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Cover: Shaken and stirred

Less than 30 minutes

20Sep 12

Lemon Cranberry Splash

Lemon Cranberry Splash

Pucker up for this lemon cranberry splash cocktail! Unlike most of the cocktails I write about, this tipple I concoted myself. Well, that’s not to say that others don’t do the exact same thing, but in my travels, I have never seen one exactly like it.

The lemon and cranberry flavours seem to blend together, but there is a bit of a sour aftertaste. That’s why I usually like to rim my glass with sugar to offset the tart flavour of the fruit.

For the lemony flavour, I like to make my home-made lemonade. It takes a bit longer to prepare, but I prefer natural ingredients as opposed to the shop-bought version. However, I have been thinking about having a go at combining limoncello with a bit of cranberry juice to substitute for the lemonade. Using both limoncello and vodka will make the cocktail as a whole a bit stronger, though. So if you are considered a lightweight drinker, you could probably just take out the vodka all together.

As I said before, this is really just playing around with flavours. And in all honesty, I believe this is still a work in progress. I don’t believe I have quite perfected the recipe yet, so if you have any ideas, leave a comment and let me know!

A food complement to this cocktail might be these lemon and sesame chicken breasts.

Lemon Cranberry Splash
Author: 
Recipe type: Cocktail
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
 
A work-in-progress tart cocktail
Ingredients
  • 8cl freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 6cl water
  • 5g sugar
  • 1 lemon peel swirl
  • 5cl vodka
  • 2cl cranberry juice
  • 2 cranberries
  • ice
Instructions
  1. Squeeze the lemon juice into a large pitcher.
  2. Stir in the sugar until it completely dissolves.
  3. Add the water and the splash of cranberry juice, stirring all the while.
  4. When mixed together, pour the cranberry lemonade into a cocktail shaker with the vodka and ice.
  5. Meanwhile, use a slice of lemon to moisten the rim of your martini glass.
  6. Dip it in sugar so that it is completely covered.
  7. Shake the ingredients in the cocktail shaker until condensation forms on the outside of the glass.
  8. Pour into the martini glass and garnish with a lemon swirl and the cranberries.

 

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31Jul 12

The Bronx cocktail, a daring drink from the Big Apple

The Bronx CocktailThroughout history, the names of many drinks have been associated to places. This is due to the fact that some cocktails are named after the town they are first concocted in. On other occasions, the mix earns its name after the region where the main ingredient in it is grown or distilled. The drink I want to tell you about today has a powerful name, and is one of the 5 cocktails named after one of
New York City´s five boroughs: The Bronx Cocktail.

The Bronx cocktail is basically a perfect martini with orange juice added. In 1934, it was ranked third in “The World´s 10 most famous cocktails”, which made it a very popular rival to both the Martini and the Manhattan. And although it does not have the glamour of any of the latter, it is certainly a drink with a great story behind it.

According to the official historian of the Waldorf- Astoria Hotel, the inventor of the cocktail was Johnnie Solon, a pre-Prohibition bartender at the hotel in the late 1890s. One evening, the head waiter of the Empire Room, the main dining room in the original Waldorf, dared Solon to concoct a new drink. He claimed even the regulars thought he couldn´t come up with something new. So Solon got down to business.

He prepared the cocktail, and in his own words: “I didn´t taste it myself, but I poured it into a cocktail glass and handed it to the head waiter, because he was actually a pretty good judge.” The waiter tasted it, and then chugged it all. He loved it, and asked Solon to mix another to pass around. The cocktail became an instant classic.

After-dinner drinks can be taken with dessert as well. I recommend this dark chocolate and orange mousse dessert to pair with the Bronx. As they both have a sweet orange taste, I think the flavour would be fantastic!

The Bronx cocktail, a daring drink from the Big Apple
Author: 
Recipe type: Cocktail
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
 
The Bronx cocktail is basically a Perfect martini with orange juice added
Ingredients
  • 3cl Gin
  • 1,5cl Sweet Red Vermouth
  • 1cl Dry Vermouth
  • 1,5cl Orange Juice
Instructions
  1. Pour all ingredients into the cocktail shaker with ice cubes.
  2. Shake well.
  3. Pour it all into a chilled glass.

 

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28Jul 12

Horse´s Neck, the drink which came from a film

Horse´s NeckOne evening a few weeks ago, I sat on the couch at home and watched an independent film. The lead character was a Polish climber, Jerzy Kuckuzka, who told his story while seated in a pub in London. The whole idea was pretty bizarre, but what really struck me was the drink this guy was ordering: the Horse´s Neck. To be quite honest, I had never even heard of it but decided to investigate further. And this is the mix I want to share with you today.

A Horse´s Neck is an American cocktail that dates back to the 1890s. It started as a non-alcoholic mixture of ginger ale, ice and lemon peel. By the turn of the century, bartenders in Kentucky had a variation to the original, which included brandy –sometimes even bourbon- and which was ordered as a “Horse´s Neck with a kick, please”.

The main ingredient to a Horse´s Neck is brandy. It generally contains 35%-60% alcohol by volume and is typically taken as an after dinner drink. It is one of the strongest drinks around and great for when one feels cold and tired after a long winter´s day, hence the idea of a Polish climber drinking one after another.

Ginger ale is the other major component. Try sipping this cocktail with sugar-free gingerbread, which brings out the ginger flavour even more!

Horse´s Neck became popular in the Royal Navy in the 1960s, displacing Pink Gin as the officer´s signature drink. A reference to this is made in the film Yangtse Incident, in which a naval officer is shown drinking a Horse´s Neck. Strangely enough, it is also ordered in the 1935 classic Top Hat.

A few days after watching the film, I invited some friends over and made Horse´s Necks for everyone. To be quite honest, we had a great evening and have all since become big fans of the cocktail.

Horse´s Neck, the drink which came from a film
Author: 
Recipe type: Cocktail
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
 
A Horse´s Neck is an American cocktail that dates back to the 1890s
Ingredients
  • 4cl brandy
  • 11cl ginger ale
  • Dash of Angostura bitter (optional)
Instructions
  1. Pour brandy and ginger ale directly into an old-fashioned glass with ice cubes.
  2. Garnish with lemon zest.
  3. If required, add dashes of Angostura bitter.

 

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25Jul 12

Chocolate Martini

chocolate martini
Chocolate martinis
bring back fond memories for me. I’ve done a lot of travelling in the Americas, but I’ve seen a little of Europe too, living for a few years in London, and working in a graphic design agency. At that time I had a British racing green sports car for a while and I would sometimes drive from London to Nice in the South of France.

I love to travel, in all sorts of ways and to all sorts of places… and for me it was the spirit of adventure that drove me to pack a few things on the roof and set off on the longish journey; across the English channel, meandering down through France, stopping off in Bordeaux, or to see friends in Clermont Ferrand – before snaking my way down to Nice on the Cote d’Azur; sometimes taking a little time to explore Provence on the way.

The journey itself was part of the adventure; you see I’m not one of those that just wants to get straight from A to B! After a few days of relaxed journeying, we would stay on the Nice harbour overlooking the sea and enjoy the buzz of the city with its Italianate architecture, stony beaches, meandering roads and lively nightclubs. It was here in that I sampled my first chocolate martini.

So I weave the story because of a personal link between the south of France and this creamy cocktail; not that the two are connected in any other way. There are lots of variations on the chocolate martini; and of the many that I’ve tried since my days in Nice, I find this the creamiest and most delicious. You can rim the glass with chocolate if you wish, and top off with a cherry.  I include white chocolate liqueur in my mix… if you’re a white chocolate fan, check out this white chocolate mousse too.

Chocolate Martini
Author: 
Recipe type: Cocktail Drink
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
There are lots of variations on the chocolate martini; I find this mix of chocolate vodka, chocolate liqueur, creme de cacoa and milk, the creamiest and most delicious.
Ingredients
  • 4.5cl chocolate vodka
  • 9cl white chocolate liqueur
  • 2cl shot crème de cocoa
  • 9cl whole milk
  • crushed ice
Instructions
  1. Fill a shaker with crushed ice, measure in the ingredients, give it a good shake and pour into a glass.

 

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22Jul 12

The Tornado, a Caribbean classic

TornadoLast Easter, a couple of friends decided to go to the Caribbean for a few days, so I tagged along. We went to the Dominican Republic. As soon as we arrived at the hotel in Santo Domingo, we were greeted by their wonderful staff with a drink I had never heard of before, but which has become a favourite both in flavour and memories: the tornado.

The Dominican Republic turned out to be a vibrant, hectic and incredibly invigorating experience. We spent quite a lot of our time wandering the streets of the capital and became fixated by its people. The stories we heard mostly involved two topics: merengue and tornado cocktails. Merengue is a type of music and dance from the Dominican Republic. It was created by Nico Lora in the 1920s. There is a saying in the country which goes: “It does not matter if you are rich or poor, it is all about the rhythm in your hips.” And believe me, the people there can dance!

The tornado is a classic in local bars and dances. It is both a straight drink and a cocktail. The cocktail version is a little milder than the original one, but still has a punch. The main ingredient in it is dark rum, which is not surprising as it is the most important beverage Central America produces. It has a sweet and pleasant taste, and you can sip tornados endlessly on a warm summer evening, especially in the Caribbean.

One piece of advice: Be sure to shake this drink well to ensure the egg white mixes with the other ingredients. It is called tornado for a reason! (Another drink that uses egg white is the pisco sour. I definitely recommend it!)

The trip turned out to be a success, and I have since become a fan of both meringue music and tornado cocktails. The Dominican Republic is a place where I certainly want to return in the near future.

The tornado, a Caribbean classic
Author: 
Recipe type: Cocktail
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
 
The tornado is a classic in local bars and dances. It is both a straight drink and a cocktail
Ingredients
  • 2.5cl dark rum
  • 1.5cl light rum
  • 1 egg white
  • Dash of lemon juice
  • Dash of passion fruit juice
Instructions
  1. Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice cubes.
  2. Shake for no less than 1 minute.
  3. Strain into a chilled glass.

 

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20Jul 12

B-52, an unlikely gunner classic

B-52A couple of years ago, I got to watch a lot of Arsenal home games at Emirates Stadium in north London. A cousin of mine had season tickets but spent most of the year traveling on business and kindly offered me his seat. One Saturday, Nicklas Bendtner, a Danish forward who played for the gunners, changed his shirt number from 26 to 52. That same season, he scored an amazing goal against Liverpool in the Carling Cup. From then on, he was known as “the bomber”, and the B-52 cocktail became an Islington favourite.

The B-52 is a layered shot made with a coffee liqueur, Irish cream and orange liqueur. Although there are special machines that can prepare a B-52, most bartenders rely on their traditional, hand-made preparation. This method is called “building”, as opposed to blending or shaking.

The coffee liqueur is served first, because it is the thickest of the layers and will sit on the bottom of the shot glass. Next, the Irish cream is poured very slowly on top. Some people use the back of a cold bar spoon to help them. Finally, the orange liqueur is served atop the Irish cream, also using a spoon.

What I really love about the B-52 is that when you start drinking it, the ingredients mix together, and yet you get a beautiful and very distinct taste of each one of them in your mouth. The aftertaste is definitely sweet, due to the orange liqueur. Ideally, it is a drink to have in a bar in the Alps on a cold winter evening while playing cards with friends. It would also go really well with this orange and plum cake.

In Islington, the B-52 cocktail fever has almost disappeared. A few weeks ago, a bartender in a pub on Northampton Park admitted that the first time someone ordered the drink in 2009, he hadn´t a clue what it was. He also said it is visually one of the hardest drinks to get right. And even though it is no longer the rage, I do occasionally order one just to remind me what a season both Arsenal and I had in 2009.

B-52, an unlikely gunner classic
Author: 
Recipe type: Cocktail
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
 
The B-52 is a layered shot made with a coffee liqueur, Irish cream and orange liqueur
Ingredients
  • 2cl coffee liqueur (Kahlúa)
  • 2cl Irish cream (Bailey´s)
  • 2cl orange liqueur (Grand Marnier)
Instructions
  1. Layer ingredients into a shot glass.
  2. Serve with a stirrer.

 

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17Jul 12

Chilcano, a Peruvian classic with a story

Chilcano, cocktailDuring the last decade, I have visited Peru various times. Lima, the capital, is a fascinating place. There are colourful street markets everywhere you go, and people are always friendly and ready for a drink and/or a chat.

On one of my latest trips, I met a chap by the name of Jaime Pesaque, who happens to own a restaurant in town. After dinner at his place one evening, he offered to mix me a drink he reckoned I had never tried before. The name of the drink was, as I recall, chilcano. At the time it seemed an odd name because it is also the name of a famous dish in Peru. Today, I want to tell you about this drink.

The chilcano is a traditional Peruvian beverage. Its main ingredient is Pisco, which is the country´s national drink. Pisco is a colourless or yellowish-to-amber coloured grape brandy produced in wine-making regions of Peru and Chile. It was developed by Spanish settlers in the 16th century as an alternative to orujo, a pomace brandy that was being imported from Spain.

The story of the drink dates back to the 1930´s, when Italian immigrants introduced a drink called “Buon Giorno” into the country. The cocktail was made by mixing grappa with ginger ale and a slice of lemon. Once the drink became popular, the locals started adding Pisco into the mix instead of the grappa. Word spread rapidly, and Peruvians finally had an alternative to the traditional pisco sour.

The chilcano is a strangely invigorating drink, and is in this way similar to the hot fish soup with the same name. It has an agile and refreshing taste, a bit like a margarita lemonade. It is a very simple drink to mix, and a great option for a summer evening.

Needed:

  • 6cl Pisco
  • 12cl ginger ale
  • Half a lime

How it’s made:
1. Fill an 8 ounce tumbler with ice cubes.
2. Pour the pisco over the ice.
3. Squeeze the lime juice into the glass.

Time: 3 minutes
Makes: 1 serving

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16Jul 12

Brandy Alexander

Brandy AlexanderTraveling by train is, without a doubt, my favourite way of getting around, especially in foreign countries. One very cold January I went from New York to Los Angeles using Amtrak, the sole intercity passenger railroad in the continental United States. After leaving Denver in the evening, I headed for the bar in the second coach, looking for a drink that would warm me up. That was when the bartender offered me a variation of the gin-based Alexander cocktail: a Brandy Alexander.

The Brandy Alexander has a long history. According to various cocktail books, it was first concocted for the wedding celebration of Princess Mary and Lord Lascelles in 1922 by a bartender at the Savoy Hotel Bar in London. By the middle of the century, it had become a widely known cocktail, and it is said that Mary Richards asked for one during her audition in the pilot episode of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”.

The most important ingredient in a Brandy Alexander is creme de cacao, which is a chocolate flavoured liqueur with hints of vanilla, and what gives the cocktail the sweet edge on a rather strong punch. For this particular cocktail, the dark version of the liqueur is recomended. According to the bartender on the train, it is also a luscious after dinner drink that goes hand in hand with a chocolate lava cake.

The Brandy Alexander has a creamy, warm taste and is perfect for winter evenings, especially if you are looking out the window of a train racing across the rural United States. Although I am not a brandy drinker, this cocktail is the exception to that rule and made that evening a memory I will always cherish.

Needed:

  • 3cl cognac
  • 3cl dark creme de cacao
  • 3cl brandy
  • Ground nutmeg for garnish

How to make it:
1.Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice cubes.
2.Shake well.
3.Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
4.Garnish with a dusting of nutmeg.

Time: 4 minutes
Makes:1 cocktail

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14Jul 12

Watermelon Sangria

Watermelon SangriaI told you about my first trip to Spain when I was 19. Well, last summer I returned to visit a friend’s son who is studying history at Granada University. On arrival, I was met by 10 jolly looking fellows who all had glasses in their hands. It was Friday evening, and they had decided to make a huge sangria in my honour. But not the classic sangria – rather, watermelon sangria! Today, I want to tell you about this drink, which is an ideal choice for an evening on the porch with friends.

As I´ve mentioned, sangria normally consists of a bottle of cheap red wine, chopped fruit, and a sweetener. This particular version I discovered on my last trip is a bit different and made specifically to bring out the flavour of the watermelon, which was excellent!

As the guest of honour, I was enlightened with the recipe of the sangria the merry young men had concocted, which I want to share with you. They also brought Spanish potato omelette for me to try – it is a typical “tapa”. If you visit Spain, don’t leave without trying some!

Just one piece of advice on the sangria: the amount of spirits added into the mix is up to the person making it. I share the measurements we used, but those amounts are open to interpretation. And that is exactly what makes it dangerous, especially in the company of 10 students on a Friday evening.

Watermelon Sangria
Author: 
Recipe type: Cocktail
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10
 
A fruity twist on the classic sangria
Ingredients
  • 1 bottle of dry white wine
  • 1 kilo of watermelon, cubed and deseeded
  • 3 limes, chopped
  • 10cl rum (Brugal is a good choice.)
  • 8cl citrusy syrup
  • 10cl triple sec
  • Abundant Ice
Instructions
  1. Mix the white wine with the fruit in a 1 litre pitcher, and let it sit for a full day in a refrigerator to allow time for the fruit flavours to blend with the wine.
  2. Add ice, rum, syrup and triple sec, stirring it together well.
  3. Serve in tall glasses with good company.


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11Jul 12

Summer + frozen peachy amaretto cooler = a perfect mix

frozen peachy amaretto coolerThere is something about summer that has always attracted me. Maybe it’s because I come from an island where a good summer amounts to 10 gorgeous days and a lot of clouds and rain in between. But there is something else to the season, even in England. People change throughout the hot months and are always looking for a good time, even if stuck at work. Drinks also change, and the fruity, refreshing beverages take over from the stiff, rich mixes of the rest of the year. The frozen peachy amaretto cooler is a summer cocktail and the drink I want to share with you today.

The main ingredient to a frozen peachy amaretto cooler is amaretto disaronno, a sweet, almond-flavoured Italian liqueur. It is made from a base of either apricots or almond pits, and sometimes both. According to history or legend –or a bit of both- it was first concocted in 1525 in the town of Saronno in Italy. One of Leonardo Da Vinci´s pupils, a painter called Bernardo Luini, was commissioned to paint frescoes in a sanctuary in the city. Luini was ordered to depict the Madonna and was in need of a model. He found inspiration in a young widowed innkeeper who became his model, and, some also say, his lover. Out of gratitude and affection, the woman steeped apricot kernels in brandy and presented the resulting spirit to a deeply moved Luini.

The other two ingredients in the cocktail are frozen peach slices and apple juice. If you have the chance of getting hold of some fresh ripe peaches, then all you have to do is peel them and put them in the freezer the night before you intend to use them.

The frozen peachy amaretto cooler tastes like heaven on a warm summer evening. It is refreshing, fruity and you can hardly taste the liqueur in it although the drink has a kick, which is fine if you are on holiday but rather dangerous if you are stuck at work the next day! If you are thinking of throwing a summer bash, keep this drink in mind – none of your guests will be disappointed. Of course, you will also have to serve food like these grilled chicken wings with a honey and lime butter sauce. They are perfect for a barbecue on a hot summer night, washed down with my fruity cooler.

 

 

Summer and a frozen peachy amaretto cooler, a perfect mix
Author: 
Recipe type: Cocktail
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
 
The perfect frozen drink for summer
Ingredients
  • 4cl amaretto disaronno
  • 250g frozen peach slices
  • 50cl apple juice
Instructions
  1. In a blender, mix the frozen peaches and apple juice.
  2. Blend until smooth.
  3. Add the amaretto.
  4. Pour into a chilled glass and serve immediately.

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