Tag Archives: foam

Grand Pagoda


Confession time: I fell in love with foamy cocktails at Potato Head Beach Club in Bali a few years ago and, despite them being oh-so-last-decade now, I still love them. A good one is like dessert in a glass, a textural wonderland of creamy, cloud-like topping leading to a sometimes sweet, sometimes tart, always refreshing cocktail below. A good foam-topped cocktail is a cheat’s way of getting two cocktails for the price of one, since you get two different experiences (and sometimes flavours) as you drink your way through the layers. A good one is heaven.

A bad one is hell.

A lot of foams are made from egg white, so, at their worst, a bad foam-topped cocktail is basically a mess of raw meringue topping that stinks of egg and goes droopy and gloopy before you’ve even got to the cocktail hiding in shame below. At their worst at home, a bad foam-topped cocktail is all of that AND it’s hard to clean the foam that’s gone all over the kitchen as you’ve accidentally pressed the lever on the foaminator too hard and it’s sprayed further than a pack of alley cats on heat. Which is what happened the first time I used my foaminator (aka whipped-cream charger) to make cocktail foam (thank you, 52 Cocktails CTO for the thoughtful gift. Sorry about the mess. Honestly, I think egg-white stalactites are the latest trend in home interiors…). Seriously, they look easy to use, as per Jamie Boudreau’s how-to video (although he could make apologising for meringue-inating the house look easy), but if you’ve never used one before I suggest you practise outside until you’ve got the hang of it. Preferably in someone else’s garden.

Alternatively, you could just cheat, and make a cocktail that uses pineapple juice, since shaking pineapple juice produces a pretty decent foam. This is due to something involving molecules and science, the upshot being that pineapple juice foam is admittedly not as strong as a foam made in a foaminator but is still strong enough to be called a foam, and sometimes, that’s all you need.

The Grand Pagoda is a good example of a cheat’s foam-topped cocktail, and the science-lovers among you (come on, with that hugely helpful scientific explanation in that last paragraph I just know you’re still reading) might like to conduct the same experiment I did, to see just how foamy the juice can get depending on what it’s shaken with (yep, Saturday nights are a real blast at my place).

First up, I made a Grand Pagoda, which looked like this:


It was made using the original recipe, which is below. The foam was pretty good and the drink beneath was a nice muted ruby colour. Overall, the taste was good, too – quite sharp, dry-ish and minerally despite the drink looking sweet.

Next up, I made what I’ve since dubbed a Grand Pagoda Party. I wanted to make enough drinks for four people but of course that much liquid would not fit in a shaker. So I shook all the ingredients except pineapple juice together and poured them into glasses, then shook the pineapple juice and poured it over the top. The result (pictured at the very top of this long, nonsensical ramble) was actually better. The foam was stronger, the colours were brighter and you could just differentiate between the flavour of the foam and the flavour of what lay beneath. I still wasn’t 100% sold on the drink, though. I think it was the taste of the sake coming through that I didn’t really like; it stood out too much, demanding attention instead of blending nicely with the other ingredients.

And so, onto experiment no.3:


What would happen, I wondered, if I used vanilla vodka instead of sake? The result was a sweet, dessert-like drink in which all the flavours played well together. It instantly reminded me of lollies (perhaps it was just the colour, but I thought of Redskins – Australia has terribly racist food) and thus I named it the Candy Pagoda. I think it’s the best one of the bunch – you could say the others just foam it in.


45ml sake

15ml creme de cassis

7ml lime juice

75ml pineapple juice

The above ingredients will make a Grand Pagoda.

If you’re making a Grand Pagoda Party, multiply the above ingredients by however many guests you have.

If you’d prefer to try a Candy Pagoda, use 45ml vanilla vodka instead of the sake.


Tumbler, cocktail or coupe – whatever takes your fancy!


For a Grand Pagoda or a Candy Pagoda, combine the ingredients in a cocktail shaker that’s half full of ice. Shake hard and strain into your preferred glass.

For a Grand Pagoda Party, multiply the ingredients by however many guests you have*. Combine all the ingredients except the pineapple juice in a cocktail shaker that’s half full of ice. Shake hard and strain into your preferred glass(es). Rinse the shaker and refill it with ice. Add the pineapple juice and shake hard. Strain over the top of the ruby-red liquid that’s already in each glass. You should end up with a vibrant red cocktail topped with a good head of foam.

*Within reason, of course. I multiplied by 4; that much fluid fits neatly into a cocktail shaker. If your party is 300-people strong, you might want to consider making a bathtub of punch instead.

Note: the original recipe calls for a garnish of dried coconut shavings and a maraschino cherry. Whichever method/recipe you use, the pineapple juice should create a thick foam so that you can sprinkle the coconut on top. I decided not to bother, but I bet it would look pretty!


Way easier than using a foaminator.


The original recipe appears in Asian Cocktails – Creative Drinks Inspired by the East by Holly Jennings and Christine LeBlond (Tuttle, 2009).

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Aussie Aussie Aussie!


A minty take on a classic lemon, lime and bitters, complete with a Big Pineapple and kitsch koala. Could it get more Aussie than this?

According to the good folks at Angostura, Australia is one of the world’s largest consumers of Angostura Bitters. This is partly because, although Australians have a well-earned reputation as big drinkers, the non-alcoholic lemon, lime & bitters is the go-to drink Down Under for designated drivers or those on a sobriety kick. (It’s possibly also partly because, until recently, you couldn’t easily buy any other types of bitters here). Apparently this refreshing drink is so Australian that if you order it another country, the bartender will just give you a blank look. And so it seemed like the perfect drink to serve at a party held in honour of an American friend who’d just received her Australian citizenship.

There was just one problem: it was non-alcoholic.

And, as a freshly minted Aussie, my friend was not.

And besides, Australian tradition dictates that you MUST drink at a party. Not drinking is unpatriotic – I’m sure that was in her citizenship oath. So I set out to put an alcoholic twist on the classic Aussie non-alcoholic drink – how very Australian.


Lemon, lime and bitters is a classic Aussie combo. Here’s my take on it – with mint added to the mix, and the glass rimmed in Angostura sugar. 

First and foremost I wanted to play up our nation’s love of lemon, lime and bitters. I also wanted to create something with visual appeal. And so I created Angostura sugar by adding enough Angostura bitters to white sugar so that the sugar turned pink, then used it to rim a glass. Then I added a patriotic “green and gold” theme to the mix, muddling 10 mint leaves and half a lime (for the green component) along with lemon juice (gold) and sugar syrup, chucking in 60ml of white rum and topping the lot with soda.
Oddly enough it was reminiscent of a Moscow Mule, and probably would have been great with ginger beer instead of soda. (If you’ve never had one, a Moscow Mule is really easy to make: pour 45 ml vodka and 15 ml lime juice into a highball glass that’s half-full of ice and top up with ginger beer. It’s the drink credited with making vodka popular in the United States and is possibly called a Moscow Mule because it gives the drinker a bit of a kick. The 52 Cocktails house version uses half as much ginger beer and double the vodka, and is fondly known as a Russian Headfuck.)

But this minty, citrusy creation wasn’t what I was after and it certainly wasn’t very Angostura-heavy; it wasn’t a riff on a lemon, lime and bitters at all. So I went back to basics, making a lemon, lime and bitters in an Angostura-sugar-rimmed glass and adding a shot of vodka (because nothing’s more Aussie than trying to get your unsuspecting friends drunk with some alcohol that they can’t even taste).


Lemon, lime and bitters in an Angostura-sugar-rimmed glass. Simple and refreshing.

Here’s how to make one:

First, run the rim of an old-fashioned glass over some lemon slices, then dip it in  Angostura sugar. Add a couple of big ice cubes, 20ml lime juice, 20ml lemon juice, 20ml sugar syrup, 4 dashes Angostura bitters (or more to taste) and 30-60ml vodka depending on how strong you want your drink. Give it a stir and top with soda. Yum.

It’s refreshing, easy to drink and easy to make; perfect for a hot Australian day.

Except that it was winter.

And so it was time to pull out the big guns – or at least, my Whip It! Cream Whipper.


Ooh yeah baby. When a problem comes along, you must whip it.

Apparently these things are great for making whipped cream and desserts and mousse and things, but in 52 Cocktails Land it’s used for one thing and one thing only: making foams for cocktails. Yep, it was time to make lemon, lime and bitters foam, the easiest way I could think of to take the drink from summer to winter and from refreshing to elegant while possibly also getting egg whites to drip from my ceiling (as sometimes happens when I squirt the Whip It’s lever thingy too enthusiastically).


First, I rimmed the glass. I like to place three slices of citrus (in this instance I used lemon) on a flat surface, place the rim of the glass on top and rotate it a few times.

IMG_3671Next, I made the Angostura sugar by adding enough bitters to white sugar to turn the sugar pink. (I initially used sugar cubes doused in bitters and mashed them up with a muddler, then added more white sugar and kept mixing it all up until I had the consistency I wanted: chunky enough to look good, but with enough fine sugar to really stick to the glass and carry the flavour.)
IMG_3672 Then I rotated the glass in the sugar a few times…IMG_3674 Et voila, an Angostura-sugar-rimmed glass.

Next I made the drink.


Add one egg white, 15ml lemon juice, 15ml lime juice, 30ml sugar syrup and 4 dashes Angostura bitters to a cream whipper. Give it a shake and chill for an hour or longer (following the manufacturer’s instructions).


Add 20ml lemon juice, 20ml lime juice, 30ml sugar syrup, 4-6 dashes Angostura bitters and 50ml vodka to a cocktail shaker that’s half-full of ice. Shake it hard and strain into the glass, then add enough soda to half-fill the glass.

Top with the foam, following the manufacturer’s instructions on how to use the cream whipper to dispense foam without getting it all over your kitchen.

IMG_3678Sprinkle with more Angostura sugar and there you have it – a sophisticated, alcoholic take on a classic non-alcoholic Australian drink.

We really DO do things upside-down here!

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