The thing with sour drinks is that they’re not actually sour. It’s all about that balance between sweet and sour, finding that spot between zingy and refreshing, and avoiding gum-sucking acidity. The immediate hit is something that is going to be lost in the aromatic version, but that doesn’t mean that we’re going to lose the citrus notes entirely.

50ml gin
15ml dry vermouth
10ml Limoncello
4 kaffir lime leaves
15ml Creme de Mure
Stir the first three ingredients with cubed ice in an old-fashioned glass. Float the Creme de Mure and garnish with a blackberry and a lime leaf.

And there we go – complementary sour and aromatic cocktails based on a single flavour profile.

Week Twenty: Last Night’s Party

May 30, 2009

You get asked to come up with a lot of drinks on the fly, working behind a bar. Most times, these drinks tend to be fairly simple – diverting, but not that remarkable. Every once in a while, though, you stumble on something golden.

Last Night’s Party
30ml Bols Cherry Brandy
45ml Absolut Raspberri
30ml lemon juice
10ml Orgeat
Dash egg white
Shake all ingredients with ice and fine-strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with an orange zest.

Week Eighteen: West India Company

May 10, 2009

If I’m honest, this started out as more of a kitchen special. I recently had the privilege of having my flat inspected by my landlord and in my attempts to make the place look more safely habitable, I turned all kinds of interesting things. There were newspapers dating back to 2007, a stack of comics as big as a five-year-old child, and most intriguingly for the purposes of this post, an airtight jar full of vanilla chai teabags.

Masala chai is a blend of tea and aromatic spices that originated in the Indian Subcontinent, usually served heavily sweetened with milk. The practice of adding spices, combined with the increased proportions of milk and sugar, drew disapproval from India’s colonial masters but the popularity of spiced tea seems to have outlasted the Empire. These days, masala chai style drinks are available in coffee shops everywhere – Starbucks, Costa, the usual suspects – though the actually chai component tends to be a bit of a cheat. Starbucks, for example, uses a spiced and sweetened tea-based syrup for its Chai Lattes and other commercially available syrups and teabags tend to include nontraditional flavours like chocolate or vanilla.

Just like my teabags! For some reason, I immediately thought of adding rum.

West India Company
50ml 10 Cane Rum
50ml sweetened vanilla chai (black)
25ml lemon juice
Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into ice-filled glass. Garnish with a lemon zest twist.

Week Seventeen: Fifth Crown

May 5, 2009

Today – yes, today, look at that topicality – is Cinco de Mayo, a date that carries significance for many on the American continent. For Mexicans (and Californians), it is the anniversary of their victory against the odds at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Curiously enough, the French don’t seem to mark the occasion. For Americans, it is the day on which they consume the most tequila in the year.

Mexico’s contribution to the world of alcohol extends further than tequila and mezcal – Mexican beer accounts for at least one of the UK’s biggest selling bottled brands and provides a handy byword for exotic yet accessible brews. Surely, it’d be foolish not to combine the two.

Fifth Crown
40ml José Cuervo Tradicional
20ml Creme de Mure
30ml lime juice
Top with Corona
Shake the first three ingredients with ice and strain into an ice-filled highball. Top up with the beer and garnish with a lime wheel.

Week Sixteen: Centre

May 4, 2009

The galaxy is filled with wonderful things, not least the news that its centre tastes of raspberries and smells of rum. This is great news because both raspberries and rum are themselves wonderful things and because the centre of the galaxy is not actually made of raspberries and rum – rather it contains ethyl formate, a molecule that exhibits both traits.

They’re good traits to incorporate into a cocktail, too.

15ml handcrushed raspberry juice
10ml sugar syrup
1 dash Angostura Bitters
60ml Havana Club Especial
Place the raspberry juice, syrup and bitters in the base of a mixing glass. Add ice and stir. Add the rum gradually while stirring. Garnish with a couple of raspberries.

To make the handcrushed raspberry juice, simply use a barspoon or muddler to force some fresh raspberries through a fine-strainer. You’ll need about 10 or so to yield 15ml. Commercially available raspberry purée works as a substitute.

There’s a point to made, I think, about stirring drinks. The handcrushed raspberry juice is opaque so you lose the clarity that you associate with stirred drinks, but the idea behind stirring this drink is to give it the smooth texture you always get.

Week Fifteen: Mystère

April 18, 2009

Once upon a time, Cognac was the drink of choice for the higher orders of society and the undisputed leader among spirits, but that was before phylloxera decimated French wine production allowing whiskies and rums to come to prominence, and before the British government started to promote gin over imports from a country it frequently warred with.

Cognac has heritage and tradition in spades which adds to the aura of luxury around the category, but it can also make the spirit seem fussy and impenetrable. Which is shame, because that previous dominance is based on the quality of the product rather than mere terroir or aging.

So, I made a conscious choice to make something with a Cognac base which isn’t something I do that often. Vermouth seemed like a no-brainer, wine-based modifier with a grape-based spirit. Keeping the complementary theme, I used some Mandarine Napoleon – a brandy-based liqueur not unlike Grand Marnier, only Belgian and more mandarine-y.

30ml Courvoisier VS
30ml Mandarine Napoleon
15ml Dubonnet Rouge
1 lemon zest
Stir all ingredients with ice and strain into an ice-filled brandy glass.

Week Thirteen: Medici

April 5, 2009

Lorenzo de’ Medici is remembered as a patron of the arts and as a key figure in the Renaissance. His contribution to the world of spirits isn’t as well known. The story goes that a brandy-based liqueur was created in his honour.

And that’s about it. Sorry.

The Medici link makes for good copy in a press release, but the major development came in 1938 when two brothers-in-law started producing a version of that same liqueur in Livorno, Italy. These days it’s called Tuaca and thanks to American soldiers encountering it during World War 2, it’s gained international exposure.

That exposure spreads as far as Britain, where Tuaca has an interesting link with the town of Brighton. In Brighton, Tuaca’s become a verb.

To go out in Brighton UK and drink a ridiculous amount of Tuaca, get extremely wasted on it and do crazy things you normally wouldn’t and don’t remember (usually of a sexual nature!)
Tuaca-ed, The Urban Dictionary

What’s even more remarkable about Brighton’s taste for Tuaca is that it’s more or less entirely the work of just two people – Sammy Berry and Poul Jensen.

Poul said: “In 1998 the only place you could get Tuaca was in the St James Tavern. Within a year it was in about 30 pubs. Now you can buy it in 95 per cent of bars, pubs and clubs.

“Local off-licences called us up because people kept coming in and asking for it. They would turn on their heel when they found it wasn’t there.”

It’s an amazing story. Since 2006, Tuaca has been sold and distributed in the UK by Bacardi Brown-Forman, who took on Sammy and Poul as brand ambassadors for it, and recently gained one of the greatest accolades available to spirits and liqueurs – its own Thursday Drinks Night at the Mixoloseum.

45ml Tuaca
15ml Crème de Mûre
15ml Punt E Mes
Lemon zest
Orange zest
Stir all ingredients with ice and strain into an ice-filled old-fashioned glass. Garnish with an orange zest twist.

Week Twelve: Kitchen Special No. 1

March 29, 2009

Being honest, I’m pretty cocktailed out at the moment. We’re just put the finishing touches to a new drinks menu at work – featuring some of the drinks I’ve posted here – and I’ve been making the most of not thinking about combinations of spirits and liqueurs. That said, there are still times when I do want something a little more exciting than a beer or spirit/mixer.

The problem here is that I’m genuinely awful at keeping my kitchen stocked. I’d save a pile of money if I actually planned meals rather than getting takeaways or eating at work. So, using whatever I had lying around the kitchen…

Kitchen Special No. 1
45ml Amsterdamsche Oude Genever
15ml Punt E Mes
15ml Elderflower Cordial
Dash egg white
Shake all ingredients with ice and fine-strain into chilled martini glass. Garnish with a lemon zest if you’ve remembered to go shopping this week.