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Cover: Shaken and stirred

Recipes with ice

20Sep 12

Lemon Cranberry Splash

Lemon Cranberry Splash

Pucker up for this lemon cranberry splash cocktail! Unlike most of the cocktails I write about, this tipple I concoted myself. Well, that’s not to say that others don’t do the exact same thing, but in my travels, I have never seen one exactly like it.

The lemon and cranberry flavours seem to blend together, but there is a bit of a sour aftertaste. That’s why I usually like to rim my glass with sugar to offset the tart flavour of the fruit.

For the lemony flavour, I like to make my home-made lemonade. It takes a bit longer to prepare, but I prefer natural ingredients as opposed to the shop-bought version. However, I have been thinking about having a go at combining limoncello with a bit of cranberry juice to substitute for the lemonade. Using both limoncello and vodka will make the cocktail as a whole a bit stronger, though. So if you are considered a lightweight drinker, you could probably just take out the vodka all together.

As I said before, this is really just playing around with flavours. And in all honesty, I believe this is still a work in progress. I don’t believe I have quite perfected the recipe yet, so if you have any ideas, leave a comment and let me know!

A food complement to this cocktail might be these lemon and sesame chicken breasts.

Lemon Cranberry Splash
Author: 
Recipe type: Cocktail
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
 
A work-in-progress tart cocktail
Ingredients
  • 8cl freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 6cl water
  • 5g sugar
  • 1 lemon peel swirl
  • 5cl vodka
  • 2cl cranberry juice
  • 2 cranberries
  • ice
Instructions
  1. Squeeze the lemon juice into a large pitcher.
  2. Stir in the sugar until it completely dissolves.
  3. Add the water and the splash of cranberry juice, stirring all the while.
  4. When mixed together, pour the cranberry lemonade into a cocktail shaker with the vodka and ice.
  5. Meanwhile, use a slice of lemon to moisten the rim of your martini glass.
  6. Dip it in sugar so that it is completely covered.
  7. Shake the ingredients in the cocktail shaker until condensation forms on the outside of the glass.
  8. Pour into the martini glass and garnish with a lemon swirl and the cranberries.

 

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14Jul 12

Watermelon Sangria

Watermelon SangriaI told you about my first trip to Spain when I was 19. Well, last summer I returned to visit a friend’s son who is studying history at Granada University. On arrival, I was met by 10 jolly looking fellows who all had glasses in their hands. It was Friday evening, and they had decided to make a huge sangria in my honour. But not the classic sangria – rather, watermelon sangria! Today, I want to tell you about this drink, which is an ideal choice for an evening on the porch with friends.

As I´ve mentioned, sangria normally consists of a bottle of cheap red wine, chopped fruit, and a sweetener. This particular version I discovered on my last trip is a bit different and made specifically to bring out the flavour of the watermelon, which was excellent!

As the guest of honour, I was enlightened with the recipe of the sangria the merry young men had concocted, which I want to share with you. They also brought Spanish potato omelette for me to try – it is a typical “tapa”. If you visit Spain, don’t leave without trying some!

Just one piece of advice on the sangria: the amount of spirits added into the mix is up to the person making it. I share the measurements we used, but those amounts are open to interpretation. And that is exactly what makes it dangerous, especially in the company of 10 students on a Friday evening.

Watermelon Sangria
Author: 
Recipe type: Cocktail
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10
 
A fruity twist on the classic sangria
Ingredients
  • 1 bottle of dry white wine
  • 1 kilo of watermelon, cubed and deseeded
  • 3 limes, chopped
  • 10cl rum (Brugal is a good choice.)
  • 8cl citrusy syrup
  • 10cl triple sec
  • Abundant Ice
Instructions
  1. Mix the white wine with the fruit in a 1 litre pitcher, and let it sit for a full day in a refrigerator to allow time for the fruit flavours to blend with the wine.
  2. Add ice, rum, syrup and triple sec, stirring it together well.
  3. Serve in tall glasses with good company.


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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.

Needed:

  • 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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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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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.

Needed:

  • 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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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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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.

Ingredients:

  • 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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26Mar 12

White Russian

White Russian cocktailBack in 1998 I spent a winter in the United States working at a ski resort called Crested Butte, on the western side of Colorado. Today, I want to tell you about this experience and a drink which is not only ideal for cold winter afternoons, but also a mix that has gained enormous reputation over the last decade: the White Russian.

The cocktail was one of the first popular drinks based on vodka and appeared in bars in North America in late 1950’s, when a marketing campaign for beverages with vodka such as (vodka with cranberry) was put forth in the United States to promote the little-used alcohol. The White Russian first came into popular existence in 1965 with the advent of a recipe printed in the Oakland Tribune.

In my case, the White Russian came as a surprise. Not only because I was offered one on a chilly and windy afternoon and found its rich, creamy taste almost irresistible and great for the climate, but mainly because I discovered its secret that very first time: it is a very alcoholic cocktail. As an instructor friend put it, it’s a perfect drink both for someone who doesn’t really drink (because the flavour reminds you of an overly rich milkshake), as well as for someone who drinks too much (because you only need two or three and you’re there!!). Because of its white, creamy colour, you tend to forget its main ingredient is vodka.

After that first sip on a cold afternoon, the cocktail became a habit during my whole stay in Colorado. I was still, however, missing the final lesson. One evening, my friends introduced me to a film called “The Big Lebowski” where the main character, “the Dude”, (played by Jeff Bridges) spends most of his time on screen drinking White Russians. It is possibly one of the funniest films I have ever seen, and according to The New York Times, is the reason behind the resurge of the cocktail over the last decade.

If you are ever in a cold place and feel like you need a stiff vodka, maybe the White Russian is the answer to soften the taste. And if you are ever in a tight spot and need a good, loud laugh, then “The Big Lebowski” and “the Dude” are definitely the answer.

Ingredients:
• 30ml coffee-flavored liqueur
• 30ml vodka
• ½ cup cream or milk

How to make it:
1. In a mixing glass, combine the coffee-flavored liqueur, vodka and cream or milk.
2. Pour over ice in a highball glass.

Time: 2 minutes
Serves: 1 cocktail

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