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Cover: Shaken and stirred

Recipes with cointreau

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.

Needed:

  • 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.)

Needed:

• 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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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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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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06Apr 12

Singapore Sling

Singapore SlingWhen I think of extravagant places I have visited, Singapore always pops up in my mind. Although it is as complex and beautiful as the rest of Southeast Asia, there is something about this place that makes it unreal. The same happens whenever I taste the most famous cocktail this tiny country has ever produced: the Singapore Sling.

The drink is said to have originated at Singapore’s Raffles Hotel (named after Sir Stamford Raffles, founder of Modern Singapore as a trading post of the East India Company in 1819) by a bartender called Ngiam Tong Boon sometime in the early 1920’s. When in this country, you will be offered the Singapore Sling, also referred to as “the lion’s drink”. This is due to the fact that Singapore means “lion city” in Malayan.

The key (and often overlooked) ingredient in a Singapore Sling is Benedictine, a French herbal liqueur which boasts over 30 herbs in its mix. According to history, it was originally meant as a woman’s drink, hence the attractive pink colour and sweetness in its taste.

Another component is a dash of Angostura Bitters which adds a nice touch to various tipples, such as a magic flute or champagne cocktail.

This drink is extravagant as it mixes together 8 different beverages. That’s a lot for a country which is one of the 15 smallest in the world! Another enlightening fact is that Singapore has the world’s third highest GDP per capita and has the largest man-made fountain in the world.

Probably the oddest fact about this cocktail is that no one really knows what the original recipe is. The closest, though, is probably the one served at the Raffles Hotel. So if you are ever in Singapore, I highly recommend you visit the place and try this magnificent and extravagant cocktail.

Ingredients:
• 30 ml Gin.
• 15 ml Cherry Brandy.
• 120 ml Pineapple Juice.
• 15 ml Lime Juice.
• 7.5 ml Cointreau.
• 7.5 ml Dom Benedictine.
• 10 ml Grenadine.
• A Dash of Angostura Bitters
• Club soda.

How to prepare it:
1. Put the Gin, Benedictine, Lime juice, Grenadine, Cointreau, Pineapple juice and Bitters in a shaker with cracked ice and shake five times.
2. Pour into a chilled Collins glass.
3. Top off with club soda.
4. Pour Brandy over the back of a spoon into the center.
5. Garnish with a cherry and an umbrella.

Time: between 3 and 5 minutes
Makes: 1 cocktail

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03Apr 12

Sidecar

Sidecar CocktailLast month, a good friend invited me over to France for a couple of days. She has always had a great sense of humour and an undying passion for nights out. This trip, instead of sipping wine, she introduced me to a drink called the Sidecar.

The Sidecar was invented at the Ritz Hotel Bar in Paris during World War I, and was named after a certain captain who liked a tot or two before dinner. One evening at the Ritz, he was feeling under the weather and ordered an aperitif before dinner.

Since brandy was used to combat a cold in those days, the captain thought a little brandy would help. However, he didn’t want it straight, so he suggested that the bartender add lemon juice and Cointreau to lighten it up a little. After a few of them, he realised he was in no shape to drive his motorcycle and decided to get someone to drive him home while he sat in the sidecar, and thus the cocktail earned its name and reputation.

The main ingredient to a Sidecar is brandy, which is a spirit produced by distilling wine. It generally contains between 35 and 60 per cent alcohol by volume and is typically taken as an after dinner drink. The sidecar is considered a strong sour drink, because Cointreau -the other main spirit in it- is a French triple sec that contains around 40 per cent alcoholic volume.

Because of its high alcohol content, I suggest eating something to go with this tipple. If you want to stay with a French theme, try these crepes suzette.

After those few days in Paris, I have become quite a Sidecar fan. Not only because it is very effective if you are feeling under the weather, but also because the story behind the drink is one of the most amusing I have heard so far.

Ingredients:

  • 5cl Brandy
  • 2cl Cointreau
  • 2cl lemon juice

How it’s made:

  1. Rim a chilled cocktail glass with sugar.
  2. Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice cubes.
  3. Shake for 1 minute.
  4. Strain into the prepared cocktail glass.
  5. Garnish with an orange or lemon slice. (optional)

Time: 5 minutes

Serves: 1 cocktail

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