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Cover: Shaken and stirred

14Jul 12

Watermelon Sangria

I 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 […]

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11Jul 12

Summer + frozen peachy amaretto cooler = a perfect mix

There 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 […]

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10Jul 12

Peruvian Algarrobina

Unlike the Pisco Sour, which is claimed by both the Peruvians and the Chileans, I think it’s safe to say that the Algarrobina cocktail (made with the spirit Pisco) is uniquely Peruvian. When I was in Peru, it was offered to me as a pre-dinner drink, but I prefer to reserve this creamy and sweet, eggnog style cocktail for after dinner, as the mixture of algarrobina or carob syrup, condensed milk and egg yolk makes it a dessert in itself! Algarrobina is a syrup produced from the pods of the Black Carob tree, a leguminous tree that grows in South America. The carob syrup that you can get in Europe is most likely to be from the Carob tree, which is native to the Mediterranean region, but is similar to the one used for Algarrobina. Carob syrup is often used to make an alternative for chocolate, as it contains neither […]

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28Jun 12

The real story behind the first daiquiri

Cuba, for some reason, has always been a source of inspiration for the invention of drinks. There are many stories about bars like La Bodeguita del Medio, where Ernest Hemingway used to drink, and the history of sugar cane is attatched to the history of rum as much as it is to the history of the country. Today, I want to tell you about a very well-known cocktail, which can be mixed with a number of fruits and is a classic in Cuba and worldwide: the daiquiri. On the 20th June, 1898, American troops landed in Cuba to get involved in the Hispanic-Cuban-American war. They chose two beaches to do so: Siboney and Daiquiri, the latter near Santiago de Cuba in the south of the country. The American soldiers were wearing winter uniforms when they set out on their campaign, and dehydration became a huge problem. When they joined the […]

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24Jun 12

The mai tai, an out of this world drink

There are certain things about cocktails which I am very fussy about. Usually, if it includes an umbrella, I turn away in disgust. Moreover, if the garnish piles a slice of orange, a lemon twist, a mint sprig and even a straw in the glass, there is no way I am settling for it. At least, this is what I thought until I was presented with a beverage with all the above mentioned overcrowding my glass. Rules do happen to have exceptions, and the mai tai cocktail is mine. The mai tai is a drink based on rum, Curacao liqueur and lime juice, associated with Polynesian-style settings, also known as tiki bars. According to history, it was first concocted by Victor Bergeron in 1944 at his restaurant in Oakland, California. Vic admitted during an interview that he was actually trying to impress some friends from Tahiti whom, after trying his […]

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21Jun 12

The martini, a glamourous escape from reality

A couple of weeks ago, I was in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on a business trip. The company I was consulting for put me up at the Faena Hotel in a very fancy part of town, Puerto Madero. It’s actually a bit like the Lower East side of Manhattan, but with a Latin touch. On the Friday after my arrival, I wandered into the hotel’s bar, the Faena Cabaret, for a drink. The whole place looked like it was a set for the new James Bond saga, so I decided to order a cocktail fit for the occasion: a martini. Even if the Martini became a worldwide classic with James Bond’s immortal phrase “shaken not stirred”, many other famous and powerful people have favoured this rather simple mix over the last hundred years. Winston Churchill, Ernest Hemingway and Truman Capote, amongst others, have added to the lore of this cocktail which […]

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18Jun 12

The white lady, a gin classic with style

Although I can’t honestly say I am a big gin drinker, there is one gin that I do enjoy once in a while: the white lady. Today, I want to tell you about this drink and also about gin in general because there are some very interesing facts about it. (For another surprisingly good gin cocktail, try this French ’75.) One thing which has always struck me about gin is that, contrary to most spirits, it is said to have been invented by a person instead of a brand or country. Professor Franciscus de la Boe (1614-1672), lecturer of medicine at Leiden University, presented gin for the first time for medical purposes. He started off distilling alcohols and then mixed them with a type of berry called “juniperus communis”. The fruit was also known by its French name, genivere, that was called genever in The Netherlands and finally gin in […]

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15Jun 12

Mango Daiquiri

Havana´s great cocktail, Mango Daiquiri

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12Jun 12

Manhattan

There are those who believe any cocktail is refreshing and suitable for summer. And they have a point, but some do quench the thirst better than others.

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09Jun 12

Cransoma

Beijing is probably the most exciting city I’ve ever visited. After travelling halfway around the world –literally- I spent the first two days not knowing what was going on. It was probably the jet lag. Since I was doing consulting for a construction company, there was always entertainment mixed in with work. One evening, we were chauffeured to a night club called Suzie Wong in the Chaoyang district. This is where I got my first taste of a Beijing classic: the Cransoma cocktail. According to history, this tipple was concocted for the first time back in the early 1950s, in the Emergency Room Bar in Beijing. By “first time”, I mean the modern version of the cocktail because lychee liqueur, the key ingredient to a Cransoma, is a beverage which has been used for over 2,000 years by the Asian culture for a variety of purposes. The lychee nut is […]

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