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Cover: Shaken and stirred

Recipes with lime juice

24Jun 12

The mai tai, an out of this world drink

Mai TaiThere are certain things about cocktails which I am very fussy about. Usually, if it includes an umbrella, I turn away in disgust. Moreover, if the garnish piles a slice of orange, a lemon twist, a mint sprig and even a straw in the glass, there is no way I am settling for it. At least, this is what I thought until I was presented with a beverage with all the above mentioned overcrowding my glass. Rules do happen to have exceptions, and the mai tai cocktail is mine.

The mai tai is a drink based on rum, Curacao liqueur and lime juice, associated with Polynesian-style settings, also known as tiki bars. According to history, it was first concocted by Victor Bergeron in 1944 at his restaurant in Oakland, California. Vic admitted during an interview that he was actually trying to impress some friends from Tahiti whom, after trying his sweet colourful cocktail, promptly exclaimed “Mai Tai, Roa Ae”, which in Tahitian means “Out of this world, the best”.

The original version included large amounts of both white and dark Jamaican rum. Over the years, the recipe has changed a lot, disguising the rum under layers of fruit. Still, the white and dark give it a unique, scented and strong taste that mixes nicely with the sweetness of the rest of the ingredients. As a friend of mine put it, “a mai tai should taste like a holiday on a tropical island where there is nothing but sun, fun and a good hangover the next day.”

Needed:

  • 3cl white rum
  • 3cl dark rum
  • 1.5cl orange curacao
  • 1.5cl syrup
  • 1cl pineapple juice
  • 1cl lime juice

How to make it:
1.Pour all the ingredients except the dark rum into a shaker with ice cubes and shake for 30 seconds.
2.Strain into an old-fashioned glass with ice.
3.Top with the dark rum.
4.Garnish with one, some or all: orange slice, a lemon slice, a mint spring, a straw and an umbrella!

Time: 5 minutes
Makes: 1 serving

Note: The combination of fruits in this drink reminded me of a recipe that I saw for poached pineapple upside-down cake. It might make a great combination with the mai tai tipple!

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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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