Monday, 28 February 2011

The Old Fashioned

Sometimes the best way to rate a bar, or a bartender is to order an "Old Fashioned". Depending on how well and how much care they take with such a classic drink will sometimes determine whether I'll return to that bar again. My dad rates establishments on the quality of their "salt & pepper squid", which works well for him, However I rate a place on the quality of there "Old Fashioned's". It's one of my favourites. A cocktail that is not that hard to serve, but so easy to muck up.

It's basically sugar, with Angostura bitters, bourbon and finished off with an orange peel or zest. Before we sink our teeth into this cocktail, as always, It's important to know the origins of this classic. The story of the old fashioned begins in the 1880s at a gentleman's club in Louisville, Kentucky called the "Pendennis Club". There a bartender served this drink to Colonel James E. Pepper, who took the idea of this drink and brought it to the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York city, where the classic cocktail still remains on their menu today.  There are many slight variations to this drink, so I'll go through a version which i think works best.

We start with a short glass or a rocks glass. You can also use a brandy balloon, i suppose use any glass that you feel comfortable drinking out of. But let's go for the rocks glass, in that, place a sugar cube, and coat with a few dashes of Angostura bitters. The production and history of Angostura is a long complex story, so we'll save that for another time. But for now, crush and mix together the sugar with the bitters. Once mixed together well, add 60ml of bourbon. My advice is to use a good quality bourbon. Wild Turkey, Makers mark or my personal favourite Basil Hayden's, which is the lightest style bourbon out of the Jim Beam small batch bourbons. I find it works well with the orange zest. Continue to stir with a bar spoon. The aim here is to dissolve all of the sugar. Add ice to the glass and continue to stir. A good old fashioned can sometimes take up to 10 minutes to make depending on the how long it takes for the sugar to dissolve.  Once the sugar looks dissolved, you might need to add more ice, then add the zest of an orange, or an orange wedge, depending on how fruity your like your drinks,  and that's it! If straight bourbon is too much, top up with some soda water. Like i said, It is an easy drink to make, but there are so many things a bartender can do wrong to muck this up such as, too much bitters, sugar not being fully dissolved (which is the most common, because many bartenders are in too much of a hurry to put in the time with this cocktail) or using a low quality bourbon.

The great thing about the "Old Fashioned" is It's so versatile. If you don't like bourbon, ask for a rum old fashioned, which is made exactly the same way, except with dark rum, not bourbon. Mt Gay Extra Old, or Ron Zacapa works great in a rum old fashioned. Same with scotch, ask your bartender for a scotch old fashioned if you like your scotch.

I'll be honest, this cocktail is not for everyone. It's not a cocktail you'd buy a girl on a first date. It's what i call a "bloke's cocktail", strong and full bodied.  However, if you do want to broaden your palette and appreciate good dark spirits, this might be for you. Sip on this slowly, and see what flavours and characteristics you can pick out from your "Old Fashioned".

In a short glass:
Add a sugar cube, with dashes of Angostura bitters
Crush and mix together
Add 60ml of bourbon, plus ice and stir well to dissolve sugar
Once sugar is dissolved, add orange zest (or orange wedge)
(Soda water optional)

Sunday, 27 February 2011

The Original Daiquiri

Those who know me, know that I love a bit of cocktail history. I don't know why, I think I get a kick out of  knowing that the cocktails we drink today are still being made and served the exact same way that they were originally hundreds of years ago. In the last 200, 100, even 50 years the world has changed in so many ways. Everything has advanced and come so far, however there are a certain few cocktails out there that haven't changed a bit, the original daiquiri is one of those. Now i know what your going to say, "But Dave, the daiquiri has changed, It's now made in many different flavours and pumped out of big slushy dispense machines". This is true, there are other types of daiquiri's around. There is nothing wrong with strawberry, mango, pineapple, orange daiquiri's, but for traditionalists like myself, the original daiquiri is the only one for me.

This simple mix of lime juice, sugar and white rum was created in the small Cuban mining town of "Daiquiri" (near Santiago) around 1905. An American mining engineer named Jennings Cox asked the barman for this drink after the bar ran out of gin. Even though this is said to be when the first daiquiri was made, it is likely that the Cubans were drinking this concoction well before Cox arrived, as Cuba was a main producer of lime, sugar cane and rum at the time, but no one can be sure.

History aside, lets make this classic cocktail. Start with a shaker, squeeze 30ml of fresh lime juice, add a teaspoon of caster sugar (or 30ml of sugar syrup, which ever you'd prefer) and lastly, 60ml of white rum. Personally i prefer to use Bacardi as my white rum, but you use your preferred rum.  Add ice to your shaker, shake then strain into a chilled martini glass.

When you drink this, take half a second to appreciate it's history and it's origins. If if wasn't for this cocktail, we would not have many other classics that were to follow in years to come.

In a shaker:
30ml Lime Juice
30ml Sugar syrup (or a teaspoon of caster sugar)
60ml White Rum
Add Ice, Shake and Strain into a chilled martini glass

The Japanese Slipper

This modern classic cocktail is one of my personal favourites.  It was invented by Melbourne bartender Jean-Paul Bourguignon at Mietta's Restaurant in 1984.

What makes this drink so good is it's simplicity. Only 3 ingredients working in perfect harmony with each other. Firstly, 30ml of Midori, a melon flavoured liqueur which exploded onto the world stage in 1978 at the worlds most famous nightclub, Studio 54. Although it was produced in Japan, it only was launched in japan in 1984.  Along with Midori, add 30ml of Cointreau (or Triple sec). The story of Cointreau is quite amazing. In 1849, the Cointreau family, started by Adolphe and Edouard Cointreau, who were master confectioners, established a distillery in Angers (France). There they made spirits using fruits from the local area. Their most successful spirit created, was an orange flavoured liqueur, made from orange peels. This recipe was handed down through the generations in the Cointreau family to become their signature product, still sold in the square shaped bottle as it is today.

So after a short history lesson, let's get back to the "Japanese Slipper".  We'll bring these 2 liqueurs together with 30ml of lemon juice. Add ice to our shaker, shake and strain into a chilled martini glass. Now I suppose you can garnish this cocktail with anything, but only a true Japanese slipper will be garnished with a maraschino cherry, dropped in, so it sinks to the bottom of the glass.

This is such a refreshing summer cocktail. You are basically drinking straight spirits (aside from the 30ml of lemon juice), but you wouldn't know it.  One is never enough.... for me anyway. Enjoy!!!

In a shaker:
30ml Midori
30ml Cointreau
30ml Lemon Juice
Add ice, shake and strain into a martini glass
Garnish with a maraschino cherry

Saturday, 26 February 2011

A Bull at a Gate

Like them or not.... energy drinks are here and are here to stay. With so many more energy drinks being created every month the market is being flooded with the more and more "instant pick-me-ups".  So with the creation of vodka red bulls, jager-bombs, skittle-bombs etc, i thought it was about time that i jumped on the energy drink wagon and create a cocktail with a kick.

The idea of the "bull at a gate" came about because of my parents. Without going into too much detail, saying that I was like a "bull at a gate" was something I heard from them often.  So this catch phase seemed to be the perfect name for this "kick-start cocktail".

This drink is really quite simple and easy to make. Built in a high-ball or long glass, start with 15ml Paraiso lychee liqueur. Paraiso is a popular tropical liqueur said to originate from southern China. In south China, the lychee is famed as being the "Fruit of Kings".  Follow paraiso with 15ml of strawberry liqueur. The flavour combination of strawberries and lychee's work really well together. Lastly add 15ml of Cuban rum (preferably bacardi). Just finish it off with 2 - 3 lime wedges, mainly for show, but also the lime helps bring out the lychee and strawberry flavours and of course works really well with rum. Fill with ice and top up with half a can of red bull. You left with a really summery tropical cocktail. Even people who are not big energy drinkers have been impressed with this cocktail.

When ever some one goes to order a boring vodka red bull, I always recommend one of these, and so far I've had no complaints.

Build in a tall glass:
15ml Paraiso Lychee Liqueur
15ml Strawberry Liqueur
15ml Cuban Rum
Add ice
top up with red bull.

The Snickers Bar

One of the most common cocktails found on hundreds of menus, is the modern classic, the Toblerone. This cocktail i feel has been done to death. So many different ways of making it and serving it. It was time we made a cocktail to blow the toblerone out of the water . So i came up with another chocolate bar to imitate, the snickers bar.

This cocktail is more than just a drink, it is a dessert. Full of all the naughty things such as ice cream, chocolate sauce, thick creamy liqueurs and the worst (but also the best) part, a generous tablespoon of smooth peanut butter.

Start with 2 - 3 scoops of vanilla ice cream in a blender. Coat ice cream with chocolate sauce. Add 30ml frangelico (a hazelnut liqueur produced in the piedmont region in northern Italy. It's origins date back more than 300 years to days of early christian monks who lived in the area). Then add 15ml of butterscotch schnapps, 15ml of white creme de cacao (chocolate liqueur), followed by 15ml of Baileys Irish cream. I don't know many milky cocktails that don't include baileys. It is such a versatile liqueur. Even just ice cream with baileys poured on top, you can't go wrong. Last but not least, a nice big spoon of peanut butter. Add ice to your blender, and blend until mixture is nice and smooth.

I often get asked about when blending cocktails, how much ice to add in order to get the exact amount. It's quite simple, in order fill your glass exactly, use your serving glass as a measure. Fill the glass with ice, then tip it into your blender. This should give you the exact amount you need, so you don't fall short, or have too much left over.

Once your snickers mixture is blended smooth, simply pour it into your glass. I like to sometimes get creative and decorate the glass with funky patterns, but I'll leave that up to you.

Don't have this cocktail if your just about to go out for dinner, because it is very think and it will fill you up.  It is a perfect after dinner drink. A great way to finish of a night. Enjoy!

In a blender:
2 - 3 Scoops of Vanilla Ice Cream
Chocolate sauce
30ml Frangelico
15ml Butterscotch schnapps
15ml White Creme de Cacao
15ml Baileys Irish Cream
Tablespoon of smooth peanut butter
add ice and blend until smooth.

The Queens Boulevard

South Australia is famous all over the world for it fantastic wine regions. So as my first post on this blog, i can think of no better way to start than to pay tribute to my home state of SA and share with you one of my most popular cocktail creations, The Queens Boulevard.

Rockford winery in the Barossa valley, is well known for its famous Alicante' Bouchet, A rose' which uses grenache as the main grape. It's a grape that is soft, lightly coloured yet full flavoured. It's main characteristics are strawberries and raspberries. There are not to many people around who can't drink this wine. It appeals to the masses, so it was a perfect starting point when creating this drink.

To compliment the Rockford rose', i chose to use Chambord black raspberry liqueur. Chambord is a french liqueur. It's legend began in 1685, when King Louis XIV visited Chateau Chambord. There he enjoyed a sweet liqueur made from wild black raspberries.  Today Chambord is an iconic liqueur, used in many different cocktails by bartenders all over the world.

So after 30ml of Rockford Alicante', and 30ml of Chambord, i had a nice combination of flavours, but something was lacking. I needed a 3rd dimension in this cocktail. I turned to vanilla. One of my favourite desserts is the classic vanilla slice, so maybe i was a bit bias when i decided to add vanilla to this drink, but it did finish it off nicely. just a dash (15ml) of Absolut vanilla vodka.

Combine these 3 ingredients into a shaker, add some sugar syrup and the juice of half a lime and shake together with ice. Strain into a chilled martini glass and serve.

I find this drink to be perfect for the sweet tooth. It's very rich and full bodied. It is also very attractive and elegant to hold. It makes other people in a bar look at what your drinking and often entices them to order one too.

Hope you enjoy the Queens Boulevard

30ml Rockford Alicante Bouchet Rose'
30ml Chambord Black Raspberry Liqueur
15ml Absolut Vanilla Vodka
Dash of lime juice
Dash of sugar syrup
Add ice, shake and strain into a chilled martini glass