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Cover: Shaken and stirred

Recipes with cocktail

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
Recipe type: Cocktail
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
The perfect frozen drink for summer
  • 4cl amaretto disaronno
  • 250g frozen peach slices
  • 50cl apple juice
  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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10Jul 12

Peruvian Algarrobina

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 caffeine nor an alkaloid that is found in chocolate and that can be toxic to some people and pets.

If you have a really sweet tooth, you could pair it with this basic sponge cake recipe. Eat them separately, or pour over the cocktail on the soft sponge for a moist treat.

Recipe type: Cocktail
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
  • 6cl Peruvian Pisco
  • 1.5cl carob syrup
  • 3cl condensed milk
  • 1 small egg yolk
  • 3 ice cubes
  • ground cinnamon for garnish
  1. Mix all the ingredients except the cinnamon in a blender, until the ice has liquified.
  2. Serve in a chilled glass and sprinkle with cinnamon.


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28Jun 12

The real story behind the first daiquiri

DaiquiriCuba, 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 Cuban forces, though, they were saved by a refreshing drink that the local soldiers served them: “La canchánchara”, a mix of rum, water, lemon and honey.

Many years after that event, Emilio Gonzalez (also know as “Maragoto”), a Spanish bartender, took that formula and turned it into a fancy cocktail served at the Plaza Hotel in La Habana. After that, it was inmortalized by Constantino Ribalaigua, “El Gran Constante”, at La Floridita, another famous bar in the Cuban capital. He tok the original recipe and invented the “frappé daiquiri”, a “Below Zero” version of the first daiquiri, using loads of ice and also adding a few drops of marraschino, a very delicate, sweet and scented liqueur. Then he gave it the magical touch: he just poured everything into a blender and the mix came out looking like a snowflake.

Maraschino liqueur is used in various cocktails, among which includes the morello aviation cocktail, a cherry-flavoured delight. It is a perfect, yet subtle, complement to many tipples. And garnishing it with a maraschino cherry is the finishing touch!

To begin with, it was known as the “Wild Daiquiri” or the “Original”. Over the decades, it has been modified so many times there is practically a different recipe and fruit in every summer resort around the world. The story of the drink, however, remains the same, as does the original mix of one of my favourite cocktails.


  • 3cl white rum
  • 1 spoonful of sugar
  • Half a squeezed lemon
  • Plenty of grinded ice
  • A drop of maraschino liqueur

How to make it:

1. Place all the ingredients in a blender and shake for at least 30 seconds.
2. Garnish with a lemon or lime wedge with a maraschino cherry.

Time: 3 minutes
Makes: 1 cocktail

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21Jun 12

The martini, a glamourous escape from reality

MartiniA 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 is linked to status, fame and glory. There is something about just ordering it which transports one to a better place, where dreams and real life collide, if only for a while.

The exact origin of the martini is unclear. One theory suggests it comes from a cocktail called a Martinez, which was first served at the Occidental Hotel in San Francisco in 1862. According to the myth, people used to gather in this bar before taking the evening ferry to the nearby town of Martinez. Another story claims it is named after a famous bartender who first concocted the drink at the Knickerbockers Hotel in New York City, in 1913.

A martini is made by mixing gin and dry vermouth, which is a fortified white wine, infused, distilled or macerated with herbs, spices, caramel and other ingredients. A quality martini should taste very clean and dry, go down smooth, and have some light herbal flavors (from the gin) and a little bit of tang (from the olives and vermouth).


  • 3cl gin
  • 1.5cl dry vermouth
  • A couple of olives or lemon twist

How it’s made:
1.Pour the ingredients into a mixing glass filled with ice.
2.Shake or stir for half a minute.
3.Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
4.Garnish with an olive or lemon twist.

Time: 3 minutes
Makes: 1 cocktail

Note: As you probably know, this is the classic martini, but there are an endless number of varieties. One such example is this Green Cowboy Martini. Not quite the original, but an interesting twist!

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18Jun 12

The white lady, a gin classic with style

White Lady CocktailAlthough 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 English. It became popular in the United Kingdom amongst the soldiers that came home after battles on the European continent. Furthermore, in 1708, Queen Anne taxed imported spirits heavily and lowered them for local producers, thus creating a flourishing local production of the spirit and a rise in its popularity.

Today, there are two basic types of gin in the market: the British version, called just gin or London gin, and the Dutch version, called Geneva schnapps or Holland’s gin. The fruit used to give gin its aroma is still the berry, produced in Germany or Italy.

The white lady is a very sophisticated beverage, and usually an after-dinner drink. The name itself is reminiscent of a posh evening party. It has a clean, fresh taste and is always best served extra cold. Although many people have had bad experiences with gin, this is a cocktail which is not very alcoholic; hence, the chance of a hangover is slim. As I said at the beginning, I am not a big gin drinker, but I definitely recomend a white lady once in a while.


  • 3cl gin
  • 1cl Cointreau
  •  1cl lemon juice
  • Ice

How it’s made:

1.Pour all beverages into a cocktail shaker.
2.Shake for no less than 30 seconds. (This cocktail must be served extra cold. If you are hosting a party, make sure to chill your cocktail glasses before serving.)
3.Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Time: 3 minutes

Makes: 1 cocktail

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15Jun 12

Mango Daiquiri

Mango DaquiriMango Daiquiri is one of the best classics, an international icon, having been created at the turn of the century in the town of Daiquiri in Havana, Cuba. This tipple is definitely one of my favourite cocktails for any season, although fruity drinks are often considered most refreshing in hotter weather.

Legend has it that this drink originated from a local businessman who had run out of imported gin and had to resort to using local rum for his drinks. At the time, the rum was of unreliable quality, so to mask its flavour, other ingredients were added.

Generally, a mango daiquiri will normally include sliced mango pieces, sweet and sour mix, and sometimes a small amount of orange-flavored liqueur and simple syrup. Some people prefer rum, while others like the light variety of this spirit. I personally am a fan of Cuban rum, and it suits any mango-flavoured or other fruity drinks magnificently. I also love the flavour that vodka and cointreau adds to it.

Additional ingredient alternatives for this mango beverage can be lime or lemon juice, -which I usually add-, and small measures of sugar to add sweetness. Either frozen or fresh mangos can be used for this drink, although many people report that ripe mangos yield a sweeter taste, and they prefer it to the frozen fruit. (For a non-alcoholic mango drink, try this Indian lassi.)


• 2 large mangos, peeled, flesh chopped
• 18.5cl white rum
• 12.5cl Cointreau
• 8cl fresh lime juice
• 6cl vodka
• 1 glass of crushed ice
• Fresh fruit slices to garnish

How it’s done:

1. Place mango, rum, Cointreau, lime juice, vodka and crushed ice in the jug of a blender and blend until smooth.
2. Divide the drink into two cold glasses.

3. Garnish with your favourite fruit slices and serve.

Time: 10 minutes
Makes: 2 cocktails

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12Jun 12


ManhattanDon’t let brown spirits scare you – the Manhattan is one of the finest and oldest cocktails. It was the first cocktail to use vermouth as a modifier. Since it is strong and simple, this tipple could be considered a drinking man’s cocktail, or the “king of cocktails“.

A popular myth suggests that the drink originated in the Manhattan Club in New York City in the early 1870s for a banquet. The success of the banquet made the drink fashionable, later prompting several people to request the drink by referring to the name of the club where it originated -“the Manhattan cocktail”.

However, there are prior references to several similar cocktail recipes called “Manhattans” and served in the Manhattan area. By one account, it was invented in the 1860s by a bartender at a bar on Broadway near Houston Street.

Although the exact beginning is unknown, one thing we do know for sure is that this tipple comes from New York City. Another famous drink in NYC is the Cosmopolitan, made popular by Sarah Jessica Parker. For a slight twist on that posh drink, try this blood orange cosmopolitan.

Traditional views insist that a Manhattan should be made with rye whiskey, and that’s how I like it. However, nowadays, it is more common to make it with with Canadian whisky or bourbon, both of which may contain no rye at all. Bourbon is good, but in my opinion, not as good as rye in this drink.

Remember to stir rather than shake. Why? In the first place, it makes the drink cold. Also, stirring with ice dilutes the drink, which adds volume and an important dimension to the final flavour. When you shake, you introduce tiny air bubbles into the drink, which gives the cocktail a cloudy look. You can shake if you want, but then your drink won’t be as esthetically pleasing.


  • 4.5cl rye whisky
  • 1.5cl sweet vermouth
  • 2-3 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Maraschino cherry and a lemon slice for garnishing

How it’s done:

1. Pour the ingredients into a mixing glass with ice cubes.
2. Stir well.
3. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
4. Garnish with a cherry and a lemon slice.

Time: less than 2 minutes
Makes: 1 cocktail

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09Jun 12


CransomaBeijing 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 a rare, subtropical Asian fruit similar in shape to a strawberry, with a red, bumpy outer shell that is about 3 centimetres in diameter. The shell protects the sticky, white fruit which is used to make the liqueur. It has a sweet, juicy flavour and aroma which is distinct from any other fruit you might have smelt. According to the Chinese, it is a symbol of love and romance because of its red, heart-shaped shell. (Also used to make a perfect love cocktail.)

The other main ingredient to a Cransoma is cranberry vodka. Although frowned upon by vodka puritans, it gives cocktails a wonderful fruity aftertaste, yet maintains the sting of the original flavour.

The Cransoma is a sweet, though refreshing, cocktail which has become a classic throughout Asia. While in Beijing, I asked how popular it was, and the answer I got was pretty amusing: “If Carrie Bradshaw lived in Beijing, she and her friends would drink Cransomas instead of Cosmopolitans”.


  • 35cl Tonic water
  • 1cl Apple juice
  • 2cl Strawberry liqueur
  • 3cl Lychee liqueur
  • 2cl Cranberry Vodka
  • 1 lychee to garnish

How to make it:
1. Pour the strawberry liqueur, cranberry vodka, lychee liqueur and apple juice into a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice cubes.
2. Shake for 45 seconds.
3. Strain into a cocktail glass. Top it off with tonic water and add lychee nut for garnish.

Time: 3 minutes

Makes: 1 cocktail

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07Jun 12

Piña Colada

Piña coladaOne 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 the Caribbean. It is distilled from sugarcane. The distillate, a clear liquid, is then usually aged in oak barrels.

As time passed, “Monchito” served his famous drink to thousands of hotel guests, including John Wayne and Gloria Swanson. In 1978, Puerto Rico declared the Piña Colada its national drink.

Maybe it’s the extra sweet taste of the cocktail, or maybe it’s the intense aroma of the coconut milk that always reminds people of the Caribbean. In any case, this drink summons images of white sandy beaches of a beautiful place, while the locals dance to the soft rhythm of a Puerto Rican danza.


  • 37.5cl chilled pineapple juice
  • 25cl coconut milk
  • 8cl Malibu coconut rum
  • 2 cups crushed ice

How it’s made:

  1. Pour pineapple juice, coconut milk, rum and ice in a blender and blend until combined.
  2. Pour among 4 glasses to serve.
  3. Garnish with a cherry, pineapple slice and umbrella.


Time: 5 minutes

Serves: 4 cocktails

Note: If you like fruity tropical drinks without alcohol, try this mango passion. Your designated driver will appreciate it!

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05Jun 12


CaipirinhaToday, 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 and very cheap in the country. One word of advice: do not, please, ever try and make a Caipirinha with lemons; the taste is horrible and it does not remind you of the ocean.

That night in Brazil I went to bed with the Rastafarian barman’s words circling in my head: ‘a good drink must never be short of the three things for which the Caipirinha is renowned: a little sweetness, a citric touch and a wonderful sense of freshness’.

So, If you want to surprise your friends with a different evening drink, make them Caipirinha and you will notice their hips starting to move as if they were actually Brazilians!


  • 4.5 cl Cachaça Fire Water (ask in your local Latin American store)
  •  2 limes cut into quarters
  • 3 generous spoonfuls of sugar
  • crushed ice

How it’s made:

  1. Put limes and sugar in a mortar.
  2. Crush the two ingredients until the limes have lost most of their juice, but never remove them. (This is an important part of making Caipirinhas, you must leave the limes in.)
  3. Add Cachasa and mix for a minute inside the mortar and then put in a cocktail shaker with crushed ice until it is half full. Shake thoroughly for a minute and then pour into a short whisky glass. (Caipirinhas are not served in cocktail glasses.) It looks good, and you get to drink plenty of them!
  4. For the final touch, add two straws and enjoy the evening and the hip movement!

Time: 5 minutes

Makes: 1 Cocktail

Note: If you like lime in your drink, have a look at these other “love potions” for more cocktail ideas.

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