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Cover: Shaken and stirred

07Jun 12

Piña Colada

One of Puerto Rico’s notable exports is its music, which is probably the predominant Caribbean rhythm heard in the United States. From the soft rhythm of the Puerto Rican danza, to the latest in reggaeton, they are definitely “in” when it comes to music, as is their national drink: the Piña Colada. The cocktail was introduced in the summer of 1954 at the Caribe Hilton’s Beachcomber Bar in San Juan, Puerto Rico, by a barman called Ramon “Monchito” Marrero. The story goes that the hotel manager had requested that “Monchito” come up with a brand new drink that would satisfy the palate of a very distinguished clientele. After three months of blending and shaking, using only national beverages and fruits, the first Piña Colada was served. The main ingredients to a Piña Colada are coconut milk, white rum and pineapple juice. Rum is the main drink in the whole of […]

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05Jun 12

Caipirinha

Today, I want to share my favourite beach drink with you; it goes hand-in-hand with a country which I dream of and cherish as one of the highlights of my travels: Brazil. The drink is called ‘Caipirinha’, and to me it closes the circle round a perfect afternoon at a Brazilian beach bar, while contemplating the ocean or chatting with the locals. The secret to a good Caipirinha, as a Rastafarian barman told me while making me one at Praia Do Amor (the Beach of Love) just outside Pipa in the North of Brazil, is to choose the right cachasa and limes. Cachasa is a fire water, and is basically made with cane sugar plants and a very simple distilation process. Thus, there are many Brazilians who make their own cachasa. Limes are grown and exported from Brazil to the rest of the world, and are for this reason delicious […]

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02Jun 12

Cosmopolitan

The first time I set foot on Manhattan Island, I finally understood what people meant when they spoke of New York in awe. It has a special vibe and many call it the hippest place in the world. And when I finally sat down for a drink, there was no doubt in my mind what it would be: the Carrie Bradshaw favourite, a Cosmopolitan cocktail. Often referred to as “a ladies drink” due to its frothy bright pink colour, the Cosmopolitan is a cocktail like no other in New York. It gained its popularity in the 1990s from its frequent mention on the television program Sex and the City, where Sarah Jessica Parker’s character Carrie Bradshaw ordered the drink whenever out with her friends. In a later episode, her friend Miranda jokingly refers to the Cosmopolitan’s popularity and asks why they stopped drinking them. Carrie replies, “because everyone else started”. […]

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01Jun 12

Cuba Libre

Cuba is a beautiful island; I visited this country in 1999 when they were celebrating the 50th anniversary of their revolution. While listening to their leader and then president Fidel Castro on his 9 hour marathon on public television, I realised something: here I was in La Habana, drinking a Cuba Libre (one of the country’s most emblematic beverages), which mixes rum with Coca Cola, a soft drink seen as one of the icons of the United States. This struck me as odd as the USA and Cuba are not the best of friends. Why would one of Cuba’s national drinks use a component from the USA? I decided to investigate further on the history of this drink. The story of how rum and Coca Cola were mixed dates back to the early 20th century. Sugarcane, which is the main ingredient in the distilling process of rum, was introduced to […]

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30May 12

Mojito

When I think of my days in Cuba, I think of gorgeous sandy beaches, exotic women with big white smiles, the face of Che Guevara on sign posts everywhere, and of Ernest Hemingway. During my stay in La Habana, I could sense his presence in many of the little streets of the old part of the city. Following in his footsteps I ended up in La Bodeguita, a local bar where Hemingway, according to the legend, used to sit and write. Ernesto, the oldest barman in the place, said he did sit there, but didn´t write as much as taste Mojitos, the drink the Bodeguita prides itself on. The Mojito, in honor of Hemingway and the beautiful island of Cuba, is going to be our cocktail of the day. The Mojito is a drink made with rum, which is fire water made by distilling sugar cane and is the first […]

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25May 12

Lime Margarita

Mexico is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful countries I have ever visited. It is also a place where fun is part of the day, every day. On any given day, at any given hour, Mexicans are always up for a good time, especially if the good time involves drinking their pride drink: tequila. Today, I want to share with you one of the best known cocktails worldwide: the lime margarita. (You can also try this margarita recipe and decide which one you like better.) The main ingredient in a lime margarita is tequila, which is a spirit made from the blue agave plant, primarily in the area surrounding the city of Tequila in the western state of Jalisco. Mexico is so proud of tequila that it has claimed the exclusive international right over the word, threatening legal actions against manufacturers of distilled blue agave spirits in other […]

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17May 12

Tom Collins

During my years on the road, I have learnt a great deal about local drinks and mixes in the different regions I have visited. And although every country is proud of a particular beverage, there are drinks which are famous anywhere you go. The Tom Collins is one of them. Whether in South America or Asia, in a big city or a beach bar, this cocktail is a must on every bartender’s list. The main ingredient to a Tom Collins is gin. It’s a tremendously refreshing drink and great to sip on hot, damp afternoons while watching the West Indies play England at cricket in Barbados. This is actually where I started drinking it. According to history, the Tom Collins was first mixed by an American bartender named James Collins, somewhere in the state of New York in the late 1870s. As the story goes, he used Old Tom gin, […]

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10May 12

Negroni

If I were able to choose where I came from, without thinking twice, I would pick Florence, Italy. Ever since I spent a couple of months in the city a few years ago, I fell in love with the architecture and the passionate way Italians speak and gesture with their hands in order to communicate. Also, one of my favourite drinks was invented in Florence: The Negroni. Very typically Italian, where everything is extravagant and over-the-top, the Negroni has not one or two, but three main ingredients: Gin, Campari and Sweet Red Vermouth. Campari is the one that really struck my attention because I had not seen it in a great many drinks before the Negroni. Campari is an alcoholic apéritif obtained from the infusion of herbs and fruit in alcohol and water. It is described as a bitter. So where does the name of the drink come from? In […]

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04May 12

Fernet with Coke

The flavor of feeling at home

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01May 12

Death in the Afternoon

When I was a teenager, my mother gave me a book called “Death in the Afternoon” one Christmas. It is an Ernest Hemingway classic, a nonfiction account of the customs of Spanish bullfighting. Many years later, I attended a party where I was offered a cocktail that happened to be called Death in the Afternoon too. At the time, it just felt like a coincidence, but after some research, I found out it was not only named in honour of the book, but also that it had been invented by the author himself! In 1932, Ernest Hemingway was living in Europe, and there is ample documentation of his time spent in bars and cafés across the continent. The cocktail itself was reportedly invented by Hemingway on one of the Channel Islands “with some Brits after a spot of nautical unpleasantness”. The key ingredient to a Death in the Afternoon is […]

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