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Cover: Shaken and stirred

Recipes with cocktails

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
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.
  • 4.5cl chocolate vodka
  • 9cl white chocolate liqueur
  • 2cl shot crème de cocoa
  • 9cl whole milk
  • crushed ice
  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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01Jun 12

Cuba Libre

Cuba LibreCuba 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 Cuba by Christopher Columbus on his second trip to the New World, in 1502. Coca Cola was created somewhere around 1880 in the city of Atlanta by a chemist called John Pemberton. It would arrive in Cuba during the prominent period of their most famous poet, José Martí.

Influenced by this great poet and other intellectuals, both Cuba and the United States were fighting for independence. The combination of Coca Cola and rum tried to emphasize the libertarian spirit of both nations, embracing their common goal. The USA and Cuba were united in their desire for independence. From this desire came the name Cuba Libre, “a free Cuba.”

Unlike other rum-based cocktails like this strawberry tang, Cuba Libre tastes strongly of alcohol. The aroma in the glass, once served, is rich and extremely refreshing. It’s a drink that will leave an aftertaste on your palate that you will notice for hours after drinking it, especially if you prepare it with an aged rum (like a 12 year Havana Club).

Years after my trip to Cuba, I still think about the experience of a Cuba Libre on the island, and how the icons from two antagonistic worlds came to mix.


  • 1/2 lime
  • 12cl dark rum
  • 24cl Coca Cola

How to make it:
1. Squeeze the juice of half a lime into a Collins glass.
2. Drop the lime into the glass.
3. Add ice cubes.
4. Pour the rum into the glass.
5. Slowly pour the Coca Cola until the glass is full.
6. Stir well.

Time: 3 minutes
Makes: 1 cocktail

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30May 12


MojitoWhen 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 national drink of the New World. It is a drink which affects the nose more than the eyes. It may look a little uninteresting at first sight, but as soon as one experiences its scent and taste, it becomes a must for outdoor experiences and hot afternoons. I prefer the traditional drink, but a gooseberry mojito is nice as well.

The Mojito’s secret is the mint and the role it plays in the final aroma and taste of the cocktail. It is a perfect drink for a day in the countryside, for if there is a stream running nearby, there is almost certainly mint growing somewhere in the river bed. On a sunny July afternoon, Mojitos go perfectly with cucumber sandwiches and good company. The aroma of fresh mint and rum, mixed up with lemon juice and syrup will drive your senses crazy and give you a Hemingway experience wherever you may be.

What you need
• 4.5 cl of white rum
• Two stalks of fresh mint
• 1.5 cl of lemon juice
• 2 spoonfuls Syrup (or sugar)
• Ice (preferably crushed)
• Splash of mineral water

How Ernesto made it for Ernest

1. Put mint in a tall glass, with lemon juice and syrup. Let it sit for a few minutes, and then crush the mint against the sides of the glass without breaking the stalks, as you need to free that special mint aroma.
2. Once you have accomplished this, fill your tall glass with ice and add rum. Top it off with mineral water.
3. Now you are ready for a real sensation of a drink.

Time: 5 minutes
Makes: 1 cocktail

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04May 12

Fernet with Coke

Fernet with ColaToday, I want to tell you about a friend of mine and how he got me hooked on one of the most unlikely drinks in history. Rodrigo Bueno, “el Potro” (the stallion), as his friends called him, was a Jet Ski instructor I met in Benidorm, in the south of Spain. I don´t know if you have ever met an Argentine before, but I think he epitomized the concept: dark skin, amazing looks, and an undying love for a drink which I had never heard of before: Fernet Branca. For almost a fortnight, we got together and supped on this very strange drink. And every time, we ended up talking about childhood memories, friends, and all the topics which make you feel closer to home when you are abroad.

Fernet Branca (or just Fernet to Rodrigo and his friends) is an Italian liqueur, with a top-secret recipe that hasn’t changed since its creation in 1845. Fratelli Branca, one of the oldest companies to manufacture Fernet, say it includes 27 different herbs and spices taken from four continents: including South African aloe, gentian root, chamomile, iris, rhubarb, gum myrrh, red cinchona bark, galangal, cinnamon, zedoary, and yellow Iranian saffron.

The dark syrupy liqueur has a bitter, almost medicinal herbal flavor. While some would say it’s an acquired taste, in Argentina, it’s the national cocktail; more than 10 million bottles of it are consumed every year.

So what is so special about a drink which just consists of Fernet Branca and cola? Rodrigo explained it to me one day, with just a gesture. We were sitting on a terrace (I forget whose!) and I asked him that very question. He opened his arms, looked around, and said: “This, my friend, this”. I looked up and saw a bunch of people talking, laughing their heads off and having a good time. And that is what I cherish about my memories of Fernet and my Argentine friends.


  • 6 cl Fernet Branca
  • 27 cl Coke
  • Ice

How to make it like a real Argentine:
1. Start by pouring the Fernet over the ice in a tall frosted glass.
2. Slowly add the Coke.
3. When it begins to froth (which Fernet does, for some reason), sip.
4. Add more Coke and sip, until the right flavor combination has been reached.

Time: 1 minute
Makes: 1 cocktail

Note: Another typically Italian liqueur is limoncello. I suggest having a go at this Kirsch and limoncello Tanqueray presse.

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17Feb 12

Pisco Sour

Pisco SourMy drink for today is one of the oldest and most controversial drinks I have ever come across. When I arrived in Peru, I asked what the national drink was. They replied: Pisco Sour. A few months later, in Chile, I asked the same question and got the same answer. Although Chileans own the trademark of the brand “Pisco Sour,” Peruvians claim that the Quechua tribe was the first to mix the cocktail in a town called Pisco, hence the name. (Pisco is also known for its ceviche, which makes a nice meal to accompany your cocktail.) However, both use the drink as a welcome gesture. If in Chile or Peru, when someone says, “un Pisquito para mi amigo” (a small Pisco for my friend), to refuse would be an insult.

Pisco is a spirit made by distilling grapes in clay jugs. Egg whites are then added and shaken (not stirred!). Pisco Sour is easy to make and can only be mastered with patience and practice. Although its taste is sweet and refreshing, my advice is: do not attempt to drink too many with a local because they are used to it. Also, you can hardly taste the alcohol, so nothing seems to happen until too late.

Needed for a true Chilean/Peruvian Pisco sour:

  • 6 cl Pisco
  • 1 eggs
  • 2 spoonfuls icing sugar
  • 1.5 cl lemon juice
  • Handful of crushed ice

How to comfortably shake a drink with eggs:
1. Put ice into a cocktail shaker.
2. Add Pisco, icing sugar and egg white
3. Finally, add lemon juice and then shake energetically for a few seconds.
You will be able to consider yourself an expert when you can get the egg white to sit on top of your Pisco Sour in the shape of white froth. How? With lots of practice and patience. A proper Pisco Sour is served in a champagne glass. Sit down, relax with your visitors and give them the welcome of not one, but two countries.

Time: 5 minutes

Makes: 1 cocktail

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