Category Archives: easy to make

Tequila. Champagne. Good times.

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Every year my pals host an Oscars viewing party with cocktails themed around the top ten nominated films. This year, their take on the film Hell or High Water was a minerally, bubbly, earthy glass of deliciousness they called Tequila or High Water. I loved it, and immediately demanded the recipe. As it turns out, it’s a variation on a French 75 that’s sometimes called a Tequila 75. Like a French 75, it should be made with Champagne but can be made with good old sparkling white wine if you have Champagne tastes on a sparkling budget. We went with the latter, but if you’re on the red carpet and someone else is paying for your drinks then hell, go with the high(cost) ‘water’, baby.

INGREDIENTS

30ml tequila

15ml lime juice

15ml sugar syrup

Champagne or sparkling white wine, to top up

GLASS

Champagne flute

METHOD

Chill the Champagne flute. Add tequila, lime juice and sugar syrup to a cocktail shaker that’s half full of ice. Shake it like you mean it, then strain into the chilled flute and top with whichever bubbly you can afford.

RECIPE BY

There are recipes all over the internet for this cocktail – I googled ‘tequila Champagne cocktail’ and found this one here.

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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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The Abbey: a tale of two gins

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‘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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Hot Toddy

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Regardless of how well you look after yourself – exercising daily (by shaking cocktails until 1am), ensuring your diet is balanced (by following gin flights with whisky flights) and taking time out to be with your loved ones (as long as they’re at a good bar) – you’re bound to get ill sometime. When that happens, you might feel the strange urge to stop drinking. Don’t worry – that’s just the fever talking. What you need is a hot toddy.

INGREDIENTS

15-30ml rum or whisky, to taste (I used Sailor Jerry because the lass on the label is clearly the picture of health and something to aspire to)

15-30ml lemon juice, to taste (I used equal parts lemon juice and rum)

1 teaspoon honey

boiling water

lemon slice, to garnish

GLASS

A mug or heatproof glass

METHOD

Add the rum, lemon juice and honey to your vessel of choice. Top with boiling water and stir to dissolve the honey. Add the lemon slice, then stagger around the house feeling sorry for yourself and pretending you’re a pirate because hey, you’re delusional with fever and being a pirate sounds like fun.

TASTES LIKE

The lemon and honey drinks you had as a kid, only better, because rum.

RECIPE BY

Seemingly everyone has a recipe for a hot toddy, with some calling for a cinnamon stick garnish, others swearing you have to use whisky, not rum, and still others saying you can use whatever spirit you have on hand. We’re not sure a vodka hot toddy would be any good but hey, whatever gets you through the night, sicko.

 

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Paradise

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‘It seems a bit presumptuous to call a cocktail “Paradise”,’ said 52 Cocktails’ CTO (Cocktail Tasting Officer). But that was before he took his first sip. This ambrosial, old-world drink was first printed in Harry Craddock’s 1930 classic The Savoy Cocktail Book and we think it’s time it had a revival. It’s the kind of drink you can picture a 50s starlet sipping while draped across as chaise lounge making bedroom eyes at you; sunny and bright yet luxurious, sophisticated and sexy all at the same time. Paradise, indeed.

INGREDIENTS

30ml gin

15ml apricot brandy

15ml freshly squeezed orange juice

dash of lemon juice

GLASS

Your fanciest cocktail or coupe glass, dahling.

METHOD

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

RECIPE BY

This version appears in Margaret Fulton’s Book of Cocktails & Party Drinks (Octopus Books, 1984). For more about this book, click here.

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Amaretto Sour

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Light and almondy without tasting of wedding cake icing, the Amaretto Sour is a great way to drink Amaretto, an Italian liqueur that tastes of almonds despite being made of apricot pits. Even if you hate almond-flavoured things (such as marzipan, almond jelly, etc) you will probably enjoy this. It’s a much more complex, well-balanced and interesting drink than The Godfather (which also uses Amaretto); it tastes a bit like a lemon meringue pie whose base is covered with frangipane (almond filling). It could possibly be made even more slurpalicious with the addition of egg white to create a frothy, sweetly sour cloud atop the cocktail. Here’s the original recipe; if you do add egg white, let me know the result!

INGREDIENTS

30ml amaretto

30ml lemon juice

15ml orange juice

maraschino cherry

GLASS

Rocks

METHOD

Half-fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add all ingredients except the cherry and shake it like you mean it. Strain into a chilled glass and garnish with the cherry. (Admittedly I just chucked in a bourbon-soaked cherry as that’s what I had on hand. It certainly added an element of booze-fuelled surprise for my taste-testers, who were expecting a sugar hit!)

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY

Don’t get all sour-faced, this one’s easy.

RECIPE BY

This recipe is from Shaken: 250 Very Sexy Cocktails (Murdoch Books, 2004).

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El Diablo

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Devilishly easy to make and even easier to drink, El Diablo is a drink I put off making for a long time because (a) I bought some blackcurrant liqueur (Cassis) and then couldn’t remember which recipe I’d bought it for, so it sat forlornly in the fridge where it got mocked for being ‘adult Ribena’, and (b)I’m an idiot (see (a) for proof of this).

Then, while having lunch at Mamasita (a Mexican joint in Melbourne that, at the height of its fame, you had to queue for hours to get into), I tried this magical yet unlikely combination of blackcurrant liqueur, tequila and ginger beer and immediately knew I had to replicate it at home.

Mamasita’s looks way better than mine – they present theirs with half a spent lime shell filled with Cassis for you to add to the drink as you wish – but I think mine tastes just as good, and it’s less fiddly to serve. Lots of recipes call for a 2:1 ratio of tequila to Cassis (eg 60ml tequila and 30ml Cassis), but I found that was too blackcurrant-y, so I’ve adjusted the recipe a bit, going for a 3:1 ratio instead.

INGREDIENTS

45ml blanco tequila (we used Espolón)

15ml Cassis

lime wedge

ginger beer (we used Bundaberg)

GLASS

rocks

METHOD

Half-fill a rocks glass with ice. Add the tequila and cassis; squeeze the lime juice directly into the glass and drop the rind in, too. Top with ginger beer, stir gently and serve.

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY

Easier than selling your soul to Satan. Not that we’d know from experience, of course…
RECIPE BY

52 Cocktails adapted this one from a bunch of other recipes. You can adjust the tequila-to-Cassis ratio as you see fit, add more lime or serve it in a long glass with more ginger beer to make it suit your own satanic purposes!

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Corpse Reviver no 2

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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!!

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Millionaire’s Moscato

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Simple, elegant and sophisticated, the classic Champagne cocktail is a cinch to make: add a few drops of Angostura bitters to a sugar cube, pop it into a Champagne flute, add 30ml brandy and top with Champagne. Easy, right? But, this being 52 Cocktails, we just had to adulterate the recipe, partly out of curiosity and partly because we’re tight-arsed and there is no way we’re going to use actual Champagne in a cocktail unless someone else is paying. And so, here you can see what look like a pair of classic Champagne cocktails (though you’d be forgiven for thinking the one on the right is a Berocca in a glass of apple juice), but they’re actually a couple of Millionaire’s Moscatos. Here’s how to make em.

MILLIONAIRE’S MOSCATO 1

This is the one on the right hand side of the picture. It’s got a slightly medicinal taste and would be most at home in a 1950’s style cigar-smoke-filled men’s club.

MILLIONAIRE’S MOSCATO 2

Obviously this is the one on the left side of the picture. It’s sweet and fruity and easy to drink. It’s a great way to kick off a party. Speaking of which, it’s New Year’s Eve – happy 2016, and thanks for reading these posts throughout the year. May your new year bring you happiness, cocktails aplenty and a new liver. Now, where was I? Oh yes. The method for making these two cocktails is the same, it’s only the ingredients that differ. Try them both and have a very happy New Year indeed.

INGREDIENTS – MILLIONAIRE’S MOSCATO 1

Sugar cube

Angostura Bitters – original

30ml brandy

Chilled Moscato (go ahead and use Champagne if you’d rather…and send a case our way, too!)

INGREDIENTS – MILLIONAIRE’S MOSCATO 2

Sugar cube

Angostura Orange Bitters

30ml apricot brandy

Chilled Moscato

GLASS

Champagne flute

METHOD

Add about 10 drops of bitters to the sugar cube. Drop it into the glass. Add the brandy and top up with Moscato.

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY

As easy as toasting your fellow cocktail drinkers on NYE – cheers!

RECIPES BY

We can’t really take credit for the bastardised recipe that is the Millionaire’s Moscato 1 – but we’ll happily claim we invented the Millionaire’s Moscato 2.

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