Posts Tagged ‘honey’

Thirty: A walk in the clouds

July 26, 2009

New Zealand. The land of the long white cloud, famed throughout the world for its zeals and their newness, and if there’s any justice in the world, 42 Below Vodka.

42 Below Vodka. The world’s most awarded vodka, according to, uh, 42 Below Vodka and hosts of the annual Cocktail World Cup.

The Cocktail World Cup. An annual cocktail competition open to bartenders all over the world which may or may not involve shaking a cocktail while being thrown off a bridge.

In fairness, they tie you to the bridge first. Apparently.

42 Below Feijoa

Entries have been open for next year’s CWC since early July and the ednbrg inbox is appropriately full of reminders from both 42 Below and their corporate overlords at Bacardi, given that they close at the end of the month. The competition follows the now standard write-in/regional/national/global format, but is seemingly a little less restrictive in terms of ingredients. A lot of competitions specify a maximum number of ingredients or restrict brand usage, but the CWC seems to only request that drinks are made with 42 Below or one of their flavoured vodkas. While the Manuka Honey, Kiwi and Passionfruit vodkas are all pretty awesome, I opted to use the Feijoa, mainly because I like making my life difficult.

Feijoa is a fruit that is firmly planted in the exotic category. It has been adopted as New Zealand’s national fruit (originating from South America and named for a Portuguese explorer), looks something like a lime and tastes something like root beer. It’s a divisive flavour, like Marmite or Vegemite or anything else that ends in -mite. As for the vodka, it’s all eucalyptus and menthol on the nose, with rich herbal flavours and a smooth mouthfeel. If you’ve never tried it, it’s probably worth doing at least once.

Anyway, this one’s in the electronic post to the Vodka University.

A walk in the clouds
60ml 42 Below Feijoa
1 barspoon Acacia honey
15ml lemon juice
An eighth of a Galia melon, diced
A third of an avocado, diced
10ml sparkling water
Muddle the diced avocado with the sparkling water in the base of a shaker tin until it forms a smooth paste. Muddle the diced melon with the vodka, honey and lemon juice in the base of a mixing glass. Add this to the puréed avocado and shake with ice. Single-strain into a chilled coupette and garnish with a melon ball on a cocktail stick with a spear of spring onion.

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.

Week Seven: Abelinha

February 21, 2009

Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed that a lot of the recipes I post use honey as a sweetening agent in cocktails. It has become something of a hallmark of my recipes, like the guy who always uses sherbet in his drinks, or the guy who can’t not use a foam.

One of the things I love about honey is its versatility. As with anything, different kinds of honey have different characteristics, from lighter varieties such as Acacia through to darker, more pungently flavoured ones like Manuka. Choosing the right one to complement the other flavours in a drink can be tougher than you think it’s going to be.

Honey also has a great heritage – it is, after all, the original sweetener. In Europe, man was using honey to add flavour to food and drink long before sugar cane was discovered. Since then, sugar spread like wildfire, inspiring creativity, commerce – not to mention war, slavery and cruelty on an industrial scale. Honey, on the other hand, stayed sweet.

50ml Cachaca
1 barspoon honey (works better with a lighter variety)
25ml pink grapefruit juice
25ml cranberry juice
25ml pineapple juice
Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into an ice-filled highball. Garnish with a long grapefruit zest.

MxMo: hard drinks for hard times

February 16, 2009

This month’s Mixology Monday is worried. It worries about its job, its mortgage and, above all, it worries about its future. It’s not easy being the internet’s premier monthly mixological get-together, but this month’s theme proposed by Matt at Rowley’s Whiskey Forge could give it a few tips for getting through the crunch.

Drinking has seen of tough times before, of course. If outright prohibition couldn’t kill hard spirits, then lacking a bit of cash won’t either. However, to my mind, when money gets tight it’s the fancy imported stuff that ends up first in the firing line and you aim to make do with what’s local. Luckily, this means I get to play with Scotch whisky.

(Whisky Galore! by foxypar4, licenced under Creative Commons.)

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24hr Project: Homemade Krupnik

December 12, 2008

Krupnik is one of those products that see in tons of bars, but keeps a low profile. It’s got a really old school label, straight out of Eastern Europe – appropriately, it’s hugely popular with Edinburgh’s growing Polish community – but people only seem to know two things: a) it’s vodka based, and b) it’s honey flavoured.

That’s not even unhelpful.

It is a tasty product, though, and a recent article on money-saving Christmas gifts in the Guardian got me thinking.


Bottle some Krupnik

Give a bottle of home-made Christmas Krupnik. Henry Besant, founder of suggests this recipe. Buy a bottle of the best Polish vodka you can afford and pour the contents into a saucepan. Add 500ml of runny honey, 2 cinnamon sticks, 3 cloves, a teaspoon of grated nutmeg and an opened vanilla pod and heat gently until the honey is completely dissolved. Simmer for 20 minutes (but do not allow it to boil). Let the mixture cool and then strain it through muslin into a bottle of your choice. Decorate with ribbon and a cinnamon stick around the bottle neck, and add a tag with a serving suggestion, such as: “Serve with warmed cloudy apple juice and a dusting of nutmeg; add a dollop of double cream for a richer alternative.”

Not only does this make a handy gift, it’s just about perfect for the upcoming spice-themed MxMo. Coaxing the flavour from spices into room-temperature liquids can be troublesome, so getting that flavour extracted before kickoff could be awesome. Another bonus is the simplicity of the recipe – no macerating citrus peels for two weeks, people; instant results!

I opted for the above recipe, more or less verbatim. The thing I changed was the honey. In the end, I used three different varieties: acacia (light, floral), manuka (heavy, medicinal) and blossom (somewhere inbetween). The acacia honey keeps its liquidity naturally, so I picked a ‘runny’ pack of the blossom, leaving the heavier, more solid manuka to provide some bass. The other key ingredient was, of course, the vodka. I already had a bottle of Sobieski Vodka on a shelf thanks to an old colleague, and not being a prolific vodka drinker, it wasn’t doing much.

Making the liqueur couldn’t be easier. 

  1. Pour vodka into a largish pan.
  2. Heat gently and add the honey.
  3. Add spices (3 sticks of cinnamon, 3 whole cloves, 1.5 barspoons ground nutmeg, 1 vanilla pod).
  4. Simmer for 20 minutes – don’t let it boil; we’re not looking for another distillation.
  5. Strain through muslin, bottle and stick it in the fridge.

Homemake KrupnikThere are things I’m disappointed in: the colour, for one. The blossom honey is pretty dark and combined with the manuka, it makes the whole thing look kinda murky. Still, it shows a lovely amber glow when you hold it up to the light and if I had any skills in clarifying liquids, I’m sure I could clean it up further. I’m also pretty sure that I put too much honey in the mix; the final liqueur is maybe just a shade too sweet for me.

On the plus side, it tastes phenomenal. The first thing that hits is the honey, with all the depth of flavour that comes from the different varieties. That’s followed by a strong cinnamon finish, with a hint of cloves lingering around after. I think it might be the manuka, but this batch reminds me a lot more of Drambuie than it does of Krupnik. That’s not a bad thing. Not bad at all.

Update: turns out my two concerns may have been related. After sitting for a couple of days, the liqueur separated, leaving a thick greyish-brown sediment at the bottom and a lovely, clear, amber liquid at the top. That suggests that I either saturated the mixture with the honey or didn’t heat it thoroughly enough to dissolve all of it. Given the sweetness and that I didn’t use the 500ml specified in the original recipe (I used nearly 350-400ml), I’m going with the former. It’s still incredibly sweet, which isn’t necessarily a problem, but it’s looking way better.