Jungle Bird and Jungle Boogie

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In my ongoing quest to learn to love Campari (shudder), this week I whipped up a Jungle Bird (pictured above). I figured that, seeing as it contained numerous other ingredients that I like – rum, citrus, pineapple – there was a good chance I’d appreciate what the Campari added to the mix, and wouldn’t reject the drink simply because I could taste, well, Campari in it.

As usual I was partly right and partly wrong. I did appreciate the way Campari added a bitter complexity and notes of burnt orange to the cocktail.

But that didn’t mean I liked it.

For me, the Campari flavour overrode the nuances of the rum, though perhaps that’s because I was seeking it out, the way a beautiful person will look for a flaw in their appearance. The CTO said he liked the way it balanced out the rum’s sweetness, and that it was an interesting and well-rounded drink. I thought the drink might be better without it, and so I made another one, omitting the Campari.

It was much more approachable – a refreshing, if a bit run-of-the-mill (rum of the mill?), sweet-sour concoction, with notes of Christmas spice and vanilla courtesy of the rum. I called it a Jungle Boogie (pictured below) and it was only when I was halfway through it that I realised I’d made something akin to a Pisco Sour, but with rum instead of pisco. No wonder I liked it – I love Pisco Sours. Did I love the Jungle Boogie enough to start making it instead of Pisco Sours, though? Would it be on high rotation at my bar, like its very distant Peruvian cousin? Would I start offering it to all and sundry? Er…

No.

It just didn’t have enough ‘wow’ factor for me.

So in the end, the best thing I can say about this experiment is that it gave me an excuse to open my first bottle of Kraken black spiced rum, which I’ve been wanting to try for ages simply because of the label (yes, I’m a sucker for packaging). I’m no rum aficionado, but it’s delicious. And hey, I got to try out two new cocktails – can’t complain about that. If you want to try them out, the recipes are below.

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INGREDIENTS

45ml black spiced rum

25ml Campari (include this if you are making a Jungle Bird; omit if you are making a Jungle Boogie)

45ml pineapple juice

15ml fresh lime juice

15ml sugar syrup

GLASS

Tumbler or old-fashioned

METHOD

Add all ingredients to a shaker that’s half-full of ice, and shake hard. Strain into a tumbler that’s half-full of ice and garnish with pineapple pieces and pineapple leaves (failing that, use mint, as I’ve done…or don’t garnish at all!)

RECIPE BY

The Jungle Bird recipe is in Dan Murphy’s Cocktail Discovery Guide – edition 2.

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Jam Sour

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If the classic smoky, tangy whiskey sour is your favourite winter tipple, then the jam sour – essentially a whisky sour with (you guessed it!) jam and soda – is all set to become your favourite summer drink. Sure, jam in a cocktail sounds a bit weird, but the breakfast martini contains marmalade, and it’s a classic, so why the hell not use jam in a whisky-based drink? The jam gives it a sweet roundedness that highlights the whiskey’s smokiness, and the soda lightens up the whole shebang and gives it a refreshing vibe, lifting it out of the moodily lit lounge room and into the sunshine. So what are you waiting for – go jam one in your cakehole!

INGREDIENTS

2tsp apricot jam

20ml fresh lemon juice

5ml sugar syrup

50ml whiskey (I used Johnnie Walker)

1 dash orange bitters

soda water, to top up

lime slice, to garnish

GLASS

Old-fashioned or other short tumbler

METHOD

Add the jam, lemon juice and sugar syrup to a shaker and shake really hard. Add whiskey and orange bitters, plus enough ice cubes to half-fill the shaker, and shake even harder. Fine-strain into a glass that’s about a third full of ice. Top with soda, garnish and serve.

RECIPE BY

Adapted from Dan Murphy’s Cocktail Discovery Guide (edition 2), which suggests you use a Collins glass and a grapefruit garnish, and whichever jam you fancy (but not an actual jam fancy, since that is a biscuit, and while adding jam to a cocktail sounds weird enough, adding a biscuit would probably just be gross).

 

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Vesper Martini

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If you’re looking for an elegant way to kickstart your night, try a Vesper Martini. It’s the drink ordered by James Bond in Casino Royale, and it’s a gamble with a great payoff: it tastes like a lighthearted martini but it’s got enough vrrroom to fuel a whole night out.

INGREDIENTS

50ml gin (I used Tanqueray)

15ml vodka

10ml Lillet Blanc

lemon twist, to garnish

GLASS

Coupe, chilled

METHOD

Half-fill a mixing glass with ice, then add the liquids and stir* well until chilled. Strain into a chilled coupe and garnish with the lemon twist.

*Yes, yes, Bond asks for his to be shaken, not stirred, but martini purists insist he is wrong and I am inclined to agree – a martini should be stirred. For more about this, check out Martini by Frank Moorhouse – part essay, part love letter to what is probably the world’s most famous – and famously debated over – cocktail.

RECIPE BY

This version appears in one of my very favourite cocktail books, Ten Cocktails: the art of convivial drinking by Alice Lascelles (Saltyard Books, 2015). It’s a delicious read about – you guessed it – ten cocktails; the stories behind them, the author’s personal experiences with them, the history of the spirits they contain, and all manner of interesting trivia. Recipes are also included (spoiler alert: despite the title, there are more than ten recipes). If you like thinking about what you’re drinking, this is the book for you.

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Boulevardier

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OK, fine, it’s not cool to admit this, but I hate olives and I do not like Campari, and that’s an understatement. It’s also a statement that makes it exceptionally difficult to proclaim my love of gin, since most people associate gin with martinis and martinis so often contain olives  – and, to be honest, I’m still not even sure I like martinis without olives – and since apparently, if you like gin, not liking Negronis – which contain gin, vermouth and Campari – makes you a Bad Gin Drinker. Sigh.

It’s not like I haven’t tried. Every now and then I pluck up the courage to eat the salted bit of disgusting briny rubber that is an olive, or take a sip of something containing Campari without making a face in the process, convinced that one day, one bright, shining, magical day, I will find an olive – or, better, a Campari-based drink – that I don’t hate.

I had hoped the Boulevardier – basically a Negroni with rye whiskey instead of gin – would fall into the latter category, but on the first sip I really wasn’t sold on it (the deliciously subtle rye whiskey was almost entirely eclipsed by the ‘Pay attention to me!’ Campari) and by the end of the drink I was too far gone to tell. I will say this for it: I don’t hate it the way I hate the waste of good gin that is a Negroni (though I’d rather enjoy my rye without cramping its style, thanks all the same), and it’s an enjoyable enough way to get hammered while still impressing the bartender by ordering a reasonably ‘cool’ drink – these things are strong!

In short, if you like Campari, you will probably like this drink. If you don’t, I salute you.

INGREDIENTS

60ml rye whiskey

30ml Campari

30ml sweet vermouth

orange slice, to garnish

GLASS

Tumbler

METHOD

Add liquid ingredients to an ice-filled mixing glass. Stir until well chilled, then strain into a tumbler that’s half-full of ice. Garnish with the orange slice.

RECIPE BY

The Boulevardier is thought to have originated in 1920s Paris, but this particular recipe comes from a 2016 Dan Murphy’s catalogue.

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Pretty in Pink

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This cocktail is so easy it’s almost embarrassing. And, since its main ingredient is watermelon, it’s embarrassingly healthy, too.

INGREDIENTS

A good chunk of watermelon, roughly chopped and seeds removed, chilled

30ml flavoured vodka – your choice of vanilla-, raspberry- or strawberry-infused

Mint leaf, for garnish

GLASS

Your fanciest coupe, chilled

METHOD

Blitz the watermelon in a blender until it’s all slushy. Fine-strain into the glass. You don’t want any ‘bits’ in this drink. Add the vodka, stir gently, garnish and serve.

TASTES LIKE

A sweet end to a glorious summer’s day.

RECIPE BY

52 Cocktails, who recommend keeping a huge jug of watermelon juice in the fridge so you can top up whenever you need to – just add vodka!

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Bloody Caesar

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The Bloody Mary is the undisputed queen of brunch drinks – but I prefer a Bloody Caesar. Hailing from Canada, it is basically a Bloody Mary with the addition of clam juice, which sounds completely disgusting but is actually really good. And you don’t need to juice any clams, either – just use Clamato , which is a mixture of tomato juice and clam juice, among other ingredients (if you’re in Melbourne, you can buy it here). Hail Caesar!

INGREDIENTS

celery salt

J & D’s Bacon Salt (which is, weirdly enough, vegetarian)

30-50ml vodka (use less if you want this to be a hangover cure, and more if you want it to be a hangover cause)

5ml Worcestershire sauce

dash of Tabasco or Chipotle Tabasco sauce (or ghost chilli sauce if you REALLY like things hot)

Clamato (get the picante version if you like things hot)

lime wedge

Vietnamese mint or Chinese celery or just a good old celery stick, to garnish

GLASS

I like my Caesars short, so I use a tumbler, but traditionally the drink calls for a tall glass (a pint glass is fine, or use a Collins or highball).

METHOD

Mix the two salts together on a plate. Rim the glass by wiping a wedge of lime or lemon around the rim, then dipping it in the salt mix.

Half-fill the glass with ice.

Add vodka and all the sauces. Squeeze the juice from the lime wedge and drop it into the glass. Top up with Clamato. Stir well and serve.

RECIPE BY

This particular version was created by 52 Cocktails’ CTO (Chief Tasting Officer), who swears the secret to it is not the Clamato but the blend of salts. Mmm, vegetarian bacon…

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Tequila Surprise

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Here’s an easy twist on the once-trendy tequila sunrise that might just bring it back into vogue – or, at least, into Cosmo. (It’s already winning points for its ability to inspire both a terrible magazine pun AND a cocktail pun in one phrase.) Adding orgeat or falernum (use whichever you have on hand) adds a luxurious or tiki vibe, respectively, to this brightly coloured crowd-pleaser.

INGREDIENTS

30ml tequila

15ml orgeat or falernum

5ml grenadine

fresh orange juice (enough to fill the glass)

GLASS

Rocks/tumbler

METHOD

Half-fill the glass with ice. Add the tequila, orgeat or falernum and enough fresh orange juice to fill the glass, and stir. Pour the grenadine over the back of a bar spoon – it should slowly settle into the glass to create the ‘sunrise’ look.

 

RECIPE BY

I really shouldn’t take credit for just adding an ingredient to a classic cocktail…but I will.

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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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Australia’s best micro-distilleries

In a break from our usual programming, this week 52 Cocktails brings you a guide to Australia’s best micro-distilleries. After all, you can’t make a great cocktail without great ingredients! In case you were wondering, yes, the article was written by yours truly and published by Lonely Planet, the world’s best independent travel-guide publisher. Lonely Planet also publishes books on food and drinks, including this beauty, World’s Best Drinks, which you can buy here.

Check out the sections on Mint Juleps and Sazeracs – they are particularly well-researched. (Translation: I tried out several variations of each recipe on some willing victims, er, friends. All in the name of research, I swear. The upshot is that they are my favourite versions of those particular drinks, and my friends now have severe hangovers.)

Thanks to everyone who helped me research these articles, supplied stunning photos or simply taste-tested their way to oblivion, and a massive thanks to Lonely Planet for publishing my work. And if you’re reading this, thank YOU for doing so.

(And yes, I am doing my very best to not to write ’52 COCKTAILS GOT PUBLISHED BY LONELY PLANET!! SQUEEEE!’ But it’s not easy. SQUEEE!)

 

 

Gin Sling

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Light and summery and somehow reminiscent of ginger beer without being cloyingly sweet, this cocktail is a classic for a reason. Its herbaceous undertones (courtesy of the vermouth) and zesty, fruity notes play well together; the only problem is, it’s far too easy to drink a bucketful in one go. Yum.

INGREDIENTS

45ml gin

30ml sweet vermouth (I used Martini Rosso)

22ml lemon juice

30ml sugar syrup

1 dash Angostura Bitters

Soda water, to top up

Lemon or orange peel spiral, to garnish

GLASS

Collins

METHOD

Add all ingredients except soda and garnish to a cocktail shaker that’s half-full of ice. Shake hard, then strain into a Collins glass that’s half-full of fresh ice. Top up with the soda water and garnish with the peel.

RECIPE BY

In his book The Craft of the Cocktail (Clarkson Potter, 2002), where this cocktail appears, Dale DeGroff says this is a late 19th-century sling recipe.

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