Tag Archives: gin

New Fashioned & Old Fashioned

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I love a good Old Fashioned and I love gin, so it’s only natural that the first drink I tried from the new Dan Jones book, Gin: Shake, Muddle, Stir was a gin-based old fashioned – aptly called a New Fashioned.

It’s made almost entirely of gin – think of it as a martini of sorts for people who really, REALLY don’t like vermouth – so it’s logical that Jones instructs readers to use ‘really excellent gin’. To me, that means Four Pillars or West Winds (actually, it means a bunch of others, too, but hey, who’s counting?) and today I opted for West Winds The Sabre, partly because its blue-tinged bottle matched the book and partly because I’d been looking for an excuse to crack open a new bottle and this seemed like the perfect reason. (I must rethink this policy of waiting for a special occasion to open new bottles. New bottles of liquor could be languishing for days behind my bar if I keep this up.)

You’ve got to really love gin to enjoy this cocktail – so naturally, I loved it. It’s a great way to enjoy your very fave gin with just a hint of sweetness and not a lot else going on; if you’re not a gin-head, don’t bother.

NEW FASHIONED

INGREDIENTS

60ml really excellent gin (seriously, use your very very best gin)

splash of sugar syrup (I used 5ml)

dash of Angostura Bitters

dash of orange bitters (I used Angostura Orange Bitters)

strip of lime peel, to garnish

GLASS

Tumbler or old-fashioned glass

METHOD

Add a massive chunk of ice to your tumbler (one of those spherical moulds of ice will work, or just use a heap of decent-sized ice cubes). Add gin and sugar syrup and stir briefly to combine. Splash the bitters over the top and garnish with the lime peel.

RECIPE BY

This is from Gin: Shake, Muddle, Stir by Dan Jones (Hardie Grant Books, 2016)

 

HOUSE OLD FASHIONED

If you’re not into gin, make an Old Fashioned instead. Recipes vary a bit – here’s an ultra-cool one courtesy of Esquire – but the recipe below, a variation on the traditional recipe, is the one served at 52 Cocktails’ HQ.

INGREDIENTS

60ml Johnnie Walker red label whisky

15ml sugar syrup

several dashed Fee Brothers Black Walnut Bitters

GLASS

Old-fashioned or tumbler

METHOD

Place several ice cubes in a mixing glass. Add half the whisky and half the sugar syrup and stir well. Add a few more ice cubes and the remaining ingredients and stir again. Half-fill the serving glass with ice. Strain the cocktail into the glass and serve.

RECIPE BY

This is a variation on the theme of a traditional Old Fashioned, and we’ve been serving it up for years. The Black Walnut Bitters adds a delicious caramel note, changing the drink from a gutsy pre-dinner tipple to something you could almost serve with (or instead of) dessert. It’s a divine winter warmer, too.

Adding a fruit garnish is optional – there’s a bit of debate about whether a regular Old Fashioned should be garnished or not – but, for the record, our House Old Fashioned has never sported a garnish, and no one has ever complained.

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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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The Abbey: a tale of two gins

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‘But why do you need more than 20 kinds of gin?’ said no one, ever.

Actually, that’s not true. A few non-gin-drinkers (yes, they do exist, and yes, I do occasionally deign to talk to them) have asked me this exact question when they’ve glimpsed my rather meagre collection of the good stuff, to which my usual response is to either launch into a long-winded explanation about all the different kinds of gin or offer them a gin flight so they can taste those differences for themselves. After all, it’s a bit like asking why you need different types of wine, or beer, or underpants: it’s essential. But now I’ve discovered the Abbey, the days of those discussions and flights may be over. Here is a cocktail that tastes completely different depending on which gin you use. (Yes, yes, I’m sure there are many such cocktails, but this is the first one I’ve made using two ostensibly ‘dry’ gins in which the flavours end up being worlds apart…try it for yourself, you’ll be amazed.)

The Abbey is originally from The Savoy Cocktail Book, which was published in 1930. Gin was big back then, but not even the legends behind the bar at The Savoy could have predicted just how many regional varieties of dry gins would have existed nearly a century later, when the 52 Cocktails crew decided to try making the drink using two vastly different dry gins. Fittingly, one of the gins (Tanqueray) is a London Dry Gin, in honour of the Savoy’s location; the other is Australian, just like 52 Cocktails. Specifically, it’s McHenry’s, a Tasmanian drop that pitches itself as a ‘classic dry gin’. Drunk neat, the Tanqueray has more of a floral nature than the McHenry’s, which (perhaps oddly enough) seems drier and earthier than the London Dry. But in a cocktail? Wow. What a difference. Here, the McHenry’s comes into its own, enlivening the already floral notes of the drink to new heights, while the Tanqueray makes it taste almost medicinal. And this, dear friends, is why it’s essential to have many kinds of gin (and whiskey, and tequila, etc) on hand; because sometimes a cocktail that seems a bit ‘meh’ may end up being wonderful if you just switch the brand or style of spirit. So keep experimenting – that’s the spirit!

THE ABBEY

INGREDIENTS

45ml dry gin

22ml Lillet Blonde

22ml freshly squeezed orange juice

1 dash orange bitters (be careful with the bitters – any more than a dash will overpower the drink)

GLASS

Cocktail glass or coupe

METHOD

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

TASTES LIKE

Well, that depends on which type of gin you use – and, although we haven’t actually tried this out, we dare say it depends on which type of orange juice and orange bitters you use, too. Done right, this is the kind of orange-based drink you’d like to have with brunch – light, refreshing, and innocuous. Done wrong, it’s a heavy-handed version of a screwdriver – drinkable, but not as enjoyable.

RECIPE BY

Although this recipe first appeared in the Savoy Cocktail Book, this version comes from The Architecture of the Cocktail by Amy Zavatto (Harper Collins, 2013).

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Paradise

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‘It seems a bit presumptuous to call a cocktail “Paradise”,’ said 52 Cocktails’ CTO (Cocktail Tasting Officer). But that was before he took his first sip. This ambrosial, old-world drink was first printed in Harry Craddock’s 1930 classic The Savoy Cocktail Book and we think it’s time it had a revival. It’s the kind of drink you can picture a 50s starlet sipping while draped across as chaise lounge making bedroom eyes at you; sunny and bright yet luxurious, sophisticated and sexy all at the same time. Paradise, indeed.

INGREDIENTS

30ml gin

15ml apricot brandy

15ml freshly squeezed orange juice

dash of lemon juice

GLASS

Your fanciest cocktail or coupe glass, dahling.

METHOD

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker that’s half-full of ice. Shake hard, then strain into the glass. Garnish with a lemon wheel if desired.

RECIPE BY

This version appears in Margaret Fulton’s Book of Cocktails & Party Drinks (Octopus Books, 1984). For more about this book, click here.

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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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Campden Cocktail

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Short, sharp and sophisticated, just like this recipe, the Campden tastes like something a 1920s flapper girl would have drunk at a real-life Great Gatsby party.

INGREDIENTS

1/2 Dry gin (we used 30ml)

1/4 Cointreau (we used 15ml)

1/4 Lillet (we used 15ml)

GLASS

Cocktail – for best results, chill it first

METHOD

Shake everything with loads of ice. Strain into glass and sip while saying something sassy.

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY

Daaaaahling, any idiot can make this one. Be a dear and fetch me another, would you?

RECIPE BY

This recipe is from The Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock (first published 1930 by Constable & Co; this edition published 1987 by Spring Books).

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