Tuesday, 29 March 2011

The Long Island Iced Tea

I personally am not a big fan of the Long island iced tea. I believe that it's a cocktail that people have with the aim to get drunk. People don't order this drink to appreciate the fine qualities of the spirits used in this drink, they order it to get "smashed". Despite my own personal dislike for this cocktail, it's hard to turn my back on it. It is one of the most frequently ordered cocktails in the world. It has played a massive role in bar culture today. So it would be wrong of me to not feature it in one of my blog postings.

The long island iced tea is a simple built cocktail which consists of 15ml vodka, gin, white rum, tequila and cointreau (or triple sec), a dash of lemon juice, served over ice and topped up with coke.  As i mentioned earlier, even though i'm not a big lover of this classic cocktail, as a bartender, I feel it is important to appreciate it's origins. The first long island iced tea was said to be served by Robert Butts in the mid 1970s. Butts was a bartender who worked at the Oak Beach Inn in the town of Babylon, Long Island, New York. He came up with the idea of mixing 5 different white spirits with coke. The cocktail had instant success and the not long after the variations began such as, a Tokyo iced tea made with Midori in place of the vodka, or a Cuban iced tea, made with dark rum, as well as white rum.

To make this cocktail, it is extremely simple. Get yourself a tall glass, and pour 15ml vodka, gin, tequila, white rum and cointreau and lemon juice. Lastly add ice and top with coke. And thats it!

Have fun with this drink and have a go at creating your own "Iced tea" variation.

In a Tall Glass:
15ml Vodka
15ml Gin
15ml Tequila
15ml Cointreau
15ml White Rum
15ml Lemon Juice
Add Ice and top up with Coke

Monday, 28 March 2011

The Manhattan: A New York Icon

Before the girls from "Sex and the City" made the Cosmo a modern day icon of New York City, a classic cocktail called "The Manhattan" was the traditional classic cocktail of New York. The year was 1876, a famous year in American history. It was the year of one of the most disputed and controversial presidential elections of all time. The candidates at the time were democratic candidate, Samuel Jones Tilden, and republican Rutherford B. Hayes. Why the electron was so controversial is a whole other story, basically it involved illegal votes and corruption. Samuel Tilden lived in New york city and worked closely with the New york business community. In the lead up to election day, a banquet was held at the "Manhattan Club" in honour of Samuel Tilden. Many of New york city's top business men and there associates were invited to come and support Tilden in his push for the U.S presidency. For this special night, a signature cocktail was created to be served to all the guests. Dr Iain Marshall (said to be an associate of Tilden's) invented a drink which consisted of Rye or Canadian whiskey, sweet vermouth, a dash of bitters and garnished with a maraschino cherry. At this stage, the cocktail didn't have a name. The Banquet was a huge success, and so was the cocktail. The drink became fashionable amongst the NYC elite. People who were at that party began to order this cocktail in other bars around New York, asking bartenders for the "Cocktail that's served at the Manhattan Club". From then on, the cocktail shall always be known as "The Manhattan".

To make this cocktail it's really quite simple. In a cocktail shaker add 45ml of Canadian Club, 15ml sweet vermouth, a dash of bitters and lastly, top up with ice. Stir the ingredients well, diluting the mixture a little. I have seen bartenders shake manhattans, which is fine, I personally prefer to stir the drink, as you have more control over the dilution. It's a good idea to taste the drink through a straw every so often while you stir.  You don't want to dilute the spirits to much.  Once your happy with the taste, strain mixture into a chilled martini class and drop a maraschino cherry in the glass.  I like to serve this drink in a martini glass, but it's sometimes often served on the rocks in a short glass.

One great thing about this drink is if you don't like rye style whiskey, you can still make a great Manhattan variation.  You could have a "Cuban Manhattan" made with dark rum, a "Brandy Manhattan", made with obviously brandy, a "Tijuana Manhattan", made with anejo tequila and the list goes on.   Hope you have some fun and enjoy your Manhattan!

In a Shaker:
45ml Rye Whiskey
15ml sweet vermouth
Dash of Bitters
Add ice and stir
Serve in to a chilled martini glass (or on the rocks)

Monday, 21 March 2011

The Negroni & The Americano

When i first had these cocktails, I must admit, I found them hard to drink. They are complex flavours for your palette to take if you've never drunk them before. However, over time my palette developed and i started to gain great appreciation for these classics. The Negroni and the Americano are designed to be great palette cleansers, they are "aperitif" cocktails. By definition, an aperitif cocktail is a drink served before a meal. It's meant to stimulate appetite, usually accompanied by cheese, crackers or dips.  The inspiration for the Negroni, came from another classic cocktail called the "Americano". The Americano was created during the 1860's by an Italian bartender, Gaspare Campari. And yes... Gaspare Campari was also the inventor of the famous spirit, Campari. Gaspare was a master drink maker. He was producing spirits and aperitif's since the age of 14. His trademark aperitif, Campari, was sold throughout Italy and was gaining momentum in popularity though Europe. Gaspare refused to share the recipe for his "Campari" with anyone and to this day the distillery is still owned be the family. There is said to be only 1 person in the family at any one time who knows the true recipe for Campari.  With the popularity of Campari growing in during the 1860's, Gaspare came up with the perfect cocktail to go with it. The Americano was a mix of Campari, sweet vermouth and topped with soda water.  He named it this because he noticed that Americans seemed to enjoy this drink whilst they travelled through Italy, more than the locals.

We leap forward 50 years... The Americano was now already well know, some might say it was a classic even back then. The year was 1919, at Cafe Giacosa in Florance, Italy. Count Camillo Negroni asked the bartender to add some strength to his Americano, by substituting the soda water, for a shot of gin. This cocktail was an instant hit at that bar and slowly began to be a regular drink served all over Italy. Count Negroni even opened his own distillery and attempted to sell pre-made versions of his Americano variation. This version of the drink was popular for a little while, but like most things, the original is always the best.  These 2 classic cocktails play an important roll in the bar culture today. They are one of the major reasons that Campari is stocked in almost every bar in the world.

Making the Americano is as easy as making a mix drink. Start with a short glass (rocks glass). Add 30ml of sweet vermouth, 30ml of Campari, some ice and then top up with soda water. The Negroni is slightly more involved. Get your shaker, add 30ml sweet vermouth, 30ml Campari, 30ml gin ( I like to use Plymouth gin, but it's entirely up to you), add lots of ice and stir. In the Americano, we had soda water diluting the straight spirit, so with the Negroni, it's important to try and dilute the spirit as much as you can by stirring ice through it, or else the straight alcohol may be too much for you to handle. Once you've stirred for long enough, strain your shaker into a chilled martini glass. I like to garnish with an orange zest or orange wedge. It works well and brings out the flavours in the Campari.

Like i said, these are tough cocktails to drink if your palette isn't used to them, so play around with Campari and ease your way into drinking it.  Hope you enjoy the Americano and the Negroni.

The Americano:
30ml Campari
30ml Sweet Vermouth
Add Ice
Top up with Soda Water

The Negroni:
In a Shaker,
30ml Campari
30ml Sweet Vermouth
30ml Gin
Add ice and stir
Once stirred well, Strain into chilled Martini Glass

Friday, 18 March 2011

Get "Carried" Away... The Cosmopolitan

I've just received an email from my Mum telling me that she had the pleasure of drinking  a Cosmopolitan in Thailand for only $3.50, and it got me thinking about this cocktail. It's now considered as a classic. You can order it so easily, anywhere in the world. In my previous posts I've talked about the historical significances of cocktails which were created hundreds of years ago and how they have stood the test of time and are still served the same way today. In the history of cocktails, the cosmopolitan is a baby, a rookie, but I can't think of a cocktail that is more popular in modern times than the "Cosmo". This drink has reached such a status, by where, you don't even need to feature this drink on your cocktail menu, the ladies will still order it time and time again.  So why is this drink so well known?  How come it is ordered by hundreds of women all over the world every single day?  The answer is simple.... 4 words... "Sex and the City". Not since James Bond ordering a martini "Shaken not stirred" has another TV show or movie had such an influence over the popularity of 1 drink. But the Cosmopolitan had been around for decades before "Sex and the city" ever went to air. So how did it come about?

 Like most cocktails, there are many different stories but the one that I've heard most often is that the "Cosmo" was created some time in the 1970s in San Francisco. It was considered an icon amongst the gay community at the time. A bar owner in San Francisco called John Caine was said to be the inventor. Although there is no proof that Caine was the creator of the cosmopolitan, he is said to be the first owner to feature the cocktail on his menu's. Due to the enormous popularity of the "Cosmo" in San Francisco, the word spread throughout America and in particular New york city in the early 1990s.  The drink kept on gaining popularity and was featured in almost every New York Bar. It exploded on to the world stage in 1998, when the hit TV show "Sex and the City" hit screens. I don't even think Carrie Bradshaw and her friends would know how much influence that they were about to have on the bar industry.  Just like the TV show, the cosmopolitan became a world wide sensation. Sometimes no matter how many fancy cocktails you may present to a group of ladies, they always come back to the modern classic, "The Cosmopolitan"

OK... I've gone over It's origins, now lets make one.  This drink is so simple, start with a cocktail shaker. Add 30ml of lime juice, 30ml of Cointreau (or triple sec), 30ml of Vodka (If you can get your hands on a citrus flavoured vodka, even better) and lastly top up with 30ml of Cranberry juice (Add more juice if you don't want it too strong) and that's it! Add ice to your shaker and shake well. Strain this mixture into a chilled martini glass and you got yourself a "Cosmo". It should turn out glowing pink.

As you can see, this drink only has 4 ingredients, all equal parts. If your having a bunch of girls over for a drink, i suggest make a cosmopolitan punch. Just make the same mixture but in bulk. It's sure to be a crowd pleaser. So get "Carried" away with the Cosmopolitan. Have Fun!

In a shaker:
30ml Vodka
30ml Cointreau
30ml Lime Juice
30ml Cranberry juice
Add ice and shake
Strain into a Martini glass

The Bloody Mary: The Ultimate Hangover Cure

There are many so called "remedies" when trying to cure a hangover, but i don't think many people will disagree when i say a well made Bloody Mary is up there with the best of them. We begin our story at a New York Bar in 1921. The bar was in fact called "Harry's New York Bar". This place was a frequent hangout for writer, Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway was not only famous for his writing, he was known as being a hard-core drinker. He in fact held the record for sometime at Harry's Bar, for drinking 2 litres of beer in 46.5 seconds. At Harry's New York Bar in 1921, a french bartender, Ferand Petiot, created a mixture of vodka, tomato juice, lemon juice and salt. He served this to 2 men who were sitting at the bar. He described it as "a new pick-me-up". One of the gentleman said that it reminded him of a bucket of blood. The other gentleman said that it reminded him of a girl he knew called Mary, and the Bloody Mary was born. I know your probably thinking that i made this story up, but many publications, cocktail books and websites have all confirmed that this is how the Bloody Mary all began. After this drink gained popularity at Harry's Bar, another bartender, George Jessel took the drink and added his own twist to it. Along with the existing ingredients of vodka, tomato juice, lemon juice and salt, Jessel added Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce and pepper.  This mixture is the classic Bloody Mary that we know today. Both bartenders claim to be the creator of this cocktail.

Since these 2 bartenders created this drink, there have been tons of slight variations, and I'd like to share one of my own. I've never had any complaints when I've had to serve "Dave's Bloody Mary". Start with a shaker, add a good dash of Tabasco sauce and Worcestershire sauce, a pinch of black cracked pepper and celery salt, then a bar spoon of horseradish cream. Stir this mixture to breakup the horseradish cream. Horseradish is great in a Bloody Mary. It gives the drink a different kind of "kick". The Tabasco gives you one type of spice and flavour, but i find that the horseradish, brings another dimension of spice and texture to this cocktail. Now add 45ml of vodka (if your game, i always use a pepper infused vodka. If you can't be bothered infusing your own vodka with peppers, Absolut pepper works a treat), add 15ml of lemon juice (anymore than that and it becomes too sour), lastly top up with approx. 250ml of tomato juice. I like to add ice and shake to help mix all those herbs and spices together well, but a good stir will still do the same job. Pour the contents of your shaker into a tall glass and serve with a celery stick.

If you really want to go all out, try muddling cherry tomato's and cucumber with your Bloody Mary. I believe that this cocktail has no boundaries. I've experimented with using paprika, beef stock, freshly chopped chillies, jalapenos and the list goes on. When making your Bloody Mary, have fun with it, don't be afraid to experiment.  I'm a massive lover of good tequila, so I often substitute the vodka with tequila. This is known as a Bloody Maria.

I hope this cocktail brings gives you the "pick-up" you need. Enjoy!

In a shaker:
Pinch of cracked black pepper
Pinch of celery salt
bar spoon of horse radish cream
dash of Tabasco sauce
dash of Worcestershire sauce
15ml lemon juice
45ml Vodka
250ml Tomato juice
Add ice and shake
Pour into a tall glass

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

The Whiskey Sour

Sucking on a lemon can not be the most pleasant thing to do, neither is drinking straight lemon juice, but a well made "sour" can certainly tantalise the taste buds without making you screw up your face. The first and most famous of the sour cocktails in the whiskey sour. This cocktail is said to be created  by Elliot Stubb in 1872. Elliot Stubb was an Englishman who moved to Port Lquique (a port in North Chile) with the dream of settling and opening a bar. Has experimented with creating many different drinks and mixes, most of which contained lemons and limes which grew in large amounts throughout the area.  One day he mixed scotch whiskey, with lemon juice and a dash of sugar. Amazed with the delicious result, he made it the house specialty in his bar. He called it "The Whiskey Sour". Word spread fast about this drink amongst customers and soon the drink was being served in bars throughout the UK and the USA.  Many years later the idea of adding egg white was included in the recipe to add texture to the cocktail.

We start with a shaker, add 30ml of freshly squeezed lemon juice, followed by 15ml of sugar syrup.  The sugar syrup is used to slightly take the edge off the lemon juice but without making it sweet. Now add 1 egg white. This sometimes scares a lot of people when they see you cracking an egg over your shaker, but i reassure you, the egg white adds no flavour what so ever. However it does give the drink a great fluffy texture once shaken. It'll give your cocktail a nice white creamy head which makes the cocktail very smooth to drink. Lastly add 45ml (or 60ml, depending on how strong you like your drinks) of scotch whiskey. There is no specific type of scotch you need to use, just use your favourite. Something aged is often nice. I like to use Chivas Regal or Glenfiddich. These famous scotch's are both aged for at least 12 years in oak barrels. This gives the scotch and smokey finish. A common characteristic with these scotch's is honey, which adds sweetness to the spirit, making it a lot smoother to swallow.  Fill your shaker up with ice and shake as hard as you can. As mentioned earlier, the egg white in the drink gives it a great texture, but it needs to be shaken well. So don't hold back.  Once shaken, you can simply just pour your drink in to a glass and serve.

If you love your scotch, this cocktail can really tantalise the senses. Plus the egg white gives it a unique fluffy texture.  I always enjoy watching the reaction of people when i present them with this drink. Often customers don't know how to tackle it, but once they take that first sip they can't put it down until the glass is empty.

In a shaker:
30ml Lemon Juice
15ml Sugar Syrup
1 egg white
45ml (or 60ml) Scotch whiskey
Add Ice and Shake well
Pour into glass and serve

The Gin & Tonic Re-Invented

The gin & tonic is said to be the first cocktail ever created. Even though today we consider this drink a simple mix drink, the gin and tonic still has great significances in cocktail history.  I decided to re-invent this classic drink, and turn it from being just a mix drink, into a modern day cocktail. 

When getting inspiration for my new gin & tonic, i turned to the history books and decided to try and recreate the rivalry between England and France but in the form of a cocktail. How can i possibly do this i hear you ask, well it's simple. I begin with Plymouth Gin, but not just normal Plymouth gin, i chose Plymouth sloe gin. Sloe (pronounced "slow") gin is gin which is made with sloe berries, also known as blackthorn berries. The gin is made by distilling the spirit with these plum-like berries. Sugar is then added to make the gin sweeter and takes the edge off the bitterness of the berries.  Plymouth gin has been produced in England since 1793. So with 30ml of Plymouth sloe gin (representing England), we add 30ml of french pinot gris wine. Pinot gris is a European grape varietal made in the french style of wine (obviously representing France). 

Now to explain why…. Pinot gris is a full flavoured fruity wine. To be more specific, when smelling, it has floral characteristics, then when tasted, you may pick up fruits like pear, apple or melon, depending on the producer.  This fruity wine works in perfect harmony with the sloe berries.   So now we have covered the rivalry between England & France. My point being, even 2 great rivals can still come together and combine to make something special.

I finish this "G&T" cocktail with the juice of half a lime (which always compliments gin well, and is commonly served with a traditional gin and tonic), lastly a pinch of cracked black pepper, just to give the drink a subtle kick when it hits the tongue.  Now, just add ice and top up with tonic water.

If your tired of the traditional "G&T", this might be a funky alternative for you.
This cocktail may sound complex but it is really simple. 
In a tall glass:
30ml Plymouth sloe gin
30ml Pinot Gris Wine
juice of half a lime
pinch of cracked black
Add ice
Top with tonic water

Thursday, 3 March 2011

The Mint Revolution: The Mojito & The Mint Julep

"Minty" drinks seem to have a knack of finding there way on to almost every cocktail menu. Rightly so too, they have proved to have such popularity and have lasted the test of time. It all started with the mint julep, back in 1803. Although no one is 100% sure, the mint julep was seen for the first time in print in a London publication written by John Davies.  Back then, the spirit used was not specified, but it had to have mint soaked through the drink.  Later in the 18th century, in the southern United States,  a US Senator introduced this drink to the people of Kentucky and in particular the bartenders at the "Willard Hotel".  From then on the tradition of Kentucky bourbon mixed with limes and sugar has long been know as the famous classic, the mint Julep.

Like most of these famous classic cocktails, there origins are never certain. The mojito is one drink that has many different stories. We know that is was invented in Cuba, but no one can be sure when. Some say that it was invented by the African slaves that worked in the sugar cane fields back in the 19th century. Mixing rum, sugar, mint and lime was a popular and refreshing drink amongst the slaves.  One story that i find quite amusing, is that the mojito was actually invented by American bartenders. The story goes, in the 1930's when prohibition hit the US, the bartenders at the time were all out of a job, so a lot of them travelled to Cuba to work. With the mint julep being so popular in the US, the bartenders simply replaced the bourbon with the Cuban spirit, rum.  I could go on with many other stories on how the mint julep and the mojito came about, but at the end of the day, there is no definitive answer.

I'm sure by now you have a pretty good idea of what is in these drinks. Start with long glass, add lime wedges (about 3 - 4) and sugar. I find brown sugar works quite well and gives the drink a nice caramel flavour, but white sugar will still work just fine. Muddle and crush these together extracting as much juice from the lime as you can.  Next, tear off and generous handful of mint leaves. Slap them in your hands, the idea being the heat and the friction in your hands will help release the flavours and aromas of the mint. Add this to your limes and sugar. Many bartenders believe that you should muddle the mint, i don't believe this is the best way of extracting flavour. If you put a mint leaf in your mouth and chew down on in vigorously, you'll understand why you shouldn't muddle the mint. The mint becomes sour and extremely bitter when muddled.  Now for your spirit, add 60ml of bourbon for the "julep" or rum for the "mojito". Fill your glass with ice and stir. Stir as long as you need to dilute the ice with the spirit. You can top up with soda if you'd like, but this is optional.

There you have it, 2 of probably the most famous mint drinks of all time. Enjoy!!

In a Glass add:
3 - 4 Lime Wedges
1 teaspoon of sugar
Muddle Together
A Handful of mint
60ml Spirit ( Bourbon = Mint Julep) (Rum = Mojito)
Add ice and stir
Top up with soda water (optional)

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

The Margarita: Tequila is so misunderstood

Tequila glorious tequila!!!  This Mexican icon is sometimes so misunderstood.  People all the time tell me how disgusting they think it is, yet they still get peer pressured into licking some salt, taking a shot then sucking on some lemon. I think almost everyone out there has a tragic tequila story.  No doubt there is some cheap shonky tequila out there, which i would not wish upon anyone, but there also some a lot of great ones, which are used in many amazing cocktails. The greatest tequila cocktail of them all, the margarita.

Now i know what your going to ask, "What makes a great tequila?", "Which tequila's are good and which are bad?. To be honest, that's completely up to you. You're the best judge. I have my personal favourites (Patron, Herradura, 1800) but everyones taste buds are different.  The argument of which tequila should be used in a margarita could go on for hours,  but for this exercise, I'm going for the 1800 Anejo. Anejo refers to how long the tequila has been aged for. Anejo means the tequila has been aged for over 12 months. Which i think works well in a margarita. It's give the drink a nice smokey flavour. You can also get 'extra anejo', which is tequila that is aged longer than 3 years. You may also hear the terms "blanco" and "reposado" which means aged less than 2 months for blanco, and between 2 - 12 months for reposado.

Getting back to the margarita... There are so many different stories on how this cocktail came about. We know that it was some time during the 1930s. One tale about the margarita is that it was invented by bartender, Pancho Morales at Tommy's Bar in Juarez, Mexico. A customer asked Pancho for a "Magnolia". He couldn't remember the ingredients for a magnolia except cointreau. So he improvised by adding tequila and lime juice along with the cointreau.

So in a shaker, we begin with 45ml 1800 anejo tequila. Followed by 15ml of Cointreau and lastly 30ml of lime juice. Add ice and shake. There are 2 common ways of serving. Strained into an margarita glass (which is similar to a martini glass) or serve over ice in a short glass. How ever you decide to serve the margarita, before you do, it's tradition to serve it with a salted rim around the glass. Salt is often associated with tequila because it is said to mask the bitterness of the tequila. I believe that the salt can sometimes enhance the drink. It brings together the 3 ingredients nicely. Now days the salt rim is optional. Pour or strain the contents of your shaker in to your glass and enjoy.

Tequila is not as bad as many people make out, and a great margarita can prove that. Have fun!!!

In a shaker:
45ml Tequila
15ml Cointreau
30ml Lime juice
Add ice and shake,
rim glass with salt and strain contents of your shaker.