Posts Tagged ‘cocktails’

Twenty Seven: Cherry Republic

July 14, 2009

Today is Bastille Day, the annual French celebration of storming prisons and liberating hundreds of deserving criminals. As we speak, this year’s breakout has seen no less than four hundred benefit fraudsters, petty thieves and mimes flood the cafés and galleries of Paris, smoking Gitanes and complaining about the food.

There’s no better way to mark the occasion than with a drink, but I’d been having some trouble pulling things together until I spotted a carton of cherry juice in the supermarket. It’s a little bland and quite dry by itself, but add a touch of gomme and a decent measure of Cognac, et voila!

Cherry Republic
45ml Courvoisier Exclusif
30ml cherry juice
1 barspoon gomme
Stir all ingredients with ice and strain into an ice-filled rocks/old-fashioned glass. Garnish with a lemon zest twist and a cocktail cherry.

Twenty Four & Twenty Five: Colisão & Plantação

July 8, 2009

I’ve been thinking a lot about cachaca recently. This is not unconnected to receiving a couple of samples from Anthony at Abelha Cachaca the other day. It might be the third most popular spirit in the world, but cachaca is in pretty similar position to that of vodka in the 1950s/60s – there is a global awareness of the product, but the majority of the spirit produced is not exported and it hasn’t quite hit the mainstream in the export markets yet. Wikipedia suggests that only 1% of the 1.3 billion litres of cachaca produced annually are exported. While the availability of cachaca outside of Brazil is on the increase, we’re still at the stage where there are only a handful of notable brands – Sagatiba, Germana, Ypioca, to name three.

This is probably an excellent time to launch an organic, artesanal brand into the UK market. But I tend to be pretty busy most days, what with the working and the not working and the sleeping and the not going to Tales of the Cocktail, so it’s helpful that Abelha have been bringing some over for a couple of months now. Both expressions are small batch, artesanal (pot-distilled, as opposed to the column distilled “industrial” style) cachacas – the Silver is unaged while the Gold is aged for three years in small (250ltr) Brazillian hardwood barrels.

I’ll write about the Gold in more depth tomorrow, but I was completely blown away by the Silver. On the nose it has those familiar vegetal notes that come with cachacas and rhums agricole, but it also has a pleasant honey scent with a touch of citrus to it. The mouth feel is great – a slightly viscous texture, with a strong finish but without chemical burn of column-still spirit. Esquire just listed Abelha as one of its top three cachacas, but I’m not sure if you need the other two.

Unfortunately, the sampler I got wasn’t big enough to try in some spirit/mixer combos, but there was just enough to make up a couple of cocktails.

The first thing I did was based around the other classic cachaca cocktail, the Batida. It’s the Caipirinha’s longer, more laid back cousin and totally deserving of some of the love thrown at the little peasant drink. I ended up crossbreeding it with a Smash, with the intention of coming up with something fruity for summer.

45ml Abelha Silver Cachaca
25ml freshly squeezed red grapefruit juice
25ml pineapple juice
6-8 mint leaves
Shake all the ingredients with ice and strain into an old-fashioned/rocks glass over crushed ice. Feel free to add a touch of gomme/simple syrup into the shaker to taste. Garnish with a grapefruit slice and a mint sprig.

After that, I decided to go old-school. Cachaca tends to be used in caipirinhas and long punch-style drinks and not a lot else, but the Abelha Silver struck me as something that would work really well as an alternative to a white rum. So, I went with a simple mod of a daiquiri.

50ml Abelha Silver Cachaca
25ml freshly squeezed lime juice
10ml sugar cane syrup
1 barspoon Maraschino
Shake all ingredients with ice and fine-strain into a chilled martini/coupette glass. Twist a lime zest over the top and discard. Garnish with a cocktail cherry.

And tomorrow? Tomorrow, I’m getting to know the Abelha Gold.

Happy birthday America!

July 4, 2009

It’s been 233 years since the bouncing baby United States of America declared its independence from the United Kingdom, and it’s been thirteen years since a hardy band of patriots led by no less than the US President repelled the alien invaders intent on exterminating mankind. If that’s not worth celebrating, then seriously, nothing is.

There are an actual ton of recipes kicking around to mark the occasion, which is handy because I haven’t had a lot of time to put one together myself. The one that caught my eye is Jonathan Pogash‘s American Collins (or Red, White & Blue Collins).

American Collins
45ml Bombay Sapphire
25ml simple syrup
15ml lemon juice
4 pitted Bing cherries
8 blueberries
Muddle the blueberries and cherries with the syrup and the lemon juice. Add the gin with ice and stir briefly. Top with club soda.

Whatever you’re drinking today, raise a glass to Uncle Sam. No, not the cantankerous old sod who lives in your basement. The mythologised personification of the American Spirit.

Yes, the creepy thin old man with the starey eyes. That Uncle Sam.

Twenty Three: Reina Amargo

July 3, 2009

We are on the edge of a great moment in British history. We are in sight of the point at which the great British public see tequila as something other than a shot or a frozen margarita. My friends, the road to that point will be long and hard, but with courage, strength and resolve, we can make this dream our new reality.

Reina Amargo
50ml José Cuervo Tradicional
25ml lime juice
1 barspoon Campari
2 barspoons honey
Shake all ingredients with ice and fine-strain into chilled martini glass.

Adventures in space, time and vodka

June 25, 2009

Here’s a thought.

Cocktails destroy good spirits.

It’s not my thought. It belongs to a man named Börje Karlsson, one of the master blenders involved with a new Swedish vodka called Karlsson’s Gold (rated B+ by Drinkhacker!), in an article in the Washington Post. It’s an interesting thought, not least because it comes from a vodka producer and vodka, well vodka is a bit troublesome.

NO COCKTAILS?… by Metro Centric, licenced under Creative Commons.

Imagine we’ve got a time machine, and rather than using it to buy last week’s winning lottery numbers, we travel back to somewhere near the sixteenth century, somewhere in Eastern Europe, where the bouncing baby vodka tradition has just started walking and saying its first unintelligble words. Assuming that no-one burns us as witches on account of our strange fashions and bizarre future talk, we’ll find a spirit that has mostly slipped past its origin as a medicinal elixir and is gaining popularity among the masses, flavored with herbs, honey and berries, and among the aristocracy who compete to create the purest liquid from their state-of-the-art pot stills. Skip forward a few hundred years and we’ll find this spirit embedded in the culture, adding punctuation to any event, from weddings to birthdays to funerals and everything in between. Vodka becomes the lifeblood of the community, used and abused by the powers that be as something approaching a rum ration for an entire empire through the middle part of the twentieth century.

Read the rest of this entry »

Newsdesk: summer is coming

May 7, 2009

(splash by Trevor D., licensed under Creative Commons.)

It’s summer! It must be, all the clues are there. There was sunlight this afternoon – proper sunlight with warmth and everything! The other big clue?

Newsdesk: best in Britain

March 25, 2009

This edition of Newsdesk is sponsored by local pride coloured with a touch of envy.

Week Eleven: Spring Orchard

March 18, 2009

We’ve just finished putting together a new cocktail program for the Paris bar at work and everytime we take on this kind of exercise, there’s a point when someone says “we need x cocktails with this spirit in them,” because we’re only ever going to have y drinks ready, and y is always a number less than x. But, that thing they say about necessity? It’s true.

This drink also ended up being a chance to use Galliano. It’s one of the those bottles that seems to be on almost every backbar without seeing a lot of use, and it’s one that always prompts curiosity whenever I pick it up. The overriding flavour is vanilla, but there are also hints of anise and citrus which makes it an interesting alternative to vanilla-flavoured vodkas.

Spring Orchard
1/8th green apple (muddled)
25ml vodka
12.5ml Galliano
25ml red grape juice
12.5ml lime juice
1 barspoon elderflower cordial
Muddle apple in the base of a shaker. Add the liquids and shake. Fine-strain into a chilled champagne flute and garnish with an apple slice on the rim.

Week Ten: Winter’s End

March 13, 2009

11:44am on March 20 2009 marks the Vernal Equinox, one of the two points of the year at which the Sun is directly over the Earth’s equator. Or the Earth’s equator is directly over the Sun, if you want to be picky about it. See, astronomy lessons and everything.

The Vernal Equinox marks the end of winter and the start of spring, unless you happen to be in the Southern Hemisphere, in which case it’s the end of summer and the start of winter. If you are south of the Equator, I’m so sorry. You’ve got…ooh, 186 days until this post becomes topical.

And so spring is coming like a badly-driven haulage truck on an icy road, which is cause for much celebration in Northern Europe. Perhaps this will be the year when spring is accompanied with temperatures north of 20°C and bikinis for everyone, but I think that’s unlikely. It doesn’t mean the occasion shouldn’t be marked with some kind of mixed drink.

Winter’s End
40ml Amsterdamsche Oude Genever
10ml St. Germain
15ml Noilly Prat Dry
Stir all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a single mint leaf.

MxMo: the first time

March 4, 2009

For everything in life, there’s an inside and an outside. This month, LUPEC Boston asks us how we’d welcome the unsure to the cocktail party. It’s Mixology Monday, and we want to know one thing: do you remember the first time?

Imagine a swamp. It’s dark, misty and humid. There’s a weird kind of steam coming from the marshes and you’re pretty sure the twisted vegetation is home to any number of nasty beasties ready to devour the unwary. You’ve heard a rumour that there’s a paradise on the other side of the swamp, and that’s it’s not that hard to cross anyway, but right now, up to your ankles in liquid you don’t want to think too hard about, swatting away flies the size of staplers, you’re not thinking about that. Right now, all you want is not to be in the damn swamp.

(swamp by Lawrence Whittemore, licensed under Creative Commons.)

Hold that feeling in your mind and the expression on your face is going to resemble that of someone picking up a cocktail list for the first time. It’s something I see quite a lot at work, that mix of curiosity and utter, utter fear. Some of those exhibiting the look of rabbit soon to lose its third dimension ask for help, some don’t. Read the rest of this entry »