Tag Archives: 52 Cocktails creations

Mandarin Dream


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

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

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


3/4 oz Absolut Mandarin

3/4 oz Absolut Vanilla

3/4 oz Cointreau

1 1/2 oz fresh orange juice

pinch of top-quality cinnamon, to garnish


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


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


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


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

Tagged , , ,

The Interchange



‘You’ve just been poisoned’ might well be the best tagline I’ve ever seen on a cocktail bar’s website, and it belongs to Bangkok’s Sugar Ray. I stumbled across it after reading about the bar in Lonely Planet’s Bangkok guidebook, which describes it as the kind of funky, hidden place that makes Old Fashioneds with aged rum, cardamom syrup and orange (you can read the full review here). Naturally this got me thinking two things:

1) I really, REALLY want to go to that bar (and a bunch of other Bangkok hotspots too!), and

2) Could I create something similar?

And so the experimenting began. Ages ago I made some cardamom-infused vodka by crushing 3 cardamom pods and leaving them in about half a cup of vodka for a few days before straining them out. I had some Angostura Orange Bitters. I figured those two ingredients would provide the necessary flavours even if they weren’t in syrup form. I didn’t have any aged rum but I did have some good old Johnnie Walker Red, which is the whisky I always use in Old Fashioneds because it’s relatively cheap and so am I, and so all I had to do was add the cardamom vodka and orange bitters to my normal Old Fashioned recipe and I’d be onto a surefire hit, right?

Here is the bit where, ordinarily, something goes horrifically wrong. Something spontaneously combusts, or my eyebrows catch on fire, or – worse still – I end up with something completely undrinkable. I am used to this. Hell, I was prepared for it. So I was almost disappointed when…nothing happened. And my taste testers agreed I’d made something sophisticated ‘that you’d get in a real bar’.

I tried again, this time using rye whisky, and got an even better result: the kind of cocktail that would be at home in a gentleman’s club, smooth, deep and full of intriguing flavours that border on the exotic.

All that was left to do was think of a name. Even that was easy; I’d used rye and whisky interchangeably, and thus The Interchange was born. As far as creating my own cocktails goes, I’d say this is one of the most successful – indeed, no one got poisoned…


60ml rye or regular whisky

15ml sugar syrup

10-15ml cardamom vodka (you can use more or less to taste)

3-6 dashes orange bitters




Quarter-fill an old-fashioned glass with ice. Add half the whisky and stir until the glass is frosty. Add a few more ice cubes and the remaining ingredients and stir  until the glass is frosty again.


So easy you’ll think something’s gone terribly, terribly wrong.


This one’s by the 52 Cocktails crew, with thanks to Sugar Ray and Lonely Planet for the inspiration.

Tagged , , ,

The Littlest AD


Years ago, the 52 Cocktails crew went drinking every week at a student pub with a great pal called AD. It was the kind of pub where the bartenders would have a drink with you, the whole place was covered in kitsch Aussie memorabilia and if you ordered the same drink often enough it’d get named after you. That’s what happened to AD, who once asked for a Tequila Sunrise, but made with vodka and served in a pint glass. While this may sound as twisted as some coffee orders these days (‘I’ll have a decaf latte with biodynamic almond mylk sprinkled with sugar-free soy carob, thanks’), the bartenders took it in their stride and served the huge, colourful drink without even rolling their eyes. AD took a liking to it and ordered it again, and from that point on it was known as the ‘Little AD’. Similar stories abound about how cocktails get their names, but unless the drink spreads to other drinking establishments it dies out and the name dies out along with it. And since that much-loved student pub is now a gastro-pub, with none of the kitsch decor remaining (and possibly the staff have moved on, too), it seems the Little AD is no more.

At least, that was until recently, when the 52 Cocktails crew had a measly one shot of tequila left in the bottle and a few bits of half-squeezed citrus lying around, and a challenge was thrown down to use everything up in the one drink.

The result was reminiscent of the Little AD, in that it was a successful experiment that used some key ‘sunrise’-style ingredients (namely OJ and grenadine), and so it was named the Littlest AD in honour of AD and his original cocktail. It’s sweet and tastes a bit like a Mai Tai, but with a mineral element coming to the front of the palate courtesy of the tequila.


45ml blanco tequila (we used Espolon Tequila Blanco)

Juice of half an orange (roughly 90ml)

15ml sugar syrup

5ml orgeat

1/2 teaspoon grenadine




Half-fill a rocks glass with ice, add all ingredients and stir.


It’s easier to make this than it is to order it at a bar. So go on, make one!


Proudly created by 52 Cocktails

PS Oh, and that bar we mentioned? It’s the Lincoln in Carlton, Melbourne. It’s still around, and it turns out the kitsch decor was hiding a gorgeous art deco interior – go have a look, have a drink (there’s a short but decent cocktail list, along with a great range of wine and beer) and definitely have something to eat – the food’s great. Just don’t ask for a Little AD or you might be disappointed!

Tagged ,

In Watermelon Sugar


I wasn’t really sure what to call this cocktail, invented one day when I was desperate for some fruit but also really needed a drink. ‘Watermelon Wonder’ seemed obvious enough as it contains watermelon juice and was made after I’d spent some time wondering what the hell I was going to do with a 5kg watermelon a house guest had kindly given me. But ‘Watermelon Wonder’ sounds like it belongs at a juice bar (or on a menu written by someone with no imagination) and really, this tastes much better than ‘Watermelon Wonder’ sounds.

Lots of bartenders reckon part of the fun of inventing cocktails is naming them, which is possibly why Melbourne vodka bar After the Tears has a cocktail called ‘Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries.’ I’ve always liked that name and recently discovered it’s a quote from Monty Python, which made me wonder if I could just use a quote to name this refreshing watermelon drink.

And so I went with the most obvious choice – no, not ‘nice melons,’ which I’m sure is a quote from a trashy teen movie, but In Watermelon Sugar, named after the excellent 1968 novella by Richard Brautigan, which features the creepily prescient name iDEATH. Which, now I think of it, would also make a great cocktail name…


About 1/2 highball glass watermelon juice (you can make this by whizzing chunks of watermelon in a blender)

30ml mandarin vodka

90ml pineapple juice

mint and pineapple piece, to garnish




Chill all ingredients (if you store your watermelon and your pineapple juice in the fridge, they will already be cold enough to use.) Pour liquids into glass, stir to combine, then garnish.


So much easier to make than it is to name!


This one’s by 52 Cocktails, as is the next one. What? There’s another one? Yes, that is your reward for reading this far. Well done you. OK, so the next one is a great way to use up any leftover watermelon chunks. Half-fill a blender with cold watermelon chunks. Add a good slosh of Chambord and some Absolut Vanilla vodka. (Sorry folks, I didn’t measure this one so I can’t be any more accurate than that.) Blend everything together, pour into a highball glass and then demand everyone leave the house so you don’t have to share the resulting light, fluffy, sorbet-like, heavenly concoction that’s best eaten with a spoon and the knowledge that it’s 100% yours.



Tagged , ,

Millionaire’s Moscato


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.


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.


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.


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!)


Sugar cube

Angostura Orange Bitters

30ml apricot brandy

Chilled Moscato


Champagne flute


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


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


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.

Tagged , , ,

Modern mango daiquiri


Just as it’s hard to get children to eat vegetables unless you hide them in chocolate cake (the vegetables, not the children – though in some cases that would improve the children), sometimes it’s hard to get adults to eat their required intake of fruit and veges every day. Make it easy on that recalcitrant adult in your life (come on, we all know one) with this delicious fruit-filled cocktail.


A hint of passionfruit adds an intriguing note to this cocktail, but what makes it truly modern is the garnish of Thai basil leaves. Instruct your imbibers to nibble a leaf before taking a sip – the combination of aniseedy Thai basil and fresh tropical mango works surprisingly well.


1 ripe mango, peel and stone removed, flesh roughly diced

30ml Havana Club anejo rum

15ml passionfruit syrup (we used the 1883 brand)

15ml lemon juice

15ml sugar syrup

1/2 cup ice

Sprig of Thai basil, to garnish


Cocktail glass, preferably chilled


Place all ingredients in blender and whizz until the ice is crushed. Pour into cocktail glass, garnish with Thai basil and serve.


Loads easier than getting kids to eat their vegetables.


This one’s by us. We’re clever like that.

Tagged , , ,

Memories of Summer


Memories of Summer is so named because it tastes likes it was invented back in the good old days, when all kids had to play with were a couple of plastic dinosaurs and a vodka bottle. As the green dino is saying, it tastes of cinnamon, cherry blossoms and creamy soda; as the orange dino is thinking quietly to itself, if you can hear plastic dinosaurs talking you’ve had one drink too many.

Part of the appeal of this cocktail is that it can be made short and strong, or topped up with soda for a longer, more refreshing drink. Either way, it’ll help make your memories of summer good ones.



30ml peach vodka (we used house-made, yellow-peach-infused vodka; if you don’t have any, then Absolut Apeach will do fine)

15ml St Germain elderflower liqueur

15ml sugar syrup

10ml lime juice

5 drops Bittercube Cherry-Bark Vanilla bitters

soda, to top up (optional)


Tumblers are fine, though a short version of this drink would look better in a martini glass


Half-fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add all ingredients except the soda. Shake like you’ve just run through the sprinkler on a stinking hot day. Strain into the glass; top with soda if you want a long drink.


The hardest part is making the peach vodka, as you have to let the fruit infuse for at least a month before using it. Can’t be arsed? Use store-bought, and perhaps garnish the glass with some peach slices so it at least looks like you made an effort.


Memories of Summer was proudly created by 52 Cocktails. The team would like to order a round at a bar just to see what happens, eg:

‘I’d like two Memories of Summer, please.’

‘Oh? Ah…well, we used to go to the beach…and sometimes we’d have barbecues…’



Tagged , , ,

Orange-mango tango


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


1 mango, flesh diced

Juice of 2 oranges

90ml Cointreau

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




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


The hardest part is not adding more Cointreau!


This one’s by 52 Cocktails.


Tagged , , ,

Southern Mint Tea


On a long, slow, hot day, when all you want is an ice-cold beverage….don’t make this drink. Make a mint julep or a Tom Collins or a Southside – they’re easy and refreshing. Southern Mint Tea – similar to the sweet tea that’s served in the Southern parts of the USA – is easy and refreshing, too, but it takes aaaaaages to make, since you have to wait until the tea is cold – ice cold – before you can serve it.

The good news is, it’s worth the wait. This heady, instantly addictive mixture – not too sweet, not too tannin-y, with as much or as little bourbon as you’d like – tastes like the kind of thing you’d sip while sitting on a back porch in a cane chair overlooking your plantation, fanning your face occasionally as beads of sweat trickled down your face in a somehow alluring, not gross, manner towards your pristine white outfit, just like in all those cliched movies you’ve seen set in the South.

So check the weather forecast, and if there’s a hot day on the horizon, make this recipe the night before. Then you can sit around in your underpants next to the air-con unit drinking and feeling smug, which isn’t the traditional method of drinking a Southern-style ice tea but hey, whatever works for you…


8 cups water

1/2 cup white sugar

8 black tea bags (do not, repeat, DO NOT use Irish Breakfast or Earl Grey or any other fancy tea bags or the flavour will be all wrong)

Juice of 1-2 oranges (I used one-and-a-half)

1/2 cup fresh mint leaves

This will make about 2 litres of iced tea, which is about 16 serves. It’s delicious as it is but it seems to be missing something….ah yes, the bourbon. It’s up to you how much you add per serve – I used 45 ml, but you might like to make it weaker/stronger. Don’t use your best bourbon – save that for a fancier cocktail. I used a cheapie and it worked out just fine.


Boil 4 cups of water and pour into a large bowl or saucepan.

Add the tea bags and sugar and stir until the sugar has dissolved. If your tea bags have those little paper tags on them, you might like to cut them off before adding the bags to the water. Otherwise you’ll end up with soggy bits of paper in your drink. Ugh.

Leave it to steep for 10 minutes, then remove the tea bags.

Add 4 cups of cold water and the orange juice. Chill the mixture in the fridge (you can pour it into a large jug first, or just leave it in the saucepan.)

Just before serving, add the mint leaves and bruise them against the side of the jug/saucepan with the back of a spoon so they release their refreshing flavour.

Half-fill a tumbler with ice, then three-quarters fill the glass with ice tea. Strain out the mint leaves as you go, or leave em in; it’s up to you.

Add however much bourbon you like (as I said, I used 45ml), garnish with a mint sprig and serve.

Store any leftover ice tea in the fridge; it will last for a few days.

If you’re feeling especially hipster-ish you can store the leftovers in a mason jar, like the one below, which has been converted into a cobbler-style cocktail shaker. Bonus: thanks to the in-built strainer, it’s easy to strain out the mint leaves as you pour yourself yet another glass.



The hardest part is the long, slow wait for the tea to cool. It’s best to make the tea the night before you plan to serve it so the wait isn’t so frustrating (translation: you can let it cool while you’re drinking something else).

This Southern Mint Tea recipe is a mash-up of this recipe by The Bitten Word and this recipe by Joy the Baker. So while we’re claiming it as our own, really, we couldn’t have done it without them.

Tagged , , , ,

Strawberries and Dream


You know that phrase “dance like no one’s watching”? Sometimes I make cocktails like no one’s watching. No consultation of the ever-growing collection of cocktail books. No sniffing a handful of open bottles to try to decide what will combine well together. And no fancy shake-n-strain techniques; I just chuck a few random ingredients into the blender and hope for the best. Shocking, I know, but true.

Sometimes, it works really well.
Sometimes, it’s like a superfood smoothie; you know it contains things that are good for you, ie alcohol, but it looks and tastes disgusting.

The Strawberries and Dream falls into the first category. It’s a bit like really, really good strawberry ice cream (the kind made with real strawberries, not that fake pink stripe you get in a tub of Neapolitan). 52 Cocktails’ CTO says it’s sophisticated, not overly sweet, and “should be served on a yacht, not from a Mr Whippy van.”

I couldn’t get an accurate photo of it – the colour is somewhere in between the above and below photos – so when you make it, send me a snapshot of yours, please. You can trick it up to impress your friends (see Method, below) or just make it like no one’s watching.


30ml Chambord
45ml vanilla vodka (we used Absolut Vanilia)
30ml coconut cream
3/4 cup strawberries, hulled and halved
Lime and some caster sugar for rimming the glass

If no one’s watching you, use a regular rocks glass. You could even drink straight from the blender jug while wearing pajamas if you want to.

If someone’s watching you, a fancy or frivolous works well for this.

If no one’s watching you:
Pour some caster sugar onto a plate. Rub the lime around the rim of the glass and dunk it in the sugar.
Chuck everything in the blender with a handful of ice and blend until it looks like a superfood smoothie.
Carefully pour the blended mixture into the glass (avoiding the sugar-coated rim, of course) and drink like no one’s watching you.

If someone’s watching you:
How the hell did this person watching you get into your kitchen?! Go and check if the front door’s locked. OK, so it turns out they were invited? Then let’s give em a show.
Slice a lime into three rounds and place them, flat side up, on a plate.
Pour some caster sugar onto another plate.
Turn a glass upside down and place the rim onto the lime slices. Give it a few twists, then place it in the sugar and give it a twist to help the sugar adhere. Do it with a confident flourish!
Next, make it look as hard as possible to create this masterpiece. Things taste better if it looks like you made an effort, even if all you’re doing is basically making an alcoholic smoothie. Use tongs to place the ice cubes one by one into the blender; slowly measure the liquid ingredients; be very choosy about which strawberries you deign to use. You get the idea.
Double strain the blended mixture into the glass and serve.

The hardest part is making this look hard to make.

Proudly created by 52 Cocktails.

Tagged , , , ,