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Cover: Shaken and stirred

Recipes with cocktail

02Jun 12

Cosmopolitan

CosmopolitanThe 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”.

The main ingredient to a Cosmopolitan is vodka, which is a beverage made from distilling fermented substances such as grains, potatoes, or sometimes fruit or sugar. In Manhattan, though, they don’t add just any vodka. These days, the hip thing is to use Absolut Citron Vodka, a variation of the original with a distinct taste of lemon and lime. The final taste is a light, fruity drink, ideal for a casual night out.

There are many variations of this tipple, including a blood orange cosmopolitan, which I highly recommend!

What really gives the Cosmopolitan character is its pink colour, which actually comes from the mix of the spirits and lime with cranberry juice. On its own, this juice can be quite tart, and is not intended as a drink in itself but rather as an ingredient in various cocktails. The final touch to the Cosmopolitan is Cointreau.

I have not been back to New York, but I still think of it as one of “the” places to visit in the world. The Cosmopolitan comes with it, and I think the name of the drink defines the vibe of the city like no other word can. And maybe that’s what makes it such a special drink.

Needed:

  • 4cl Vodka
  • 1.5cl Cointreau
  • 1.5cl Fresh lime juice
  • 3cl Cranberry juice

How it’s made:
1. Add all ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
2. Shake well and double strain into large cocktail glass.
3. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Time: 3 minutes
Makes: 1 serving

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25May 12

Lime Margarita

Lime MargaritaMexico 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 countries.

OK, so tequila belongs to Mexico. But where does the name “Margarita” come from? Although there is no solid proof regarding who invented the margarita, rumor has it that is was first served in a bar in Ensenada, Mexico, by a bartender named Don Carlos Orozco. One afternoon in October 1941, while experimenting with new mixes, a lady named Margarita Henkel, daughter of a German ambassador, walked into the bar. Don Carlos offered the drink he had concocted to Margarita and named it after her for being the first person to taste it. The cocktail was a mixture of tequila, triple sec and freshly squeezed lime juice.

After that, legend and history grew hand in hand.

Needed:
• 3 cl tequila
• 1.5 cl Triple Sec
• 3 cl lime juice, freshly squeezed
• 5 teaspoons sugar
• lime wedge (optional)
• crushed ice or ice cubes

How Don Carlos made his first Margarita:

  1. Take your lime wedge or a bit of Triple Sec and rub around edge of the glass. Turn it upside down and press the rim into salt laid on a plate.
  2. Shake the tequila, triple sec, lime juice and sugar in a shaker (or stir vigorously with a spoon) for at least 30 seconds.
  3. Pour the mix over ice into your salted glass.
  4. Last but not least, garnish the glass with a wedge of lemon, and serve.

Time: between 3 and 5 minutes
Makes: 1 cocktail

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17May 12

Tom Collins

Tom CollinsDuring 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, a sweeter type than the London dry brand, to prepare the cocktail. He then named the drink using a mix of both his name and the gin’s.

The Tom Collins became so famous worldwide that there is even a cocktail glass named after it. It became so popular, that it has inspired a load of spin-off drinks such as:

  • John Collins (replace the gin with whiskey)
  • Joe Collins (replace the gin with scotch)
  • Ivan Collins (replace the gin with vodka)
  • Sloe gin Tom Collins

To me, it tastes like delicious lemonade, with no noticeable alcohol trace. This can be very dangerous, especially on a warm afternoon in a tropical country. In other words, be careful how many you drink if you intend to walk back to your hotel after 7 hours of cricket.

Needed:

  • 45ml Old Tom gin
  • 30ml lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon of super fine sugar
  • 60ml club soda
  • 1 Maraschino cherry
  • 1 slice of orange

How to prepare it:
1. In a shaker half-filled with ice cubes, combine the gin, lemon juice and sugar. Shake well.
2. Strain into a Collins glass almost filled with ice cubes.
3. Add the club soda.
4. Stir and garnish with the cherry and the orange slice.

Time: between 2 and 3 minutes
Makes: 1 cocktail

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10May 12

Negroni

NegroniIf 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 the 1920’s, Florentine aristocracy used to meet at the Café Casoni, in a beautiful Renaissance building downtown Florence. The trendy drink for aristocrats at the time was the American cocktail, mixed with equal parts of Campari and Sweet Red Vermouth. History has it that Count Negroni grew bored of the drink and, one evening, asked his favourite bartender, Fosco Scarelli, to add gin into his American cocktail to see what would happen. The result is that almost 100 years later, Negroni is one of Italy’s favourite drinks. When asked about the drink, a friend from Florence boasted that he had more Negroni than blood in his system.

Whatever the season, whether served as a summer negroni or winter cocktail, this beverage is usually offered as an appetizer, as Campari is meant to awaken your taste buds and get you ready for a meal. Also, you’ll want to drink it slowly because it is a rather strong mix. As a cocktail, it is an acquired taste, and once you get used to it, the Negroni grows on you, just as everything Italian has been growing on me ever since I went to Florence for the first time.

Needed:

  • 3cl Gin
  • 3cl Campari
  • 3cl Sweet Red Vermouth
  • Ice cubes
  • Orange slice

How to make a Negroni:

  1. Pour all ingredients directly into an old fashioned glass filled with ice.
  2. Stir gently.
  3. Garnish with half an orange slice and a stirrer.

Time: about 1 minute
Makes: 1 cocktail

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01May 12

Death in the Afternoon

Death in the afternoonWhen 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 the infamous absinthe, which is a distilled, highly alcoholic beverage. It is an anise-flavoured spirit derived from botanicals, including wormwood. It originated in the Neuchatel canton of Switzerland in the late 18th century and became very popular in the early 20th century among Parisian artists and writers. Absinthe has often been portrayed as a dangerously addictive psychoactive drug. The chemical compound thujone, although present in the spirit in only tiny amounts, was the perfect excuse to have it banned. In the 1990s, there was a revival of the drink, and long-standing barriers to its production and sale were removed.

The only other beverage in a Death in the Afternoon is champagne, though there has been much arguing over what sort. According to Hemingway’s friends, he wasn’t too picky and drank almost anything, as did the characters in his novels. Whether the champagne was meant to be Brut or Extra Brut is only a small detail. (Also try this classic champagne cocktail.)

Death in the Afternoon is very strong. You can taste the smell of the absinthe, and it overpowers the champagne taste. However, the bubbles give it a nice tickle in your mouth. Regarding how to make the perfect one, Ernest Hemingway can end this story in his own words: “”Pour one jigger of absinthe into a champagne glass. Add iced champagne… Drink three to five of these slowly.”

 Needed:

  •  3cl absinthe
  •  Champagne

How to make it:

1. Pour absinthe into a champagne flute.
2.Top with chilled champagne.

Time: 1 minute

Makes: 1 cocktail

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27Apr 12

Watermelon Man

Watermelon ManAbout ten years ago, I decided to learn German. And the best way to do that, according to my brilliant scheme, was spending time in cities where it is spoken. I had heard a lot about Berlin and decided to start there. Of course, as soon as I arrived, I realized the futility of my plan. Seeing as I was only going to be spending a week there before going back home, I gave up on the project as soon as I landed and decided to check out the night life instead. This is how I first tried a cocktail called Watermelon Man and met a living legend.

The Watermelon Man was first concocted at a weekly party held in different bars in Berlin in the mid 90s called: Cookie’s parties. These parties were organized by one of Berlin’s top characters: Cookie himself. I went to one of his parties during my stay and actually got to meet him. He is by far one of the most passionate night owls I have ever met. Always up for a drink, always up for a party and eternally in good spirits. When I asked him how he had come up with the cocktail, he replied: “Because when it’s late, people who drink beer become boring. They need something stronger and sweeter, like love itself”! After a spike in popularity, Cookie and his partners were able to rent their own space, and obviously named it… Cookie’s Bar. Now it’s become a trendy central nightlife attraction in Berlin.

The key beverage in the cocktail is watermelon schnapps, which is a type of distilled alcoholic beverage. The word schnapps is derived from the German Schnaps, which can refer to any strong alcoholic drink, but particularly those containing at least 32% alcohol by volume. The rest of the ingredients include: vodka, cointreau and lime juice. It is a sweet, refreshing cocktail, ideal for a night club (much like this vodka and cranberry tipple).

When I asked Cookie where the name of his cocktail came from, he replied that there was only one thing in life which he loved more than night life, and that was Herbie Hancock, the legendary jazz musician. He named the drink after the song from his debut album “Takin Off”. After that week in Berlin, I could not speak a word of German but had made some great friends and have been back to Cookie’s Bar regularly over the years.

Needed:

  • 6cl vodka
  • 3cl Watermelon schnapps
  • 3cl Cointreau
  • 1.5cl lime juice
  • 1 bottle lemon lime soda

How it’s made:

1. Fill 2/3 of cocktail shaker with ice cubes.
2. Add vodka, watermelon schnapps, cointreau and lime juice in cocktail shaker and shake well.
3. Strain and pour into ice-filled Collins glass.
4. Top it off with lemon lime soda.
5. Garnish with lime wedge and serve with a straw.

Time: 3 minutes
Makes: 1 cocktail

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24Apr 12

Hot Toddy

Hot toddyA few years ago, I decided to join some friends who were working as ski instructors in Austria for a couple of weeks. I was actually on my way back from somewhere hot and wasn’t ready for the cold that hit me when I arrived in Lech. In order to warm myself up, I ran into a bar downtown and ordered a Hot Toddy. Luckily, the bartender was from Bolton and understood my request. He gave me a big smile and said, “There is nothing in the world that compares to a good Hot Toddy on a lousy day, is there lad?”

The Hot Toddy is usually known as a winter beverage made from a distilled spirit (whiskey or brandy preferably), sugar and water. It is believed to be very good for people who have the flu or are feeling under the weather. When I was growing up, sometimes my Dad would tell my Mum that he was not feeling very well. Her reply was always,“Shall I make you a Hot Toddy then, Love?”

As to where the name of the drink comes from, it has been suggested that the name comes from the Toddy drink in India produced by fermenting the sap of Palm trees. The term could have been introduced into Scotland by a member of the British East India Company. Another version says it is believed to have originated in 18th century Scotland as a mixed drink to make Scotch drinks more palatable to women. (This pink scotch drink may be pink, but it is delectable for men and women alike!)

Regardless of where it comes from, when I feel cold and somewhat miserable, a nice Hot Toddy always cheers me up.

Needed:

  • 3 cl of brandy, whiskey or rum
  • 1 teaspoon of honey
  • 1/4 lemon
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 tea bag of your favorite tea
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 star anise

How my Mum used to make it:

  1. Coat the bottom of a mug with the honey.
  2. Add the liquor.
  3. Squeeze in the juice from the lemon.
  4. Heat the cup of water and add the tea bag to make hot tea.
  5. Pour the hot tea into the mug and stir.
  6. Garnish with the cinnamon sticks and anise.

If you’re not a tea drinker, you can substitute coffee or simply add only the hot water.

Time: between 3 and 5 minutes
Makes: 1 tea size mug

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19Apr 12

Sex on the Beach

Sex on the beachThe Sex on the Beach Cocktail (SOTB) is one of the first cocktails I learned how to make. It’s also one of the most popular.

Sex on the Beach is a delicious fruity drink that almost anyone would like. It’s a great tropical highball that is wonderful on hot summer nights or afternoons at the beach. Beginning bartenders should place Sex on the Beach as first on their list of “must-know-how-to-make.” (Another beach favourite is this Tropical Sundown.)

The SOTB is a relatively young and popular cocktail. It was invented approximately at the end of 80’s or beginning of the 90’s in order to promote peach schnapps in Florida. With the influx of tourism for spring break, Republic National Distributor devised a contest that would pay the bar that sold the most peach schnapps a bonus of $1,000. The bartender with the highest sales of schnapps at the winning bar would receive $100 as well. As you can imagine, there was quite a bit of competition!

A bartender named Ted Pizio mixed peach schnapps, vodka, orange juice and grenadine. When Pizio began to sell the sweet and tasty beverage, he was soon asked what it was called. On the spot, Pizio thought about all the partiers that he had seen and the reason why thousands of them came to Florida for spring break and said, “Sex on the Beach”!

There are three types of SOTB. The first one is an International Bartenders’ Association Official Cocktail; it is made from vodka, peach schnapps, orange juice and cranberry juice. This is one of my favourites.

The second type is made with vodka, Chambord, Midori, pineapple juice and cranberry juice. This variation is used by TGI Friday’s and is listed in the Mr. Boston Official Bartender’s Guide.

The third version is mine. Try it and tell me what you think:

Needed:

  • 4.5cl vodka
  • 1.5cl peach schnapps
  • 1cl Chambord (raspberry liqueur)
  • 6cl cranberry juice
  • 6cl pineapple juice
  • crushed ice

How it’s made:
1. Shake all ingredients and strain into highball glass with ice.
2. Garnish with a lime wedge and cherry.

Time: less than 2 minutes
Makes: 1 cocktail

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16Apr 12

Xanté hot apple

Xanté Hot AppleLast year, I spent a couple of weeks hiking in the mountains of Patagonia, in the south of Argentina. The plan was to reach a mountain hut called “Refugio Laguna Negra”, a 5 hour hike from the nearest town. Once there, I wanted to do some ice skating on the frozen lake. I managed to lose the main trail, and by the time I finally reached the hut, it was almost dark and at subzero temperatures. I was met by a Swiss chap by the name of Carl, who was in charge of Laguna Negra. He immediately gave me a blanket and then did something extremely odd: he poured apple juice in a pan and put it on the stove. When I inquired, he simply replied: “Xanté hot apple for the cold”. This is how I was introduced to a relatively new and very fashionable drink.

Xanté hot apple is a potent warmer that mixes fresh apple juice with Xanté, a Swedish pear-cognac liqueur. According to Carl, it has displaced spiced hot wine as the favourite after-ski drink on the exclusive ski slopes of Verbier in Switzerland. (For a summer apple drink, try this rhubarb ginger apple cocktail.)

Xanté liqueur is a balanced blend of sweet Belgium pears and cognac from French distilleries. It is made with cognac matured for four years in oak barrels, which draws out the rich amber colour and fragrant notes of spicy vanilla and pears. The original recipe dates back to 1875, although it was a relatively unknown brand until the Swedish Tilander family acquired the formula in the late 1990s and reinvigorated it. Today, it is the second best-selling Scandinavian liqueur.

Although Xanté is 76 per cent alcohol, it does not feel that strong when mixed with apple juice. Its flavour is juicy and light, despite being an amber spirit. The pears are distinct and blend perfectly with the vanilla spices.

The original recipe for the Xanté hot apple comes from the Hotel Farinet’s Lounge Bar in Verbier. According to Carl, who worked on the ski slopes for 10 years, it is the best after-ski drink in the world. After the first one, my body and spirit started feeling a whole lot better. Carl just recommended one thing: drink Xanté hot apple when you have finished doing any activity, for it is a lot stronger than its flavour suggests.

Needed:

  • 17cl fresh apple juice
  • 6cl Xanté liqueur at room temperature
  • 2 or 3 cinnamon sticks

How to make it:

1. Heat fresh apple juice on the stovetop until steaming.
2. Pour hot apple juice into a large mug, and then add the Xanté liqueur.
3. Add cinnamon sticks to garnish.
4. Stir with the sticks and serve immediately.

Time: 5 minutes

Makes: 1 cocktail

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14Apr 12

Violette Royal

Violette RoyalTo be honest, I have never been a champagne drinker. When at a wedding, whisky or gin suit me a lot better. (However, combining the two into this French 75 cocktail is pretty tasty.) There is, though, a form of drinking champagne which I have embraced. It is quite rare, and I first tried it when a friend got married in the United States. It was, I admit, a very fancy reception. So there we were chitchatting -as one does at these events- when I was offered a bubbly purple drink. I tried it and absolutely loved it. The name of the cocktail is Violette Royale.

The Violette Royale has got only two ingredients: champagne and Crème de Violette, also known as violet liqueur. It dates back to the early 19th century when it was served with dry vermouth or alone as a cordial. Its name is a generic term for a liqueur with a natural violet flower flavouring and colouring with a brandy base, a neutral spirit base, or a combination of the two. Crème de Violette is made in France and Austria from macerated violets from the Alps.

The aroma and taste of the liqueur are distinctly sweet and floral. If you like old-fashioned violet candies, you’ll love Crème de Violette. There are two things in the liqueur that caught my attention: its beautiful purple colour and the sophisticated sweetness it gives the cocktail when mixed with champagne. Despite the density of the colour, it does not give the drink the sticky taste that many other liqueurs and crèmes give modern beverages.

To be quite honest, it is a perfect drink for a reception on a lawn. Floral, sweet and no trace of the bubbly bitterness a good Extra Brut should carry. After that event, every time I attend a wedding, I am on the lookout for a purple drink coming my way.

Needed:
2cl Crème de Violette
12cl Extra Brut champagne

How it’s made:
1. Pour Crème de Violette into a champagne flute, then top off with champagne.
2. Garnish with a violet.

Takes: 1 minute

Makes: 1 cocktail

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