Tag Archives: easy to make

Gin Palace

 

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Ah, to live in a palace made of gin, afloat on giant ice cubes in a sea of tonic water, where cocktails were coloured by the tears of rainbow-hued unicorns …

Ah, to stop with such nonsense and make yourself a drink …

The term ‘gin palace’ harks back to 1820s England. Before then, gin shops were just that; small places that sold gin to either take away or drink standing up within the establishment. Legislation changed, and the gin shops had to also be able to sell ale or wine, which meant they had to get bigger. Meanwhile, fashionable new shops with lavish fit-outs and gas lamps were becoming popular; they had gorgeous displays and were manned by staff behind numerous counters. It wasn’t long before the gin shops followed suit, with ornate decor and counters for their staff to stand behind. In the late 1820s they were known as gin palaces, and although apparently none of the original palaces are still around, they have left a lasting legacy; their old-fashioned counters are the modern-day bars you see in pubs and cocktail lounges.

Melbourne’s Gin Palace opened in 1997 (well before gin became trendy again), and has been serving up gin and good times in equal measure ever since. It’s a lavish yet somewhat grungy laneway bar, the kind of comfortable, welcoming place where you might drop in for just one drink and emerge several hours (or days) later. It’s exactly the kind of gin palace you could imagine living in, though they don’t have rainbow-hued unicorns (yet).

Apart from their names, what the cocktail and the bar have in common is that they’re a sophisticated yet easily approachable way to kick off a big night – or end one. The cocktail is sweetly reminiscent of berries and ice cream, but the gin stops it from being overly cloying. You can make this using quaffing gin and sparkling wine, but if you really want to capture that palatial feeling, go all out and use your fanciest gin and Champagne, dahling. Mwah!

INGREDIENTS

15ml gin

15ml blackberry liqueur or cassis (which is blackcurrant liqueur, and still delicious)

10ml vanilla liqueur (or good-quality vanilla vodka, such as Absolut Vanilia)

Champagne or sparkling wine

Blueberries to garnish, if desired

GLASS

Champagne flute, chilled

METHOD

Pour the gin and liqueurs (or their substitutes) into a chilled Champagne flute, then top up slowly with the bubbly. Garnish with the blueberries, if you like, or sip as is.

RECIPE BY

The Gin Palace cocktail recipe comes from Shaken: 250 very sexy cocktails (Murdoch Books, 2004).

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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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Apple Strudel

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Years ago in Aberdeen, Scotland, I was handed a drink and told it tasted ‘just like apple strudel’ and contained ‘vodka with grass in it’. I was skeptical, but it turned out to be true: when you combine Zubrowka Bison Grass Vodka with cloudy apple juice, it really does taste like strudel. As far as I can tell, there’s no cinnamon in this vodka; it’s distilled from rye and flavoured with bison grass, a type of grass that’s often eaten by bison. The grass – a blade of which is included in every bottle – gives it a dry, herbaceous note, and yet when it’s combined with the apple juice you’d swear there’s a heavy dose of cinnamon sugar going on. Yum.

This cocktail is a real crowd-pleaser and it’s super simple to make, so naturally I decided to tamper with it by adding bitters. Mister Bitters Fig and Cinnamon bitters was the obvious choice and while the result was subtle, it was definitely good. Here’s the recipe – you can alter the proportions if you wish (the original drink I had in Scotland, for example, was in a Collins glass and so contained much more apple juice), omit the bitters or even forget the ice (heaven forbid!) and it will still taste good.

INGREDIENTS

45ml Zubrowka vodka

8-12 drops Mister Bitters Fig and Cinnamon bitters

Cloudy apple juice (do NOT, under any circumstance, use the reconstituted kind)

apple slices, to garnish (optional)

GLASS

Tumbler

METHOD

Half-fill the glass with ice. Add vodka and bitters and top up with apple juice. Stir. Garnish if desired.

TASTES LIKE

Apple strudel made by someone who loves you unconditionally and is, coincidentally, really freaking good at making apple strudel.

RECIPE BY

I don’t know who came up with the original, but whoever it is, I salute you.

 

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Solerno Sunday

Weekends are made for lazy drinking, so when 52 Cocktails’ CTO (Cocktail Tasting Officer) challenged me to make something with an unfamiliar ingredient, I chose Solerno and simply Googled a recipe. Solerno is a blood orange liqueur made by the same clever people who produce Hendricks gin. It’s a light, summery drop that marries well with prosecco or soda, which is pretty much the only way I’ve ever drunk it, so it was perfect for this challenge. I picked two easy recipes from the Solerno website; here are the results.

SOLERNO SIDECAR

This one’s pictured above left.

INGREDIENTS

25ml Solerno

25ml Brandy or Cognac (I used Brandy)

20ml lemon juice

2 dashes orange bitters

GLASS

Cocktail

METHOD

Shake all ingredients together with ice, then strain into a sugar-rimmed cocktail glass.

TASTES LIKE

If you’ve ever had a classic Sidecar  you’ll be familiar with its smooth seductiveness, its zingy citrus tones, its ‘Oh come on, let’s have one more-ness’. Sadly, that is not so with the Solerno Sidecar. Although clearly based on the classic, this one tastes like there’s something a bit wrong with the recipe. Maybe it’s because we used brandy, not Cognac, although the recipe did say it was fine to do so. The flavours tasted slightly muddied; not muddy as in dirty, per se, but muddied as in confused. That clear-cut tone that makes a classic Sidecar a classic was missing. And the CTO detected a pithy note, which could be from the bitters, not the Solerno, but which stood out like a sore thumb. Either way, it made for a cocktail that you’d drink but not re-order if you were at a bar. But don’t lose heart! There’s a Solerno Sour just around the corner.

SOLERNO SOUR

See, I told you so. This one’s pictured above right.

INGREDIENTS

50ml Solerno

25ml lemon juice

10ml sugar syrup

1 dash Angostura bitters

2 dashes orange bitters

GLASS

Tumbler/Old fashioned

METHOD

Shake all ingredients together with ice. Strain into a glass that’s half-full of ice.

TASTES LIKE

This one’s loads better than the Solerno Sidecar, though I’m still not sure it shows off the Solerno to its full advantage. As you’d expect, it’s orange-y and sour-sweet, but with a slightly dark, pithy undertone that I didn’t object to. It’d be interesting to try this one without the orange bitters (to see what, exactly, is causing that flavour); maybe, when I’m not feeling quite so lazy, I will.

THE VERDICT

Maybe Solerno is not all that suited to mixed drinks; from the above experiences it seems it does not play well with others. Still, the Solerno website has heaps of recipes and I’m curious to see if any of them become firm favourites. But it’s no big deal if they don’t – for lazy weekend drinking there’s nothing wrong with sipping good old Solerno and soda!

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Deshler Cocktail

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You can imagine the Deshler got its name when someone slurred their third order of this booze bonanza at the bar. Or you can read about its true history here. Either way, you should make yourself a Deshler right now.

INGREDIENTS

45 ml (1 1/2 oz) Red Dubbonet

45 ml (1 1/2 oz) rye whiskey

7ml (1/4 oz) Cointreau

Dash of Angostura bitters

Orange peel, for garnish

GLASS

Cocktail

METHOD

Add all ingredients (except the orange peel) to a shaker that’s half-full of ice. Shake it hard, then strain into the glass. Garnish with the orange peel.

TASTES LIKE

It’s the cocktail equivalent of feeling completely welcome in a room full of strangers. The Deshler is immediately inviting, a convivial mix of savoury, earthy flavours lifted by notes of baking spice and citrus with just enough sweetness to balance it all out. This one’s a winner.

RECIPE BY

The fabulous Dale De Groff published this version of the Deshler in his book The Craft of the Cocktail (Clarkson Potter, 2002).

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