Long Island Iced Teas – not *just* a route to a drunken you…

The long island iced-tea is one of those cocktails that, when ordered, will get you contemptuous looks and pure anger from some ‘mixologists’. Now the problem is that they, in their ‘infinite wisdom’ think people that order a LII-T are just wanting as much alcohol in a glass as possible (with a splash of coke). Now whilst in some places this is true, I’d like to think better than that. Sure it is a drink that is kind of asking for it (containing no less than 5 different strong spirits), but look past the high alcohol content and look at the actual ingredients and you have the recipe for something potentially fantastic…

Here is the classic Long Island Iced-Tea recipe:

1 measure Vodka

1 measure Gin

1 measure Rum

1 measure Tequila

1 measure Triple Sec (or Cointreau)

1.5 measures Lemon Juice

2 measures Sugar Syrup

Top up Coke Cola

Top Tips: For a perfect amount try using 15ml as one measure (so 15ml of each alcohol, then 21ml for the lemon juice – about half a small lemons worth – and 30ml sugar syrup). Measured right it should allow you to add a couple of large splashes of Cola, allowing for a more potent flavourful drink.

As you can see this cocktail has the means to be quite potent, and mistreated it can result in very a drunken you, very quickly. However treated with respect, and measured/served properly and this drink is one that can be savoured and enjoyed to its fullest. Meant for kicking back on a beach somewhere in Bali, this cocktail offers a refreshing taste I’m yet to find with any other cocktail (yes, including Mojito’s)…

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Mixing 5 parts alcohol and a little sugar, makes this a great refreshing and relaxing drink, perfect for bring out the sun in any weather…

Now in keeping with my philosophy of ‘if you haven’t got all of the ingredients, improvise’ this recipe was privy to one of my improvisations recently. Now at a recent event (https://theferventshaker.wordpress.com/2013/03/03/a-secret-soiree-in-margate-old-town/) I did not have all the ingredients available for this classic recipe, so I created a work around. Based on the Original Iced Tea method, of building in a glass, over ice, I used the following recipe:

My Tweaked Long Island Iced-Tea

15ml vodka

15ml White Rum

15ml Silver Tequila (Tequila blanco)

20ml Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice

30ml Sugar Syrup

1 large dash of Amaretto Liqueur

Top up with Coke Cola

Now as you can see this recipe starts off the same as a classic LII-T, but the lack of lemon juice, gin and triple sec meant I had to improvise. Now the use of amaretto liqueur and sugar syrup means this drink is rather sweet, but a simple ‘too-taste’ rule when adding the sugar syrup would be a smart move: If you find this amount too sweet, cut it down slightly until you find it perfect.

I feel that the addition of the Amaretto gives this drink a nice hint of almond, just underneath the alcohol. The layers of rum, vodka and tequila (especially the rum and tequila) come through more, as the floral notes of the gin are not there. Add to this the crisp nature of the lime juice and you get rid of the nasty alcohol taste (you know that taste at the back of your throat). This drink, in my and my friends’ opinions is well balanced and arguably better overall than the classic recipe. Although that’s something you’ll have to decide for yourselves!

Virgin Cocktails – For those abstaining from the joy of alcohol: Suffer no more.

So the Catholics have a new boss, a merry leader for their merry men. Well as we all know he’s all about opposing alcohol consumption (In large quantities at least). Well just for him, and in honour of his orders slightly outdated views, I have come up with some fantastic Non-alcoholic cocktails (commonly called ‘virgin cocktails’ or more popularly ‘mocktails’) with the assumption that anyone can then enjoy the process of cocktails and not become inebriated and cast shame upon themselves in the eyes of the roman catholic church…

But first; a bit about non-alcoholic cocktails…

Virgin cocktails (or Mocktails as they are commonly known) are becoming ever popular, especially in an age of the ever growing health conscious types.

Whether it’s because you are the designated driver and don’t want to be left out, or whether you just don’t like alcohol (What?) there is a ‘virgin’ cocktail for you.

From virgin versions of classics such as the Virgin Mary (a non-alcoholic take on the Bloody Mary), Virgin Daiquiris, Margaritas as well as hundreds of specially created recipes, there is bound to be something to your tastes.And to be completely honest, some of the non-alcoholic cocktails I’ve seen in my time are equally, if not more, impressive looking than a lot of their alcoholic relatives.

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A collection of ‘mocktails’ showing off their flair and exuberance, proving that they can look every bit as stunning as their alcoholic cousins…

Now just for clarity’s sake, virgin cocktails are not just fruit juice and lemonade, nor are they strictly non-alcoholic versions of actual cocktails, they are a mixture of specially created recipes that look and taste like cocktails would, but contain 0% alcohol. (Some example recipes can be found at the bottom of this post).

Now let us look at a few facts:

Our world is an aesthetic one, where women think a size zero is pretty (it’s really not) and cake tins double up as a facial mask applier (Hint: They don’t. Less is more trust me). So it makes sense that health conscious individuals would start up about alcohol consumption (it’s no secret too much is bad for you). With this in mind and especially when the Pope-Elect Francis I is now the actual Pope, I thought I would give you all a heads up on some of the best Virgin cocktails or Mocktails out there.

Recipes, Recipes for all!

Safe Sex on the Beach

3 measures Cranberry Juice

3 measures Grapefruit Juice

2 measures Peach Nectar

Build this drink over ice in a tall Collins glass, garnish with 1 maraschino cherry (Peach puree will do if you cannot get the nectar).

Virgin Strawberry Daiquiri

1 measure fresh lime juice

3 measures of sliced strawberries in syrup (or juice)

1-3 teaspoons of sugar (to taste)

Blend the ingredients over iced and serve in a chilled glass, garnish with some whipped cream.

Virgin Mary

75ml Tomato Juice

12.5ml lemon juice

1 dash Worcestershire sauce

Celery salt

Ground pepper,

Tobacco sauce

Celery stalk (optional)

Pickled gherkin (optional)

This cocktail is a classic but without the alcohol. You build it in a glass over ice as normal, and add the seasonings to taste. Garnishing with a celery stick and gherkin, this virgin recipe looks just like its alcoholic counterpart.

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Using the power of colour, mocktails can sometimes shock and awe. Losing absolutely no flavour to their design means they taste as good as they look…

Virgin Margarita

1 measures orange juice

1 measure lime juice

3 measures Sour Mix (lemon juice, caster sugar & water boiled down to syrupy texture)

Shirley Temple

1 measure Grenadine

Top up Ginger Ale

Build over ice in a rocks glass. Garnish with a wedge of lemon.

Virgin Caipirinha

1 lime, diced

1 lemon, diced

1 orange, diced

2 teaspoons caster sugar

Top up ginger ale.

Very gently muddle the diced fruit with the caster sugar. Top up with ginger ale and garnish with a sprig of mint.

Cranberry Quencher

1 part cranberry juice

1 part orange juice

2 parts lemonade

Build in a Collins glass, over ice and top up with the lemonade.

And now, one for all of you thrill seekers out there… there may be no alcohol involved, but after you knock it back, you may be glad of that fact…

Prairie Oyster

1 tablespoon tomato juice

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Pepper

Vinegar

1 egg yolk (only use eggs marked with lions)

In a small glass add the tomato juice and Worcestershire sauce. Add a grind of pepper and a couple dashes of vinegar. Float the egg yolk on top and try not to think too much when you drink it…

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Using no food colourings whatsoever, you can tweak traditional lemonade recipes and add in different fruits, sugars and other flavours. Why not try some herbs and spices? Experiment and come up with a new soda…

Hopefully this goes some way to helping out you non-drinkers. Whether you hold a party and want to join in, or just want an alcohol clean event that has something a little different. Either way the fact remains: cocktails = fun; alcoholic or not.

Next time on The Fervent Shaker:

What makes a great sangria? Traditional recipes? The best fruits? Or skilled techniques when making them? – All i know is that the next blog will give you a little information about both traditional and contemporary sangria recipes, including a couple of my very own white win sangria recipes. Look out, its touching down this Easter…

The Black Russian – Strong and dark is how we like them…

The Russian cocktail brothers, white and black, are a little unbalanced in popularity. Purely because the classic white Russian (see: https://theferventshaker.wordpress.com/2013/03/12/the-white-russian-a-classic-cocktail-from-the-very-cold-east/) is slightly different; using light cream/milk which dilutes the alcohol and makes it more palatable..

Let me explain:

The original ‘Black Russian’ recipe is as follows:

1 measure Kahlua

1 measure Vodka

Serve over Ice, in a rocks glass.

And that’s it!

As you can imagine it’s a very strong, almost naked cocktail, when compared to the ‘slightly diluted’ white Russian (simply add 2 measures of cream/milk for a White).

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Using just Kahlua and Vodka, this cocktail is dark and mysterious… When you try it, you’ll find out why… (picture taken from http://www.kahlua.com)

This is not to say it is a bad cocktail, quite the opposite in fact; its flavours are perfectly balanced, especially if you use high-grade vodka (none of that paint stripper smelling kind – try Green Mark or Grey Goose).

However that’s not to say you cannot dilute a Black Russian to make it more palatable…

The best way to serve a Black Russian but in a slightly diluted state is as follows:

1 measure Kahlua

1 measure Vodka

Splash of fresh citrus juice (lime/orange/lemon/grapefruit)

Top up with Cola.

Serve over ice, in a Collins glass.

Top Tip: use just a splash of the citrus juice, and just before serving for the best results.

Now here comes the dilemma; as with all drinks using cola as a mixer, what cola brand do you use?

Well simply put, you use the brand you like best. In my experience I find that in drinks like this, longer more flavourful cocktails, Coke Cola works the best, and that’s said from someone who normally prefers Pepsi in everything.

That’s my personal opinion but I’m sure a supermarket brand cola would work just as well if you prefer that. Give it a try and let me know what your thoughts are below…

As a closing statement;

Whilst the White Russian is far more popular than its Black counterpart, they are both great drinks in their own right. Basically you just pick a side: Milk, or Cola. Milk = White, and Cola = Black… Regardless of your choice: Enjoy it 😀

The White Russian – A Classic Cocktail from the Very Cold East…

The White Russian, as it appears, is synonymous with well-to-do folks drinking at high-end soirees. Seen in movies such as: ‘How to lose friends and alienate people’, ‘the big lebowski’ and many others, the white Russian often comes across as a cool drink that upper-class/cool people tend to order.

This cocktail is a relatively famous thanks to Hollywood; like the Martini, it is only known as well as it is because of its movie tie-ins. Now i concede that the Martini would arguably be well just as mainstream without 007, but the white Russian, however, is a bit of an oddity and as such it may possibly have been overlooked by many…

The recipe explains this more than I ever could in words:

Classic White Russian recipe:

1 measure Vodka

1 measure coffee liqueur

2 measures Fresh Semi-Skimmed (2% fat) Milk.

This recipe straight away screams a warning: mixing milk and alcohol?! – But try it out and you’ll be suprisingly impressed! It’s sweet, creamy and delicious, a cocktail with something special going for it: it’s different.

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Before mixing, a White Russian certainly looks different, and once mixed its the flavours that mix with the milk that create something a little special…

The combination of cream and vodka, reminds one of a nice mellow alcoholic milkshake brand; Mudslides (Mudslides here in the UK were very popular once upon a time). And when you mix in the coffee liqueur you get an alcoholic café-latte-type drink, that will be pleasant for those not use to strong alcoholic cocktails.

This cocktail is forever a classic, one you will hear of at least once in your life and if that time is now, then I suggest that you try it whenever you next get the chance. The flavour of this cocktail will reward your wise choice ten-fold.

Give the recipe above a try, and if you are finding it a little difficult to get right take a look below for some tips:

Tips when making The White Russian cocktail at home:

–          Don’t restrict yourself to milk. Try single cream, double cream, or combinations of the three (single cream and milk works particularly well)…

–          I tend to stick to semi-skimmed milk (2% fat) but again try things for yourselves and find your preferred recipe (although try to keep away from skimmed (0.1%) milk, or the 1% (orange top) milk some supermarkets are selling now…

–            Try different Coffee Liqueurs. I always use quality where I can, but sometimes a small budget dictates a compromise. Here in the UK some supermarkets have their preferred ‘discount brands’, of liqueurs like Coffee, Limoncello and even Amaretto. Try some out. I prefer Kahlua out of all the brands I’ve tried but it is expensive at £15-20.

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!

A Secret Soiree in Margate Old Town…

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A busy day at Margate Beach

Margate is a wonderfully quaint little seaside town on the eastern tip of Kent (a county in the UK – for all you non-UK readers) but for those of you who are not acquainted with this sometimes lovely little town here are a few photos, in the form of a Google search…

https://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&q=margate,+kent,+uk&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.&bvm=bv.43148975,d.d2k&biw=1366&bih=643&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi&ei=gIIzUbHVJq2a1AWc_oHwDA

Once you’ve seen some of those pictures, imagine this:

                Walking along the Margate sea-front, box of cocktail equipment in hand, leftover tequila, white rum and even a bottle of Prosecco (which remained un-opened in the end) all included, I meander along the path, to be pleasantly surprised by my friend Dan (no relation) who was waiting for me after picking up a small mountain of ice for the Soiree. We both walked back to his house and as we walked in we were both met with a chorus of ‘Woos’ and ‘Dan!’ all from one of the other co-hosts excited to see the cocktail prep could begin. Now I would like to make it clear that at this point, it was around 5-5.30pm and the Soiree did not really get going until around 7-8pm.

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Like walking into a literal time machine, this part of Margate almost feels magical…

After the disappointment of the poorly organised wine and wisdom night (https://theferventshaker.wordpress.com/2013/02/21/wine-wisdom-cocktails-slight-distraction/), I had been looking forward to this event purely because I knew it had been planned well. I know the hosts well enough to expect an exceptionally well organised night both for me and the cocktail serving but also to maximise the enjoyment of the 40+ attendees.

Before I can do any prep work, I’m shown around the house. First up the main room; where I would be set up. This room also included interactive music, determined by the people in the room at the time (allowing for more personalisation of the evening for the guests – a great idea that really worked well). Then I was taken into the two-tier ‘rave’ cellar and considering it was just 2 brick built rooms the last time I saw it, the neon lights, fairy lights and luminous paint (along with the slightly later addition of strobes and lasers) made this the very club-vibe up beat part of the event.

This two level club-like look really worked and considering the 40+ people attending, was also necessary!

Onwards to the cocktails now:

I started prepping the cocktails and the ingredients needed from around 6pm. This included washing anything I hadn’t done at home, laying out my equipment (knives, strainers, shakers, jiggers etc.) and then of course the softening & cutting of the limes. The alcohol was kept in a make shift bar, an emptied bookcase worked surprisingly well, combined with a large unused table provided me with a sturdy work surface. With people not turning up (generally) until around 7-8pm I offered to make a few test cocktails for the hosts and the music suppliers.

Cocktails tried included the dark n stormy, sex on the beach and (because of a lack of gin/lemon juice) I also served up a tweaked version of the Long Island Iced-Tea (see below [cocktail no.9] for the recipe). This helped me ease into a sense of security and when people started actually turning up I was in my element. For all intents and purposes I had my own bar for the night. Working cleanly and efficiently (and under a great deal of pressure from almost all of the guests at one point) the cocktails started flying of the shelf (quite literally).

I had written the recipes down in one of my handy little notebooks and this allowed people to read what cocktails were available. This not only freed me up to concentrate on the cocktail making process, but also allowed the guests to have a good look at the ingredients and the name of the cocktails, helping them understand what was in each one. This was a little Idea I thought I’d try that also seemed to ease up some time for me to concentrate on the cocktails.

I had planned on serving 8 different cocktails, with a varying amount of flavours and tastes (sweet, sour, dry etc.). These cocktails were a combination of tried and tested recipes along with recipes that I knew would be well received and then one of my own (purely to see if was as well received as it was at the Shindig South of the Border – https://theferventshaker.wordpress.com/2012/11/28/the-songwriters-shindig-south-of-the-border/).

These cocktail were as follows:

1)      Dark ‘n’ Stormy

2)      Harvey Wallbanger

3)      Mojito

4)      Sex on the Beach

5)      Hawaiian Bay Breeze

6)      Tequila Sunrise

7)      White Russian

8)      Sonoran Iced-Tea

And the addition of:

9)      My tweaked Long Island Iced-Tea.

These cocktails, as you can see, are a combination of classic and contemporary recipes with a little variance in the themes. The mojitos are light and refreshing, whereas the white Russian is a creamier coffee flavoured cocktail. Whilst the Hawaiian Bay Breeze and Sex on the beach are similar in their ingredients, the simple addition/replacement of the ingredients drastically transforms the flavours…

Overall I feel this collection best suited the night and the guests that attended where full of compliments of every recipe. In hindsight the only changes would probably have been the removal of both the Tequila Sunrise and Hawaiian Bay Breeze. These would be changed purely because of a) the tequila sunrise didn’t work with the small opaque plastic cups and b) the Hawaiian bay breeze was too similar to the sex on the beach for the guests to order. Looking at the recipes available with the ingredients purchased the best move may have been to use some more Mexican themed cocktails (tequila and pineapple juice based recipes may have been a good call) to balance the collection out a little.

That put to one side, the overall feedback was good and everyone kept complimenting me on my cocktails, which is a fantastic confidence boost – as I knew pretty much nobody there, and the people I did know had not really seen me in action.

The event as a whole didn’t just benefit me from a networking point of view in that my confidence with serving quality cocktails is improving all the time. The cocktails served were not only great tasting, but well made, and that is great feedback to have.  

As a further more personal note, having cocktails at an event like this, in the way it was done at this event, supplies your guests with a focal point outside of the norm. This can become a conversation topic as well as a general form of interactive entertainment.

 

Now onto the real bread and butter of this post: The Cocktails…

As previously stated the cocktails are a combination of all different flavours. These are not necessarily themed but do share a general Caribbean trend (light fruity juice mixed drinks)

Dark ‘n’ Stormy

1 measure Dark Rum (I used White Rum)

5 measures Jamaican Ginger Beer

I used Sainsbury’s white rum for this cocktail as dark rum is generally hard to find at a reasonable price these days. The only thing the dark rum will give you over the white rum is a larger depth of flavour, but if you use a higher quality rum (let’s use Havana Club 3yo for example) then the flavour depth is automatically quite deep, negating the need for dark rum specifically.

Top Tip: when on a low budget always try to accommodate the supermarket brands, you’ll find that the quality is just as good as some of the more ‘famous’ brands especially when mixing in cocktails…

Harvey Wallbanger

1 measure Vodka

1 measure Galliano

4 measures Fresh Smooth Orange Juice

This cocktail is a classic version of a classic recipe. It was not tweaked in any way and I think this is by far the best way to serve it. If you do not like the vanilla then you can cut it out, but then it becomes a simple Screwdriver. Either way enjoy this cocktail over ice.

Top Tip: this drink is better built in the glass over ice than shaken. You want to create a layered feel to the flavours and shaking the ingredients works against this…

Classic Mojito

60ml White Rum

15ml Sugar Syrup

8-10 fresh mint leaves

1 ½ lime in ¼’s

Top up Soda water/Lemonade

Build the ingredients in the glass you serve it in. Start with the lime and sugar syrup and muddle well, then add the mint and gently muddle. Add the crushed ice and the rum. Top up with lemonade and garnish with a mint sprig.

This cocktail is a classic recipe ONLY when the soda water is used. However my recipe calls for lemonade purely because I have not found a soda water mojito that I like. And I am more comfortable making this slightly sweeter version. This drink is meant to be refreshing so you must use fresh mint leaves. This cocktail just does not work with dried mint at all.

Top Tip: Just before you put the mint leaves in the drink, place them in the palm of one hand, and clap your hands 1-2 times. This releases the oils from the leaves without making the drink bitter.

Sex on the Beach

1 measure Vodka

1 measure Peach Schnapps

2 measure Cranberry Juice

2 measures fresh smooth Orange Juice.

Another built drink. This drink is all about depth in flavour and the best way to do this is to loosely layer the ingredients as you make the drink (over ice of course).

Top Tip: if your guests are planning on drinking this cocktail quickly (or if it’s served in small amounts) then stir gently before serving so they get all the appropriate flavours.

Hawaiian Bay Breeze

1 measure Vodka

1.5 measures Cranberry juice

1.5 measures Pineapple juice

This cocktail can be served either built or shaken. Either way the pineapple adds some Caribbean flavour to an already fruity cocktail. The cranberry and pineapple work perfectly to create an almost punch like feel to this drink.

Top tip: if shaking, double strain the cocktail as you pour it into the glass, taking out the unnecessary foam (from shaking the pineapple).

Tequila Sunrise

1 measure Silver Tequila

4 measures Fresh smooth Orange juice

½ measure Grenadine Syrup

This drink is as simple as it sounds. Build it over ice with the grenadine being dropped from about 1cm above the glass. The grenadine syrup will sink to the bottom and gradually work its way up the cocktail as you drink it. The idea being that the more you drink it, the stronger/sweeter it gets.

Top tip: if you want a bit more culture in your tequila sunrise try using a quality Gold Tequila to add some depth. Jose Cuervo Reposado Gold Tequila is a good shout, but any quality gold tequila will do.

White Russian

1 measure vodka

1 measure coffee liqueur

2 measures Single Cream

This cocktail is a tricky cocktail to make. It may look like it is going wrong but just persist and as long as the cream doesn’t curdle it will be perfect…

Build it over ice and stir before serving…

Top tip: I used my preferred coffee liqueur on this, and the best thing about using coffee liqueur with cream is that you really can be flexible. Try it with Kahlua, but Tia Maria and Soiree coffee liqueur work just as well.

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Sonora is a beutiful part of mexico, and This sunset encapsulates everything The Sonoran Iced Tea represents… A Refreshingly different slice of Mexican culture…

The Sonoran Iced-Tea

1 measure Kahlua (coffee liqueur)

1 measure Disaronno Amaretto

½ measure Silver Tequila

Garnish: ½ measure freshly squeezed lime juice

Top up with cranberry juice.

I have both built and shaken this drink, for the best blend I find shaking makes it lighter and negates the need for ice in the glass, whereas building it requires crushed ice. But please find the best way that suits your taste.

At this event I served the lime juice as a garnish (adding just after pouring into the glass/cup). Shaking the rest of the ingredients negates the need for ice and also saves time as you can serve it straight away.

Top tip: you can add the lime juice to the drink and shake or pour it in at the end; I just prefer the crisp lime flavour at the beginning. Please feel free to experiment and find the way that best suits you.

Bonus cocktail recipe:

My forced-tweaked version of the Long Island Iced-Tea

1 measure vodka

1 measure rum

1 measure silver tequila

1.5 measures fresh lime juice

2 measures sugar syrup

Dash of amaretto

Top up with Coca Cola (original not diet)

This drink was born out of a lack of gin, triple sec and lemon juice. It was not one of my planned cocktails but I was challenged by one of the guests to make up what I could with what I had, using the L.I.I.T. as a base. It was rather sweet and as far as I’m concerned it worked. The guest was happy and it spread like wildfire throughout the event, becoming better than most of the cocktails on the menu.

Wine & Wisdom … Cocktails & slight distraction…

Wine & Wisdom 13/2/13

The wine & wisdom event at my work was always a constant thing in the past, so when HR decided to start them up again, i asked if they wanted me along to make some cocktails. Thankfully they obliged, agreeing it would add something new to the experience (and also help me get some exposure through the work colleagues i have yet to speak to)…

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The Sainsbury’s I work for have started up their Wine & Wisdom staff quizzes again…

3 cocktails and a bucket load of questions no one knows the answers to…

1) A Classic Tequila Sunrise

2) A Hawaiian Bay Breeze

3) The Clicquot Rico

 

So the plan was to attend the wine and wisdom as a part of the competition but further to this during the break (around halfway through) I was to create and serve 3 cocktails of my own choosing. The alcohol was supplied by the company and any donations were towards comic relief.

The thought process was simple I was given a simple brief: 3 eye catching but simple cocktails. Something that looks good but at the same time wouldn’t take all night to create.

The first cocktails I chose for the event were the vibrant blue curacao type cocktails, those that shock and awe. But to be honest I thought this was far too obvious and would put to waste some of the more tasty cocktails out there. The cocktails mentioned above where set on after another think through. The Classic Tequila Sunrise is simple to make, but looks both elegant and quite striking. The Hawaiian Bay Breeze is rather simple both in creation and aesthetics but its flavour is far better than any breeze cocktail and even some versions of the sex on the beach. The elegance and sophistication really takes off in the final drink of the three; The Clicquot Rico…

1)      Classic Tequila Sunrise

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A representation of what a Tequila Sunrise ‘should’ look like…

 

So this is the cocktail I’ve been waiting to make at an event for some time, it was far too obvious for the Mexican themed party I did a while back and not cheap enough for the other event I did (tequila can cost a small fortune over here in the UK).

So the recipe I used was a ‘classic’ recipe, one almost every bar/cocktail enthusiast will use:

–          1 measure Silver Tequila

–          6 measures Fresh Orange Juice

–          ½ measure Grenadine Syrup (the proper stuff – try ‘Monin’ syrups)

This recipe is simple sure, but its visually effective as the grenadine instantly sinks to the bottom and then over time will work its way into the bulk of the drink, rising in an aesthetically pleasing reddish-pink hue(hence the name).

2)      Hawaiian Bay Breeze

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A couple of Hawaiian Bay Breeze’s

 

The Hawaiian Bay Breeze is a cocktail born out of experimentation. Replacing the orange juice used in most Vodka Sea Breezes this drink instantly supplies a Caribbean kick to a drink already made refreshing thanks to the cranberry juice. Not only is it far better in taste than a normal sea breeze cocktail, the pinkish hue the drink creates in a lightly lit room is something special (something orange juice and cranberry juice just cannot supply).

The recipe I used contains supermarket brand vodka, but any other medium-high quality vodka will work just as well:

–          1 measure Vodka

–          3 measures Cranberry Juice

–          3 measures pineapple juice

Served over ice this drink becomes a light and refreshing cocktail that is worthy of any event. This one in particular was by far the favourite of the three cocktails available at the wine & wisdom, out-playing the tequila sunrise by around 5-10 drinks.

3)      The Clicquot Rico

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A Glorious marriage of pineapple, rum and champagne…

 

This cocktail is a spin off from research for a future post, and is for all intents and purposes a champagne cocktail. The recipe I had used Veuve Clicquot champagne with rum and pineapple juice.

Mixing equal parts sophistication (champagne) and fun (white rum and pineapple) this drink encapsulates the very best of the champagne cocktails.

Whilst this recipe calls specifically for Veuve Clicquot, it is a rather expensive and inefficient mixer for an event catering for 50+ people; unless you’re flashed for cash in which case go for something even more expensive! – If things are the opposite and you find you’re on a tight budget then try using a good quality Prosecco. It gives the same experience with a little less body to the drink (generally speaking anyway).

At the Wine & Wisdom I used ‘Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference ‘TTD’ Prosecco Conegliano. This is a good quality Prosecco that is genuinely one of my favourite ‘budget buys’.

The original recipe:

–          1 measure White Rum

–          2 measures Pineapple Juice

–          Top up Veuve Clicquot

My ‘tweaked’ recipe:

–          1 measure White Rum

–          2 measures Pineapple Juice

–          Top up TTD Prosecco Conegliano

All the cocktails were well received and enjoyed by everyone that tried them, granted the Clicquot Rico was the least consumed and that was mostly down to everyone taking the other two recipes and running off before I had them fully prepared. Otherwise the Hawaiian Bay Breeze was the stand-out favourite, the Caribbean flavour the pineapple brings to the drink, seemed to be the defining feature.

So to summarise; 

Whilst the event in general did not go as i had envisioned (it was rather poorly organised on the companies part) the cocktails went down well and everything i had control over worked. Which for me is a small victory. It shows that people are receptive to the unique nature cocktails bring to an event. 

So then onwards to my next post. You may notice that one of the above recipes is a Champagne/Prosecco topped cocktail. Well my next post is all about cocktails that contain some sort of sparkling wine, whether it be renown Champagne brands, or the lesser known sparkling wines. To whet your appetite, as it were, here’s a little spoiler:

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. “

Thank you for taking the time to read my work and until next time, take care 🙂

A Sonoran Iced-Tea Please… A Taste Of Mexico In Your Glass!

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A classic Mexican mix, but with a little electric twist…

At the party ‘south of the border’ (https://theferventshaker.wordpress.com/2012/11/28/the-songwriters-shindig-south-of-the-border/) I was tasked with concocting a drink at very short notice. Now given choice of alcohol was restricted to the party’s specific Mexican theme. I wanted to create something with a Mexican feel, but, at the same time, offered something a little different. So I tried mixing the coffee with cranberry. The combination of just those two flavours would have been too dry, but by adding the amaretto the drink has the sugar to balance the cranberry and coffee as well as that extra layer of flavour (with the almond).

Overall the drink balances out well, and is both crisp and refreshing in equal parts.

People would have you think that the cocktails we now call ‘classic-cocktails’ were well researched, highly thought out masterpieces. Whilst in some cases that’s true (and in my opinion they are all pretty much masterpieces) for the most part, they are a result of pure experimental work. And this is exactly how this one came about.

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A lovely refreshing cocktail. Give it a try and drop me a comment or two…

Im not saying this is a classic cocktail, im not that big headed, but it does have something a little different about it, something that I feel most classic cocktails have. In all my years drinking cocktails (I’ve had more than my fair share) I’ve never had a cocktail that tasted quite like this… The Sonoran Iced-Tea is a carefully layered cocktail that hits you in stages of flavour. First you smell the coffee liqueur, then you get hit with the fresh fruity flavours and the dryness of the cranberry. Finally you finish with the Tequila and Coffee liqueur. The main thing about this drink is that it makes you think. It looks like a normal summer evening drink, and it is, but it has a hidden flavour surprise and that’s what I strive for.  Give them a try and let me know what your thoughts are. It was very well received at the event, but always I look for feedback where possible!

The more perceptive of you, will notice that the recipe I included in the Mexican Party post did not include the tequila… This is because since then i’ve had time to refine the cocktail to help balance, as well as add to, the layers of flavour…

Sonoran Iced Tea

2 measures Coffee Liqueur

2 measures Amaretto

1 Splash (1 teaspoon) of silver tequila

½ measure Lime Juice

Top up with Cranberry Juice

Shake  the first free ingredients well (until the shaker ices up), then top up with the cranberry juice. Serve in a highball glass filled with ice.

Planters Punch – Another great Caribbean delight…

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The Planters Punch cocktail is unmistakably Caribbean in heritage and like you would expect, its perfect for mild beach evenings.

The recipe for this is a very complicated mix of sweet, sour and tart. And in no way is that a bad thing…

Planters Punch Classic Recipe:

45ml Dark rum

35ml Orange Juice

35ml Pineapple juice

20ml Fresh Lemon Juice

10ml Grenadine

10ml Sugar Syrup

2-4 dashes Angostura Bitters

This is the classic version I took from the cocktail books in my library (a cupboard in the kitchen). However as some people find Dark Rum a bit overpowering, you can substitute any rum you are accustomed to (be it Bacardi’s standard white rum or a nice Havana club 7 Anejo or even Captain Morgan’s Spiced)…

However due to restrictions in my own cabinet, I could only make this the once. So I decided to tweak the recipe to suit my dwindling range of spirits…

My own tweaked Recipe:

45ml Kraken Black Spiced Rum (remember this bad boy?)

35ml Grapefruit Juice

35ml Pineapple Juice

20ml Fresh Lime Juice/lemon juice (personal taste)

10ml Grenadine

10ml Sugar (Vanilla flavoured)

2-4 dashes Angostura Bitters

My version was slightly tarter and a little brisker on the taste buds, but on a nice summers evening it’s just as thirst quenching as the original. Don’t get me wrong, the original is fantastic and I suggest you try that before mine, but my recipe is proof that experimenting to what you prefer is what mixology is all about (this point is a constant theme throughout my blog posts). The idea that not every cocktail is going to be liked by everyone, but with a small tweak (sometimes the addition of a mixer) even the most disliked drink can be made favourable.

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Mixing fruit into a planters punch is like mixing up a Pimms, add in what you like and dress it up as much as you want… Just make sure it tastes good first…

Impassioned By Cocktails