Category Archives: 52 Cocktails creations

Sloe down, Melonhead!

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One of life’s many little pleasures is being able to rattle off quotes from old-school Simpsons episodes (or Seinfeld, or whatever it was that you and your buddies practically memorised when you should have been studying for that all-important exam) that are immediately understood. To that end, some of you, I hope, will recognise the quote I’ve named this drink after – ‘Quit your daydreaming, melonhead!’ And if you don’t, that’s OK, too. Cause all you really need to recognise to enjoy this jammy, rich concoction is that sometimes in life, you need to slow down and enjoy the little things. Like quoting The Simpsons.

INGREDIENTS

90ml watermelon juice, strained

45 ml sloe gin

5ml vanilla vodka

10ml fresh lime juice

GLASS

Something that would blend in at a whimsical garden party held by the Mad Hatter. Failing that, a jam jar will do.

METHOD

Add all ingredients to a mixing glass that’s half-full of ice. Stir thoroughly to both combine and chill. Strain into the serving glass and relaaaaax.

RECIPE BY

This one’s by us. Enjoy!

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New Fashioned & Old Fashioned

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I love a good Old Fashioned and I love gin, so it’s only natural that the first drink I tried from the new Dan Jones book, Gin: Shake, Muddle, Stir was a gin-based old fashioned – aptly called a New Fashioned.

It’s made almost entirely of gin – think of it as a martini of sorts for people who really, REALLY don’t like vermouth – so it’s logical that Jones instructs readers to use ‘really excellent gin’. To me, that means Four Pillars or West Winds (actually, it means a bunch of others, too, but hey, who’s counting?) and today I opted for West Winds The Sabre, partly because its blue-tinged bottle matched the book and partly because I’d been looking for an excuse to crack open a new bottle and this seemed like the perfect reason. (I must rethink this policy of waiting for a special occasion to open new bottles. New bottles of liquor could be languishing for days behind my bar if I keep this up.)

You’ve got to really love gin to enjoy this cocktail – so naturally, I loved it. It’s a great way to enjoy your very fave gin with just a hint of sweetness and not a lot else going on; if you’re not a gin-head, don’t bother.

NEW FASHIONED

INGREDIENTS

60ml really excellent gin (seriously, use your very very best gin)

splash of sugar syrup (I used 5ml)

dash of Angostura Bitters

dash of orange bitters (I used Angostura Orange Bitters)

strip of lime peel, to garnish

GLASS

Tumbler or old-fashioned glass

METHOD

Add a massive chunk of ice to your tumbler (one of those spherical moulds of ice will work, or just use a heap of decent-sized ice cubes). Add gin and sugar syrup and stir briefly to combine. Splash the bitters over the top and garnish with the lime peel.

RECIPE BY

This is from Gin: Shake, Muddle, Stir by Dan Jones (Hardie Grant Books, 2016)

 

HOUSE OLD FASHIONED

If you’re not into gin, make an Old Fashioned instead. Recipes vary a bit – here’s an ultra-cool one courtesy of Esquire – but the recipe below, a variation on the traditional recipe, is the one served at 52 Cocktails’ HQ.

INGREDIENTS

60ml Johnnie Walker red label whisky

15ml sugar syrup

several dashed Fee Brothers Black Walnut Bitters

GLASS

Old-fashioned or tumbler

METHOD

Place several ice cubes in a mixing glass. Add half the whisky and half the sugar syrup and stir well. Add a few more ice cubes and the remaining ingredients and stir again. Half-fill the serving glass with ice. Strain the cocktail into the glass and serve.

RECIPE BY

This is a variation on the theme of a traditional Old Fashioned, and we’ve been serving it up for years. The Black Walnut Bitters adds a delicious caramel note, changing the drink from a gutsy pre-dinner tipple to something you could almost serve with (or instead of) dessert. It’s a divine winter warmer, too.

Adding a fruit garnish is optional – there’s a bit of debate about whether a regular Old Fashioned should be garnished or not – but, for the record, our House Old Fashioned has never sported a garnish, and no one has ever complained.

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Pretty in Pink

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This cocktail is so easy it’s almost embarrassing. And, since its main ingredient is watermelon, it’s embarrassingly healthy, too.

INGREDIENTS

A good chunk of watermelon, roughly chopped and seeds removed, chilled

30ml flavoured vodka – your choice of vanilla-, raspberry- or strawberry-infused

Mint leaf, for garnish

GLASS

Your fanciest coupe, chilled

METHOD

Blitz the watermelon in a blender until it’s all slushy. Fine-strain into the glass. You don’t want any ‘bits’ in this drink. Add the vodka, stir gently, garnish and serve.

TASTES LIKE

A sweet end to a glorious summer’s day.

RECIPE BY

52 Cocktails, who recommend keeping a huge jug of watermelon juice in the fridge so you can top up whenever you need to – just add vodka!

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Bloody Caesar

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The Bloody Mary is the undisputed queen of brunch drinks – but I prefer a Bloody Caesar. Hailing from Canada, it is basically a Bloody Mary with the addition of clam juice, which sounds completely disgusting but is actually really good. And you don’t need to juice any clams, either – just use Clamato , which is a mixture of tomato juice and clam juice, among other ingredients (if you’re in Melbourne, you can buy it here). Hail Caesar!

INGREDIENTS

celery salt

J & D’s Bacon Salt (which is, weirdly enough, vegetarian)

30-50ml vodka (use less if you want this to be a hangover cure, and more if you want it to be a hangover cause)

5ml Worcestershire sauce

dash of Tabasco or Chipotle Tabasco sauce (or ghost chilli sauce if you REALLY like things hot)

Clamato (get the picante version if you like things hot)

lime wedge

Vietnamese mint or Chinese celery or just a good old celery stick, to garnish

GLASS

I like my Caesars short, so I use a tumbler, but traditionally the drink calls for a tall glass (a pint glass is fine, or use a Collins or highball).

METHOD

Mix the two salts together on a plate. Rim the glass by wiping a wedge of lime or lemon around the rim, then dipping it in the salt mix.

Half-fill the glass with ice.

Add vodka and all the sauces. Squeeze the juice from the lime wedge and drop it into the glass. Top up with Clamato. Stir well and serve.

RECIPE BY

This particular version was created by 52 Cocktails’ CTO (Chief Tasting Officer), who swears the secret to it is not the Clamato but the blend of salts. Mmm, vegetarian bacon…

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Tequila Surprise

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Here’s an easy twist on the once-trendy tequila sunrise that might just bring it back into vogue – or, at least, into Cosmo. (It’s already winning points for its ability to inspire both a terrible magazine pun AND a cocktail pun in one phrase.) Adding orgeat or falernum (use whichever you have on hand) adds a luxurious or tiki vibe, respectively, to this brightly coloured crowd-pleaser.

INGREDIENTS

30ml tequila

15ml orgeat or falernum

5ml grenadine

fresh orange juice (enough to fill the glass)

GLASS

Rocks/tumbler

METHOD

Half-fill the glass with ice. Add the tequila, orgeat or falernum and enough fresh orange juice to fill the glass, and stir. Pour the grenadine over the back of a bar spoon – it should slowly settle into the glass to create the ‘sunrise’ look.

 

RECIPE BY

I really shouldn’t take credit for just adding an ingredient to a classic cocktail…but I will.

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Doctored Pimm’s

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A few weeks ago I foolishly attempted to provoke the weather gods into providing Melbourne with a sunny day by offering them a Sergeant Sunplash. It seems they listened, because today they turned their full vengeance upon me with a horrific heatwave, and I am now trying to placate them with a different offering: a Doctored Pimm’s.

Pimm’s, as you probably know, is a gin-based liqueur. Versions based on other spirits are sometimes also available, but most people are familiar with ‘Pimm’s No.1 Cup,’ the gin-based one that gets abbreviated simply to Pimm’s. It’s terribly British and traditional, dahling, and in my terribly traditional extended family it’s made with equal parts Pimm’s, lemonade and ginger beer, garnished with mint, a strip of cucumber peel and an orange slice, and drunk only on Boxing Day. And you do NOT fuck with this tradition. I once tried cutting the oranges into segments instead of slices. What was I thinking?! (Given it was Boxing Day, I was probably thinking, ‘My God I need a drink.’) That was more than a decade ago and I am still hearing about it.

So I am going to blame the heat for this deviation from the norm (and hope the family don’t read this): the Doctored Pimm’s has bourbon in it, and mandarin vodka, and really not very much actual Pimm’s in it at all. It’s about as far as you can get from a proper Pimm’s and still have Pimm’s in the title, really. It’s light and refreshing and tastes a bit like a cross between Fanta and a mint julep, which sounds disgusting but tastes quite nice. It’s the kind of thing you drink when it’s stinking hot and you don’t have enough bourbon to make a decent julep, or the ingredients to make a decent Pimm’s, or the energy to trundle down to the shops to buy either of those things. It’s a good way to use up the dregs of several bottles that somehow always seem to be taking up space on your bottle shelf. Look, it’s cold and wet and vaguely alcoholic, and right now that’s good enough for me!

INGREDIENTS

30ml bourbon

15ml Pimms

15ml Absolut Mandarin

15ml sugar syrup

10ml lemon juice

good dash of Angostura Bitters

soda water, to top up

orange slice, to garnish

mint sprig, to garnish

GLASS

Old-fashioned

METHOD

Half-fill the glass with ice. Add all the ingredients except the garnishes and stir. Garnish, hope your family isn’t watching, and drink to your non-traditional heart’s content.

RECIPE BY

This one was created out of sheer desperation by the 52 Cocktails crew.

 

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Falernum Fizz

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Ever since I stumbled across the word ‘Falernum’ in a cocktail book, I’ve been keen to get my hands on some. It’s fun to say, sounds vaguely mysterious and medicinal (probably because it sounds like ‘Phenergan’, an antihistamine that apparently has a sedative effect on kids – bonus!) and has its origins in tiki drinks, which are fun all round. Whee! Falernum! Good times. But what, exactly, is it?

In a nutshell, falernum is a mixture of lime and spices that was invented in Barbados sometime in the 1800s. There’s a great article about it here if you’re interested in its history. It adds an intriguing note of sweetness and baking spice to drinks and may just be that key ingredient you can taste in a tiki drink, but not name. Commercially, I’ve come across falernum as a non-alcoholic syrup and as an alcoholic, rum-based liqueur (several brands are available from the legends at Only Bitters). There are also many recipes available if you’d like to make your own, most of which use rum and various spices and sound delicious.

Homemade anything usually beats store-bought, but I confess I decided to cheat and buy a bottle of the non-alcoholic syrup instead of making my own, partly because it was cheaper than the liqueur kind and partly because I wanted to experiment with it and find out if I even liked it before taking the plunge and making my own. The Monin falernum syrup (pictured above) is thick, sweet and almondy with a heady aroma of vanilla and a kick of clove on the palate; it’s a bit like orgeat but with extra flavours. It adds a slightly thick, syrupy texture to drinks and would probably work well in my favourite tiki drink, a Mai Tai – I plan to use it in one instead of orgeat just as soon as we get some hot weather.

In the meantime I’ve experimented and come up with a simple cocktail recipe that I’m calling the Falernum Fizz. Here it is:

INGREDIENTS

20ml falernum syrup

30ml orange liqueur (eg triple sec, Cointreau or a citrus-infused vodka)

about 150ml freshly squeezed orange juice

soda water, to top up

GLASS

Short tumbler/Old Fashioned glass

METHOD

Add all ingredients except soda water to the glass and stir briefly to combine. Add enough ice cubes so that the level of fluid rises to about 3/4 full, and stir again. Top up with soda water and garnish with mint. Drink when you wish it was hot enough for a Mai Tai!

TASTES LIKE

This depends on which orange liqueur you use. Triple sec gives this drink a Tang-like flavour; Cointreau adds depth and makes it more sophisticated; orange or mandarin vodka keep things more neutral so that all you’re really tasting is the falernum and OJ, and that ain’t a bad thing. Overall, this is a very easy cocktail to drink – it’s basically alcoholic breakfast juice, and so sweet a kid would love it (but do not use it as a substitute for Phenergan, no matter how badly you’re tempted).

RECIPE BY

This recipe is by 52 Cocktails and is the result of many hours spent sweating over a hot stove. Well, I’m sure someone had to sweat over a hot stove in order to make the syrup that got used in the recipe, anyway. (Thank you, Monin.)

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Mezcal Margarita

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According to bucketloads of experts, it’s hard to achieve anything in life unless you have a goal. This is probably why, every time a workplace performance review comes around, I am asked to set myself some ‘measurable and achievable’ goals. Apparently, ‘don’t get fired’ is not a good enough goal, despite how hard it can be to achieve, and ‘world domination’ is not achievable, so this year I have set myself a goal of trying to get better acquainted with tequila. It is both measurable and achievable so I’m not sure why my boss was so cross when I submitted it to her but at least I did not get fired (thereby achieving one of my previous goals. If I keep this up I might achieve world domination).

Often sold in comical, sombrero-wearing bottles, tequila has finally shrugged off its ‘one tequila, two tequila, three tequila floor’ reputation and is now where gin was a few years ago: deservedly enjoying a revival. (Thankfully, that revival has also led to it being sold in much better packaging, such as these beautiful bottles by Milagro.) I admit I’m late to the tequila trend but that’s largely because up until now I’ve been busy drinking gin instead. I also admit I know very little about tequila and even less about mezcal (you can read about the differences between them here), and what I’ve learned so far amounts to this:

  1. Tequila and mezcal are both made from agave plants. By law, tequila can be made only from a specific type of agave: blue agave. Mezcal, however, can be made from any agave. Therefore, all tequila is mezcal, but not all mezcal is tequila.
  2. Tequila tends to be lighter than mezcal, which can be as smoky as a Scotch and kinda heavy on the palate. Which means, according to the bartenders at the Everleigh, that if you want to experiment with mezcal-based cocktails you might be better off using half mezcal and half tequila so the end result is not so overpowering. (This is what the Everleigh crew did when I asked, vaguely, for ‘Something with mezcal in it’ during my last visit – which was, of course, strictly for research purposes. How else do you expect me to achieve my goal?!)
  3. Any goal is more easily achieved with a visit to the Everleigh, aka my spiritual home, especially if that goal is to drink fabulous cocktails, such as the one below, which was inspired by their advice of mixing tequila and mezcal together.

MEZCAL MARGARITA

INGREDIENTS

Caster sugar and a wedge of lime, to rim the glass

25ml tequila

25ml mezcal

15ml mandarin vodka/triple sec/Cointreau

15ml freshly squeezed lime juice

30ml freshly squeezed orange juice

10ml sugar syrup

GLASS

Cocktail

METHOD

Rub the wedge of lime around the rim of a cocktail glass, then dip it in a plate of caster sugar. Pop the glass into the freezer to chill.

Shake all other ingredients together in a shaker that’s half-full of ice. (Mandarin vodka or triple sec will add a nice high note of citrus to the drink, making it good for summer; Cointrea has a bit more depth and makes for a more interesting drink – and perhaps a bit better suited to cold weather.)

Strain into the glass and enjoy! Or don’t. That depends on whether your goal in life is to enjoy things or not…

TASTES LIKE

A much more mature margarita than the kind you used to get at Mexican family restaurants (shudder). The mezcal’s smokiness comes through nicely, but the citrus balances it out. It’s bright and refreshing, but definitely one to sip and savour, not quaff (unless drunkenness is your goal).

RECIPE BY

This recipe is loosely based on a Blood Orange Margarita recipe that appears in Shaken: 250 very sexy cocktails (Murdoch Books, 2004).

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Fitzeveryone

Lychee

Recently I made a big batch of lychee syrup and then had the pleasure of working out how to use it all. A few (OK, many) drunken hours (OK, days) later, I realised there’s no point trying to reinvent the wheel when you can just take an existing wheel and tweak it until you get something you like. So, now that my car has no wheels left, I’m ready to present the Fitzeveryone, which is basically a Fitzgerald but with a few tweaks (OK, a lot of tweaks).

For those of you unfamiliar with the Fitzgerald, I implore you to stop reading this drivel right now, and go and make one.

For those of you who know and love the Fitzgerald, that sublime mix of lime, gin and bitters that always makes me feel like a be-spangled flapper in a 1920s speakeasy, I implore you to stop reading this drivel right now, and go and make one.

And for those of you who’ve had loads of Fitzgeralds and are ready for something just a bit different – try the Fitzeveryone and see what you think.

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FITZGERALD

INGREDIENTS

45ml gin

30ml sugar syrup

20ml lemon juice

2 dashes Angostura bitters

GLASS

Rocks or coupe

METHOD

Pour all ingredients into a shaker that’s half-full of ice. Shake it like you’re on the run from the law. Strain into the glass and relax; everything’s copasetic, darling.

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY

The hardest thing about this cocktail is not getting addicted to it.

RECIPE BY

Various recipes exist for this divine drink, which was created by the brilliant Dale DeGroff. This one appears on the free version of the Mixology App and appears to be the same one Dale himself uses, minus the lemon wedge garnish.

 

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FITZEVERYONE

INGREDIENTS

60ml lychee syrup (To make lychee syrup, blend a whole can of lychees, including the syrup, until smooth. Strain through a muslin-lined sieve, pressing with the back of a spoon to extract as much fruit and flavour as possible. Pour into a clean glass bottle and add an equal amount of sugar syrup. Store in the fridge – it will keep for about two weeks.)

30ml lime juice

30ml cachaca (Cachaca is the national spirit of Brazil; it is a clear liquid that is distilled from sugarcane juice. I used a brand called Pitu, which obscurely enough has a picture of a prawn on its label. Thankfully this does not indicate it is prawn-flavoured alcohol. Rather, cachaca has a slightly dirty, mineral-y, sometimes even petrol-y scent and taste – but in a good way. You could say it’s an acquired taste, but then you’d have to pretend that it only takes one Caipirinha – the most common drink made with cachaca – to acquire that taste. Best you pretend it’s really hard to adjust to so you have an excuse to drink lots of Caipirinhas before moving on to the Fitzeveryone.)

3 dashes Angostura bitters

GLASS

Rocks

METHOD

Throw everything into a shaker that’s half-full of ice. Shake like you’re already drunk on Fitzgeralds, then strain into a rocks glass that’s also half-full of ice.

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY

Once you’ve made the syrup, this one’s a cinch.

RECIPE BY

Concocted by 52 Cocktails.

Grand Pagoda

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Confession time: I fell in love with foamy cocktails at Potato Head Beach Club in Bali a few years ago and, despite them being oh-so-last-decade now, I still love them. A good one is like dessert in a glass, a textural wonderland of creamy, cloud-like topping leading to a sometimes sweet, sometimes tart, always refreshing cocktail below. A good foam-topped cocktail is a cheat’s way of getting two cocktails for the price of one, since you get two different experiences (and sometimes flavours) as you drink your way through the layers. A good one is heaven.

A bad one is hell.

A lot of foams are made from egg white, so, at their worst, a bad foam-topped cocktail is basically a mess of raw meringue topping that stinks of egg and goes droopy and gloopy before you’ve even got to the cocktail hiding in shame below. At their worst at home, a bad foam-topped cocktail is all of that AND it’s hard to clean the foam that’s gone all over the kitchen as you’ve accidentally pressed the lever on the foaminator too hard and it’s sprayed further than a pack of alley cats on heat. Which is what happened the first time I used my foaminator (aka whipped-cream charger) to make cocktail foam (thank you, 52 Cocktails CTO for the thoughtful gift. Sorry about the mess. Honestly, I think egg-white stalactites are the latest trend in home interiors…). Seriously, they look easy to use, as per Jamie Boudreau’s how-to video (although he could make apologising for meringue-inating the house look easy), but if you’ve never used one before I suggest you practise outside until you’ve got the hang of it. Preferably in someone else’s garden.

Alternatively, you could just cheat, and make a cocktail that uses pineapple juice, since shaking pineapple juice produces a pretty decent foam. This is due to something involving molecules and science, the upshot being that pineapple juice foam is admittedly not as strong as a foam made in a foaminator but is still strong enough to be called a foam, and sometimes, that’s all you need.

The Grand Pagoda is a good example of a cheat’s foam-topped cocktail, and the science-lovers among you (come on, with that hugely helpful scientific explanation in that last paragraph I just know you’re still reading) might like to conduct the same experiment I did, to see just how foamy the juice can get depending on what it’s shaken with (yep, Saturday nights are a real blast at my place).

First up, I made a Grand Pagoda, which looked like this:

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It was made using the original recipe, which is below. The foam was pretty good and the drink beneath was a nice muted ruby colour. Overall, the taste was good, too – quite sharp, dry-ish and minerally despite the drink looking sweet.

Next up, I made what I’ve since dubbed a Grand Pagoda Party. I wanted to make enough drinks for four people but of course that much liquid would not fit in a shaker. So I shook all the ingredients except pineapple juice together and poured them into glasses, then shook the pineapple juice and poured it over the top. The result (pictured at the very top of this long, nonsensical ramble) was actually better. The foam was stronger, the colours were brighter and you could just differentiate between the flavour of the foam and the flavour of what lay beneath. I still wasn’t 100% sold on the drink, though. I think it was the taste of the sake coming through that I didn’t really like; it stood out too much, demanding attention instead of blending nicely with the other ingredients.

And so, onto experiment no.3:

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What would happen, I wondered, if I used vanilla vodka instead of sake? The result was a sweet, dessert-like drink in which all the flavours played well together. It instantly reminded me of lollies (perhaps it was just the colour, but I thought of Redskins – Australia has terribly racist food) and thus I named it the Candy Pagoda. I think it’s the best one of the bunch – you could say the others just foam it in.

INGREDIENTS

45ml sake

15ml creme de cassis

7ml lime juice

75ml pineapple juice

The above ingredients will make a Grand Pagoda.

If you’re making a Grand Pagoda Party, multiply the above ingredients by however many guests you have.

If you’d prefer to try a Candy Pagoda, use 45ml vanilla vodka instead of the sake.

GLASS

Tumbler, cocktail or coupe – whatever takes your fancy!

METHOD

For a Grand Pagoda or a Candy Pagoda, combine the ingredients in a cocktail shaker that’s half full of ice. Shake hard and strain into your preferred glass.

For a Grand Pagoda Party, multiply the ingredients by however many guests you have*. Combine all the ingredients except the pineapple juice in a cocktail shaker that’s half full of ice. Shake hard and strain into your preferred glass(es). Rinse the shaker and refill it with ice. Add the pineapple juice and shake hard. Strain over the top of the ruby-red liquid that’s already in each glass. You should end up with a vibrant red cocktail topped with a good head of foam.

*Within reason, of course. I multiplied by 4; that much fluid fits neatly into a cocktail shaker. If your party is 300-people strong, you might want to consider making a bathtub of punch instead.

Note: the original recipe calls for a garnish of dried coconut shavings and a maraschino cherry. Whichever method/recipe you use, the pineapple juice should create a thick foam so that you can sprinkle the coconut on top. I decided not to bother, but I bet it would look pretty!

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY

Way easier than using a foaminator.

RECIPE BY

The original recipe appears in Asian Cocktails – Creative Drinks Inspired by the East by Holly Jennings and Christine LeBlond (Tuttle, 2009).

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