Category Archives: cocktails

The Abbey: a tale of two gins

abbey1

‘But why do you need more than 20 kinds of gin?’ said no one, ever.

Actually, that’s not true. A few non-gin-drinkers (yes, they do exist, and yes, I do occasionally deign to talk to them) have asked me this exact question when they’ve glimpsed my rather meagre collection of the good stuff, to which my usual response is to either launch into a long-winded explanation about all the different kinds of gin or offer them a gin flight so they can taste those differences for themselves. After all, it’s a bit like asking why you need different types of wine, or beer, or underpants: it’s essential. But now I’ve discovered the Abbey, the days of those discussions and flights may be over. Here is a cocktail that tastes completely different depending on which gin you use. (Yes, yes, I’m sure there are many such cocktails, but this is the first one I’ve made using two ostensibly ‘dry’ gins in which the flavours end up being worlds apart…try it for yourself, you’ll be amazed.)

The Abbey is originally from The Savoy Cocktail Book, which was published in 1930. Gin was big back then, but not even the legends behind the bar at The Savoy could have predicted just how many regional varieties of dry gins would have existed nearly a century later, when the 52 Cocktails crew decided to try making the drink using two vastly different dry gins. Fittingly, one of the gins (Tanqueray) is a London Dry Gin, in honour of the Savoy’s location; the other is Australian, just like 52 Cocktails. Specifically, it’s McHenry’s, a Tasmanian drop that pitches itself as a ‘classic dry gin’. Drunk neat, the Tanqueray has more of a floral nature than the McHenry’s, which (perhaps oddly enough) seems drier and earthier than the London Dry. But in a cocktail? Wow. What a difference. Here, the McHenry’s comes into its own, enlivening the already floral notes of the drink to new heights, while the Tanqueray makes it taste almost medicinal. And this, dear friends, is why it’s essential to have many kinds of gin (and whiskey, and tequila, etc) on hand; because sometimes a cocktail that seems a bit ‘meh’ may end up being wonderful if you just switch the brand or style of spirit. So keep experimenting – that’s the spirit!

THE ABBEY

INGREDIENTS

45ml dry gin

22ml Lillet Blonde

22ml freshly squeezed orange juice

1 dash orange bitters (be careful with the bitters – any more than a dash will overpower the drink)

GLASS

Cocktail glass or coupe

METHOD

Add all ingredients to a shaker that’s half-full of ice. Shake, hard, then strain into the glass. Garnish with orange peel if desired.

TASTES LIKE

Well, that depends on which type of gin you use – and, although we haven’t actually tried this out, we dare say it depends on which type of orange juice and orange bitters you use, too. Done right, this is the kind of orange-based drink you’d like to have with brunch – light, refreshing, and innocuous. Done wrong, it’s a heavy-handed version of a screwdriver – drinkable, but not as enjoyable.

RECIPE BY

Although this recipe first appeared in the Savoy Cocktail Book, this version comes from The Architecture of the Cocktail by Amy Zavatto (Harper Collins, 2013).

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Between the Sheets

BTS 1

As a long-time fan of Aussie cooking icon Margaret Fulton, I can understand why people would want to get her between the sheets. She’s vivacious yet well-balanced and so retro that she’s cool again – just like the Between the Sheets cocktail we made from her 1984 cocktail book, pictured above. Most recipes for this elegant drink call for light (white) rum, but this one specifies dark rum. The 52 Cocktails team used a spiced dark rum, tried it out on a guest drink taster and elicited the following review:

52 Cocktails: So what do you think?

Guest Taster: Ooh. That’s delicious.

52 Cocktails: What are the nuances of this cocktail that you’re enjoying?

Guest Taster: Nuances? You’re asking me for nuances when I’ve been drinking all day? Ack. (Pause) OK, let’s see. Nothing really stands out, because it’s so well-balanced. It’s smooth. It’s sophisticated. If you were trying to get me between the sheets it would work. And if you were to offer me another I would definitely drink it, no questions asked.

Enough said.

BETWEEN THE SHEETS

INGREDIENTS

1 dash lemon juice (How much, exactly, is a dash? It’s defined as 1/8 teaspoon but we didn’t know that at the time and used 1/2 a teaspoon. It worked just fine.)

1 measure brandy (we used St Agnes VSOP brandy)

1 measure Cointreau

1 measure dark rum (we used Captain Morgan Original Spiced Gold rum)

Note: the book defines a measure as 45ml, but also points out it doesn’t matter what you use to measure spirits so long as you’re consistent. You could therefore use, say, a coffee-mug full of each spirit, but you’d want to have a spare liver and a surgeon on standby if you did. We don’t have these things handy so we wimped out and used 30mls of each spirit instead.

GLASS

Cocktail

METHOD 

Shake ingredients with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY

If you can open a bottle while some sexy sax plays on the cassette deck, you can make this drink.

WORD OF WARNING

Despite its name, if you/the person you’re trying to seduce with this suggestively named cocktail drink too many of these, the only action you’re likely to get between the sheets will be when you roll over with a groan to face the alarm clock the next day.

CREDIT WHERE CREDIT’S DUE

This recipe appears in Margaret Fulton’s Book of Cocktails & Party Drinks (Octopus Books, 1984). Sure, the recipes are actually by Joe Turner and it’s possible that Fulton’s name only got whacked on the cover because, in an eerie parallel to 1984, propaganda – sorry, branding – was more important than the truth, but hell, it’s a good book nonetheless. Joe Turner may not be a household name but his book doubtless sold lots of copies and for that – and this recipe, among others – he deserves kudos. Kudos, Joe Turner. Kudos.

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Negroni

Nigel the zombunny hoped that was a glass of blood in front of him. He just didn't have the stomach for a Negroni.

Nigel the zombunny hoped that was a glass of blood in front of him. He just didn’t have the stomach for a Negroni.

In the lead-up to World Gin Day (June 13), it’s Negroni Week – that’s right, a whole week dedicated to one classic cocktail made of equal parts gin, Campari and vermouth. Bars around Melbourne are celebrating by donating money to various charities when customers order a Negroni, and while I really wanted to support this excellent excuse to drink, I dislike Campari so I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to like Negronis, either. And if there’s one thing worse than drinking a cocktail you don’t like, it’s paying for it – even if that money is going to charity. I still wanted to join the festivities, though, so I donated to charity by buying a cocktail book at an op shop and making a Negroni at home.

It couldn’t have been easier to make, though it was slightly disturbing seeing perfectly good gin (my favourite spirit) being sullied by bitter Campari and turned blood-red by the vermouth. And it couldn’t have been easier to decide who’d drink it; I took one sip, immediately declared I had made a horrific mistake and handed it to the CTO (Cocktail Tasting Officer), who guzzled it, saying it was a brilliant cocktail that reminded him of the bittersweet soft drink Chinnotto…which I also don’t like. Even diluted with some soda water, the Negroni was just too bitter for me. Turns out you can like bitters, be bitter, and still not like bitter things such as Negronis. Who knew?!

I’ve read somewhere that people either love or hate Negronis – there is no in between. Based on 52 Cocktails’ scientific studies, aka tonight’s drinking session, I’d say 50% of people love them and 50% hate them. For the first group, here’s the recipe. On behalf of the rest of us – leave our gin alone!

NEGRONI

INGREDIENTS

20ml gin

20ml Campari

20ml sweet vermouth

strip of orange peel, pith removed

soda water, to top up

GLASS

Old-fashioned

METHOD

Build over ice in an old-fashioned glass. Twist the orange peel over the top and add soda water if desired. (Other recipes have slightly different methods, such as stirring the drink until it’s ice cold – which I did – and garnishing with an orange wheel. Up to you.)

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY

If you can pour liquid out of a bottle, you can make this drink. Whether or not you can stomach drinking it is another thing altogether.

RECIPE BY

This version of the Negroni appears in The Liquid Kitchen – Party Drinks by Hayden Wood (Murdoch Books, 2004). Other recipes call for 30ml of each ingredient. If you really, really like Negronis you could probably make a massive one as long as you used enough ice and equal measures of all three ingredients. Sorry, but it ain’t something I’m ever going to try!

PHOTO CREDIT

No animals were harmed in the making of this photo. Nigel the zombunny, however (supplied by Make it Wednesday), has been well and truly traumatised.

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Rye and Prejudice

rp3

After the success of last week’s Brown Derby, the 52 Cocktails team decided to explore what else can be made with grapefruit juice and brown liquor, partly because the combination worked so well in the aforementioned cocktail and mostly because we had bought a shiteload of grapefruits and had no other good ideas about how to use them. (Turns out they do not make a good substitute for bowling balls. Who knew?) And so we turned to a cute little book called Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist by Tim Federle (Running Press, 2013). As you might have guessed, each cocktail’s name is a clever word-play on a novel’s title, such as Gin Eyre, Romeo and Julep and A Rum of One’s Own. Cute, hey? There’s a snappy summary of each novel, too, so you can fudge your way through a conversation about literature’s bigwigs without having to read the classics first. We’ll drink to that. What we probably won’t be drinking to, though, is the recipe for a Rye and Prejudice. Containing only grapefruit juice and rye whiskey, it’s not an Austen-tacious drink, but nor is it a classic; it’s too sour and not nuanced enough for our proud palates. With a couple of modifications (see below) it’s drinkable, but not the kind of thing we’d want to guzzle. Oh well – if we don’t drink many of them, at least we won’t end up with a rip-roaring Northangover Abbey.

RYE AND PREJUDICE

This is a little like one of Pride and Prejudice’s most irritating characters, the busybody Mrs Bennet: sour and boring. See the notes below for how to pep it up a bit.

INGREDIENTS

90ml grapefruit juice

45ml rye whiskey (we used Wild Turkey)

GLASS

Rocks

METHOD

Half-fill a rocks glass with ice. Add ingredients and stir well.

MODIFICATIONS

Ooh, is this drink sour. Unless you feel like re-enacting Pride and Puckeredlips, we suggest you modify it by adding 15 ml sugar syrup and 3 dashes Fee Brothers Aztec chocolate bitters (available here). It’s sweeter, and the bitters add some earthy depth and interest to the drink. I guess we’ll call it Emma.

You could also try Emma served tall on crushed ice, topped with soda, though we confess we haven’t tried it that way yet – it might take some Persuasion for us to waste good rye on such an experiment.

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY

You don’t need much sense or sensibility to make this one.

RECIPE BY

This recipe appears in Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist by Tim Federle (Running Press, 2013). Modifications by 52 Cocktails.

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Brown Derby

BD1

Australia is home to many Big Things, such as the Big Lobster (which looks like it should be near the Giant Saucepan but isn’t), the Big Potato (which looks like a giant turd but isn’t) and of course this hugely popular website (which looks like it should be earning its writer millions of dollars but isn’t). Not to be outdone, America is also home to many Big Things, such as the World’s Largest Talking Cow (which sounds like it should be a snarky talk-show host but isn’t), another Big Potato (which also looks like a giant turd but isn’t) and a giant bowler hat (which, because it’s America and they talk funny over there, is called a derby). All of this proves two things: (1) These once popular but now kitsch roadside attractions were once Big Things in more ways than one, and (2) You cannot build a giant potato without it looking like a massive poo. But I digress.

The aforementioned giant bowler (derby) hat was once home to an LA restaurant called – can you guess? – the Brown Derby. Though there is some debate as to its origins, this week’s cocktail was named after it, and it’s so good we here at 52 Cocktails take our hat off to it….although with some reservations (see below).

BROWN DERBY

This is a nicely balanced drink – tart yet sweet, smooth yet tangy. 52 Cocktails first made it as a bulk batch of the recipe found here so we’d have enough for pre-dinner drinks with friends. We recommend you do the same regardless of if you’ve got friends round or if you’re drinking alone, as it’s so good you’ll want more than one anyway. The following quantities serve four generously or six less-generously.

INGREDIENTS

200ml bourbon (we used Old Virginia)

100ml grapefruit juice (we used freshly squeezed ruby grapefruits)

100ml honey syrup (2:1 ratio)

GLASS

Should be a coupe glass. If a picture tells 1000 words, we f*cked up here. Oops.

METHOD

First, make the honey syrup. Combine 65ml honey with 35ml boiling water and stir to dissolve. Let it cool.

Next, squeeze your grapefruits. No, not those grapefruits, pervert, we mean the giant citrus fruit. Strain.

Now combine all ingredients in a giant cocktail shaker, if you have one, or in a clean glass bottle or jar. Shake with ice, strain into a glass and garnish with a strip of grapefruit peel.

NOTE

OK, remember the “…with some reservations” mentioned above? Here we go.

The first time we made a Brown Derby we used fairly cheap bourbon and very cheap honey, the kind that is probably just sugar syrup flavoured with honey, and the result was delicious.

The second time we (foolishly) decided to use higher quality (read: more expensive) ingredients in a vain attempt to improve on an already great drink, opting for yellowbox honey and Buffalo Trace bourbon.

What a mistake.

The second batch somehow tasted dirty, and not in a good way. The honey’s flavour was cloying and the bourbon was almost lost beneath it, leading us to conclude:

There is little point in using fancy bourbon in a cocktail like this one; all you’ll taste is the regret that you wasted a bourbon that should be drunk on ice.

And please, please, do not use artisan honey harvested by hipsters on a rooftop in this drink. Its flavour will be too strong; it will overpower the cocktail and muddy the whole thing. And besides, you don’t want to encourage the hipsters.

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY 

Use cheap ingredients and it’ll be the next Big Thing.

RECIPE BY

This version is based on the one that appears on punchdrink.com

PS If you’re wondering why there’s a horse on the cocktail in the photo – that’s because in Melbourne, proud home of 52 Cocktails, derby equates to Derby Day, a horse race that ushers in the Spring Racing Carnival. The SRC is such a Big Thing here that Melburnians get a day off work for the major event, the Melbourne Cup, which is one of the biggest of the Big Things in international horse racing. Yep, that’s the reason. Honest. It is not because we got drunk on the second round of not-as-good-but-we-still-had-to-drink-them Brown Derbies and ended up playing a game of “which plastic object balances best on this glass”. Not at all…

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Monkey Gland

Although he was excited to have a cocktail as big as his head, Sammy wasn't sure about drinking something called a Monkey Gland. Maybe the bartender was just   aping around?

Although he was excited to have a cocktail as big as his head, Sammy wasn’t sure about drinking something called a Monkey Gland. Maybe the bartender was just aping around?

MONKEY GLAND

In the 1920s a surgeon called Serge Voronoff successfully implanted sections of chimpanzee and baboon testicles inside a human patient’s scrotum. This was thought to improve the patient’s sex drive and memory, among other things (for example, it was guaranteed to result in the nickname “baboon balls”). If you think that’s weird, what’s even weirder is that this style of surgery became immensely popular and the good doctor soon had to set up a monkey farm staffed by a former circus-animal keeper to keep up with demand. At the height of this monkey madness, Voronoff’s techniques were a real talking point in society; the surgery was mentioned in a Marx Brothers film, ashtrays portraying monkeys protecting their nuts starting selling in Paris, and a new cocktail was named the Monkey Gland, presumably in honour of his work.

Voronoff’s work eventually fell out of favour because, surprise, surprise, his grafts did not live up to his claims. Those who’d once championed him now ridiculed his ideas – in other words, they now had the balls to point out he’d been wrong all along. Consigned to the endnotes of surgical history, his name and his odd work now come up mostly when people ask about the origins of this equally odd drink.

Ah yes, the drink. A curious mix of gin, OJ and absinthe, coloured (a lot) and sweetened (a little) with grenadine, the Monkey Gland is somewhat disappointing given the story behind its name. Bright pink and tasting largely of diluted absinthe, it lacks the balance of more nuanced cocktails but is strong enough to be a real ball-breaker – just like Voronoff himself.

MONKEY GLAND

Try as he might, Sammy couldn't disguise his disgust at this curious conconction - boring to look at and dull to drink, it seemed like a real balls-up to him.

Try as he might, Sammy couldn’t disguise his disgust at this curious concoction – boring to look at and dull to drink, it seemed like a real balls-up to him.

INGREDIENTS

60ml gin

30ml orange juice

5ml absinthe

5ml grenadine

GLASS

Martini glass. Or a glass in the shape of a monkey skull, if you happen to have one handy.

METHOD

Half-fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add all ingredients and shake as though a monkey gland’s been grafted onto your nuts. Strain into the glass. Hold an orange above the glass. Eat a banana and swing from a tree. (Just kidding. But if a monkey gland really had been grafted onto your nether regions then you’d probably want to.) Using a vegetable peeler, remove a long piece of orange peel (avoiding the bitter white pith), then drop the peel into the drink.

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY

Easier than being experimented on by a mad surgeon.

RECIPE BY

This version of the Monkey Gland appears in The Architecture of the Cocktail (Amy Zavatto, Harper Collins, 2013). Other versions call for mere drops of absinthe and grenadine; perhaps that would make the drink more appealing (and certainly less pink).

IMAGE CREDIT 

Sock monkeys wrangled by our friends at Make it Wednesday.

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The Bronx

Bronx 3THE BRONX

According to an ad campaign for boxing and sportswear brand Everlast, ‘Nothing soft comes out of the Bronx’. Logically this means there are no marshmallow makers or pillow factories in the Bronx, and that Everlast’s tracksuits are made of something really hard, such as iron, which sounds mighty uncomfortable but would at least stay wrinkle-free. It also means the Bronx’s namesake drink should be a bracing, in-your-face kind of deal, and given that it’s basically an adulterated martini you’d think it would at least taste super strong.

But here’s the thing: it isn’t. Sorry, Everlast, but the Bronx cocktail is mellow and refreshing, with orange juice providing a slight sweetness and vermouth adding a little earthy bitterness. The balance of ingredients make this drink a real knockout; you’ll want to go round for round on this one.
INGREDIENTS
45ml gin (I used Tanqueray)
30ml freshly squeezed orange juice (if you want a pulp-free drink, strain it through a wire tea strainer before using)
5ml sweet vermouth (I used Cinzano Rosso, which oddly enough doesn’t have the word ‘vermouth’ anywhere on the label)
5ml dry vermouth (I used Noilly Prat, which reasssuringly does have ‘vermouth’ on its label, in tiny letters on the back)
Orange peel, as garnish
GLASS
Coupe
METHOD
Half-fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add all ingredients and stir slowly with a bar spoon for about 30 seconds/until the mixture is chilled. Strain into a chilled coupe glass.
Using a vegetable peeler or knife, remove a strip of orange peel (avoiding the white pith) to use as a garnish. Twist this over the drink, so the essential oils will be released into it, then add the peel to the drink. (If you look closely you can actually see the oils dispersing when you add the peel to the drink. It’s a bit like conducting a really lame primary school science experiment, only a lot tastier.)
DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY
Can you squeeze an orange? Then you can make this drink. If you cannot squeeze an orange then I pity you, and store-bought juice will do.
RECIPE BY
This classic recipe appears in The Architecture of the Cocktail (Amy Zavatto, Harper Collins, 2013).
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The Godfather

Godfather

You’d think a cocktail involving only two ingredients would be straightforward but the Godfather has me more confused than an illiterate person trying to alphabetise a packet of M&Ms. According to several recipes I’ve read, a Godfather is simply Scotch whisky and Amaretto, poured over ice in an old-fashioned glass and stirred gently. Easy, yes? Yes. Which is why I tried it when I wanted a whisky-based cocktail that didn’t involve too much effort.

One recipe’s intro warned me that it was ‘supremely powerful’ and ‘demanded respect’ but what I tasted was rather lacklustre. I could barely taste the Amaretto (it was present only as a faint aftertaste) and the whisky tasted watered-down. Which led me to realise the intro was probably referring to the movie The Godfather, not the drink. I’ve never seen The Godfather but I understand it involves some Italians, some violence and a horse’s head. I guess the link with the drink is the Amaretto, an Italian liqueur, because as far as I can tell the drink is 100% horse-free – no foal play involved.

Apparently the Scots did not invent whisky – you can thank the Irish for that – and yet you can order a Scotch on the rocks but not an Irish on the rocks, which seems rather unfair.

Amaretto tastes of almonds despite being made from apricot pits.

And so The Godfather ends up being a drink that tastes of a whisky you can ask for using its generic regional name despite it not being the original version, with a little hint of an apricot-pit liqueur that tastes like marzipan. Confused yet? And to make things worse, it’s not even that good. If this is what they were drinking in The Godfather I’m not surprised they ended up shooting everyone on sight.

Maybe if I’d used a different/smokier whisky it would have been more impressive (I used Johnnie Walker because I don’t feel guilty using it in mixed drink, especially when I’m just experimenting). Maybe if I’d shaken the drink over ice and strained it into a glass, it wouldn’t taste so watered down. Maybe if I added lime…

So I added some lime juice, bunged the whole lot into a shaker and gave it good hard shake before straining it back into the glass. The result was a cross between wedding cake icing and toilet puck (too much lime?). Oh well, at least I’d learnt a few things: (a) shaking up this mixture ‘wakes up’ the Amaretto and brings its flavour forward, and (b) never f*ck with the Godfather.

GODFATHER 

INGREDIENTS

45ml Scotch whisky

15ml Amaretto

GLASS

Old-fashioned

METHOD

Half-fill the glass with ice. Add the whisky and Amaretto and stir gently.

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY

Much easier than waking up with a horse’s head in the bed.

RECIPE BY

This version appears in Shaken: 250 Very Sexy Cocktails (Murdoch Books, 2004). Other versions use equal parts Amaretto and whisky.

VARIATIONS

1) If you’d like to test my theory that shaking this drink makes the Amaretto more noticeable:

Half-fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the whisky and Amaretto, shake and strain into a chilled tumbler.

2) If you want to know what a cross between toilet puck and marzipan tastes like (who doesn’t?):

Half-fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the whisky, Amaretto and 15ml lime juice, shake and strain into a chilled tumbler.

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Thanks for checking out fiftytwococktails.com – Mai Tai offer you a drink?

Mai Tai 3

In the past few days fiftytwococktails.com and its associated Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/52Cocktails have received a lot of attention from YOU, dear readers. As such, fiftytwococktails.com’s CEO (Cocktail Experimentation Officer) and CTO (Cocktail Tasting Officer) would like to say THANK YOU – your support is what makes creating and drinking cocktails such a worthwhile cause.

Anyway, enough sucking up, it’s time to celebrate with the most celebratory cocktail I can think of – the Mai Tai.

One of the many reasons I like making Mai Tais is because they are so damn cheerful. They look like a sunset in a glass. And they taste like a holiday in the tropics – minus the sunburn, shitty low-grade alcohol and sand in your whatsit. Sure, they take a while to make, because they involve fifty bajillion ingredients, but that just helps build up the anticipation for a memorable drink.  Plus, I can say “Mai Tai offer you a drink?” as I hand them over to unsuspecting visitors, who don’t know whether to clutch their stomachs and groan at the TERRIBLE word play or gratefully accept a cocktail of such beauty and retro cool. Seeing their tiny brains implode as they try to decide the correct course of action just adds to the pleasure of making – and imbibing – this delicious drink.

You can read more about Mai Tais – and many other retro cocktails – here.

MAI TAI

There are loads of Mai Tai recipes out there. This is the first one I tried creating at home and I still think it’s one of the best. Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients – all the ingredients are easy to obtain (I’ve seen other recipes requiring chargrilled pineapple juice, among other things that frankly sound like a pain in the arse to procure or create), it’s easy to make and it’s well worth the effort (and by ‘effort’ I mean buying a shiteload of booze).

INGREDIENTS

30ml white rum (I use Havana Club or Bacardi)

30ml dark rum (I use Mount Gay. Come on, who could resist that name?)

15ml Cointreau

15ml Amaretto (I use orgeat instead – it’s an almond syrup that you can buy at specialty shops)

15ml lemon juice

90ml pineapple juice

90ml orange juice

15ml sugar syrup

dash of grenadine

lime slice

mint leaves

GLASS

The recipe suggests a goblet glass, but I prefer a highball or Collins glass.

METHOD

Half-fill the glass with crushed ice (I use ice cubes, either is fine). Add all liquid ingredients. Stir, then garnish with lime slice and some mint leaves.

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY

Once you’ve got all the ingredients, this is a cinch.

RECIPE BY

This recipe is from Shaken: 250 Very Sexy Cocktails (Murdoch Books, 2004). This is the first cocktail book I ever owned. It was given to me by the CTO (it was more of a subtle hint than a birthday present). It is full of lush photography and easy recipes and is partly to blame for my obsession with cocktails. As such, I highly recommend you buy a copy.

WAIT A MINUTE…

Isn’t this supposed to be a NEW cocktail, since that’s the ENTIRE POINT of this website? Why, yes. Yes, it is. Thank you for noticing. I’ve made loads of Mai Tais following the above recipe. But recently when I was craving one I realised, after an eternity of preparation…well, after juicing the orange and the lemon and lining up all the necessary bottles….that I didn’t have any white rum.

And the local bottle shop was already shut.

IT WAS A CATASTROPHE I TELL YOU. A CATASTROPHE.

Naturally I kept my cool and did not have a screaming fit about this. No sir. That was not me. I was NOT the one lying on the floor kicking my feet and sobbing about the unfair cruelty of this world. Although strangely, while I was definitely not having a ground-level tantrum, I spied an old bottle of Malibu on the bottom shelf of the bar and thought, hang on, that’s basically rum – why not use that instead? And so I did. It added a coconutty vibe that was not out of place with the tropical flavours of the drink. While I was bastardising the drink I went a step further and used orange curacao instead of Cointreau, because it’s cheaper and for ages I’ve been wondering if you can get away with using it in a mixed drink (you can) or if that’s some kind of heresy (it probably is but I haven’t been burned at the stake yet). And, as mentioned above, I use orgeat instead of amaretto as a matter of course – because for the longest time I had orgeat handy but not amaretto, and now I’m so used to the orgeat I’m reluctant to change. And so I think I’ve made some kind of new Mai Tai by accident, or at least it’s a new version of a Mai Tai, and that’s close enough to a new cocktail that I’m happy to share it here.

Mai Tai 4

MAI TAI OFFER YOU A DRINK?

Yep, that’s what I’m calling this baby. Although saying “Might I offer you a Mai Tai Offer You a Drink?” might get confusing…but after the first few cocktails no one will care.

INGREDIENTS

30ml Malibu

30ml dark rum (regular, not the spiced kind)

15ml orange curacao

15ml orgeat

15ml lemon juice

90ml pineapple juice

90ml orange juice

15ml sugar syrup

dash of grenadine

small bunch of mint leaves

GLASS

Highball or Collins glass.

METHOD

Half-fill the glass with ice cubes. Add all liquid ingredients except the grenadine. Stir with a bar spoon, then add a dash of grenadine and stir gently – you will hopefully get a sunset-ish effect. Garnish with mint leaves (as in, pick all the crappy leaves off the bottom of the bunch of mint, then shove the stems into the glass. You want about 5 stems of mint per glass). Add a cocktail umbrella if you’re feeling retro, a lime slice if you’re feeling classy, and a straw if you don’t want a bunch of mint hitting you in the face as you drink.

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY

Time-consuming but easy – and a good way to use up that Malibu you’ve got leftover from an ’80s party.

RECIPE BY 52 COCKTAILS

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Pillar of the Community

Orange fizz 1

Once a upon a time, after too many cocktails (is there such a thing?) the night before, 52 Cocktails’ CEO (Cocktail Experimentation Officer) was nursing her poor sore head and wishing she had a hair of the dog to go with all the hairs of the cats she kept finding around the house.

Hmm, no, that’s not right.

She wanted a hair of the dog that bit her, even though she couldn’t recall actually biting a dog the night before because she was too hungover. Who goes around biting dogs, anyway?

That doesn’t sound right either.

What she actually wanted was a Buck’s Fizz, that classic brunch drink that can start a hangover or cure (well, alleviate) one. She brightened almost immediately at the thought. ‘Just pour Champagne and orange juice into a Champagne glass,’ she thought to herself, ‘and you’re done.’

Imagine her horror, then, when she discovered the Champagne cellar was dry.

Imagine her horror at discovering the Champagne cellar was actually a laundry with a few boxes of wine in it, and you’ve got inspiration for a new version of Edvard Munch’s The Scream.

Anyway.

Once she’d got over her horror, she concocted something that was vaguely inspired by a Gin Fizz and could pass as something similar to a Buck’s Fizz if you’d never had one before, in that it contained orange juice and something fizzy. She chose to use Four Pillars gin as it’s made with oranges and she figured that would marry well with the orange juice. It worked: 52 Cocktails’ CTO (Chief Tasting Officer) called it ‘perfumed and ambrosial’ and said it was ‘floral, and reminds me of orange blossom water.’

PILLAR OF THE COMMUNITY

You’ll look like a pillar of the community with this drink in your hand, as its light, floral scent disguises the fact it contains a shot of gin.

INGREDIENTS

30ml Four Pillars gin

30ml orange juice

20ml sugar syrup

soda, to top up

GLASS

Champagne flute

METHOD

Add all ingredients except soda to a cocktail shaker that’s half-full of ice. Shake until icy cold, strain into a Champagne flute and top with soda.

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY

Much easier than putting up with a hangover.

RECIPE BY

52 Cocktails

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