Category Archives: Cointreau

Mezcal Margarita

mm2

 

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).

Advertisements
Tagged , ,

Dandy

dandy

You know that life is fine and dandy when you come across a quirky little cocktail book – such as the one pictured above – for a few dollars in an op shop. And you know it’s a good purchase when the first drink you flick to is, in fact, the Dandy.

The book suggests it’s what to drink when you want to channel Oscar Wilde; I’d say it’s one for when you’re feeling quite self-assured and want something whisky-based that will help you win that age-old game of ‘stump the bartender’.

This is a dry-ish, savoury cocktail with subtle notes of orange and cinnamon, perhaps even gingerbread – now that’s just dandy.

INGREDIENTS

1 ounce (30ml) rye whisky

1 ounce (30ml) Dubonnet

1 teaspoon (5ml) Cointreau

1 dash Angostura bitters

Twist of lemon peel and/or orange peel, to garnish

GLASS

Cocktail or coupe

METHOD

Add all liquid ingredients to a cocktail shaker that’s half full of ice and stir until cold. Strain into a chilled glass and garnish with the citrus peel.

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY

Way easier than trying to think up an Oscar Wilde quote to use here.

RECIPE BY

The Dandy is in Let’s Bring Back: The Cocktail Edition by Lesley M M Blume (Chronicle Books, 2012).

Tagged

Mandarin Dream

md1

I don’t know if mandarins dream but I bet that if they do, they dream of being mixed with luscious vanilla and heady cinnamon to create this aromatic cocktail.

It’s sweet and citrusy and, if you use top-quality cinnamon, its scent will blow you away. We used A-grade cinnamon from Gewurzhaus, a spice specialty shop that manages to evoke a Moroccan souk or Turkish bazaar despite its Germanic name and position in the middle of Melbourne.

Speaking of Melbourne, this drink suits all the seasons you might experience in a typical day here. Melbourne is famous for having four seasons in one day (indeed, sometimes in one hour), and the Mandarin Dream is light enough for summer but complex enough to brighten up a grey day, too. It’s based on the recipe for Dale’s Orangesicle, which is in The Craft of the Cocktail by Dale DeGroff (Clarkson Potter, 2002). The original recipe calls for orange vodka; I used Absolut Mandarin instead, because that’s what I had on hand. Sorry, Dale!

INGREDIENTS

3/4 oz Absolut Mandarin

3/4 oz Absolut Vanilla

3/4 oz Cointreau

1 1/2 oz fresh orange juice

pinch of top-quality cinnamon, to garnish

GLASS

Dale uses a highball, but we used a tumbler. The tumbler’s broader surface area allows the cinnamon to spread more evenly.

METHOD

Add all the ingredients except the cinnamon to a shaker that’s half-full of ice. Strain into a tumbler that’s half-full of ice. Dust lightly with cinnamon.

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY

The hardest part is not snorting the cinnamon while sipping the drink!

RECIPE BY

This one’s by 52 Cocktails, with thanks to Dale DeGroff for the original recipe.

Tagged , , ,

Madison Avenue

ma1

At the height of Mad Men fever, the words Madison Avenue conjured up images of a sultry Don Draper sipping whiskey for breakfast (what a champ) or a polished, poised Joan saying, ‘Excuse me?’ through ever-so-slightly-pursed lips whenever she’d been wronged. Chances are she’d have liked a drink in those moments, too – something as sophisticated as her, perhaps, such as this Madison Avenue cocktail.

It’s a clean, crisp drink with a good balance of sweet, tart and sassiness, suitable as a pick-me-up after a long day in an alcohol-free office (the horror!) or as a classy start to a summer drinks party.

INGREDIENTS

45ml white rum

20ml Cointreau

15ml fresh lime juice

dash of orange bitters

3-5 mint leaves

additional mint sprig (to garnish)

lime wheel (to garnish)
GLASS

Rocks glass
METHOD

Add all the ingredients except the garnishes to a shaker that’s half full of ice. Shake like you’re furious with rage at the inequality of the workplace but you can’t show it ’cause it’s the ’60s and you might lose your job. Strain into a rocks glass that’s half-filled with ice, garnish with the mint sprig and lime wheel and hope like hell the boss doesn’t catch you drinking at work again.
DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY

Much, much easier than being a woman in the ’60s.
RECIPE BY
Madison Avenue is in New York (and, according to Google, it is also in Dandenong, though we’d wager that one’s not quite as glamorous). The Madison Avenue cocktail recipe is in The Craft of the Cocktail by Dale DeGroff (Clarkson Potter, 2002).

Tagged , , , ,

Corpse Reviver no 2

cr1

Maybe it’s too early to call it, but Ten Cocktails (Saltyard Books, 2105) by drinks journalist Alice Lascelles could well be my very favourite cocktail book of the year. It’s beautifully presented, fascinating and leaves you wanting more – just like a great cocktail. The title is a bit misleading, as the book covers more than 10 cocktails (there are lots of recipes, plus the stories and histories behind various drinks, hints on how to make them, and Lascelles’ musings on wine- and spirit- tastings), but hey, that’s hardly a bad thing. If your interest in cocktails extends beyond just drinking them, I highly recommend you grab a copy. Reading Lascelles’ light yet informative writing is a bit like having a chat with a very knowledgeable bartender; it’s even better if you read it with a drink in hand, such as the Corpse Reviver no 2 that’s detailed in the book.

The oddly named Corpse Reviver no 2* was invented by another super cool drinks writer, Harry Craddock (yep, the bartender behind The Savoy Cocktail Book). For such a gruesomely named drink, it’s surprisingly light and nuanced, and not the kind of thing you’d serve at a Halloween party at all, unless you were having a terribly sophisticated Halloween party in which no one dressed as a ‘naughty nurse’ and your theme, instead of ‘how to wear a bedsheet and wail like a ghost,’ was ‘how to get three sheets to the wind and then nail your host,’ which doesn’t sound particularly elegant but does serve to illustrate that this drink, which also doesn’t sound particularly elegant, is strong – strong enough to revive a corpse, perhaps. You have been warned.

INGREDIENTS

25ml gin

25ml Lillet Blanc

25ml Cointreau

25ml lemon juice (strained to remove pips and pulp)

5 ml absinthe

GLASS

Chilled coupe

METHOD

Shake the ingredients with lots of ice and strain into the chilled glass. Garnish with a lemon or lime twist.

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY

As enjoyable to make and drink as it is to read about.

RECIPE BY

The original recipe is by Harry Craddock. This version appears in  Ten Cocktails (Saltyard Books, 2105) by Alice Lascelles.

*Wanna know why this recipe is ‘no 2’? Then buy the book!!

Tagged , ,

Queen Elizabeth

 

qe1.jpg

It takes just two words to make the 52 Cocktails crew very, very happy but, surprisingly, those two words are not ‘free cocktails’. No, the magic words are ‘The Everleigh’. The Everleigh is our bar of choice in Melbourne, but we won’t bore you with the ever-growing list of reasons why. Just go there, and revel in the old-world-yet-unpretentious atmosphere, the table service that makes you feel like you’re the most important person in the room, the glorious displays of vintage cocktail shakers and vintage cocktail books (drool) and, of course, the ridiculously good, meticulously well-made cocktails. Basically, it’s heaven. (And if we ever hear the words ‘free cocktails’ and ‘The Everleigh’ in the one sentence, we’ll know we’ve died and gone to heaven!)
On a recent visit we tried a Queen Elizabeth cocktail and it was so delicious and sophisticated that we decided to try to recreate it at home. Two recipes with the same name appear in The Savoy Cocktail Book (just one of the many on display at The Everleigh, and the subject of a recent meeting of the bar’s Vintage Cocktail Book Club. Yes. This bar is so cool it has a book club dedicated to vintage cocktail books. If you have even a passing interest in books, cocktails or drinking and a fun night out, I highly recommend you attend a meeting.) One Queen Elizabeth recipe calls for curacao, vermouth and brandy; we made the other version, as follows.  It’s light and refreshing yet complex and herbaceous – more so when it’s made by a bartender at The Everleigh.

QUEEN ELIZABETH

As with most of the recipes in the fabulous Savoy Cocktail Book, this one is light on instructions, so we’ve taken the liberty of adding our own (in parentheses).

INGREDIENTS

1 dash absinthe (we used this to rinse the glass, though the original instructions indicate you just add it to the shaker along with everything else)

1/4 lemon juice (we used 15ml)

1/4 Cointreau (we used 15ml)

1/2 dry gin (we used 30ml Bombay Sapphire)

GLASS

Chilled cocktail glass

METHOD

Shake all ingredients with ice (unless you’ve already used the absinthe to rinse the glass) and strain into glass.

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY

Easy – but even easier, and most definitely more refined and delicious, if you simply order one at the Everleigh.

RECIPE BY

This version appears in The Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock (first published 1930 by Constable & Co; this edition published 1987 by Spring Books), with additional instructions by the 52 Cocktails crew.

PS No, this article was NOT sponsored by The Everleigh. Though if they feel like it they are welcome to…

Tagged , ,

Western Rose

wr.jpg

Sipping a Western Rose is a bit like travelling back in time. Back to a time when dusty-tasting cocktails were served in sawdust-filled saloons; back to a time when various vile-tasting alcohols were used to disguise the taste of even worse tasting alcohol; back to a time before better cocktails were invented. Yeah, it’s not that great. Kind of like a martini that went wrong; not apricotty enough to be light and fruity, not gin-ny enough to be a good stiff drink. Bah. There is a way to save it, though – see ‘But wait, there’s more’ below.

INGREDIENTS

45ml dry gin

25ml apricot brandy

25ml dry vermouth

dash fresh lemon juice

GLASS

Cocktail

METHOD

Half-fill a mixing glass with ice. Add all ingredients and stir until well-chilled. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and serve.

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY

Making it’s easy. Drinking it’s kinda hard, cause it’s not that nice. See ‘But wait, there’s more’ for how to improve this drink.

RECIPE BY
This version of the Western Rose is in The Cocktail Bible by Steve Quirk (New Holland Press, 2010).

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE

As I said, the above recipe makes a dry, somehow dusty tasting thing that reminds me of what a grandma would have drunk in the 1970s and that I would not bother making again. I was determined to drink this one, though, if only so as not to waste the gin. And so, in an attempt to improve the beverage, I added 15ml Cointreau, resulting in a not unpleasant marmalade flavour. As 52 Cocktails CTO said, ‘Now it’s like a breakfast martini – just serve it with hot buttered toast.’

Martinis at breakfast? Now that’s something worth time-travelling for…

Tagged , ,

Orange-mango tango

IMG_4865

This simple fruit smoothie is reminiscent of the orange-mango juice that I used to drink at primary school. It came packaged in little Tetra-Briks that, once empty, you could inflate and then jump on to make a satisfyingly loud bang. While I doubt that kids still do that kind of thing – there’s probably an app for that now instead – the flavour hasn’t gone out of style, and you can still get orange-mango juice boxes at the supermarket. But, as with most things, juice tastes a hell of a lot better when it’s fresh. And, as with most juices, this one tastes better with alcohol in it. Serves two.

INGREDIENTS

1 mango, flesh diced

Juice of 2 oranges

90ml Cointreau

20ml or more Malibu, to taste (optional – add the Malibu if the tropical juice box was your fave, and see if it reminds you of em!)

GLASS

Tumbler

METHOD

Chuck everything in the blender, along with about a cup of ice cubes. Whizz it all up, then pour into two glasses. Garnish with mint if desired and serve with a spoon – this is a nectar-like drink so it’s kinda thick.

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY

The hardest part is not adding more Cointreau!

RECIPE BY

This one’s by 52 Cocktails.

mango1

Tagged , , ,

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.

Tagged , , , ,
Advertisements