Category Archives: Alcohol Specials

Dinner at a Mexican. Drinks there too!

So themed restaurants… What’s the deal?

Well sometimes I like a change. A change is good right?

This post is all about the ‘outing’ for my 26th birthday. I’ve always wanted to go to Chiquitos and try their cocktails, and as I rarely get to treat myself to a meal out; I felt it was the right time for a Mexican.

First let’s talk about the food, it’s unusual for me to discuss food on this blog I know, but for the sake of this post please allow it…

“Southern Fried Chicken breast and BBQ Pulled Pork”

…with skin on fries, onion rings and coleslaw.

This one of many choices from their Tex-Mex menu, it wasn’t too spicy but had just enough kick to let you know it had something about it. Pretty much everyone in our group had pulled pork of some variation on their plate so we definitely worked them hard on this dish.

A classic Mexican dish, like those you can expect to be served at Chiquito's
A classic Mexican dish, like those you can expect to be served at Chiquito’s

It was a great tasting meal. One which, when compared to other similar restaurants (such as Frankie & Benny’s) was far superior in every way. The member of staff we had was friendly and happy to help however he could, as well as suggesting the best way for us to order so as to save a little more money. So to summarise: Fantastic food, fantastic service and overall a fantastic day out.

Chiquito - A fantastically themed Mexican Restaurant & Bar.
Chiquito – A fantastically themed Mexican Restaurant & Bar.

So now let us move on to important section: the cocktails…

The first thing I do in places like this, is pick up the drinks menu and flip straight to the cocktail section. No, not because I’m set to get hammered, but I in fact like to have a brows and see what cocktails they have from a professional point of view. You can really tell a lot about the companies stance on cocktails from their menu: If it’s just classic cocktails like the Margarita and sea breeze then you know they don’t really care as much as they should (you’ll also find their beer/wine selection is rather large too). However if they have some themed cocktails and even a nice selection of the relevant themed spirit (in this case it’s a Mexican restaurant so Tequila would be the spirit of choice) then you know they have thought a lot about what they can offer and what cocktails are within the theme. Unsurprisingly I prefer the latter when I check out a restaurant.

If I go to an General American (U.S.A.) themed bar, id assume bourbon/vodka drinks would be the specific spirit, likewise I went to an Italian restaurant I’d like to see some Amaretto, Limoncello, Grappa & other aperitif’s on the menu. It’s a simple case of fitting the specific spirits to the theme, something a lot of restaurants do not tend to do (I find Frankie & Benny’s are guilty of this among others).

Chiquito’s have a very extensive collection of ‘themed’ and ‘neutral’ cocktails, as well as having different sections for vodka, rum and, of course, several pages dedicated to tequila (including the very nice touch of offering a cheeseboard style selection of their ‘premium’ tequilas).

Even with all the choice on offer (around 14 pages give or take), from great sounding cocktails like: “The June Bug” and the refreshingly sounding “Key West Cooler”. Yet it was surprisingly easy to pick the first cocktail the “Dark ‘N Stormy”.

Now in my true ‘Rum bandit’ form, I went straight to the Rum section of the menu. This was met with what can only be called ‘fate’. At the top of the list, was a pretty looking recipe going by the name of “Dark ‘N Stormy”.

Now I’ve been making these at my home with real (freshly squeezed) lime juice, fiery ginger beer and a whole host of sugar syrups/cordials for flavour tweaks (my favourite recipe is below)…

My Favoured Home-Made Dark ‘N Stormy Recipe

2 measure Kraken Black Spiced Rum

1 measure Elderflower cordial

½ measure lime juice

Top up Sainsbury’s Fiery Ginger beer

Build this drink in the order given, over ice in a tall Collins glass. Top up with the ginger beer and stir before serving with 2 straws and a lime wedge for garnish.

So naturally I felt impelled to try this first. I see from the menu that they make it with proper Bermudan Rum, Goslings Black Seal Rum – no less, and mixed in with Goslings Ginger Beer.

Now that’s all well and good (COCKTAIL SNOB ALERT), but the picture shows it also having a lime wedge floated on top (in an attractive jam jar glass as well) but there is NO mention of the Falernum that should ideally be involved (although in almost all cases simple sugar syrup would be used – although they make no mention of this either)…

Note: Sugar Syrup/Falernum (slightly alcoholic Bermudan sugar syrup), are in fact optional ingredients and as such did not affect the review at the end of this post…

As far as I could see their typical recipe is as follows:

Chiquito’s Dark ‘N Stormy

1 measure Goslings Black Seal Rum

Top up Goslings Ginger Beer

Wedge of lime to garnish.

Now this recipe is basic, at best. Taking into consideration the prices and the fact that the drinks come secondary to the food; the drink is pretty good. Simple and effective, it’s not going to win awards, but what they lack in detail they make up for by serving it in the pretty jam jar glasses.

Although technically speaking the above recipe is the classic Dark ‘N Stormy recipe, the drink I was given contained no lime, in fact the first one had a lemon slice instead. Whilst it may only look like a superficial mistake, the taste the lemon (or worse yet a lack of lime) gave to the drink skewed the flavour slightly. It is a shame as they are one of the very few places licensed to sell Goslings in the UK. The only thing I will say in their defence is that it was first thing on Easter Sunday that we had this meal. And as such, I shall return next week to see if the lime improves the flavour from the drink I had (in which case I shall publish a re-review of the cocktail).

Next up: Mai Tai.

Now this cocktail is rather famous as rum based exotic cocktails go. Bought for me by my friends (after several ‘this is the one I will have next’ comments) this drink was slightly longer and fruitier than expected. Also it’s worth noting that there was a flavour I could not quite put my finger on, and it kind of ruined the drink if I’m honest. All in all it came down to the drink having too many flavours and nothing to tie them altogether (like some fresh lime juice for example).

Compare these two very different recipes:

Classic Mai Tai recipe:

1 measure White Rum

1 measure Golden Rum

1 measure Dark Rum

½ measure Lime Juice

½ measure Orgeat Syrup

½ measure Orange Curacao

Top Tip: this is the most universally accepted ‘Trader Vic’ style Mai Tai.

Chiquito’s Mai Tai recipe:

Bacardi Rum

Triple Sec

Apricot Liqueur

Pineapple Juice

Grenadine Syrup

Note: I couldn’t gauge the amount of each ingredient used in the Chiquito recipe, although I assume it was similar measurements to the classic (with some fruit juice to lengthen the drink).

The thing with the Mai Tai is that back during the day, the recipe was kept secret. This mean recipes had to be made by taste, and well, let’s just say sometimes you’ll get Pineapple juice, but most of the time (rightly so) you wouldn’t.

The problem I have here is that the drink was slightly too sweet, and there was nothing holding all the flavours together. If you work for Chiquito’s then take note: take out the pineapple juice and maybe try something like cranberry juice, although it would be further from a Mai Tai, it would taste ten times better (especially when you add in the lime juice). I suppose the thing with ‘tiki’ style drinks like these is that tropical juices have the ability of lengthening the drink, without taking away from its exotic taste, which is obviously what they’ve gone for.

I believe that is what Chiquito’s have done with their version, made it both economically viable as well as easier on the alcohol so it is more popular among those not use to it (people who will try it when eating there – as opposed to off the street drinkers).

Next up: the Alabama Slammer

This cocktail is vodka based but still slightly fruity. I thought this to be a pretty good end to the trials, as it was rather exotic but also had a slightly deep south feel.

Chiquitos Alabama Slammer recipe:

Eristoff Vodka

Southern Comfort

Disaronno Amaretto

Orange Juice

Grenadine Syrup

Note: Again I couldn’t gauge how much of each ingredient was used, but I’d imagine it was 2 Vodka, 1 SoCo, ½ Amaretto, 2 OJ and ½ Grenadine… although that’s just an educated guess…

Now for the hard part… Let me explain: As with most cocktails, especially ones not commonly known, the difference in recipes can be endless. Most of these recipes use the same ingredients, but in different amounts, whilst some use completely different ingredients altogether…

The most consistent recipe I could find actually included Sloe Gin:

A classic Alabama Slammer cocktail recipe could be:

1 measure Southern Comfort

1 measure Vodka

1 measure Amaretto

1 measure Sloe Gin

2 measures Orange Juice

Dash Grenadine

Top Tip: the vodka and SoCo measures in this drink are interchangeable. If you prefer more SoCo then balance the alcohol more to your tastes, just make sure it still works out to the same measure amounts, i.e. 1.5 measures SoCo – ½ measure vodka).

Note: For any of you out there thinking “that sure looks a little like a Long Island Iced-Tea” you’re kind of right as some people do in fact call it the Long Island Iced Tea of the south…

Chiquito’s Mexican Bar & Grill; a summary of the day…

So Chiquito’s is a well-known bar/restaurant chain over here in the UK, arguably not as popular as Frankie & Benny’s (although they are both owned by the same parent company!). My personal preference (along with most of my friends’) is Chiquito’s. This is not just because of their superior menus (both food and drink menus are much more thought out) and food quality, but also the quality of their staff. The members of staff in Chiquito’s always seem like they enjoy working there, which I always find is better for morale in any business (and its customers). You also get a sense of knowledge from most of their staff.

In regards to the food served this time around, there was not a complaint to be found. The cocktails were good quality for the establishment in which they were served. Let’s face it; you don’t go to restaurants like this and expect the best cocktails in the world, but you still expect quality. And they were good enough for the quality you’d expect.

Whilst not necessarily all the classic recipes, they have added their own flavours and given them a tex-mex vibe. This makes the drinks a little longer, and arguably easier to drink with the meals, but they make up for this by having a large variety of cocktails using different spirits.

The Tequila: How Mexican do you want to go?

Tequila is by all accounts the most common spirit associated with Mexico. And as a Mexican themed restaurant, you’d assume that chiquito’s would have some variety in the tequila they serve. This is something they have not overlooked. When walking into the bar area and looking across the copious amount of bottles on display you’ll notice the big names; Jack Daniels, Eristoff Vodka, Goslings Black Seal Rum. But look closer and you’ll also see a rather extensive collection of Tequila’s. These brands are listed here (please forgive me for any missed, I didn’t have time to write all of them out):

Jose Cuervo Especial,

Jose Cuervo Clasico,

Gran Centenario Reposado,

Cazadores Anejo,

Patron XO Café,

Don Alvaro.

Tequila’s ranging from the brand leading ‘Jose Cuervo’ to the Ultra-Premium brand ‘Patron’ as well as a taster selection: choose 4 of their tequila’s to try with various complimenting flavours (citrus fruits & cinnamon).

Picture taken from www.Chiquito.co.uk: an example of a tequila samaple board.
Picture taken from http://www.Chiquito.co.uk: an example of a tequila sampling board.
I find this a perfect way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo!

Now for the cocktail reviews: This is a new feature and I’ve tried to be critical, but in a fair manner.

Dark ‘N Stormy

Recipe:

1 measure Goslings Black Seal Rum

Top up Goslings Ginger Beer

Wedge of lime to garnish.

 

Price: £5.50

Presentation      6.5/10

Ingredients         5/10

Taste                     5/10

Overall                 5.5/10

Mai Tai

Recipe:

Bacardi Rum

Triple Sec

Apricot Liqueur

Pineapple Juice

Grenadine Syrup

 

Price: £5.50

Presentation      3/10

Ingredients         7/10

Taste                     5/10

Overall                 5/10

Alabama Slammer

Recipe:

Eristoff Vodka

Southern Comfort

Disaronno Amaretto

Orange Juice

Grenadine Syrup

Price: £5.50

Presentation      5/10

Ingredients         8/10

Taste                     7/10

Overall                 6.7/10

These scores were given from a critical point of view. Although personally the Dark ‘N Stormy was my personal favourite, it was, overall, the bottom rated of the three. The Alabama Slammer benefitted from a nice garnish (the stemmed cherry added a little class to an otherwise dull drink).

The differences between the Alabama Slammer and Mai Tai were minimal, except for a slightly different taste (which you’d expect seeing as one is a rum based cocktail, the other a vodka one) but not enough to tell the drinks apart. This would not be a big issue if it were not for the fact that the drinks looked exactly the same! Minus the cherry of course!

Champagne cocktails – more than just Bellini’s and Mimosa’s

A Bit About Champagne:

So you’re on your way to a party/event at your friend’s house, you’ve been looking forward to this for your entire week. It’s their 21st birthday and you know they have a cocktail party planned. But you hope they don’t expect you to drink champagne. You hate champagne.

As you walk in you are offered a flute glass full of a colourful bubbly liquid… Oh crap. You hate champagne you hear yourself say, but there is something different. You take a leap of faith and try the drink. You’re hit first off with the horrible champagne flavour you’re more than accustomed with but then something different, something floral, is it apple? No, Elderflower, and the distinct taste of raspberry. The light pink hue should have given it away, but you thought it was that novelty pink champagne. Then you notice everyone’s drinks… Greens, blues, reds and more pinks like yours.

“I hate champagne…” you hear yourself say “…But I love this”…

Before we continue… I would like to make it very clear that Champagne is a sparkling wine with a geographical protection (like stilton cheese, and those Cornish pasties) and this means that the word ‘Champagne’ is only aloud to be used by companies making sparkling wine within the ‘Champagne’ region of France and other companies that do not stick to this region are, by law, not allowed to advertise their product as a champagne. There are some fantastic products out there that are not allowed to ‘honour’ of being called champagne, but in my opinion are far better in quality. No matter your feelings on sparkling wine, find a product you like and try some of the recipes out.

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Champagne has a long standing reputation for the glamorous a sophisticated…

I have a friend I work with who will do almost anything for his favourite branded bottle of champagne, even more so when they are on offer (you know who you are!). In a complete contrast I stand in opposition; preferring a supermarket brands Prosecco, Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference (TTD) Prosecco Conegliano to be precise.

In my experience, the protection ’champagne’ has allows companies to charge ridiculous prices for their rather bog-standard product (with the exception of some of the more well-known brands). Reverse-wise some of the best Italian Prosecco and other worldwide sparkling wines are just as good as some of the lower scale champagnes. So for the remainder of this blog, whenever I use the word champagne I do not just mean champagne, I mean sparkling wine in general.

Champagne cocktails are as much about enjoyment as they are about flavour and appearance. No one wants to drink foul tasting cocktails, and I know a lot of people that do not appreciate champagne enough to disagree with the post’s opening scenario… However there is more to champagne than serving the bottle’s contents in a glass and forcing everyone to drink it. Champagne although not primarily made for it, is a fantastic cocktail mixer. It has a better depth of flavour than lemonade and is generally a better choice than the foul soda/tonic waters flooding the supermarket shelves.

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A glass of champagne is all about glitz and glamour. If you’re handed a glass of champagne at a party, socially, you know you’ve made it…

This brings us onto the cocktails themselves and there are many varied, famous cocktails. Almost all of which hold some sort of colourful back-story as to how they were invented, however for the premise of this blog I am far from interested in the stories. I’m more interested in the cocktails and their recipes. Now discarding the recipes with what I like to call ‘dangerous’ ingredients (ingredients people generally shy away from when making cocktails at home; such as egg whites), the recipes to be discussed here are generally fruity, floral drinks with a very easy-to-consume nature about them.

The Cocktails:

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The best thing about cocktails can be their colour and ‘WOW’ factor. Champagne cocktails have this going for them more so than any other cocktail…

We’ll start with the classics like the Kir Royale and the mimosa. Then go onwards to the lesser known and more complicated cocktails; such as the Clicquot Rico and Shanghai Fizz.

The main thing to remember with these cocktails is that they can be expensive to test at home (champagne is very expensive and even some of the cheaper cava’s can cost around £10 per 75cl bottle) so you may want to try a few out and about at first to get an idea of what flavours you prefer, then you can cut the cost a little.

“A smart drinker is a happy drinker”

Top Tips:

1)      Whilst no ice is used in champagne cocktails, you should chill the champagne in the bottle thoroughly prior to use.

2)      Unless otherwise stated these drinks are built (poured in one by one) in the serving glass.

3)      Whilst using cheaper alternatives to Champagne (Prosecco, Cava etc…) is perfectly reasonable, where necessary, champagne brands that are in the original recipe for the cocktail will be named (i.e. the Veuve Clicquot in the Clicquot Rico). Feel free to still use the cheaper alternative if you want/need to.

Mimosa

2 measures Orange Juice

1 measure Champagne

This drink is the one cocktail everyone thinks of when you mention Champagne cocktails. The Mimosa is thought of as a bit of a light cocktail – purely because of the lack of any serious amount of alcohol. This is not really a bad thing as it makes it perfect for those fancy soirees where you want to keep guests sober for the majority of the night. However the downside is that whilst it is simple, it can become rather boring rather quickly (not to mention people who have an Orange Juice allergy – it does exist and is more common than you might believe).

You may be part of the majority of people that believe a Bucks Fizz is the correct name for the above recipe but, sorry to say, you would be very wrong. If you lower your gaze all shall be explained:

Bucks Fizz

2 measures Orange Juice

¼ measure Plymouth Gin

1 small dash Cherry Brandy

Top Up Champagne

Now this is the true bucks fizz. Rumour has it this was made back in the 1920’s for a captain ‘Buck’ and named after him. Of course nobody knows for sure, but little stories like this always add something special to a drink. The Bucks fizz as you can see is similar to the Mimosa and this is why the confusion becomes popular. Whilst Supermarkets sell bottles of ‘Bucks Fizz’ you’re actually drinking a Mimosa (that’s a little quiz fact for you right there).

Shanghai Fizz

20ml Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice

35ml London Dry Gin

15ml Lychee Syrup

1tbsp Sugar syrup

Top up Rose Champagne

Shake the first 4 ingredients over ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Top up with chilled rose champagne, then garnish with a white orchid petal (this is a bit uppity but it really shows some class, however a white rose petal will do just fine).

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Red is the colour of passion, and none is it more so than in a Rose Champagne cooler. Enjoy the class, but enjoy the flavours more so…

Bisou Bisou

25ml Cognac

1tbsp Vanilla Sugar

1 passion fruit, you just need the seeds.

Top up Champagne.

This cocktail adds a little tropical flavour to your otherwise classic champagne cocktail. It’s surprising what a little passion fruit and a splash of vanilla sugar…

Bellini

25ml Peach Puree

Top up with Champagne

The more inventive people reading this will want to blend up their own, but it is equally as acceptable to use pre-made puree (try funkin’ white peach: http://www.thedrinkshop.com/products/nlpdetail.php?prodid=2490))

Top Tip: It’s best to use the shallower cocktail glasses as opposed to the traditional flutes purely because it’s easier to keep the puree mixed in with the champagne in the shallow ones.

Classic Champagne Cocktail

This is the original champagne cocktail, and is by far the most ‘old-fashioned’…

1 white sugar cube

2 dashes of Angostura bitters (or bitters in a flavour of your choice)

20-25ml Cognac

Top up with champagne.

Dab the sugar cube with the bitters and drop into the flute. Then add the cognac and then add the champagne just before serving. Fill completely.

This cocktail is a fantastic example of the classic cocktail culture, the different levels and depths of flavour help make this drink what it is. This is a cocktail you should all try. Even if you don’t like it you can say you tried one.

Kir & Kir Royale

25ml Crème de Cassis

1 sugar cube

Top up with sparkling wine (for a Kir)

Top up with Champagne (for a Kir Royale)

Pour the Cassis into the flute, drop the sugar cube in, and once it has soaked up some of the cassis (once it goes purple) add the sparkling wine/champagne.

This drink gets sweeter as you drink it and is rather popular among party goers…

Here’s a little fact for you: The Kir and Kir Royale are pretty much the same drink. The only discernible difference between them is that the Royale uses Champagne and the Kir uses sparkling wine. Obviously the Royale was used to impress guests of over pretentious party hosts, allowing them to let everyone know they had enough money for quality champagne and not just any old sparkling wine. Whilst back in the early days of sparkling wine production champagne was most certainly the best quality, these days certain sparkling wines are just as good as, if not better than, some top champagne brands…

 Prosperity

25ml Gin

1tbsp crème de cassis

2tsp Elderflower cordial

25ml Golden grapefruit juice

Top up with Champagne

This cocktail is a little more complicated but the flavours more than make up for it. You shake the 4 ingredients in a shaker over a little ice and strain into a flute glass. Top that up with champagne and you have a very floral fruity, but tart champagne cocktail.

Top tip: Try switching up the elderflower cordial for St. Germain Elderflower liqueur, and the cassis for blackcurrant cordial (Ribena is a good shout) for various, subtle flavour changes.

The last 4 cocktail recipes are more hybrids of other cocktails mixed with champagne… not all work but some, some are fantastic. These are the latter…

The Mimosa Wallbanger

50ml Orange Juice

12.5ml Vanilla Liqueur

12.5ml Vodka

Top up with Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference Prosecco Conegliano

One of my own recipes, this cocktail is a perfect blend between a Mimosa and a Harvey Wallbanger. It adds a small amount of extra class to an already suave drink. The added fizz makes it a little more refreshing and tad-lighter on the palate…

Peach & Gin Champagne Fizz

12.5ml Gin

12.5ml Peach Schnapps

Top up with champagne

Whilst no the most exotic and original of names, this cocktail blends stronger alcohol with the champagne to give it a little kick, but adds the fruity peach flavour to help make it taste a little bit fantastic.

Ginger Champagne Cooler

3 Strips of pickled ginger (use fresh ginger if unavailable)

2 tbsp. Vodka

Top up with well-chilled quality champagne.

This cocktail spices things up a bit and adds a little fire into your drink. Not for the faint of heart, this drink will catch you unawares and punish you if you’re not careful. Drink it responsibly and you’ll love it.

Perfect for a cold autumn night (or a fancy summer shindig).

Bellini Blue

15ml Peach Schnapps (i.e. Archers/Teichenne)

15ml Blue Curacao

Top up with a quality sparkling wine.

This cocktail combines both the classy Bellini with that cult favourite liqueur: Blue Curacao. This drink becomes a citrusy, fruity bright blue cocktail. Serve with ice cold sparkling wine…

Clicquot Rico

25ml White Rum

50ml Pineapple Juice

Top up with Veuve Clicquot Champagne

This cocktail may seem a little old fashioned, but that’s the beauty of it. When combined with ice cold champagne, the otherwise dull rum and pineapple comes alive. It has a warming feel thanks to the rum, and a slightly exotic feel thanks to the pineapple, add in the champagne and you have pure class.

Top tip: Veuve Clicquot is rather expensive (£30+ in most supermarkets, even when on offer). Another option for those on a budget is a light and refreshing Prosecco (Try Sainsbury’s TTD Prosecco Conegliano – it works quite well).

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All the ingredients you need for a Clicquot Rico, just add rum. Try using different rums (white, gold, spiced, dark) and find your favourite…

Next time on the Fervent Shaker Blog:

“So why are supermarkets tapping into the cocktail market?”

“Is there any need for this tapping up of liqueurs by the big supermarkets or are they just out for profit?”

“Do supermarkets indirectly aid the rising popularity in cocktails across the UK?”

“What role do supermarkets play in the current state of the UK ‘cocktail scene’? And what part will they play in years to come?”

All these questions and more, coming in the near future with my blog post:

“Supermarkets & Cocktails: A bitter truth or sweet dream?”

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Asking what roles the supermarkets are playing in the UK cocktail culture. An important question for all those with an interest in the cocktail culture here in the UK…

I’ll be looking at the growing part supermarkets are playing in the cocktail culture of the UK. As well as trying to shed some light on how flexible their choices are when it comes to the products they sell… Between now and then keep an eye out for cocktail recipes; I’ll be posting individual recipes as I find/try them. Keep mixing folks!

Licor 43 (Cuarenta Y Tres): The Jewel of Southern Spain…

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Licor 43: Cuarenta Y Tres… Why all the fuss?

My first encounter with this seductive liqueur was about 6 years ago, purely by chance too! I ordered Cointreau, and instead, out came this rather yellowy-gold nectary glass containing what I now know to be called: Licor 43. Alongside which was a small glass bottle of Pepsi, ready for me to serve… Now I was a bit confused, but considering I had just paid for it, I certainly made the most of it. Now as you can imagine I had no clue as to what it was I was drinking, all I knew was that it tasted bloody amazing.

Here in this focus I want to get across to every one of my readers 2 things;

1)     That this little known liqueur is looked over by many individuals, and rarely comes out to play.

And:

2)     That this liqueur can help create some of the (arguably) best cocktails in the world. Simple, yet eloquent cocktails that make you wonder why you never tried it before.

So please, read, and enjoy (and as usual feel free to share your opinions/feelings/thoughts and anything else you want to share about this topic at the bottom of the post)…

The first website I went to gather information was the official Licor 43 website: www.licor43.com and there I was greeted with the customary age input you get with all the alcohol sites, but this is where the similarities with other alcohol (spirit especially) websites; After it loads, you’re met with this fantastically vibrant and contemporary home page draped in black and gold. It really is a great welcome by the liqueur company and you’re sure to remember it well into the future. But even this eye catching design, they feel, isn’t enough: that’s right you’re met with this wonderfully melodic piece of music that, for lack of a better, word is perfect for the website & the liqueur.

Once you take a few seconds to steady yourself, you can begin to explore the relatively simple but effective pages of the site. I started with the cocktails, for obvious reasons (they taste great by the way) but for all intents and purposes I shall discuss the history first.

The History of Licor 43

As with every liqueur company their histories are almost always somewhat exaggerated, like a game of Chinese whispers that got out of hand; it starts with ‘my auntie gave me the recipe’ and ends with ‘my auntie gave me the recipe, but did so whilst saving my family from a hoard of giants and dragons’… Needless to say you should always take these with a pinch of salt…

Licor 43’s history is not as ‘flowered up’ on their official website, and started off with humble beginnings. Created by a group of entrepreneurs; two brothers (Diego & Angel) and a couple by the name of (Mrs) Josefina Zamora Conesa & her husband Emilo Restoy Godoy Licor 43 started off small and became well known locally.

Working hard together, and pioneering advertisement techniques in southern Spain at the time (including TV, radio and even vehicle ads), they turned a small liqueur company into the single most successful Spanish liqueur ever created. It became the highest sold/consumed liqueur in Spain before hitting the European and world markets (sold in a total of 55 worldwide markets, present day).

The Taste Of The Real Southern Spanish Gold:

‘O Tono Con Todo’ meaning “The Tone With All” – Licor 43 is Spain’s biggest International Success.

Licor 43, or “Cuarenta Y Tres” as it is known locally (and to almost anyone who can pronounce the words), is a golden-yellow liquid made with 43 individual ingredients. The flavours you get when drinking it, consist primarily of vanilla and citrus but there are also subtle notes of spice and an almost aged-rum like quality, but overall the liqueur is very sweet. This however does not detract from its mixability or overall taste/flavours.

As the website suggests, it’s made to the highest quality and cannot be imitated, and has a smooth finish that not only allows it to become a possible drink for all palates but it makes it easy to mix into almost any other liquid, should it be other spirits (for cocktails), coffee, cola’s or even milk!

Whilst it is an easy liqueur to mix, you should never just presume that it works the same as a vanilla liqueur. However, as long as you take into account the subtle spice flavours as well as the citrus, you will be able to create more complex flavours in your cocktails.

Other Funny Little Things:

So I speak to people about this liqueur all the time… And every time I’m met with a blank stare and simply asked: “What’s this Licor 43 then?” along with “never heard of it” … Now this always gets to me because I have a well held love for this liqueur and have done since I first tried it about out 6 years ago. I feel the biggest problem with this, and the reason hardly any one knows about it in the UK is that it’s not sold in many bars or supermarkets, which is a big problem for myself. This is the problem with almost any product you want, or want to share with people; you are limited to what the supermarkets or other vendors are willing to sell.

The shame here is, in my opinion (as a bit of a cocktail snob), that i would replace Galliano (a vanilla liqueur) with Licor 43 in almost 99% of the relevant cocktails – purely because, in my opinion, it tastes better as well as helping to develop more complex layers of flavour in a drink. From simple concoctions such as the Harvey Wallbanger to the more complicated maidens kiss, Licor 43 adds that extra layer and again, in my opinion, adds something special to any drink it’s in.

Licor 43 is the most famous Spanish liqueur, revered by bartenders across the world...
Licor 43 is the most famous Spanish liqueur, revered by bartenders across the world…

So what about the liqueurs aesthetics I hear you shout!? – Don’t worry if you didn’t, I’m going to tell you my thoughts anyway!

So as you can see from the picture above it is a golden-yellow liquid and its stored in what is, in my opinion, a simple yet stylish bottle. It does have one of those annoying pouring regulator plastic things in the neck of the bottle but sometimes (although definitely not all the time!), especially with thicker/denser liqueurs like this, it can be of help. Taste wise, its mainly vanilla and citrus you get, but if you try it again and again, you’ll eventually come across the spices in the drink as well. This is a well-balanced liqueur that, as shown by its sales history in Spain alone, is probably one of the best in the world. It’s unique in both its flavours and their balance, not to mention great in a simple Pepsi mix, or even complicated cocktails.

You can buy miniatures from this website: (usually around £2-£2.50) … http://www.thedrinkshop.com/products/nlpdetail.php?prodid=5748

Now this is the link for the miniature(s) of the drink, but there is a link on that page for the full 70cl bottles (around £18/£19) and they can be purchased there. If you want to give it a try, grab a couple of miniatures and get mixing, pick one of the following cocktails and let loose. Eventually you’ll find something you like and I promise you won’t regret it!

Licor 43 Cocktails: Mix Up Something Special…

Key Lime Pie Martini

–       1 measure Licor 43

–       1 measure Key Lime Juice

–       2 measures Cream

–       2 measures Vanilla Vodka

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker, and shake vigorously for about 1-2 minutes. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Enjoy.

The vanilla from the vodka and the citrus from the lime juice help extract both the vanilla and citrus flacours from the licor 43, This frees up the spices/other flavours the licor 43 contains to be tasted in the drink.

Hedonism 43

–       1.5 measures Licor 43

–       4 measures Pineapple juice

Licor 43 is perfect for this sort of summary drink. The smoothness of Licor 43 is really apparent in mixes with juice like this… Try using the same amount of Orange Juice instead of pineapple for a completely different, but still fantastic, tasting cocktail!

Vanilla Dreamiscle

–       1.25 measures Licor 43

–       2.5 measures Orange Juice

–       1 tbsp brandy

–       1 tbsp milk

Shake all the ingredients well, and serve over ice in a chilled glass.

Perfectly smooth, this drink oozes class. The vanilla and citrus flavours in the Licor 43 blend well with the brandy and orange juice, and adding the milk just adds a little creaminess to this drink to make it perfectly smooth.

Licor 43 is so smooth, it can be mixed with almost anything, from Soda's to milk and every thing in between (even Coffee!)
Licor 43 is so smooth, it can be mixed with almost anything, from Soda’s to milk and every thing in between (even Coffee!)

43 Pina Colada

–       4 measures Pineapple Juice

–       3 measures Licor 43

–       1 measure coconut cream

–       ½ measure Malibu/coconut liqueur. (Optional)

Shake all ingredients well over ice. Pour (no straining) into a chilled glass and drink through straws.

43 Caipirinha

–       2 measures Licor 43

–       2 measures Light (white) Rum

–       ½ teaspoon White granular sugar

–       ¼ Lemon, sliced

In a cocktail shaker muddle the lemon with the sugar until most of the sugar dissolves

Then add the Licor 43, Rum and crushed ice and shake.

Pour, without straining, into a chilled glass and add a splash of soda water.

Now this drink is a bit naughty, as it takes out the one ingredient that makes it a Caipirinha; The Cachaca (a spirit distilled from sugar can in South America)… However in an attempt to make it at least resemble the original drink it does include white rum (a North American equivalent to a sugar cane based spirit).

This drink is included because it tastes great (trust me I’ve had a few of them in my time), but also to make a point.

Cocktails like this are all about experimenting with what you have on hand. In South America they made this drink’s Father (Classic Caipirinha) into a classic. Now all over the world you can order a Caipirinha and enjoy its refreshingly crisp taste. However, this specific ‘offspring cocktail’, as shown above adds something a little special that the original doesn’t have: a more complex flavour…

As you can see from the recipe, its preparation is remarkably similar to that of a Mojito (minus the mint) and in this case, it’s shaken only due to the high density of Licor 43.

My advice to you when making this brilliant cocktail is to not be afraid to meddle with the amount of sugar used. For some, the licor 43’s sweetness will be enough but for others not so. Try different amounts of sugar, or even different sugars (in my opinion a Mojito tastes better with demerara sugar not white and the same goes here) but in the end you need to find your own flavours and the best way is to try things out…

Pro Tip: for a smoother drink, try using caster/superfine sugar instead of the granulated kind.

The Gold Standard

–       2 measures Gold Tequila

–       1 measure Licor 43

–       ½ measure Curacao Orange Liqueur (Triple sec also works well here)

–       ½ measure Sweet & Sour Mix

–       ½ measure (Freshly Squeezed) Orange Juice.

Using Curacao Liqueur is obviously the best move for this drink, but in the case of you not finding any orange curacao (the Blue curacao is most readily available but will ruin the aesthetics of the drink) use Triple Sec liqueur instead (it’s made by the same method only its slightly stronger and clear).

43 & Tonic

–       4 Measures Licor 43

–       2 measures fresh Lemon juice

–       Top up Tonic Water

Build the ingredients over ice, add the tonic water and stir well to mix. For some added bitterness add 2 dashes of angostura before the tonic, for some added sweetness add a ½ teaspoon of sugar syrup at the same point. Enjoy.

From shots to Tall iced teas, Licor 43 is extremely versatile, why not try it out?
From shoots – long iced teas, Licor 43 is extremely versatile, why not try it out?

So to close, i just want to say one thing: Some of you have probably heard of Licor 43 before, and most of you won’t have… Either way i hope reading this has opened your mind to both it’s quality as a standalone liqueur, and at the very least given you some cocktails you’d like to go away and try.

Just please go out and give it a try, you won’t regret it, I promise you that much!

A Tale of Cointreau Part 3: Why not try these for your own personal enjoyment?

cointreau1

Cointreau is used the world over in some of the most successful cocktails ever created. And even when it’s not the main ingredient (such as a Margarita – where triple sec can be used in its place) it brings something special to that drink, that only Cointreau can. My aim here in this part of the focus is to show how Cointreau can be mixed with virtually all of the main alcohol ‘genres’ (whisky, brandy, vodka, rum, gin etc) and how well it can be implemented in your own experiments.

So what about some cocktail recipes for you to try out with that lovely brown square bottle you’re sure to go out and purchase this Christmas?…

Well here are a few of the classics (which just happen to be some of my favourite drinks)

Margaritamargarita

  • 20ml Cointreau
  • 35ml Tequila
  • 15ml Lime Juice

Cosmopolitanrecette-e17408-cosmopolitan-cocktail

  • 40ml Vodka
  • 20ml Cointreau
  • 20ml Cranberry Juice
  • 10ml Lime Juice

Singapore Slingsingapore sling

  • 30ml Gin
  • 15ml cherry brandy
  • 120ml pineapple juice
  • 15ml Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice
  • 7.5ml Cointreau
  • 7.5ml Benedictine
  • 10ml Grenadine
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • Garnish with Slice of pineapple & a maraschino cherry

Kamikaze220px-Kamikaze

  • 1 part Vodka
  • 1 Part Cointreau
  • 1 Part Freshly squeezed Lime Juice
  • Lime wedge to garnish & serve over ice.

White Ladywhite lady

  • 20ml Cointreau
  • 20ml Lemon juice
  • 40ml gin

Daiquiristrawberry daiquiri

  • 15ml Cointreau
  • 15ml Fresh lime juice
  • 45ml Mount Gay Rum
  • 10ml Sugar syrup

Pegu Club Cocktail pegu club cocktail

  • 3 parts Gin
  • 2 parts Cointreau
  • 1 part Fresh lime juice
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • Lime Wedge to garnish

So as you can see, Cointreau is extremely versatile and can be mixed with virtually any type of alcohol and due to its citrus fruit heritage it mixes extremely well with any citrus juice (especially lime juice it seems).

Whether it’s mixed with pineapple juice in some Caribbean tropical cocktail or some Mexican classic (Margarita) or even some Christmas Pimms cup, Cointreau is extremely useful to have in your collection and can give you something Triple Sec could only ever dream of: unsurpassed flavour.  (likewise for Agave Sec – but that’s a matter for another time).

Merry Christmas everyone, and please remember to drink responsibly. And feel free to leave me any comments should any of you try Cointreau out in your own concoctions.

A Tale of Cointreau Part 2: You don’t sell Cointreau? Who the hell do you think you are!

cointreau1

So what is Triple Sec? … Triple sec is a liqueur alcohol made from bitter orange peels and can be bought from almost every supermarket and most corner shops too. But here’s the thing, whilst Cointreau is technically a triple sec (in the very loosest of terms), it is, by all accounts, something so much more.

A lot of people (uneducated people) will tell you that there is no real difference. They are wrong. Cointreau is much more than just another triple sec (it’s a brandy based liqueur for a start). Its history alone is enough to sure up that statement. For over 150 years Remy Cointreau (the owning company of Cointreau) has made Cointreau in the same traditional way it always has. Now whilst you’ll probably never find out what exactly goes into the bottle you buy (due to protection of the ingredients – most alcohols from the big brands are protected in this way). What you will be able to find out is that Cointreau uses both Sweet and Bitter orange peels (standard triple sec only uses bitter peel), and adds sugar to get it to the texture and taste you know and love.

Now apart from its obvious cocktail connotations, Cointreau has solidly become a bit of a Christmas favourite, at least it has over here in the UK. It has all of the citrus flavour you’d expect from a Yule-tide beverage, but the sweetness helps mix it with the dryer more traditional spirits (such as sherry and port).

The Christmas Spirit (excuse the pun) has been greeted with open arms, and we all know the supermarkets like to battle it out for the best offers but the important bit is about what they sell.

With a list of spirits including various vodkas, whisky’s, and liqueurs (such as cherry brandy, amaretto and of course the favourites such as Benedictine, Drambuie & Glayva), the people of the UK are spoilt for choice when it comes to Christmas’ spirit offers. But one drink that should always be on your list is, of course, Cointreau. Not some £10 (cheap) bottle of triple sec, but a bottle of Cointreau (its usually about £12-14 per 50Cl at this time of year).

If you take one thing away from this blog today it should be to at least give Cointreau a try. I personally guarantee that the flavours you get from the drinks you have will be better for it. Cointreau is one of those liqueurs that just give you that extra something and for this reason it should be one of the main spirits you have on your Christmas list.

So to summarise… Cointreau has something that other triple sec liqueurs have (quite literally as the ingredients are secret!). It’s because of this that it has become not only one of the UK’s favourite liqueurs, but it is a favourite from all over the world.

The balance of the sweet and bitter peel works well together and is a lot easier on the mouth when you drink it neat. Some liqueurs can be a bit overpowering and that can take away the flavour. However the sweetness within the Cointreau helps balance the flavours better, making it easier to taste the citrus peels and their bitter-sweet balance.

As a side note, I would like to add that another ‘triple sec’ product worth a mention would be Agave Sec. This is an orange liqueur like Cointreau but its flavoured with Agave syrup (the same plant used to create that Mexican wonder: Tequila. It is similar to Cointreau in that it becomes opalescent when added to water (or over ice in a cocktail for example). This for both Cointreau and Agave Sec is a mark of real quality as it shows the levels of oils and volatiles from the orange peels/agave syrup is quite high in amount.

A Tale of Cointreau: Part 1: Why make it personal?

Cointreau – “A supremely high quality triple sec” – this is a simple statement of fact. Albeit a very linear fact!

cointreau1

If you are reading this thinking: ‘yeah Cointreau is just a triple sec isn’t it?’ then firstly slap yourself, and make sure you take notes. Cointreau is NOT ‘just another triple sec’ by any stretch of the imagination. Triple sec is a liqueur flavoured with orange rind (and sometimes other ingredients but for the sake of this post we’ll stick to oranges), ‘but so is Cointreau isn’t it?’ I hear you say… No is my answer. Cointreau is not ‘just a triple sec’, it’s the original triple sec, the first and most original orange liqueur. Sure in the loosest of tongues it can be put under the heading ‘triple sec’ (I’m guilty of doing so myself on occasion) but for all intents and purposes, it is much, much, more than just a triple sec, it’s a way of life. A taste of France, of fresh oranges both sweet and bitter, as well as a few secret ingredients that make the taste even better (I find that mystery in a recipe always improves flavour – must be a psychological thing).

Now Cointreau is the focus of this post for one main reason: It’s special to me. It is, to me, that sense of origin & quality, a starting point on my passionate road for all things spiritual (in a cocktail sense).

I was formerly introduced to Cointreau on a night out when I was just 18 and working for my local supermarket in Chatham (Kent, England). At the time a Russian roulette game of ‘try something new today’ was my method of exploring alcohol. I was young, impressionable and had more money to burn than I’ll ever see again. Armed with that and a young naivety that my supermarkets then motto ‘Try Something New Today’ should be my personal motto of choice when out drinking (or eating) I set out on an adventure, to be different, to not force foul tasting larger/beer/draught ales/wine on my taste buds (they’re foul because I tried and detested all of them in turn). I discovered things I liked, and things I hated. But most importantly, I discovered my first true love: Cointreau.

Now granted the first time I drank it was in a ‘Cointreau, Lime & Lemonade’ concoction that I now know to be sacrilege (they used lime cordial – I mean come on!) but all the same, the minute I got the taste of the orange liquid on my tongue, I knew, I knew this was the spirit for me. So I bought a bottle of it the next time I finished work (I bought 2 bottles to be totally honest) and set out to make and try as many variations of beverages I could find on either the net, or in books or just literally in my mind. Some were ok, others awful. But whatever the drink, I always got the bitter-sweet symphony of orange flavour that Cointreau supplies, even if it tasted like liquid fertilizer (and sometimes they weren’t far off). Every time without fail that same citrus fresh taste was there, almost as a reminder for me to keep trying; Telling me to carry on experimenting and find the ‘cocktail’ for me. Now of course I tried cocktails wherever I could, and commemorated this dialogue to memory: ‘Anything with Cointreau in it that isn’t a margarita’ – a downside to the ‘Try Something New Today’ era of my life, I cannot stand tequila at all (there is always a casualty of such behaviour – tequila was such a casualty).

Eventually I found some cocktails I liked, back then my taste buds where still developing and it was hard to pin down my exact preferences, and as with most people I gained a regular. If the place I went to didn’t serve it, I reverted back to; “A Cointreau, Lime and Lemonade then please!” and whilst it wasn’t perfect, I found it satisfied the need for that bitter-sweet taste.