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Cover: Shaken and stirred

Recipes with vodka

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
Recipe type: Cocktail
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
A work-in-progress tart cocktail
  • 8cl freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 6cl water
  • 5g sugar
  • 1 lemon peel swirl
  • 5cl vodka
  • 2cl cranberry juice
  • 2 cranberries
  • ice
  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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27Aug 12

Gazpacho Cocktail

Gazpacho CocktailNext destination: Spain! Here is a great cocktail recipe that turns Spain’s famous chilled summer soup, gazpacho, into a sublime and extremely healthy cocktail!

I would recommend attempting the gazpacho recipe first. The measures have to be just right to ensure that all the flavours shine through – tomato, pepper, garlic and vinegar. Just think of this as a summer version of the Bloody Mary. And you can serve up the remaining gazpacho for lunch or as an aperitif before dinner.

This Andalusian recipe is packed full of vitamins. Tomatoes are a super food that keep your skin younger for longer.

This recipe should give you enough mix for 4-5 tall glasses of Gazpacho Cocktail, with approximately 1 part vodka to 3 parts gazpacho. Served ice chilled, it is perfect for hot summer days – if you can catch one, that is!

Gazpacho Cocktail
Recipe type: Cocktail
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
Delicious and healthy cocktail combining the famous Spanish summer soup, gazpacho, with a vodka twist.
  • 1 kilo of ripe tomatoes (very red, very ripe!)
  • 1 green pepper – Italian long (60g)
  • ½ cucumber (125g)
  • 100g of onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 3 tbsp olive oil (Spanish is preferable)
  • 4-6 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • 24cl vodka
  1. Wash the tomatoes, cucumber and pepper. Drain.
  2. Take a food blender and add in the roughly chopped tomatoes. If you are feeling motivated, peel the tomatoes first.
  3. Deseed the pepper and cut off the stalk and ends. Roughly chop and add to the tomatoes.
  4. Peel the garlic and cut in half – add to the ingredients.
  5. Peel the onion and cut into pieces – add to the ingredients.
  6. Peel the cucumber, cut into pieces and add to the rest of the ingredients.
  7. Now close the blender – make sure the lid is on tight – and start to blend until you have a smooth mix without any lumps.
  8. Add the salt, pepper, olive oil and vinegar. I recommend you start with 3 tablespoons of vinegar, and you can add according to taste. Blend again for 5 seconds.
  9. If the gazpacho has a smooth and light consistency, then you can leave it. If it is still quite heavy, then you can add a bit of cold water. But not too much, or you will lose the wonderful flavours.
  10. For one serving, add about 6cl vodka to a glass and top off with the gazpacho.
  11. Stir vigorously and start sipping.


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25Jul 12

Chocolate Martini

chocolate martini
Chocolate martinis
bring back fond memories for me. I’ve done a lot of travelling in the Americas, but I’ve seen a little of Europe too, living for a few years in London, and working in a graphic design agency. At that time I had a British racing green sports car for a while and I would sometimes drive from London to Nice in the South of France.

I love to travel, in all sorts of ways and to all sorts of places… and for me it was the spirit of adventure that drove me to pack a few things on the roof and set off on the longish journey; across the English channel, meandering down through France, stopping off in Bordeaux, or to see friends in Clermont Ferrand – before snaking my way down to Nice on the Cote d’Azur; sometimes taking a little time to explore Provence on the way.

The journey itself was part of the adventure; you see I’m not one of those that just wants to get straight from A to B! After a few days of relaxed journeying, we would stay on the Nice harbour overlooking the sea and enjoy the buzz of the city with its Italianate architecture, stony beaches, meandering roads and lively nightclubs. It was here in that I sampled my first chocolate martini.

So I weave the story because of a personal link between the south of France and this creamy cocktail; not that the two are connected in any other way. There are lots of variations on the chocolate martini; and of the many that I’ve tried since my days in Nice, I find this the creamiest and most delicious. You can rim the glass with chocolate if you wish, and top off with a cherry.  I include white chocolate liqueur in my mix… if you’re a white chocolate fan, check out this white chocolate mousse too.

Chocolate Martini
Recipe type: Cocktail Drink
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
There are lots of variations on the chocolate martini; I find this mix of chocolate vodka, chocolate liqueur, creme de cacoa and milk, the creamiest and most delicious.
  • 4.5cl chocolate vodka
  • 9cl white chocolate liqueur
  • 2cl shot crème de cocoa
  • 9cl whole milk
  • crushed ice
  1. Fill a shaker with crushed ice, measure in the ingredients, give it a good shake and pour into a glass.


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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.)


• 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


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.


  • 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.


  • 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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19Apr 12

Sex on the Beach

Sex on the beachThe Sex on the Beach Cocktail (SOTB) is one of the first cocktails I learned how to make. It’s also one of the most popular.

Sex on the Beach is a delicious fruity drink that almost anyone would like. It’s a great tropical highball that is wonderful on hot summer nights or afternoons at the beach. Beginning bartenders should place Sex on the Beach as first on their list of “must-know-how-to-make.” (Another beach favourite is this Tropical Sundown.)

The SOTB is a relatively young and popular cocktail. It was invented approximately at the end of 80’s or beginning of the 90’s in order to promote peach schnapps in Florida. With the influx of tourism for spring break, Republic National Distributor devised a contest that would pay the bar that sold the most peach schnapps a bonus of $1,000. The bartender with the highest sales of schnapps at the winning bar would receive $100 as well. As you can imagine, there was quite a bit of competition!

A bartender named Ted Pizio mixed peach schnapps, vodka, orange juice and grenadine. When Pizio began to sell the sweet and tasty beverage, he was soon asked what it was called. On the spot, Pizio thought about all the partiers that he had seen and the reason why thousands of them came to Florida for spring break and said, “Sex on the Beach”!

There are three types of SOTB. The first one is an International Bartenders’ Association Official Cocktail; it is made from vodka, peach schnapps, orange juice and cranberry juice. This is one of my favourites.

The second type is made with vodka, Chambord, Midori, pineapple juice and cranberry juice. This variation is used by TGI Friday’s and is listed in the Mr. Boston Official Bartender’s Guide.

The third version is mine. Try it and tell me what you think:


  • 4.5cl vodka
  • 1.5cl peach schnapps
  • 1cl Chambord (raspberry liqueur)
  • 6cl cranberry juice
  • 6cl pineapple juice
  • crushed ice

How it’s made:
1. Shake all ingredients and strain into highball glass with ice.
2. Garnish with a lime wedge and cherry.

Time: less than 2 minutes
Makes: 1 cocktail

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28Mar 12

Bloody Mary

Bloody MaryBloody Mary. What a strange drink with an eery name! This tipple supposedly is the cure to all hangovers, but prescribing a cocktail to battle against the effects of the rest seems contradictory, to say the least.

Whether a Bloody Mary is good for hangovers is matter of much discussion. Most scientists claim that more alcohol (on top of a lot of it) cannot be good for you. However, many of my friends vow that tomato juice contains fructose, a type of sugar that helps your body metabolize alcohol more quickly, and that this is probably why the morning-after Bloody Mary seems to help with hangovers.

In my case, eating lots of carbohydrates also helps beat a bad hangover. So, if carbs and tomatoes are the cure, then both together in this clams linguine will get you feeling better in no time!

As to how it got its title, one theory indicates that the drink’s haunting name makes reference to Queen Mary via a lonely regular often found drinking at Harry’s American Bar in Paris in the early 1920s. Sitting alone, sipping on her drink, she reminded regulars of an imprisoned Queen Mary, who was also known as Bloody Mary.

The bartender at the place, Fernand “Pete” Petiot is credited with inventing the cocktail, mixing just vodka and tomato juice in equal parts to start with. Vodka was a drink brought over by the Russian refugees while canned tomato juice was an American invention fresh off the boats from the United States after World War 1.

In 1936, Petiot moved to New York to be the head barman at the St. Regis Hotel’s King Cole Bar, where he finished creating the legendary cocktail by adding pepper, lemon, Worcestershire Sauce and Tabasco to the original mix.

My personal experience is that a Bloody Mary on a difficult morning is a blessing. It tastes very much like a straight tomato juice, and the most distinct flavour in the palate is the Tabasco sauce mixed up with the Worcestershire sauce. To make an extra good one, I always insist on loads of pepper.


  • 4.5cl vodka
  • 9cl tomato juice
  • 1.5cl lemon juice
  • 2 drops of Tabasco sauce
  • 1 pinch of pepper

How it’s made:
1. Rub lemon or lime around rim of highball glass
2. Add ice to glass.
3. Mix vodka, tomato juice, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, salt, pepper and celery salt. Pour in glass.
4. Garnish with lemon or lime wedge, celery stalk, and a green olive.

Time: 5 minutes

Makes: 1 serving

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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.

• 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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