Posts Tagged ‘mint’

Thirty Two: Drake’s Fortune

August 4, 2009

I’ve been thinking a bit about gin cocktails of late, which is useful given that all the recipes I’m currently owe various people and competitions are supposed to be rum based. I set myself to making a summery drink that wouldn’t be torture to make – essentially the polar opposite of A Walk In The Clouds.

Drake’s Fortune
50ml Tanqueray Gin
25ml pink grapefruit juice
10ml St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
1 dash Angostura Bitters
6 mint leaves

The recipe is inspired by the Victorian Mojito – basically a standard Mojito, but with gin and apple juice instead of rum and soda – but I wanted to get away from the shorthand of using crushed ice to signify summer drinks. From there, it seemed obvious to use elderflower to complement the gin and a touch of Angostura to bring everything together.

And yes, more drinks should be named after videogames.


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.

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.

Week Nineteen: Brandyberry Julep

May 15, 2009

There are three stories to tell, in two loose categories. Two are about products, two are about things I wouldn’t think about that often.

Yes, the math doesn’t quite add up.

The first story, in which I’m going to have come clean. There’s a reason I’ve been using a lot of Creme de Mure in recent recipes – Edmond Briottet. According to Oh Gosh!, Briottet liqueurs have been produced in Dijon, France since 1936 but aren’t that well known outside of France. I picked up a bottle of their Creme de Mure to use for the Highland Bramble I made for February’s Mixology Monday and was totally blown away. It’s at least as good as any other brand I’ve come across in bars across Scotland, and a good deal better than most. As ever, when you fall in love with a product, it figures large in anything you come up with. It helps that blackberry goes with light spirits as well as dark spirits.

Act two – the other side of the coin. Just as there are the things you always go to, there’s always a shelf full of products that you don’t really use. For me, the biggest categories I tend to ignore are bourbon and Cognac. Bourbon tends to lose out to Scotch in my thinking because, being honest, I’m in Scotland; it seem foolish to ignore the massive variation within that category when it’s so readily available, but there’s no particular reason for me not to consider Cognac. Having cashed in a few weeks of change, I decided to invest in a decent bottle of Cognac (Courvoisier Exclusif, as it turned out) with the intention of improving my opinion of that. The recipe that follows is step on that road, I guess.

The final story is one from work. One of the bar staff asked me to speak to a customer who was complaining about their drink – he was holding an Old-fashioned. I remembered another bartender asking me how to make one a little earlier in the evening, for a drinks check. I took him through, and we made a great tasting drink – which was back at the bar in the hands of a less-than-happy customer. So, I took a breath and walked over, introduced myself and asked if there was a problem with his drink.

“I asked for a mint julep.”

This might not strike anyone as surprising or unlikely, but I’ve been working full-time at my current bar for over three years and that was the first time that anyone has ever ordered a mint julep. I apologised and explained that as we didn’t get asked for juleps that often, it was possible that the staff were unfamiliar with the drink. We got the correct drink put together and sent out, and everyone went home happy.

There are some drinks that make it and some drinks that don’t. The mint julep had completely fallen off my radar, while the mojito is currently the UK’s most popular cocktail.

This week’s drink is pretty simple, based on those three things – one ingredient I use a lot, one I don’t, all combined in a style of drink I haven’t thought of in forever.


Photo © 2009, Hugh Beauchamp

Brandyberry Julep
45ml Courvoisier Exclusif
15ml Edmond Briottet Creme de Mure
10ml gomme syrup (2:1 ratio of sugar to water)
6-8 mint leaves
Build in a highball glass with crushed ice. Garnish with a mint sprig.

One more thing: spot that lovely picture? It was taken by the wonderful Hugh Beauchamp – check him out on Flickr and Twitter.

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.