In quite sharp contrast to the vast majority of older cocktails out there, the SIngapore Sling has a vast plethora of various bits and pieces of history and recipes attached to it. Unfortunately however, this is less than a blessing.

It’s proverbial soaking in varied historical notes does nothing to help in obtaining a proven history behind it, as alas they nearly all contradict each other in some manner.

What is accepted across the board however is that it was invented by Ngiam Tong Boon at the Long Bar, of the Raffles Hotel in Singapore, at some point between 1900 and 1915. And that its original recipe included the, still utilised, ingredients of gin, cherry brandy, and benedictine. Probably originally all in equal parts.

Whilst the Long Bar continues to this day to produce pre-mixed singapore slings, they have admitted openly to the fact that the original recipe was in fact lost somewhere in the middle of the 20th century, and that the modern day recipe was pulled together by Ngiamo Tong’s nephew in the 1970’s.

Despite its current namesake, it is also widely accepted that it was either originally called the Strait’s Sling, or that it is very closely based upon it.

Other varied bits and pieces of history are found all over the web, one especially good bit of research is found here. A particular favourite fact about the drink is its availability for free on all classes of the SIngapore Airways flight.

My personal recipe is a combination of a few of my prefered modern day variations found about the place. Balancing the gin with the herbal benedictine, and the sweetness of the cherry brandy with the tartness of cointreau and pineapple.

37.5ml Gin
12.5ml Cherry Brandy
10ml Cointreau
10ml Benedictine
80ml Pineapple
7.5ml Fresh Lime Juice
Dash Grenadine
Dash Soda water

Shake all but the grenadine and soda and single strain over ice in a a hurricane glass. Add the pineapple and soda to taste, before adding a dash of grenadine to sink to the base of the glass. Garnish with a pineapple chunk, a cherry, and a mint sprig.


The Sazerac is pretty widely accepted as one the oldest cocktails out there. Most certainly one of the oldest to be found popularised in the US.

Its name originating in 1859 in New Orleans, in John Schiller’s coffee house “The Sazerac Coffee House”, its recipe is still, after some tweaking, in usage around the world. However the recipe behind it is found as early as 1830, crafted by Antoine Amédée Peychaud, for usage with his namesake bitters.

During Absinthe’s long period of illegality (only reversed in 2007) in the US, many other herbal concoctions were used to try and achieve its unique taste. However it is certain that in the original, nothing but the finest absinthe would do.

It is, and has always been, built in a very certain manner:

60ml Whiskey (traditionally Rye)
12.5ml Absinthe
3 Dash Peychauds Bitters
1 Sugar Cube

Get two old fashioned rocks glasses. In one, fill with ice and and add the absinthe, leaving for a few moments to wet. In the other place the sugar cube and soak it in the bitters, pummel down with a muddler to produce a sugary paste (add drops of water if this is hard). Stir the ice and absinthe to coat the inside of the glass with the absinthe, then disgard the ice. Add the whiskey to the glass with the sugary paste and stir the mixture together. The transfer the mixture to the absinthe coated glass, briefly swirl by hand. Garnish with an orange zest, or no garnish – personal preference.

Notes. Harsh and cloying notes from the whiskey and absinth are present on initial taste, progressing to a smoother middle texture with the peychauds and sugar creating a subtle spicey note underneath the mixture. Ends on a long aniside taste at the back of the tongue.

Can also be made with a variety of spirits in place of the whiskey. Cognac and Aged Rum are two personal favourites. As the drink relies upon the base quality of the spirit used it is essential to use high-level spirits in the making of the drink.

So we continue…

The Martini

Popularly accepted history accepts that the origin of the martini lies in 1862 in San Francisco, named after the nearby town of Martinez, and found in the Occidental Hotel. The recipe oringaly calling for gin and sweet vermouth to be shaken with a slice of lemon and served.

This recipe however altered through the years, and through the easily home-made nature of gin itself became a true prohibition classic. The sweet vermouth being switched in favour of the dry vermouth, who’s taste covered the unsubtle burn of the cheap “bathtub” gin.

As the prohibition finished, and the increase of higher quality gins available began, the amount of vermouth added was steadily removed. The era of the dry martini began.

(The phrase “dry” refers to a martini made with little (to no) vermouth. And a “wet” martini obviously with far higher portions of vermouth.)

The appearance of vodka in a martini replacing the gin was not seen until the 1950’s and became popularised by Ian Flemming’s fictional character, James Bond. Purists still insist that despite vodka’s saturation of most modern-day sold martini’s that gin is still the original ingredient, and as such the vodka martini should go by the name “the Bradford” to prevent confusion.

There is a copious amount of tales surrounding how dry a martini can be made, ranging from the simple to the obscure. Many bars now have begun using spritzers of vermouth to simply coat the martini glass rather than using the vermouth in the prodcution of the drink. Others stick by Winston Churchills appraoch of simply chilling gin and then bowing in the direction of France (Vermouth’s origin), or the equally useful idea of letting sunlight shine through a bottle of vermouth onto the glass.

Garnishing is also quite varied, some sticking by the original lemon zest (personal favourite) and the traditional washed olive, and others varying to the obscure additions of coffee beans, herbs, and varied spices. In my opinion all but the lemon add an unnecessary extra element to the simple and powerful original taste.

As with the Manhattan, the martini can be made either by shaking or stirring. However, as nearly any bartender will tell you, stirring is truley the only way to enjoy the originally intended taste.

Specs for most martini’s served by me are as follows:

60ml Gin or Vodka
10ml Dry Vermouth
1 Lemon Rind

Build the boston glass and tin as you would a Manhattan, and add the vermouth over the ice. Stir to coat the ice and then strain remaining vermouth out of the tin. Add the lemon rind and spirit to the tin and coninue stirring until dilution hits the desired taste. Double strain into a frozen martini glass and garnish with a curled lemon rind.

Notes. Should sit on the tongue imparting subtle flavours throughout with only a mild background burn. Smooth texture courtesy of the vermouth is found in the middle of the drink, along with the lemon’s sharp citrus notes.

Must be drunk swiftly to enjoy the drink whilst it is at its perfect drinking temperature. I’ve known of bartenders to snap the base of a martini glass off, forcing the customer to drink it without putting it down once, through sheer annoyance at commonly seeing martini’s sitting, warming up, and losing their taste next to unaware patrons.

The addition of bitters, as was originally called for in the recipe, is a point of interest for me. They can impart beautifully subtle notes to the drink, and work nicely hand-in-hand with the spirit (particularily Gin) however obviously many bitters colour can ruin the clean appearance of the drink. Both Orange and Peach bitters work especially well for rounding the drink off, and making it a more approachable concoction.

On a side note I can’t really not mention the Vesper Martini.

Invented by Ian Flemming for his character, James Bond, this variation calls for a 2:1 ratio of gin to vodka, the addition of a large amount of vermouth, and the shaking of the drink before serving.

Not exactly my cup of tea, however a popularised (and thanks to its excess dillution, a more approachable) variation upon the classic.

The definitive history of the word “cocktail” is, and has always been as far as I can see, quite a debatable subject.

I for one am I great fan of the Savoy’s explanation on the topic, detailing a brief encounter between a southern american general and a Mexican princess known as “Coctel” apparently so entrancing in her beauty that the general decided to etch her name in history so she would be forevermore remembered.

Bit far fetched I admit…

Other more logical explanations draw the comparison between the tail of a male rooster, and its connotations to jesting and light-heartedness, and the period of prohibition where the disguising of alcohol in various “bittered slings” to fool the officials was quite the new-age thing to do.

And one more entertaining story lies with the delightful Miss Betsy Flannagan

Betsy, a barmaid in a tavern in Hall’s Corners, NY, served Betsy’s Bracers. During the Revolutionary War, American & French soldiers frequented it. American soldiers stole some male pheasants from the British & a wild party was had. While drinking they toasted to Betsy’s drink “Here’s to the divine liquor which is as delicious to the palate, as the cock’s tails are beautiful to the eye.” To which a French officer replied, “Vive le cocktail!”. There is reference to a Betsy Flanagan. Who knows which Betsy, was Betsy Flanagan. One story goes something along the lines of decorating the out side of a glass with a tail feather from a rooster. Some say that this is where Washington and his officers frequented. Washington wore feathers in his hat, and one of his officers toasted to “the cock’s tail”

However which way you look at it, as long as so little written corrospondence on the topic exists, no one answer is set in stone. Although the possibilities for long and suitably entertaining stories are endless. And long may it continue I say.

Read up in detail here.

Back to the topic at hand though.

Classic Cocktails

“A Classic cocktail is defined as a cocktail which appeared after the publication of Jerry Thomas‘ 1887 Bar-Tender’s Guide but before the end of Prohibition in the United States in 1934. This is distinct from a traditional cocktail from pre-1887 or a modern cocktail from after the end of Prohibition but before 1990.”

This is a bit too strict for my liking but it sets the tone for what were touching on here. Drinks harking back to the pre-prohibition days of experimentation. I’m going to classify my classics here as drinks so deeply set in cocktail history it shall never be forgotten or skimmed over.

Each individual one of the classic cocktails is found worldwide on nearly every bar and restaurants drinks list, and each has its own long and winding history.

To begin…

The Manhattan

Popularised belief behind its origin is that it originated at the, suitably named, Manhattan Club, New York, in the 1870’s to celebrate a banquet hosted by Winston Churchills mother for a presidential candidate. It’s success led to a demand for it around the area, having requests named after its club of origin (the manhattan cocktail).

Three main versions exist upon its basic build of Bourbon, Vermouth, and bitters. Namely the Dry, Sweet, and Perfect Manhattans. The basic variation is the type of vermouth used and also the ratio of it to the Bourbon. The ratios have been changed through the course of time however now they usually lie as follows:

Sweet: Bourbon, Sweet Vermouth, Peychauds (4:2:1)
Dry: Bourbon, Dry Vermouth, Orange Bitters (4:2:1)
Perfect: Bourbon, Dry Vermouth, Sweet Vermouth, Orange Bitters (4:1:1:1)

Also indisputable is the fact that the drink should most certainly be stirred down rather than shaken. Shaking imparts an unsightly foam upon the top of the drink and creates a dilutted taste far from the subtle bourbon notes it intends to impart.

The rationelle behind stirring a drink rather than shaking is to smoothly mix the ingredients together, chill all the constituent parts down to near freezing, yet to dilute the drink only slightly. Everyone has their own personal methodology to stirring a drink, however iv found the following to be the most effective;

First fill a boston glass half full with crushed ice and then add soda to it, filling to no higher than half-way. Then insert a boston tin into the resultant freezing cold water in the glass. Then add ice into the tin and proceed to build the drink.

This results in the fastest freezing of the liquid,without risking over-dilution. And also gives a recepticle for the discarding of any spare vermouth.

Using the above method is how I personally build the majority of my classics, and have also found it useful for the making of mint julips.

Here lies the specs for a perfect manhattan:

60ml Bourbon
7.5ml Sweet Vermouth
7.5ml Dry Vermouth
3 Dash Orange Bitters
1 Dash Peychauds

After building your boston glass and tin in the previously mentioned manner, 2/3 fill your tin with ice and proceed to add the vermouth. Stir the ice and churn to coat all the ice in it. If excess vermouth is left, discard it into the glass. Then add 40ml of the Bourbon to the mixture along with the bitters, begin to stir the drink down in the tin. Taste and add the remaining bourbon taste. Serve in a frozen martini glass and garnish with a curled orange rind.

The colour should be a beautiful mahogony-browny red.

Notes. Strong bourbon notes throughout sit on the tongue. An underlying spice from the bitters and orange rind is present on the intial taste and returns at the end. The vermouth’s almost medicinal notes should only be found in the background, adding just the correct balance to the bourbon’s fiery texture.

The Manhattan is these days most commonly served in a martini glass, however originally it wasn’t uncommon to found it served  in a rocks glass. Served short on ice is in fact my prefered way to serve a dry manhattan as I have found the dry vermouth to be overpowering without the addes gradual dilution from the ice.

Also looks mint if you ask me.

The Bitter Truth…

July 10, 2009

The recent, well, relatively, recent launch of The Bitter Truth range of aromatic and flavoured bitters inspired me to start looking into the varied ranges of bitters out there on the market. And it led to my swift realization that I was only acquainted with a fraction of what was available.

So here lies my findings, a quick perusal through their history. Got to love the pre-prohibition stories you find our there!

Bitters originally started out as medicinal aids, sold in pharmacies and health stores for the curing of many varied ailments. Tradtionally served in brandy, Angostura bitters were (and still to this day) used to settle an upset stomach or indegestion.

Their popularity however was swiftly culled with the introduction of the Pure Food & Health Act in 1906, regulating the selling of any “Medicines” that could be detrimonous to your health. Obviously the alcoholic nature and serving of such bitter concoctions was classified as such and thereforth their decline began.

Rediscovered many years later these bitters swiftly worked their way back into the build of many a classic cocktail. Their herbal undertones imparting a light undernote to otherwise harsh and cloying drinks.

These bitters, starting with only a few available, have erupted of late onto the market. With the introduction on orange bitters only a few years ago opening up whole realms of drink options, brands have swiftly released concoction after concoction to the on-trade.

I need not list all the available but my personal favourite of late is the Fee Brothers Mint bitters. Imparting a delightfully subtle undertone of freshly picked mint along with light earthy notes, it can transform a so-so cocktail into a true delight.

Useful reading here and here.

Did I Miss Something…

July 10, 2009

When did the Mint Julip become a old biddy’s drink?!

This classic, well-crafted, cocktail, when made in the hands of a good bartender is the epitome of sunny weather refreshment.

The combination of floral, strong, and sweet sits on the tongue like there’s no tomorrow. Opening up your tastebuds to the Bourbon’s complexity without paralysing your mouth with its inherent burn.

Apparently first recorded in 1803 described as a ““dram of spirituous liquor that has mint in it, taken by Virginians in the morning.”. Finding its historical roots in an ancient Arabic drink called a Julab, combining rose petals, water, and sugar which produced a scent believed to impart instant benifits upon the drinker. As this drink swiftly spred to the Mediterranean regions the rose petals were changed in favour of mint, a more widespread local herb. So began the Julip’s rise to popularity.

It is believed to have arrived in the USA in the early 1700’s as a morning pick-me-up for the land laborours, originally produced with Rye whiskey or Rum as its constituant alcohol parts. By 1938 however it was established as the Kentucky Derby’s official drink of the races, and so it continues to this day.

The below is a brief excert I like to think summarises the Julip’s mood setting tones:

By William Alexander Percy

[From “A Small Boy’s Heroes”, Lanterns on the Levee, the autobiography of William Alexander Percy (Louisiana State University Press, 1988)]

“Father and General Catchins and Captain McNeilly and Captain Wat Stone and Mr. Everman would forgather every so often on our front gallery. These meeting must habitually have taken place in summer, because I remember Mother would be in white, looking very pretty, and would immediately set about making a mint julep for the gentlemen – no hors d’oeuvres, no sandwiches, no cocktails, just a mint julep. After the first long swallow – really a slow and noiseless suck, because the thick crushed ice comes against your teeth and the ice must be kept out and the liquor let in – Cap Mac would say: “Very fine, Camille, you make the best julep in the world.” She probably did. Certainly her juleps had nothing in common with those hybrid concoctions one buys in bars the world over under that name. It would have been sacrilege to add lemon, or a slice of orange or of pineapple, or one of these wretched maraschino cherries.

First you needed excellent bourbon whisky; rye or Scotch would not do at all. Then you put half an inch of sugar in the bottom of the glass and merely dampened it with water. Next, very quickly – and here is the trick in the procedure – you crushed your ice, actually powdered it, preferably in a towel with a wooden mallet, so quickly that it remained dry, and slipping two sprigs of fresh mint against the inside of the glass, you crammed the ice in right to the brim, packing it with your hand. Last you filled the glass, which apparently had no room left for anything else, with bourbon, the older the better, and grated a bit of nutmeg on the top.

The glass immediately frosted and you settled back in your chair for a half an hour of sedate cumulative bliss. Although you stirred the sugar at the bottom, it never all melted, therefore at the end of the half hour there was left a delicious mess of ice and mint and whisky which a small boy was allowed to consume with calm rapture. Probably the anticipation of this phase of a julep was what held me on the outskirts of these meetings rather than the excitement of the discussion, which often I did not understand.”

The recipes themselves most certainly don’t debate the ingredients. Mint, Sugar, Ice, and a healthy dose of Bourbon (the older the better). However, the build, and quantity, of the ingredients is, and always has been, in debate.

The below is as I quite like putting it together. Neither sweet nor bitter, neither overpoweringly strong nor watered down:

60ml Bourbon
12-15 Small to Medium sized Mint Leaves
2-4 Bar Spoons brown sugar (never, ever, ever, ever Gomme)

Add the sugar, varying to taste, in the base of tall glass (if spare, a boston tin is perfect) and add a drop of water to the mixure. Pulverise the sugar into a paste with a muddler and spread around the base of your glass. Pick your mint, being careful to include no stems or to tear the mint and, after briefly slapping it to releae flavour, add to the glass. Lightly use a muddler to coat the mint in the sugar paste throughout. Fill your glass to the brim with crushed ice and churn slightly to spread the ingredients through the depth of the drink. Then quickly add your Bourbon before any dilution occurs and again churn lightly to spread the flavour throughout. Taste the drink now to check the correct balance of flavours. Add additional amounts of individual ingredients to taste.

Garnish with many a mint sprig, forcing the customer to practically drink through a forest of the stuff! The classic addition of grated nutmeg on the top is not to my taste but is certainly to many peoples taste, adding a light spice which is very complimentary to the Bourbon.

Exactly as I like it.

On a Sour Note…

July 8, 2009

It’s an easy enough mistake (and one i’m heartily guilty of on occasion) when making drinks these days to swing one of two main ways; to get fixated on your classics, your history, and force this upon the customer, waxing lyrical until they simply don’t care anymore. Or to go the other way, getting so tied down by the customer that your reportoire of drinks simply consists of sweet, generic-tasting drinks following a constant 2:1:3 ratio of spirit, liquor, and juice.

Neither are exactly ideal and most certainly a good bartender they do not maketh.

That said however it’s hardly taxing to hit a nice middle-ground. Hitting a nice balance of sweet and sour, whilst still maintaining a deep underlying amount of spirit knowledge and practical mixology.

My personal fave to hit such types of drinks is in the form of your widely-known family of drinks…

The Sours

I’m pretty sure you can guess the make-up of these drinks. A basic 2:1:1 ratio of spirit, sour, and sweet, with the addition of an egg white to bind the contrasting tastes together into a well balanced drink.

The oldest mention of a sour, based on whiskey, is found in 1870, in a Wisconsin based magazine.

Since then however this versatile build of drink has been utilised everywhere. Taking little-to-no time to cobble together it’s a perfect basis for exploration into the expansive world of spirits and liquors.

We all end up having our personal favourites though, and of late the following couple of drinks have swiftly worked their way into my top recomendations for the uninitiated into the world of cocktails.

The Honey-Berry Sour

We start off with a drink that first caught my eye in the lengthy, and sometimes dubious, Diffords cocktail guide. Not neccesarily trusting the initial specs I altered them to suit the following:

25ml Krupnik
25ml Chambord
12.5ml Cherry Marnier
10ml Lemon Juice
10ml Gomme
1 Egg white.

Dry-shake the ingredients (without ice) briefly, then add ice and proceed to shake hard. Single strain into a rocks glass over ice and garnish with a lemon slice and a cherry.

Notes. A cloyingly sweet start to the drink swiftly descends into a tart lemon and berry middle. Velvety texture due to the egg white and cherry marnier sticks to the tongue and leaves you on the bitter-sweet taste of the krupnik.

Black-Forest Sour

This one’s a variation upon a drink I first found on the Bluu, Nottingham‘s cocktail list in 2007. Originally in the form of a martini I found it to be far too sickly for most peoples taste. However with the simple souring down of the drink its become one of my most frequently served concoctions of late.

25ml Amaretto
25ml Chambord*
12.5ml Cherry Marnier
10ml Cranberry Juice
10ml Lemon Juice
10ml Gomme

Note no egg white in this sour. The drink has a sticky consistency that still manages to maintain its delicately balanced nature, egg white overpowers this.

Shake all hard and single strain over ice in a rocks glass. Add dash of soda if needed to taste. Garnish with skewered blueberries and a mint sprig.

Notes. As its namesake suggests the drink both begins and carries throughout on a black-forest-esque taste. Sticky sweet notes are present in the middle of the drink and carry through to finish on a quite tart note. Very easy to drink and can be produced using even the most basic of back bars. Decidedly more-ish. Not subtle in the slightest, however appealing in its nature.

*Can also be altered by the removal of chambord and addition of a lightly spiced, aged rum. The inclusion of an egg white is essential to the obtaining of the ideal taste, as the rum is far less binding a liquor opposed to the chambord. This results in a a far more deep and fierce tasting drink.

The Old Fashioned

A true thing of beauty.

Versatile, simple, elegant, and strong. Very, very strong.

Stories abound regards its history. Varying from the plausible to the distinctly implausible. One thing is clear however, the old fashioned is one of, and quite probably THE, oldest cocktail recorded in history.

Articles on the topic are dime-a-dozen all over the internet, so I hardly need to revisit it all again. However I encourage you to read up on the subject here and here and their subsequent links.

The recipe I tend to adhere to is as follows:

50ml Bourbon
5ml Grand Marnier
2 Dash Angostura Bitters
1 Dash Orange Bitters
1 Orange Rind
1 Small Lemon Zest
1 Sugar Cube
1 1cm cubed sugar cube

Cover the top of an old fashioned rocks glass with a napkin and place the sugar cube on top of it (this is done to prevent excess bitters form spoiling the taste of the drink).Dash bitters on to the sugar and then remove napkin allowing sugar cube to drop into base of glass. Add Grand Marnier and muddle sugar cube into a paste. Add orange and lemon to base of glass and continue to muddle to release the fruit oils. Add a single cube of ice and stir to dilute paste. Add initial portion of bourbon to the glass and stir, adding 2-3 ice cubes at intervals, and then another 10ml portion of bourbon. Continue as so until glass is approaching full. This process should take between 8-12 minutes and no less. Twist an orange zest over the top of drink to coat top with citrus oils and serve immediately. The resulting drink should be on the verge of perfect dilution, allowing the drinks taste to hit perfection just as the initial sips are being made. Garnish is entirely personal choice however I traditionally add a single lemon zest to the top, curled.

Notes. Subtle yet overpowering. The dilution is key to bringing out the hidden textures of the bourbon base and the bitters floral undertones. Fruit and citrus is present throughout the drink. Ending on a long-lasting earthy taste from the whiskey.

Hard to make perfect. Even for the experienced bartender a simple drop too much of any ingredient can spoil the entire complex mixture. Badly made, it is second to none in how to ruin a good whiskey. Well made, few can argue with its perfection.

Discrepancies inherently lie with every bartender in how to build this drink. However, I have found the above to be the most crowd pleasing and satisfying of the many alternatives.

Variations are numerous. The build inherently bringing out the subtleties of any base spirit, I have seen great alternatives using all manner of spirit, varyubg from the logical using rum, to the obscure, using 80 proof liquors such as patron xo cafe.

How now,

Isn’t it strange how certain places, moments, drinks, and spirits seem to somehow impart in you a certain emotion or mood?

I quite like it.

Example, the classic sambuca “last time I did that I…” response. Or tequila (silly people).

However, if you head beneath the surface of it all you find certain drinks attached to very defining emotions. It’s quite interesting.

Here’s a few off the top of my head. The base spirit and my instinctive mood-based and classic drink derived from it.

(Nothing essentially innovative here, a few variants, but a collection of classic mood drinks no bartender should be unaware of.)


French Martini (Bluu variant)

37.5ml Berry (infused preferably) Vodka
12.5ml Chambord (or other suitable liquor)
50ml Pineapple Juice
7.5ml Fresh Lime Juice
Dash Runny Honey
2 Dash Orange Bitters

Shake all, excluding lime husks, and fine strain into a frozen martini glass. Garnish with a pineapple leaf scewered to three summer fruits.

Notes. The pineapple’s resultant foam (from shaking) starts the drink with a silky smooth beginning, continuing swiftly into the sweet notes of the Chambord binding with the honey’s clinging sweetness. The lime and bitters are present throughout adding a slight bitter note to the drinks texture. Ends on a long-lasting pineapple-based tartness.

Most certainly a definitive modern day vodka-based classic. Summarises the rich and berry-based sweetness many bar-goers believe to be defining in the nature of the cocktail. Nothing overtly exciting, but as one slightly less-than-courteous customer once pointed out it is a drink, if ever there was one, that can give a date a romantic ending“. Almost complete blanking of the alcohol taste leads to a deceptively morish concoction.

Hits the nail on the head with regards what vodka is associated with these days. Masked alcohol burn, excessive intake, slightly tacky, and for some reason, ever so slightly upmarket.

Summarised history can be found here, or in fact in thousands of other places. Google it my dears.


Tom Collins

60ml Gin
15ml Fresh Lemon Juice
10ml Gomme
Top with Soda

Shake and single strain into a chilled collins glass filled with crushed ice. Top with dash of soda. Garnish with a lemon slice.

Notes. The definitive gin cocktail. Gin’s underlying burn is masked by the lemon and gomme, whilst still imparting its herbal and floral undertones to the drink. Nothing offensive to be found here. A perfect balance of sweet and sour.

Almost impossible to go wrong with. The basis of countless variations, a perfect build to combine with any additional flavours. A personal favourite of late is the addition of kwai feh and orange bitters resulting in a beautifully refreshing tall drink.

For me the basic Tom Collins is as defining to gin as the botanicals themselves. A social, yet classy, drink if ever there was one. Goes down quickly and leaves a clean pallete. Summarises gin’s history of seedy speak easys, aristocratic narcissism, and deceptive alcohol content into a single drink. Simple, refreshing, and dangerous.

The (lengthy and disputed) history can be read about here and here.

Rum (Rhum)


60ml Rum (Personally I prefer lightly spiced varieties such as the Angostura range)
15-20ml Fresh Lime Juice (to taste)
15-25ml Gomme (to taste)

Shake hard and double strain into a frozen daiquiri glass. Garnish with a lime wheel.

Notes. A well made daiquiri (an unfortunate rarity of late) is a beautifuly balanced drink. Sour notes cling to the tongue along with the dark sweetness of the rum throughout. The addition of the gomme is practically unnoticeable but helps to produce a far smoother texture. End on a spicey note added by the rum.

A true all-time favourite for many an alcohol lover. Rum’s inherent nature of unrefined, heated, and seedy fun is represented throughout. Fun, fun, and more fun.

History can be found here.



37.5ml Silver Tequila
12.5ml Cointreau (Grand Marnier for a smoother finish)
12.5ml Lime Juice
Dash Gomme

Shake all extremely hard and double strain into a half salt-rimmed, frozen margarita glass.

Notes. The tequila’s fiesty taste is present from the first salt-infused sip until the end. The triple sec and lime help balance the drink without overtaking its simple and fearsome taste.

A party drink through-and-through. Not subtle or even attempting to be. Of late, unfortunately along with many tequilas, has been affected by a certain large corporation‘s branding as being a quite tacky and tasteless drink to order. Nothing wrong about this drink though. Hits the spot and keeps on going.

History can be found here.


Old Fashioned






Im not going to even to attempt to do this drink a disservice by summarising it in a few words. An article on it will follow shortly.

Watch this space.

To work I go…

How now,

It’s been a busy few days. A record breaker at work, spirit training left right and centre, and a roof in my house falling in.

Exciting times.

However i’v got four more beauties for you to peruse, and one distinctly bad idea for you to indulge in.

So to start it all,

Hands down my favourite tipple of the moment. A hand-crafted beauty courtesy of Mr Huw Sinclair.

The Dragonfly Martini

60ml Belvedere Pomaranze
10ml Mandarin Napoleon
2 Lemon Zest
2 Dash Orange Bitters

Coat ice in the Mandarin Napoleon, stirring to ensure total coverage. Drain remainder off. Then add vodka ensuring to stir slowly and spread liquor throughout. Add lemon zests after two minutes and continue to stir for a remaining minute.

* Dragonfly martini glass entirely optional but non-the-less very pretty 😀

Notes. Produces a beautifully smooth and textured martini. The subtle notes of citrus sweetness cling to the vodkas initial burn and don’t let go until the very end. Imparts a bitter undertone on the tongue courtesy of the bitters which transforms into a long-lasting citrus note. Not for everyone, but a must for the martini-fan.


The Devil’s Sangria

One of my own here. A bastard of a drink but kills it regards nights out on the hard stuff. Wouldn’t recommend many more than three a person though(!)

25ml Silver Tequila
12.5ml Ruby Port
12.5ml Dubonnet
5ml Lemon Juice
5ml Gomme
Dash of Cinnamon Gomme
3 Dash Peychauds

Shake hard and double strain into a frozen martini glass. Garnish with a scared look.

Notes. Kicks like a mule throughout. The tequila’s fiery taste binding to the port’s richness, cinnamon’s sweetness, and dubonnet’s herbal notes producing a fierce concoction distinctly lacking in subtlety. Despite that, the drink imparts an enjoyable complexity upon the tongue. Long lasting herbal notes lie on the tongue for the duration. Ending on a mild-liqourice zest thanks to the Peychauds.

Phish Phood

Very much not a summer-time refresher, far from it. But Phish Phoods charm, and namesake, lie with its simplistic and logical tie in with the Ben & Jerry ice cream itself. After-dinner, few past a Brandy Alexander can beat it.

50ml Mozart Amade (Choc Orange Liquor)
12.5ml Cherry Marnier
2 x 12.5ml Kahlua
50ml Half & Half (50% Milk, 50& Cream)
Dash Vanilla Essence

Shake all excluding one portion of Kahlua over ice. Drip one portion Kahlua into large brandy balloon filled with ice to sit on bottom. Single strain all rest over the ice to layer above. Dust top with chocolate powder and garnish with three coffee beans.

Notes. Smooth ice-cream flavours sit nicely alongside the clinging coffee and silky dark orange notes. Continues smooth throughout and ends on the vanilla’s slight hint of spice. The brandy balloons swiftness to gain condensation adds ot the decadent appearance of the drink.

Mozart’s Ghost

A alteration upon the original, named similarly. Courtesy of Mike Lloyd, Nottingham for the original.

Nearly identical build to the above Phish Phood.

50ml Mozart White
25ml Briottet Frais des Bois fruit liquor
12.5ml Chambord
50ml Half & Half (50% Milk, 50% Cream)
1 Handful of mixed summer berries.

Muddle berries in the base of the boston glass along with the Briottet to produce a thick paste. Add remaining ingrediants, excluding the chambord, and shake hard. Sit chambord in the base of a large brandy balloon filled with ice and layer the shaken ingredients upon the chambord. Garnish with three scewered blueberries, a single blackberry, and a mint sprig.

Notes. Smoothness from the hald & half carries through the duration of the taste. An almost tart-esque taste sits in the middle of the tongue thanks to the fruit. It ends on a sweet note with the Briottet’s clinging taste lasting for some time after.

And now for the bad.

A bad idea at least…

A few of you may have been (un)lucky enough to try this distinctly underated shooter. If not, I do believe it is most certainly time to give it a go.

Jamaican Hand Grenade

You will all have had a jaeger bomb right? Well try adding the debatable essence of tequila to that mix, and a splash of overproof rum.

Can ruin even the most hearty of drinkers. Believe me.

25ml Jaegermeister
25ml Golden Tequila
12.5ml Wray & Nephew
100ml Red Bull

Combine the jaeger and wray in one 50ml shot glass, put the tequila in the other. Add the red bull to a rocks glass (no ice). Proceed to balance the two shot glasses against each other on top of the rocks glass so they are both leaning inwards.

Instruct the customer to “pull the pin” on the drink by pulling the tequila shot off the rocks glass (therefore dropping the remaining glass into the red bull below) and knocking it back. Then proceed to down the jaeger, wray, and red bull combination in one.

The resulting facial expression gives you  clue to the drinks namesake!

Notes. Are you kidding? Not quite the kind of drink to enjoy its subtle notes. 🙂

There you go, enjoy y’all.

A post on rum to follow shortly me thinks?…