Friday, 29 April 2011

The Art of the 'Flip"

I love the looks on people's faces when they see you cracking a raw egg into a shaker as you prepare their cocktail.  A look of disgust mixed with fear of what they are about to drink. But once the drink is complete and they slowly and reluctantly take that first sip, they are soon hooked on the smooth fluffy texture mixed with the sweetness of the liqueurs and spirits added.  In case you haven't already worked it out yet, a flip drink is a drink that contains a raw egg. There are many cocktails around that contain egg white but they are not considered a 'flip'. A 'flip' is the whole egg, yolk and all. I remember when i first began learning about cocktails and i came across the idea of adding a whole raw egg to a drink, at the time i thought it was so unheard of, but after learning more about 'flips', i realised that this technique has been around for hundreds of years.

The idea of the 'flip' began in the late 1600's, but the original idea was not with an egg, but with beer. The idea of the original drink was a mixture of rum, sugar and beer. This cocktail was heated up either over a fire or with a hot iron. The beer would froth up and give the drink the fluffy texture that we now get from using an egg. Over time the beer was eliminated and replaced with eggs and it was served chilled as opposed to hot.  Modern day flips now contain things like grated nut-meg or cinnamon. Other herbs and spices like coriander and ginger are also found in many modern flips.

There are literally hundreds of different flip recipes out there. I'll go over one of the simple classics, the classic brandy flip. Start with a cocktail shaker half filled with ice (you don't need to much ice when making flips because the ice is used to just chill the drink, whereas many of the other classics, ice is important because it's used to dilute the cocktail). Next add 60ml of your favourite brandy, 1 whole egg, 30ml sugar syrup and a pinch of grated nut-meg. If you want, you can also add a dash of thickened cream, but this is optional.  Shake the drink hard and fast. It's important to mix the egg up well. You need the egg to froth before you serve so spend a good 30 seconds shaking. Now simply strain your mixture into your glass. I like to use a wine glass, but any glass will do. Finally, garnish with some more grated nut meg on top.  Using this technique, you can make tons of variations simply by substituting the brandy for what ever other spirit you'd like. As mentioned earlier, no don't need to use nut-meg either. Try cinnamon or ginger if you wish to give your flip some extra flavour.

In a previous post i talked about the 'snickers bar' cocktail. This is a great drink to turn into a flip. 15ml of butterscotch schnapps, Baileys Irish cream, creme de cacao and frangelico with a whole egg and a spoon of peanut butter, shake well and serve. I guarantee that's a winner every time.

It's important to understand that the egg in these drinks has no flavour, so it doesn't effect the taste in anyway. I think that's what scares people off the most, is the idea that they'll taste the raw egg. The egg simply gives the drink texture. Having said that, have to many of these and they will fill your stomach up. They are eggs after all. Usually one or two is usually enough.

I urge everyone to try a flip cocktail. You won't be disappointed. Like many classics, drinking a flip drink is an experience. I hope it's an enjoyable one.

Classic Brandy Flip:
In a Shaker:
Half fill with ice
Add 60ml Brandy
30ml Sugar syrup
1 whole egg
pinch of grated nutmeg
(thickened cream optional)
Shake well and strain into a glass.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

The Classic Sidecar

Aside from being a big lover of rum, i also don't mind a nice cognac or brandy from time to time. I've featured many rum cocktails so far so it's about time i picked out one of my favourite cognac cocktails, The Sidecar.

The Sidecar was invented towards the end of World War I.  It was said to be invented in either London or Paris. No one knows or has any proof but both cities claim to be the Sidecars original home. The Ritz Hotel in Paris claim to have been featuring the drink on their cocktail menu since 1922. Another bar in Paris called Harry's New York Bar say they served this drink to a captain who spent the war being driven around in the sidecar of a motorcycle, hence the name. Then there is 'The Bucks Club' in London who say that popular bartender Pat MacGarry came up with this drink around the same time and it was published in cocktail books not long after.  So many theories and stories. I always enjoy reading the different myths about these classic drinks.

The drink is as follows... 45ml Cognac, 15ml Cointreau and a squeeze of lemon juice. Stir together over ice in a cocktail shaker and strain into a chilled martini glass. That's it!!! Like all great classics, simple is always the best.  In the early 1930's the idea of serving the sidecar with a sugar rim became popular. Over time many variations have been inspired by the traditional Sidecar:
Rum Sidecar = replacing the cognac with dark rum
Boston Sidecar = adding gold or dark rum along with the cognac
Tuaca Sidecar = replacing the cognac with Tuaca (Tuaca is an Italian brandy based liqueur, which contains the essence of orange and vanilla)
... you get the idea,

I personally am not a fan of to much lemon juice. So in a "Dave Sidecar" i replace the lemon juice with lime juice and a dash of orange juice. This gives the drink a sweeter and tropical finish, and therefore it makes it easier to drink for those people who don't like tons of straight spirits.  Another tip for a "Dave Sidecar" is garnish with a Cinnamon stick, it just gives the drink a little spice and a little more explosion of flavour while you drink.

When making your Sidecar, the main decision you need to make is what type of cognac to use, there are many types going around. but before that it's important to understand 'what is cognac?' and what is brandy?'.  Simply... Cognac and brandy are much the same, however cognac can only be called cognac if it is produced in the town of Cognac in France. Much like real champagne can only be produced in France. So when making my Sidecar's, I personally like to use Remy Martin Cognac's. Remy Martin have been cognac and champagne specialists since 1724, so you know that their quality of spirit is of a high standard. There are up to 13 different types in the Remy Martin range, so depending on your budget will depend on which one you choose to use in your Sidecar. A bottle of the famous Remy Martin Louis XIII will set you back something around $2,500 (750ml bottle). But you don't need to spend an arm or a leg to make yourself a great Sidecar. Using the basic Remy Martin range will still give you a great result.

This cocktail certainly conveys great style and class, but it also will give you an amazing drinking experience. The flavours of the cognac are worth appreciating. Hope you have as much fun making and drinking the Sidecar as i did. Enjoy!

Traditional Sidecar:
In a Shaker:
45ml Cognac (or brandy)
15ml Cointreau
Squeeze of lemon juice
stir over ice and strain into a chilled martini glass

Dave's Sidecar:
In a Shaker:
45ml Remy Martin Cognac
15ml Cointreau
15ml Lime Juice
30ml Orange Juice
Stir over ice and strain into a chilled martini glass
Garnish with a cinnamon stick

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

The Sangria

If you asked me to name one cocktail or drink that sums up creativity, fun, socialising with friends and partying, I'd have to say that not many would rival the sangria. The great thing about this drink is that there is no official recipe for it. It's completely up to you. Every bartender who i know who makes this drink has there own slight twist, and there is nothing wrong with any of them. The other great thing is, you don't need to be a master 'mixologist' or a cocktail guru to know how to put one  of these together. Any combination of red wine (or white wine for a sangria blanco), juices and fresh fruit does the job and it's always a hit at parties or when your out with a big group of people.

The Sangria was first invented in Spain. The word sangria is actually the Spanish word for bleeding, which refers to the look of the red wine which is used in a traditional sangria recipe. It is always served in big pitchers or jugs like a punch. The people of Spain and later Portugal, have been drinking this cocktail for hundreds of years. Some say as far back as the 1700s. There is no proof of this though. However, the story goes, back in the 1700's, the water in Spain was to dirty and not safe to drink. Water back then was only used for bathing and washing their horses. People's alternative was to drink milk, but milk was seen as being a babies drink. So the other safe alternative was wine. So to make the wine less alcoholic and therefore suitable for children, people added freshly squeezed juices and fruits, and the very first sangria's were born. In modern times, spirits have been added to the recipe to give the cocktail more kick.  This party drink exploded on to the world stage at the 1964 worlds fair in New York.

As mentioned earlier, everyone makes sangria different. I suppose there is no right or wrong way of serving it. I personally like to make it as tropical as possible. Start with chopped oranges, some strawberries and some pineapple pieces. I like to also add mango puree' and passion fruit pulp, but this is not essential. One ingredient that i do recommend you use is cinnamon. By throwing in a  couple of cinnamon sticks with your mixture, it can give the drink a nice little spice as you sip on your sangria. It also works well with the flavours of the red wine. Now add 15ml white rum, 15ml dark rum, 15ml brandy and 15ml Cointreau (or any type of triple sec). Next, add about 90ml of any type of red wine and top it up with orange juice, pineapple juice and apple juice. If you want, you can also add a little bit of soda water or lemonade.

As I'm sure you've gathered, the sangria is a drink with hundreds of different variations. So it's important when making your sangria that you put you own little personal touch on your drink.  I hope I've given you some ideas. Have fun!!!

In a Jug or Pitcher Add:
Chopped Oranges, Pineapples and strawberries
Dash of Mango puree and Passion fruit pulp (Optional)
2 - 3 Cinnamon Sticks
15ml White Rum
15ml Dark Rum
15ml Cointreau
15ml Brandy
90ml Red Wine
Top up with Orange Juice, Pineapple Juice and Apple Juice
(Soda Water or Lemonade Optional)

Friday, 15 April 2011

Two 'Tiki' Classics: The Mai Tai & The Zombie

I love my rum, and in particular, rum based cocktails. The Daiquiri, Mojito and rum Old Fashioned are some of my all time favourites.  But as all rum drinkers will tell you, you can't go past 2 of arguably the most famous 'Tiki' cocktails of all time, the Mai Tai and the Zombie.

For those who don't know what i mean when i say 'tiki', I'm referring to a style of bar which became huge in the US during the 1930s. Tiki bars were themed bars which were based around a tropical style. These bars usually contained palm trees, torches and were commonly located near beaches. The very first tiki bar was opened in Los Angeles in 1933 named, Don the Beachcomber. It's owner was a man who today is known as the 'father of tiki', Donn Beach (a.k.a Ernestt Gantt, who changed his name to Donn Beach in 1937). Tiki bars were also famous for tiki cocktails, which were rum based, tropical and fruity cocktails which were often served in things like coconut shells. Tiki bars were huge mainly throughout America, but also all over the world for the next 30 years, but then fell out of style. However the tiki theme has been revived in the last 15 years with popular tiki cocktails finding there way back on to drinks menus.

As the success of Donn Beach's bars grew, so did the number of other bar owners trying to take the reigns as one of the top bars in America. One of Beach's main rivals was bar owner, Victor J Bergeron. Bergeron was the founder of the bar and restaurant chain, Trader Vic's (which started in Oakland, California). Bergeron claimed to create the first Mai Tai at his bar in 1944, however Donn Beach claims to have invented the first Mai Tai at his establishment in 1934. There is no proof who was first, but Beach's version of the cocktail is a little different to Bergeron's.  As I'm writing this blog, i decided to google the Mai Tai just to see how many different variations there are, and without searching around for to long, i came across at least 20 different ways of serving this drink and I'm sure there are more out there. So I'll go over the way i personally like to serve my Mai Tai's.
Start with a shaker an add 15ml white rum (Bacardi superior is usually my white rum of choice), 15ml Amaretto (almond liqueur), 15ml Cointreau, 15ml dark rum (again, Bacardi 8yo is my dark rum) the juice of half a lime and a dash of sugar syrup and about 30ml - 45ml of pineapple juice. Add ice and shake. Now... you don't need to shake your Mai Tai's, you can quite easily build them over ice. However, shaking this mixture with the pineapple juice gives the cocktail a nice creamy foam when you pour it into your glass. Once your done shaking, simple pour it into your glass. One of the rules with tiki cocktails is that you need to garnish your drinks with as much fruit and decoration as you can, so go nuts with you garnish, don't hold back!

Donn Beach may have 'claimed' to create the Mai Tai in 1934, but we know he definitely did create the Zombie. The Zombie is very similar to the Mai Tai. This cocktail contains white rum, gold rum, dark rum, apricot brandy, pineapple juice and papaya juice (or orange juice if papaya is hard to source). Donn Beach created this drink in 1939 and launched and served it at the New York world fair. Since then, many variations have also been created for the Zombie. When serving a zombie i prefer to build the cocktail in a tall glass. Start with 15ml Bacardi Superior, 15ml Bacardi gold, 15ml Bacardi 8yo and 15ml apricot brandy. I find a dash of mango puree' and passion fruit pulp works great with this drink too. Next, add ice and top up with pineapple juice and orange juice. Give it a bit of a stir then finally pour a dash of grenadine down the centre of the drink and watch it sink to the bottom.  Like the Mai Tai, don't hold back on you garnishes.

These are top drinks to serve up at parties. Especially poolside in the summer. Very tropical and are designed to be lots of fun. If your a rum drinker like i am, you'll have a lot of fun making your own versions of the Mai Tai and the Zombie. Enjoy!!!

The Mai Tai:
In a shaker,
15ml White Rum
15ml Dark Rum
15ml Cointreau
15ml Amaretto
Dash of Lime Juice
Dash of Sugar Syrup
30ml - 45ml Pineapple Juice
Add Ice
Shake and Pour into glass

The Zombie:
In a Tall glass,
15ml Bacardi Superior
15ml Bacardi Gold
15ml Bacardi 8yo
15ml Apricot Brandy
Dash of Mango Puree
Dash of Passion fruit Pulp
Add ice and stir together
Top up with Pineapple juice and Orange Juice
Sink a dash of Grenadine

Sunday, 10 April 2011

The Original & The Best: The Classic Martini

Looking back at my previous blog posts i realised that I've covered a wide variety of drinks. So when thinking about what i should write about next, i was shocked when i realised that I'd not even covered the classic martini. This is the "grand daddy" of all cocktails, it is almost the definition of cocktail.

The classic martini is probably the one drink that has had the single biggest influence on bar culture today. But with the status of being "the most famous cocktail of all-time", comes the many bartenders who claim to being the original creator of the martini. So there is no definitive explanation for this cocktails origins. However, I'll share with you one story which I've heard and like to believe. It involves the 'godfather' of mixology, Jerry Thomas. Jerry Thomas was a bartender who wrote and published the first ever cocktail book in 1862, "How to mix drinks". Thomas worked in San Francisco at the Occidental Hotel. It is said that in 1850, a traveller on his way to the town of Martinez, California stopped off at the hotel and asked Thomas to make him something special. Thomas proceeded to serve the man a drink which consisted of gin, vermouth, a dash of bitters and a maraschino cherry to garnish. Jerry Thomas named it 'the Martinez' after the town that the man was travelling too.  In 1870, the Martinez was adapted by Julio Richelieu. Richelieu took out the bitters and substituted the cherry for an olive, and the martini has never looked back from then.

Making the martini is simple. I'll go through the process which works best for me. Start with a shaker, add ice along with 30ml of vermouth. Stir the vermouth with the ice, the idea being is that you want to coat the ice with the vermouth. Once stirred well, strain the vermouth into a chilled martini glass (it's a good idea to have a couple of martini glasses pre-chilled in a fridge to save you a bit of time). Roll the vermouth around the inside of the glass, lining the glass, then discard. Now go back to your original shaker, pour 60ml of gin (or vodka, depending on what type of martini your making) over the ice and stir again. The longer your stir the more diluted your martini will be, therefore most probably easier to drink. Lastly, strain your shaker into your martini glass and garnish with either an olive or a lemon zest. I like to serve a martini with 3 olives. Tell the customer to eat the first olive at the start of the cocktail, the second olive when they get half way through, and the last olive at the very end of the drink. I've had good feedback from customers about doing this. I find it adds to the overall martini drinking experience.

I can not stress enough how important it is to use a good quality spirit in martini's.  Cheap booze will ruin your drink.  If your paying top dollar for a martini, you want value for money. My picks for quality gins are Tanqueray 10 or Plymouth Gin. As far as vodka's, I can't go past Grey Goose, but it's always up to your personal choice. Hope you enjoy your martini's.

In a Shaker:
Add Ice & 30ml Vermouth and stir
Strain vermouth into a chilled martini glass and rinse the glass with the vermouth.
Discard Vermouth
Add to original shaker, 60ml of Gin or Vodka
Stir well and strain into martini glass
garnish with olives or lemon zest.

The Tequila Slammer Vs The Lick-Sip-Suck

OK.... So here's the thing. I thought it was about time i clarified to many people out there the difference between tequila slammers and lick-sip-sucks, because some people clearly don't know the difference.

It seems to happen time and time again, customers walk up to the bar and order tequila slammers not really knowing what they are. Now 10 times out of 10 i know exactly what they want, they want tequila shots with the lemon/lime and salt (a.k.a A lick-sip-suck).  So i thought it was about time i explained to people about the actual definition of a tequila slammer. The tequila slammer became popular in the mid 1980s in bars throughout Acapulco, Mexico. At the time it was the new craze in consuming shots.  It consists of a short glass with a shot of tequila and a generous dash of lemonade or ginger ale. Place your hand on top of the glass and slam the glass (trying not to break the glass of coarse) into the bar. This will cause the drink to fizz up. The aim is to now drink the mixture before it fizz's up and over flows. The tequila slammer has some cool variations too. One of my personal favourites is the "slammer royale", which is replacing the lemonade with champagne.  Get creative with your 'slammers'. It doesn't matter what you mix the tequila with, it just has to be a carbonated mixture.

Now, the lick-sip-suck is pretty self explanatory. I know there are going to be some readers out there who have done hundreds of these in their time, so this will be nothing new, but for the tequila amateurs out there, I'll explain it anyway. Believe it or not, the lick-sip-suck was not created in Mexico as many people think. When Mexico began exporting tequila to the rest of the world, the lick-sip-suck was a way for the rest of the world to shot tequila. We start by, licking some salt off the back of your hand, taking the shot, then sucking on a slice of lemon or lime. The idea being that the salt cleanses the palette at the start, you take the shot of tequila and then sucking on the lemon gets rid of the awful taste for those people who can't handle tequila.  I can always tell the true tequila lovers out there, they always do the shot straight up, no salt, no lemon or lime.

Both of these shots are great social drinks. I've mentioned before in my post on the margarita, no matter whether you like tequila or not, people still continue to order (or get peer pressured into ordering) this Mexican spirit and proceed to either slam or lick and sip and suck. It seems no night is complete with out a shot of tequila.   Have Fun !!!!!

"The Tequila Slammer"

Lick the Salt... Take the Shot... Suck the Lime/ Lemon

Friday, 8 April 2011

The Sazerac

I was chatting with a mate of mine the other day about the unnecessary amount of "big ego's" in the bar industry. Sure, i accept with the many cocktail competitions and challenges around the world today, it's a  competitive industry amongst bartenders. But I'm not talking about cocktail competitions, I'm talking about the things that some bartenders do to give themselves, what i like to call "Bar street-cred". Please explain??... OK, for example a bartender walks into a bar and orders a classic cocktail, like the sazerac, to try and test the bartender or if it's not to test the barman, it's to portray to the staff that they know their drinks, by ordering a classic. Lame i know, but believe me, i see it happen. To me it doesn't prove anything, I've had other bartenders order stuff like this from me, expecting me to give them some street cred, but i don't buy into it. I'll say one last thing before i get off my 'soap-box', the bar industry is full of too many big ego's as it is, an if bartenders would stop trying so hard to compete against each other and learn from one another, we would all become better at what we do and therefore making the industry better for the customer.

So I've said my little bit... but now lets get stuck into the sazerac. There are many drinks that bartenders order to give them "street-cred",  but the main one that comes to my mind is the sazerac. I decided to feature this classic cocktail on my blog, because I'll admit, I don't know much about it's origins. i know whats in it and how to make it, but i have no idea of where it came from and how it was first invented, so it was exciting for me to learn something new.

The story of the sazerac starts around 1850. An American bar owner, Sewell T. Taylor sold his bar and began working in the liquor importing business. He turned to France and began importing a brand of cognac called "Sazerac-de-forge-et-fils". As Taylor began to sell an import this cognac throughout America,  another bartender, Aaron Bird, decided to take over a bar and name it "The Sazerac House". Here is where Bird is said to have created the "Sazarac cocktail", using Sewell Taylors brand of imported cognac, absinthe and sugar, along with Peychauds bitters. Down the street from the Sazerac House, was the local drug store, owned by a man called Antoine Amedie Peychaud. Peychaud is the creator of the famous "Peychauds Bitters" which is best described as a light and sweet bitters. This is an important ingredient in the sazerac. Around 1870, The Sazerac House was taken over by Thomas Handy. Handy was forced to change the ingredient of the french cognac, to a rye whiskey, due to the Phylloxera (which was basically like a type of insect) epidemic which was sweeping France at the time. These bugs were eating and destroying all the wine crops, grapes and tainting all the produce, so the cognac used in the sazerac was unavailable for that period of time. So from then on the sazerac has been served with rye whiskey.

There are many subtle variations on this drink, but I'll share with you how i serve my sazeracs.  Start with a rocks (old fashioned) glass, pour 10ml absinthe into the glass and roll the glass, coating as much of the side as you can with the absinthe. Once all of the glass is coated, you can discard the absinthe. This process is called rinsing. After the 'absinthe rinse', place a sugar cube in the bottom of the glass and cover the cube with a few dashes of Peychauds bitters. Crush this sugar cube and get it as broken up and dissolved as you can. I sometimes like to add a dash of sugar syrup to add to the sweetness, but this is up to you. I have a bit of a sweet tooth, so i like my drinks sweet.  Once sugar is dissolved, you can either add 60ml rye whiskey of 60ml Cognac. I like to give the drink as many flavours of possible and give the drink a bit of a 3rd dimension, so i personally like to use 30ml of both rye whiskey and cognac. Now add ice, and stir... and keep stirring as long as you need to dilute the cocktail to your liking. Lastly, garnish with some lemon zest, and enjoy. Some of you might notice that this is very similar to an "Old Fashioned". That's because the sazerac was inspired by the old fashioned cocktail.

I hope you enjoy your sazerac, and remember, only order the sazerac if that's what you really want, not  for the street cred.  ;-)

In a rocks glass:
10ml Absinthe
1 sugar cube
(dash of sugar syrup optional)
Dash of Peychauds Bitters
30ml Rye Whiskey
30ml Cognac
Add ice and stir
Garnish with lemon zest