Category Archives: gin

The Sound and the Slurry

sound and the slurry

If you like cocktails (hell yes) and word play (it’s a pundamental part of life), Tequila Mockingbird is a novel idea that’s worth seeking out. Clever-pants author Tim Federle  has taken a bunch of cocktail recipes and given them a literary twist, so that you end up with such drinks as ‘A Midsummer Night’s Beam’ and ‘The Rye in the Catcher’. As a bonus, there’s a synopsis of the literary work in question, so that if you’re drinking, say, a ‘Pitcher of Dorian Grey Goose’ but you haven’t read Oscar Wilde’s classic Picture of Dorian Gray, at least you can pretend you have. Which is pretty handy if you decide to make a drink named after William Faulkner’s novel The Sound and the Fury, smug in the knowledge that you read it as a teenager, and then realise it’s been a long time between then and now and you can’t remember anything about it. Not that such a thing would happen around here, of course. Ahem.

I’m pretty sure this tart, bracing cocktail is supposed to be pronounced ‘The Sound and the Slur-ry’ (not ‘slurry’), because (a) it’s quite pretty, and not slurry-like at all, and (b) you’ll definitely be slurring after you’ve had a few. There’s a good chance, for example, that you’ll be slur-ily analysing the deliberate lack of punctuation and the, er, the…thing… in the Faulkner novel about…about…

sound and the slurry 2

INGREDIENTS

60ml gin

15ml creme de cassis

15ml lemon juice

GLASS

Coupe or cocktail

METHOD

Shake everything together with ice and strain into the glass. Alternatively, you can serve this in a tumbler on the rocks.

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY

So much easier to make than it is to make head or tail of The Sound and the Fury.

RECIPE BY

Tequila Mockingbird by Tim Federle (Running Press, 2013) contains this and many other fun recipes.

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Gin Garden – one drink, three ways

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When you’re having a dinner party and every guest except for one drinks, what do you do? It’s easy to single out your one teetotalling friend and hand them an exciting glass of …er…water (ooh! thrilling!), but it’s kind of mean. It’s much more fun to work out a cocktail that everyone else can drink that will also work fine as a mocktail – or vice versa. Happily, the Gin Garden works just as well with gin in it as without, though naturally I prefer mine with!

When I was experimenting with this recipe, I discovered three ways to serve it; it’s a pretty forgiving recipe, so don’t worry if you don’t have the quantities quite right, it will probably still taste good anyway. The original recipe comes from the book The Cocktail – 200 fabulous drinks by Jane Rocca, which features divine illustrations by the talented Kat Macleod. Served as per the original recipe (see Version One below), it’s  sweet and intriguing and tastes like what you’d drink on a summer’s day at a rooftop bar. Version Two – which is pictured above and is basically the same as the original version, but with soda – is a light, delicate drink that’s reminiscent of picnics in the shade beneath Grandma’s apple tree. Version Three – the mocktail – is admittedly less sophisticated but just as flavourful. As my drinking and non-drinking dinner guests said, “More please.”

INGREDIENTS

3 good chunks of cucumber

15ml elderflower cordial

45ml gin

45ml apple juice – store bought is fine, but look for one that’s freshly pressed, not one that’s made from apple juice concentrate. I used Spreyton Fresh and was very happy with the result

soda water, to top up

cucumber slices, to garnish

mint leaves

mint sprig, to garnish

GLASS

Martini glass (for Version One); tumbler (for Versions Two and Three)

METHOD

For Version One: muddle the cucumber with the elderflower cordial in the base of a cocktail shaker. Add the gin and apple juice and a handful of ice cubes. Shake, then strain into a chilled martini glass. You can double-strain if you really want to be rid of any little cucumber bits. Garnish with a few cucumber wheels.

For Version Two: follow the instructions for Version One, but strain (or double strain) into a tumbler that’s half-full of ice, and top up with soda. Garnish with cucumber wheels. If you’re catering for a crowd on a hot night, make up a jugful of Version One and serve it as per these instructions as each guest arrives. They will love it and you won’t have to spend your whole night mixing drinks! The easiest way to make up a jugful is to multiply the above recipe by 10. Even if you have only four people present, you’ll get through it all, trust me. And if you accidentally make way too much, it keeps in the fridge overnight.

For Version Three – the mocktail: muddle the cucumber with a few mint leaves and the elderflower cordial in the base of a cocktail shaker. Add the apple juice and a handful of ice cubes. Shake, then strain into tumbler that’s half-full of ice, and top up with soda. You can double-strain if you really want to be rid of any little green bits. Garnish with a mint sprig so it’s easy to tell which drink is the mocktail.

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY

Who knew a three-way could be so easy?

RECIPE BY

The original recipe appears in The Cocktail – 200 fabulous drinks by Jane Rocca (Hardie Grant Books, 2005).

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Stork Club Cocktail

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According to The Craft of the Cocktail by Dale DeGroff, the Stork Club cocktail was invented by Nathaniel Cook, chief barman at the Stork Club in Manhattan. Open from 1929 to 1965, this prestigious club was even the subject of a film that was also called the Stork Club. (Back then, everything had to be named the Stork Club; deviation from this rule was punishable by death.*)

At first glance, it seems like nothing more than well-diluted orange juice, but look again and you’ll see the Stork Club cocktail features flamed orange peel. At least, it does if you can successfully light a bit of peel on fire while not going up in flames yourself. If you’re as uncoordinated as I am, have the fire brigade on standby before you try doing this…or use regular orange peel instead. The flavour will not be the same (flamed orange peel adds a rounded, caramel-ly note to the drink) but it will still be good and your kitchen won’t be reduced to a smoking mound of rubble.

INGREDIENTS
45ml gin
15ml triple sec
30ml fresh orange juice
7ml fresh lime juice (no, you don’t have to be that exact – but that should give you an idea of how much to use. A little more or less won’t hurt)
Dash of Angostura bitters
Orange peel, for garnish

GLASS

Cocktail

METHOD

Shake everything super well with ice, then strained into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with flamed orange peel.

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY

The hardest part about making this drink is not lighting your eyebrows on fire while trying to flame an orange peel for the first time. If you value your facial features, just use regular orange peel instead. If you want to give it a try, check out some instructional videos here or here first, and don’t say we didn’t warn you.

RECIPE BY
This one’s from The Craft of the Cocktail by Dale DeGroff (Clarkson Potter, 2002).

*OK, that’s a slight exaggeration. The punishment was a whipping.

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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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Queen Elizabeth

 

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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…

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Western Rose

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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…

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Hendrick’s Mojito

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What’s fresh and sassy and always looks good? Apart from the 52 Cocktails crew, that is? I’ll give you a clue: they’re in the photo above. Yep, it’s The Fashionable Cocktail by Jane Rocca (Hardie Grant Books 2013), which contains the recipe for the mighty fine Hendrick’s Mojito. Gorgeously illustrated by Neryl Walker, this little tome is tres chic, dahling, and features a mix of new cocktails and updated classics. In my ongoing bid to convert some gin-hating friends into liking the sacred spirit (I know, I know, how are we even friends, right?), I hit em with the Hendrick’s Mojito and they loved it. You will too.

HENDRICK’S MOJITO

This is a refreshing, moreish drink, the kind that’s all too easy to knock back. Hendrick’s gin is made with cucumber and rose petals, giving it a softer flavour than other gin, and the cucumber flavour plays nicely with the mint in this drink. The original recipe calls for a Collins glass but I used rocks glasses to avoid diluting all the dee-lish flavours too much. Go with whatever version you think you’ll like best.

INGREDIENTS

45ml Hendrick’s gin

1/2 lime

20ml lime juice

15ml sugar syrup

mint leaves

soda

cucumber slice, to garnish (optional)

GLASS

Collins or rocks

METHOD

Muddle the lime half and about 10 mint leaves in the base of the glass. Don’t be too rough; you want to release the flavour, not pound them into oblivion. Add enough ice to fill the glass at least halfway. Add the Hendrick’s, lime juice and sugar syrup and stir. Top with soda. Garnish with a cucumber slice if you wish.

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY

The hardest thing about making this drink is trying to resist making another 10 or so and devouring them all.

RECIPE BY

This recipe appears in The Fashionable Cocktail by Jane Rocca (Hardie Grant Books 2013).

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Femme Fatale

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If a White Lady (that’s Cointreau, lemon juice and gin) were a person, she’d be a bit like Cinderella; elegant, understated and mysterious, the kind of lady who leaves you wanting more when she disappears at midnight.

If a Femme Fatale (that’s a twist on the White Lady, using Cointreau Noir instead of Cointreau) were a person, she’d be just like a White Lady. Except she’d kill you with her bare, manicured hands before she disappeared at midnight.

FEMME FATALE

INGREDIENTS

30ml gin

15ml Cointreau Noir

15ml lemon juice

GLASS

Cocktail glass, or the most elegant glass you’ve got

METHOD

Add all ingredients to a shaker that’s half-full of ice. Shake hard, then strain into the glass.

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY

Easy to love, but be warned; it’s a killer in disguise.

RECIPE BY

The Femme Fatale was created by the 52 Cocktails team. It’s based on the version of a White Lady that appears in Margaret Fulton’s Book of Cocktails & Party Drinks (Octopus Books, 1984).

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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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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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