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Cover: Shaken and stirred

Recipes with Maraschino cherry

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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12Jun 12

Manhattan

ManhattanDon’t let brown spirits scare you – the Manhattan is one of the finest and oldest cocktails. It was the first cocktail to use vermouth as a modifier. Since it is strong and simple, this tipple could be considered a drinking man’s cocktail, or the “king of cocktails“.

A popular myth suggests that the drink originated in the Manhattan Club in New York City in the early 1870s for a banquet. The success of the banquet made the drink fashionable, later prompting several people to request the drink by referring to the name of the club where it originated -“the Manhattan cocktail”.

However, there are prior references to several similar cocktail recipes called “Manhattans” and served in the Manhattan area. By one account, it was invented in the 1860s by a bartender at a bar on Broadway near Houston Street.

Although the exact beginning is unknown, one thing we do know for sure is that this tipple comes from New York City. Another famous drink in NYC is the Cosmopolitan, made popular by Sarah Jessica Parker. For a slight twist on that posh drink, try this blood orange cosmopolitan.

Traditional views insist that a Manhattan should be made with rye whiskey, and that’s how I like it. However, nowadays, it is more common to make it with with Canadian whisky or bourbon, both of which may contain no rye at all. Bourbon is good, but in my opinion, not as good as rye in this drink.

Remember to stir rather than shake. Why? In the first place, it makes the drink cold. Also, stirring with ice dilutes the drink, which adds volume and an important dimension to the final flavour. When you shake, you introduce tiny air bubbles into the drink, which gives the cocktail a cloudy look. You can shake if you want, but then your drink won’t be as esthetically pleasing.

Needed:

  • 4.5cl rye whisky
  • 1.5cl sweet vermouth
  • 2-3 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Maraschino cherry and a lemon slice for garnishing

How it’s done:

1. Pour the ingredients into a mixing glass with ice cubes.
2. Stir well.
3. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
4. Garnish with a cherry and a lemon slice.

Time: less than 2 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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