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.

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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.)

Vodka

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.

Gin

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)

Daiquiri

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.

Tequila

Margarita

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.

Whiskey

Old Fashioned

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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.

Beautiful.

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?…

verso verso verso

Forgive the shameless self-promotion there.

Summer is definately here. Ish.

It seems like barely a day goes by without it changing its mind. Shorts needed one minute, jumpers the next.

Regardless though, it certainly is that time of the year when seasonal drinks are finally allowed. Pimms for example becomes an acceptable drink to order for once (still expect to see some toff-esque gestures thrown your way).

Sangria as well becomes a firm staple of bar sales. Big balloons or jugs of the stuff worming its way on to nearly every table through the course of the day, with its deceptively weak and more-ish tasting mix.

SO,

I thought it would be applicable to throw a few of the more prominent and interesting items getting cobbled together of late up on here. All of them conjuring up images of lazy summer days and long summer nights.

I’m going to start with somewhat of a new drink on our bar. Less of a summer drink than an exotically flavoured cocktail of distinctly quaffable proportions.

Far Eastern Promise

25ml Kwai Feh
25ml Mozart White
25ml Vanilla Vodka
100ml Pineapple Juice
10ml Fresh Lime Juice
Dash Grenadine

Shake first four ingredients hard and strain into a hurricane glass over ice.  Add dash of grenadine to sink. Top with dash of soda. Garnish with a Chinese lantern.

Also creates an effective martini when cranberry is reduced to 37.5ml, whilst maintaining the original 1:1:1 ratio of th ingredients. Orange bitters come in useful for reducing the sweetness.

Notes. The traditionally over-powering Mozart White is toned down by the clinging Lychee flavours which spread throughout the entirety of the drink. Pineapple juice makes for an unoffensive mixer, diluting down (with help from the vodka) the powerful flavours from the other ingredients. The drink is refreshing whilst maintaining its inherent sweetness.

Ginseng Margarita

37.5ml Golden Tequila
12.5ml Grand Marnier
10ml Fresh Lime Juice
10ml Gomme
1 Ginseng Royal Jelly capsule

Shake all ingredients hard and fine strain into a Coupe. Garnish with a sugar encrusted and flamed lime wheel. DO NOT salt rim as this ruins the subtle ginseng notes.

Not much more than a simple variation upon a classic. But a breath of fresh air for the Margarita lover.

The various properties and benefits of Ginseng can be read about here.

Notes. Unsurprisingly similar taste to your bog standard Margarita, however with an underlying herbal texture and slightly thicker consistency thanks to the Ginseng jelly.

Mandarine Italian Royale

25ml Luxardo Bitter Orange
12.5ml Galliano
12.5ml Vanilla Vodka
10ml Fresh Orange Juice
10ml Vanilla Gomme (to taste)
2 Dash Orange Bitters
4 Squeeze Fresh Limes (leave husks in boston)
Top with Prosecco

Shake first 7 ingredients (including lime husks) and strain into frozen champagne flute. Top with Prosecco. Garnish with a curled orange rind and rose petal.

Notes. Prosecco imparts a subtle dryness to an otherwise quite sweet and full-bodied drink. Vanilla sweet notes are found on first taste, progressing through to the vodka’s background burn and Galliano’s sticky texture at the end. Citrus notes on both the nose and throughout the taste aid in binding the sweet and the dry flavours.

Riverside Sangria

50ml Rose Wine
25ml St Germain
10ml Golden Rum
10ml Cognac
10ml Mandarine Napoleon
10ml Hendricks
50ml Cranberry Juice
25ml Apple Juice
25ml Orange Juice
10ml Lime juice
10ml Rose Gomme
Dash of Soda

Shake spirits, lime juice and gomme briefly and single strain into ice-filled and chilled extra-large brandy balloon or wine goblet. Add wine and juices slowly, stirring as you go to mix. Add a dash of soda to the top. Garnish with mixed summer fruits and lemon wedge.

Notes. The traditionally disguised spirits in sangria are done away with (excluding the brandy) and replaced with spirits and liquors imparting subtle and low-level notes upon the drink. The Rose wine leaves a cleaner palatte than the tradtitional red, and is more welcoming to the altered juice quantities. Overall a clean and zesty taste throughout, with the elderflower lending a clinging sweetness to the end.

Canal Side Dream

25ml Pimms No1
12.5ml Plymouth Fruit Cup
12.5ml Sloe Gin
50ml Apple Juice
10ml Lemon Juice
2 Dash Peychauds Bitters

Shake hard and double strain into a frozen martini glass. Garnish with a partitioned apple wedge.

Can be lengthened into a tall drink over crushed ice with the addition of dashs of soda water.

Notes. Refreshing and fruity notes reside throughout. The Sloe gin adding an edge of dryness to the middle of the taste. Ends on a distinctly fruit-cup esque note.

(A thank you to Eddie Lee, Alea Casino, Nottingham for the original inspiration on this.)

Cocktails, be they classics or modern day beauties, have called upon the usage of both egg white and egg yolk in their builds for countless years. The egg imparts numerous benifits to a cocktail, varying from simple altering of texture, addition of foam to the top of a drink, or to act as a binder for the numerous varied liquids frequently found inside your boston glass.

However…

Their use inevitably provokes a snearing from the customer, upturned noses, and questions such as “don’t you know of the risks of salmonella?!”.

The reality is, as long as you are using fresh eggs, stored correctly,  and from a known source, you have no chance of anything untoward happening to you upon knocking the fine drink down your gullet. Today’s rediculously stringent H&S standards regards food produce mean you most certainly need not worry!

Of course you are handling raw food produce so logically a good wash and scrub of the hands afterwards does no-one any harm.

An article on the topic can be found here and here.

Gin Gin Gin. Pt 2

July 4, 2009

Back once again…

So,

I continue my jaunt through the realms of gin. Starting with a beauty straight from the pages of the Savoy (and a little bit of fiddling on my end to suit taste).

Royal Clover Club (Verso edit)

50ml Gin
12.5ml Lemon Juice
12.5ml Grenadine (Or other suitably coloured and sweet liquor*)
1 Whole Egg Yolk (Note. Not egg white, egg yolk)

Shake hard for around 10 seconds, then fine strain into a frozen champagne coupe. Garnish with a short curled lemon zest

* original recipes are known to call for raspberry liquor in place of the grenadine.

The royal clover club is a variant upon the original stunning clover club cocktail. A drink which in its hay day reperesented an entire class of pre-prohibition yuppies.

An interesting article on the originals rise and fall from cocktail culture can be found here.

Notes. Simple and elegent like so many of its time. Usage of the egg yolk leaves a smooth yet defining texture in the mouth, combining well with the light sweetness from the grenadine (or substitute) and the underlying sharpness of the lemon juice. The lemon zest as garnish masks a cloyingly bland nose on the drink.

My next foray pays due to Leanne Davidson, a Manchester and Leeds bartender at heart, now found in the Townhouse, Knightsbridge.

Jazz Negroni

25ml Gin (Preferably strong taste, eg. Tanq No. 10)
25ml Dubonnet Red
25ml Jagermeister
2 Dash Orange Bitters*

*can be substituted for Peychauds bitters to add more underlying sweetness

Build in an old fashioned glass, stirring down so to chill not dillute. Garnish with a hefty sized orange slice.

Less a gin cocktail per-say and more a modern day corpse reviver!

Notes.The use of jagermeister put me off at first however the deep herbal taste it imparts upon the gin and dubonnet lends an interesting complexity to the mixture. The drink progresses into an almost medicinal end taste with the dubonnet and bitters.

By no means to everyones taste, however works extraordinarily well as a digestif, or as a late night tipple.

Gin Cosmopolitan (Verso variant)

37.5ml Gin (Herbal tasting preferably, eg. Hendricks)
12.5ml Mandarine Napoleon
37.5ml Cranberry Juice
10-15ml Fresh Lime Juice (to taste)

Shake hard and strain into a frozen martini glass. Flame an orange zest over the mixture and bin,  then garnish with an orange slice skewered with a rose petal.

The background of whether to use vodka or gin in this modern day classic has, as far as I can tell, always been quite up-in-the-air.

I found through experimenting that the tartness of the Cointreau combined with the dryness of most London-esque gins to create an overpoweringly pallete cleansing drink. Hence, I began swapping out dryer gins in favour of Hendricks, with its more prominant herbal notes proving useful. Additionally I started using Mandarine Napoleon to add the orange flavour and also to sweeten the mixture ever so slightly.

Notes. A far more complex and subtle blend of flavours than the original. Deep orange and mandarine notes are found upon first sips, with an underlying gin burn found throughout. The cranberry and Hendricks create a refreshing end. The nose is disinctly of orange zest, however the rose helps add a floral edge.

Gin Gin Gin. Pt 1

July 4, 2009

How do y’all.

Iv developed a delightful obsession with gin cocktails of late. As many a customer could inform you iv developed a reportoire of gin-based concoctions to ease even the most adamant of gin detesters into the bitter world of “mothers ruin”.

I could wax lyrical about the varied ups and downs of gins history, and no doubt bore you silly with it all. However thats not what im here for. Theres a plenty a mixologist out there who would delight in talking your ear off regards all that.

I’m going to throw three drinks at you for the time-being, the most popular of late by sales. Two variants, bits stolen from elsewhere, and one crafted on site.  Non-the-less they are all worthy companions to a long evening.

Elizabethan Royal Punch

37.5 ml Hendricks
12.5ml Chambord
Dash Creme Frais des Bois
12.5ml Lemon juice
10ml Gomme
Dash Vanilla essence (if non, substitute gomme for vanilla gomme. Being careful not to overpower tastes)

Shake hard and fine strain into frozen champagne flute, top with champagne*.

Garnish with skewered small summer fruits (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries etc.)

*Prosecco can be substituted for added dryness. Creating an Italian royal punch


Notes. The clinging sweetness of the chambord and vanilla are balanced by the tart combination of the lemon juice and champagne. The nose is distinctly of lemon with underlying vanilla. The colour being unsurprisingly of quite a berry-esque red.

Quite unescapably a sweet, rather feminine drink. However never-the-less contains many balanced flavours, perfect for the longer of evenings when alcohol content can be forgoed.

Perfect Pink Lady

50ml Gin (preferably of strong rather than subtle taste, Tanqueray etc.)
25ml Creme Peche
12.5ml Lemon juice
Dash Rose Liquor
One egg white

Shake and fine strain into a frozen martini glass. Garnish with a curled lemon zest.

A combination of both the pink lady and perfect lady variations upon the classic white lady (with a hint of inspiration from the aviation).

Notes. An elegent and well balanced smooth first taste, progressing towards a raw edge produced by the gin. Rose and parmaviolet notes are found at the end. A light violet colour brightens the original white lady’s lack of distinguishing appearance.

A drink with the ability to sneak up on even the most hardened of drinkers and send them floor-wards. I speak from experience!

Gin + Basil Smash (Chef’s variation)

50ml Gin
25ml Basil-infused sugar syrup (simple to create by infusion)
12.5ml Lemon Juice
10ml Gomme
6-8 Fresh Basil leaves.

Shake hard so to infuse a light-green basil colour into the mixture, fine strain into a frozen martini glass.

Can also be served (as per original specs) in a rocks glass over crushed ice. I prefer martini as the crushed ice’s rapid dilution can ruin the delicate flavour of the basil and lemon. If served over crushed ice, a dash of cranberry juice (as one would use in a Bourbon Smash) aids in the lenghtening of the drink.

Note. The basil imparts a feisty burn to the initial taste, however progresses (help from the basil gomme) smoothly into both the sweet and zesty end-notes.

A winner for converting the uninitiated into gins subtlety. Practically a massage of the palette.

I may be a creature of the night, but bed beckons. Part two follows shortly…

Night night y’all


The Bar-fly

July 3, 2009

SO, I start this jaunt through the realms of the cocktail bartenders, the “mixologists”, the “bar-wizards”, and other such beings of the night, with somewhat of a side-note.

Both a bartenders best friend, and their most irritating of accomplices.

The friendly neighborhood bar-fly.

You will have seen her (and less frequently him), regardless of whether you work bars or not. Traditionally they will be found on the service-end of the bar, drinking by themselves, watching almost possessively as the bartenders go about their jobs, a half-filled glass of high-alcohol content liquid resting in their hands, as they blend subtly into the background.

There’s usually no background story to how they ended up there, one can only presume an excess of alcohol consumption being their only limited escape from a humdrum existence of long days and ailing friendships.

As a rule of thumb they are (or were) sleeping with one or more of the staff, no-emotion flings resulting from late-night lock-ins or excessive drinking on shift. Leaving an air of awkwardness howering around them, the staff avoiding them like a dubious smelling co-worker, eyes avoiding theirs as if to push their existence from their life, to avoid the inevitable small-talk that pulls the shifts passing of time down to a snails pace.

So how does one deal with them?

Hard to say, its not as if they in themselves are of any irritance. Or that they do anything one could say is of any effect upon the running of the bar.

They just don’t leave.

They aren’t of any use regards testing cocktails, their taste buds have no-doubt been ruined by years of hard liquor. Leaving them with upturned noses at the prospect of much past their usual.

You know who you are, you quite probably see yourself as an aid to the bar. A “piece of the furniture” I heard one refer to herself.

Move along love.

Please?

Hello there.

July 3, 2009

Boredom Breeds Beauty.

A collection of the modern, the classic, the thrown-together, and the thoughtfully crafted. The passing observations of a post-modernly cynical youth. And the ramblings of your friendly neighborhood bartender.