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Cover: Shaken and stirred

Recipes with rum

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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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.

Needed:

  • 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

Mojito

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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24Apr 12

Hot Toddy

Hot toddyA few years ago, I decided to join some friends who were working as ski instructors in Austria for a couple of weeks. I was actually on my way back from somewhere hot and wasn’t ready for the cold that hit me when I arrived in Lech. In order to warm myself up, I ran into a bar downtown and ordered a Hot Toddy. Luckily, the bartender was from Bolton and understood my request. He gave me a big smile and said, “There is nothing in the world that compares to a good Hot Toddy on a lousy day, is there lad?”

The Hot Toddy is usually known as a winter beverage made from a distilled spirit (whiskey or brandy preferably), sugar and water. It is believed to be very good for people who have the flu or are feeling under the weather. When I was growing up, sometimes my Dad would tell my Mum that he was not feeling very well. Her reply was always,“Shall I make you a Hot Toddy then, Love?”

As to where the name of the drink comes from, it has been suggested that the name comes from the Toddy drink in India produced by fermenting the sap of Palm trees. The term could have been introduced into Scotland by a member of the British East India Company. Another version says it is believed to have originated in 18th century Scotland as a mixed drink to make Scotch drinks more palatable to women. (This pink scotch drink may be pink, but it is delectable for men and women alike!)

Regardless of where it comes from, when I feel cold and somewhat miserable, a nice Hot Toddy always cheers me up.

Needed:

  • 3 cl of brandy, whiskey or rum
  • 1 teaspoon of honey
  • 1/4 lemon
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 tea bag of your favorite tea
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 star anise

How my Mum used to make it:

  1. Coat the bottom of a mug with the honey.
  2. Add the liquor.
  3. Squeeze in the juice from the lemon.
  4. Heat the cup of water and add the tea bag to make hot tea.
  5. Pour the hot tea into the mug and stir.
  6. Garnish with the cinnamon sticks and anise.

If you’re not a tea drinker, you can substitute coffee or simply add only the hot water.

Time: between 3 and 5 minutes
Makes: 1 tea size mug

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