The Songwriters Shindig south of the border

‘Tequila and lime… may or may not be involved…’

So for the second instalment I thought I feed back to you the Mexican themed party I attended for my friend Jack. He asked me to help him create some special themed cocktails for a party he had arranged for some of his university buddies. Now I am not a stranger to parties, nor to catering cocktails for them (I refer you to my first post). But this one is different. It’s the first one I had to cater for that was not directly for my group of friends. I knew of a couple of the attendees but only through passive meetings.

Now the cocktails for this party were all Mexican in theme (sticking with the theme for the party overall), using the various flavours and alcohols Mexico is famous for (I.e. Coffee, tequila, chilli & lime to name a few). From the fruity ‘Twisted Lemon Mojito’ to the quite painful ‘El Agua del Diablo’, the drinks for this event were perfectly themed.

List of cocktails on the menu: (a * denotes those taken from cocktail books – the others are my own recipe)

–          Twisted Lemon Mojito

–          Classic Tequila Slammer

–          Monterrey Martini

–          El Agua del Diablo

–          Good Morning Paloma

–          Tijuana Slinger*

–          Mexican Mule

–          Navajo Trail*

–          El Dorado Fountain

–          Mariachi Music Maker

–          Mexican Fizz*

–          Yellow Bird*

Whilst not all of these were served (Its hard to serve a set menu at a student party it seems– who’d have thought it?), some other ‘off menu’ recipes were made as well as a few improvised creations, for example a lot of people wanted standard mojitos (Which is fine with me as I love making them, and feel I can make a far superior version than most bars will serve you)..

Refreshing, Crisp, It's the sonoran Iced Tea.
A refreshing take on an iced tea, but jazzed up with a bit of classic Mexicana…

The choices leading towards the recipes chosen for the menu were made to represent the spicier more raw side of Mexico’s culture (tequila and chilli etc…), but as the party continued, it was obvious that a disdain for anything pure Mexican was in the air (a disdain for the stronger, shorter tequila based drinks) and centred more on ‘longer’ cocktails, making use of the vast amounts of mixers available. This was not really a bad thing, as it allowed for more experimentation and for the attendees to get involved with the making process much easier.

Here, give it a try, and remember, take your time!

Thanks to this experimentation, and the demand for a longer drink, I was able to create one particular cocktail I’m quite proud of. It’s been dubbed the ‘Sonoran Iced Tea’ – although does not contain many of the ingredients you’d find in a classic iced teas – another blog dedicated to this cocktail. The recipe can be found above.

I attended the event for 3 hours, and during that time I created some great cocktails, but more importantly I showed others how to make them, although It’s not even worth taking a poll to see that the mojito was the most favoured drink at the event (everyone wanted a Mojito!).

Once you show people how to mix a cocktail, they can appreciate it more as they enjoy it. The best thing to remember is to explain it as you make it, especially if they want to know. For example; in the mojito’s case, explain why you need certain amounts of sugar/mint/soda etc… They can then experiment to their own tastes and also know what flavours to mix and what ones to keep away from.

Whilst this was my secondary aim, it was an important one, as I wanted to see how easily people can take to a simple cocktail recipe, and how willing they are to adapt it to their own tastes.

As I always say, cocktails are all about experimentation. No cocktail would ever have been invented had it not been for experimentation. The sea breeze would not have occurred if someone had not tried to mix different fruit juices to different spirits.

Anyway, message here is that experimentation is integral to any Mixologist, you just need that little bit of passion and a little curiosity. Either way you need to realise quickly what works and what doesn’t. If you can do that, and do it well, you stand a good chance of creating something special.

So that’s the feedback and feelings resulting from my 2nd ever event! Hopefully you all found it interesting; I shall be doing some smaller easy reading blogs about cocktail recipes I like. Including the new star on the block from this party the ‘Sonoran Iced-Tea’ until then…

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A Blue’s House Rock & The Engineers Stiletto

The Fireplace Bar
“The shabby fireplace became a source of great nights and joyous cocktails…”

An interesting time in a house we stayed at once, for two years – The highlight of my university

This is my first post, so please bear with me. I’m going to start with one of the most prominent memories of cocktails I have; the last week of my university life (Its was just one of those nights you know?).

So I had gotten into mixology and cocktails way before I went to university, and let’s just say university, it seems, is the best stage for such a hobby. My spirit collection tripled over the space of 1 year. Once I’d found a house to share with my 3 other house mates it was a simple case of commandeering the rather shabby looking fireplace and turning it into my personal bar.

It was this bar that became the stage for the ‘One last goodbye’ we had for our final year and this ‘shabby fireplace’ became the source of great nights and joyous cocktails.

Now I’d done a lot of research by this point, my course over and I had the need to reduce my alcohol collection considerably as my father refused to have that much in our house (uneducated fool I hear you shout – I know I did!).

So with the stage set, props ready for drinking, and characters set for arrival, the only thing needed was a selection of specifically picked drinks (to make the most of all the alcohol I had, and with the minimum amount of purchases of extra) and the fruit punch.

Now I chose upward of 80 different recipes, which may sound a lot, but it was purely so there was something for everyone.

–          A selection of 20 ‘Mocktails’ (although I hate that title) for the couple of non-drinkers,

–          5 classic cocktails (Classic versions of the Martini, Mojito’s etc.),

–          20 Shooters (Shots to most of you out there)

–          And finally 40 different long/proper cocktails, about 70% of which are my own recipe. The other 30% are from various sources (mainly cocktail books I’ve purchased).

Now as I’ve said this brought a required diversity to the recipe pool, but it also helped make the most of the alcohol at hand. A bulk of the recipes were, of course, longer mix-heavy drinks but this was again to cater to the more ‘student’ side of the cocktail world. Not to mention those used purely for novelty value (like the ‘Alien Secretion’ which as it sounds is luminous green and rather stunning to look at in the dark – it almost glows!).

Moving on to the fruit punch, (which was a bit of a masterpiece even if I do say so myself!) I tried to get a few of the people who frequented our house involved, partly to halve the time it took to make, but mainly because I wanted them to see

a)      How easy it is to make (so they would make use of such a recipe for their own party) and,

b)      How much fun, making a fruit punch/sangria could be!

Using a basic white wine sangria recipe as a base, you can chop and change the fruit used purely to suit your own tastes and even add some quite exotic and different fruits purely for the effect you get (Stunned silence and gasps of awe are a really good sign!).

The recipe I used for this one, was a large collection of stoned, soft and pipped fruits (mainly apples, peaches, plums, strawberries etc.) and these help bulk out the liquid and give a bit of a summery bite to an otherwise boring bowl if not. Now you don’t have to have jugs or bowls available as you can just use a big clean tub of some sort (we used a 10 litre Tupperware box – you know one of those stacking ones). Add all the ingredients and chill (in our case we prepared it about 1hr in advance and half hour before everyone turned up we just chucked 1KG of ice in). Then add the alcohol (once everyone has arrived – so the alcohol has not been watered down) so everyone can get involved and see what’s going into the mix. In this case the alcohol & mixers used were:

–          1 £5 bottle of White Wine (70cl)

–          35cl Supermarket brand Dark Rum

–          50cl light Bacardi Rum

–          70cl Bacardi ‘Oro’ Rum (Golden)

–          1L Orange Juice

–          1L Cranberry Juice

–          1L Pineapple Juice

–          2L Lemonade

The Sangria went down well and was the first thing to be drunk (that combination was enough for about 2 glasses for the 15 party-goers who had it).

Then the rest of the night it was a combination of my recipes (which did go down well, minus the tequila – obviously an acquired taste!) and the more involved sport of getting people to have fun with making their own cocktails.

This is really easy to do, even for people who may not even know what a cocktail is…

It’s simply a case of making their cocktails where they can see you doing it, but (and it’s a big but too) you need to talk them through what you’re doing and let them know why you’re doing it. Then when you let them loose, they are less inclined to 50/50 vodka/lemonade and more likely to create themselves a sea breeze and enjoy it!

The evening died down gently, and everyone enjoyed the experience. But most importantly, everyone at the party had gone away having learned something new about cocktails and how they’re made, which deep down was the point for both me and the attendees.

I always feel that when you have cocktails, whether it’s a full on cocktail party, or just a small part of a larger shin-dig, you need to strive to learn something more, and improve yourself. This is what I aim to do every time I host/attend an event. It’s all about improving your own knowledge and this should be the main focus as this is how a subject can be evolved. That’s how new versions of classic cocktails are created and how the next big NEW cocktail can be found.

So go out and enjoy yourself (responsibly)…

Impassioned By Cocktails