Category Archives: easy to make


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!



20ml gin

20ml Campari

20ml sweet vermouth

strip of orange peel, pith removed

soda water, to top up




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.)


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.


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!


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


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.


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.


90ml grapefruit juice

45ml rye whiskey (we used Wild Turkey)




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


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.


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


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


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).


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.


200ml bourbon (we used Old Virginia)

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

100ml honey syrup (2:1 ratio)


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


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.


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.


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


This version is based on the one that appears on

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?


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.


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.


60ml gin

30ml orange juice

5ml absinthe

5ml grenadine


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


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.


Easier than being experimented on by a mad surgeon.


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).


Sock monkeys wrangled by our friends at Make it Wednesday.

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The 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.
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
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.)
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.
This classic recipe appears in The Architecture of the Cocktail (Amy Zavatto, Harper Collins, 2013).
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The 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.



45ml Scotch whisky

15ml Amaretto




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


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


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


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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Mint Condition

Mint Condition 3

A while ago I accidentally bought a bottle of Tag Honey Ginger vodka. (True story – I went to the bottle shop to buy wine, and left with cider and the aforementioned vodka. Don’t ever send me grocery shopping unless you want a clusterf**k for dinner.)

Recently, 52 Cocktails’ CTO (Cocktail Tasting Officer) accidentally bought a vibrant green bunch of mint.

“It was only a dollar,” he said, “and I thought you could make a cocktail out of it.”

“Yes,” I replied, “but did you buy the ingredients for dinner?”

There was the sound of the front door slamming and tyres spinning as he raced back to the grocery shop.

If you’re sensing a theme here, you’re right: the two accidental purchases went really well together to make a Mint Condition cocktail. And we got take-away for dinner.

Mint Condition 2


This is a bright green drink that’s reminiscent of Moroccan mint tea, but with honey overtones and a gentle warmth. It tastes so healthy you could almost swear it’s kale juice. And that’s about as close to kale juice as we like to get.


15ml honey syrup

12 big fresh mint leaves

45ml Tag Honey Ginger vodka


Cocktail glass


First, make the honey syrup. Combine equal parts honey and boiling water in a mug and stir to dissolve the honey. Don’t use a strongly flavoured honey such as leatherwood as the cocktail will taste too strongly of it. Allow the syrup to cool.

Next, put the mint leaves and honey syrup into the glass part of a Boston shaker. Muddle the hell out it. Don’t just lightly bruise the mint; treat it as if it’s in a mortar and pestle and grind it into a rough paste.

Add the vodka and a generous scoop of ice. Shake it up, baby!

Double-strain into the glass and serve.


If you can remember which ingredients to buy, this cocktail is proof that it IS easy being green.



Dinosaur provided by our friends at Make it Wednesday:

(We don’t know how the dinosaur crept into our photo. It was probably also trying to buy something.)

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

Mai Tai 3

In the past few days and its associated Facebook page, have received a lot of attention from YOU, dear readers. As such,’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.


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).


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


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


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.


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


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.


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.


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


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.


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


Highball or Collins glass.


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.


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


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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.


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.’


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.


30ml Four Pillars gin

30ml orange juice

20ml sugar syrup

soda, to top up


Champagne flute


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.


Much easier than putting up with a hangover.


52 Cocktails

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From Gin Fizz to Gin Fizzer

gin fizz

I never liked gin until a few years ago when I was on a two-week holiday and it was the only thing we had to drink. And, since it was a family holiday, I really needed a drink. By the end of the holiday I was a gin fan (deprivation of other forms of alcohol + excess family time will do that to you) and I haven’t looked back since.

One of the first gin-based cocktails I learned to make was a gin fizz. I found the recipe in Stephanie Alexander’s amazing book The Cook’s Companion (Penguin Group Australia, 2004), which should be required reading for anyone who eats food. If you haven’t got a copy, you can usually get it here. Along with a massive number of recipes, the book provides alphabetical listings of various ingredients and how to use them. So if you have, say, loads of lemons that need to be used up, turn to the “L” section and voila, there are recipes for lemon tart, lemon curd, lemon delicious pudding…you get the idea. It was while browsing through such recipes, trying to work out what I would do with a kilo of lemons I’d just been given, that the gin fizz recipe caught my eye. It seemed like a much better use of lemons than any of the other recipes, primarily because it involved gin. I’m probably risking copyright infringement by reprinting the recipe here. Stephanie, if you’re reading this, please don’t sue me. I need all my money for gin. Thank you.


Shake 45 ml gin with 1 tablespoon pure icing sugar, several mint leaves and the juice of 1 lemon over several ice cubes in a shaker. Strain into a long glass and fill with soda water.

‘But hang on,’ I hear you say. ‘That’s not a new cocktail. Isn’t the point of 52 Cocktails to try out a new cocktail every week of the year? Why yes, it is. It says so right there at the top of the page. Harrumph!’

You’re right – there’s more to this story. And it does involve a new cocktail, I promise. Anyway, where were we? Oh yes.

I liked Stephanie’s gin fizz recipe. I liked it a lot. But I didn’t like having to look up the recipe in her mighty tome whenever I felt like drinking it, which was often. So I wrote the recipe on a bit of paper and stuck it to the fridge for easy reference.

Around this time, I’d also begun using sugar syrup in my drinks and tried using that instead of icing sugar in the gin fizz. It worked – although the taste and texture were different, it was still good. I scribbled ‘can use sugar syrup instead of icing sugar’ on the bit of paper on the fridge so I’d know for next time.

Fast-forward a few years and that bit of paper stuck to the fridge had been joined by lots of other bits of paper, all with cocktail recipes – and amendments to these recipes – scribbled on them. It was getting so you couldn’t see the numerous calendar magnets with real-estate agents’ heads on them that you always get in your letter box and that are never strong enough to hold anything to the fridge other than themselves. (There is probably a whole thesis in that, or at least a stoner-style chaos theory. What do these magnets represent – that real-estate agents want all your fridge real-estate to themselves? Or just that they use really shitty, cheap magnets because they know most people discard them immediately? Discuss.) It was time for drastic measures. No, not throwing out the real-estate magnets. We needed them for dart practice. It was time to Get Organised and Write All the Recipes Onto One Large Piece of Paper. In retrospect, it would probably have been smarter to do this while sober; that way, the recipes would probably have been copied out correctly, instead of into some kind of drunken shorthand.

Yep, you can see where this is going, can’t you.

After years and years of making gin fizzes according to the recipe on the One Large Bit of Paper….

After years of proudly offering them to friends, assuring them, ‘It’s a really gentle drink, it’s like lemonade, you can’t get wasted on a gin fizz…’….

After years of non-gin-drinkers saying, ‘Oh, this is nice, I can barely taste the gin in it. It’s really refreshing.’…

I’ve just discovered that my tried-and-true gin fizz recipe is WRONG.

After I breached copyright by typing out Stephanie’s recipe, I thought, ‘Hmm. 45ml of gin? Nah. A gin fizz is really gentle and refreshing. I’m sure I make them with 15ml of gin, because that is what it says to do on the One Large Piece of Paper. Maybe I have been reading it wrong all these years.’ So I checked. And the recipe written there says:


15ml gin

15ml lemon juice

10 ml sugar syrup

Shake all ingredients with ice in a shaker. Strain into a Champagne glass and top with soda.

And that is how I make my gin fizzes.

Really, REALLY weak.

Oh, and I serve them in a Champagne glass, not a long glass, because that seems classier….even if its contents are really, REALLY weak.

I have thoroughly bastardised a great recipe. I could cry with shame.


Except that I really, REALLY like my gin fizzes.

And so do all the people I serve them to. They’re fantastically refreshing on a hot day. You can start drinking them in the early afternoon and not feel like an alco because they’re so weak. The tartness of the lemon combines beautifully with the gin to create something like an adult lemonade. People who swear they hate gin like them. You can use a more expensive gin than the one you’d usually use in cocktails because you don’t need much of it (you can see in the photo that I used Tanqueray 10 in a recent round). Designated drivers can have at least one of these and not feel like they’re missing out on all the fun. And there’s a chance – just a chance – that when I wrote out the recipe, however incorrectly, I was trying to create a drink that would fit into a Champagne glass instead of into a long glass. After all, the recipe is (roughly) still in proportion – it’s just that it’s only one-third as strong as it ought to be. Which means you can drink three in a row and it really only counts as one cocktail. What’s not to like?

And that is where this rather lengthy transmission should end.


In regards to “What’s not to like?” 52 Cocktails’ CTO (Chief Tasting Officer) says, “Plenty.”

Oh dear.

To quote: “I’m not sure you can have a drink with only half a shot in it and still call it a cocktail. No bar would serve something so weak. I think you could probably drink them on an AFD (alcohol-free day) and get away with it. Although apparently that’s their advantage…”

Bugger. Turns out my gin fizz is more of a gin fizzer.

Luckily, I have been playing around with my piss-weak recipe and have discovered it’s got more flavour if you use some orange juice in with the lemon. I made a massive batch for a party a few weeks ago and used about a third orange juice as I’d run out of lemons. But if you’re making just one gin fizz, this is particularly annoying to measure. Who the hell can be bothered squeezing an orange to use just 5ml of juice? Solution: make a big batch. You can share it with friends or drink it all yourself. It’s not that strong anyway, right?


This flavoursome thirst-quencher is great on a hot day. Serves 10 if you want a low-alcohol drink, or 5 if you want something stronger.


150ml gin

100ml lemon juice, freshly squeezed

50ml orange juice, freshly squeezed

100ml sugar syrup

Soda, to top up




Put all ingredients except soda into a jug and stir to combine. (This can be done before your guests arrive.) When it’s time to serve, determine if your guest wants a low-alcohol or a ‘normal’ drink. For a low-alcohol drink, add 40ml of the above mixture to a cocktail shaker that’s half-full of ice. For a ‘normal’ drink, use 80ml of the mixture. Either way, shake the hell out of it, strain into a Champagne glass and top with soda.


As easy as incorrectly copying out a recipe.


52 Cocktails

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