So another week on, and another offer from the drink shop.
They currently have offers on all of their rums! Anyone who knows me knows that I love a good rum. Seriously, I love rum; So this offer is like catnip to me.
Whether you love a ‘Blanco’ white rum in your Mojito, or an Anejo dark rum in your Cuban – there’s bound to be a rum you love on this list. Not to mention you might find a rum you’ve never tried before!!!
So why not check out the offers, grab a bargain or two and chill this Easter! I know I will be!
Spirits, as any good bartender knows, are the door to many a persons’ heart (buy me a bottle of rum and you’ll have a friend for life), come in many shapes and sizes and nowadays flavours. There is a lot of choice out there and even more so these days, the choice can be very difficult for those not up to date with the ‘in’ product. For instance do you know the best types of Dark rum to buy for your dark ‘n’ stormy? Or whether Smirnoff is the best UK vodka? (Hint: it’s not even from the UK).
Well the idea behind these valentines inspired cocktails is that they use spirits (as well as other ingredients) that can all be easily found in your local supermarkets (UK readers) or liquor stores (USA & other worldly destinations)…
So here we have 6 cocktails: 1 for each of the big 6 spirits: Whisky, Rum, Vodka, Tequila, Cognac & Gin. As I stated above; all the ingredients used can be easily sourced and in short notice too. So without delay let’s get started, with this wonderful Vodka cocktail:
Vodka Valentine: The Pomegranate Martini
1 measure Vodka
½ measure Cointreau*
3 measures POM Pomegranate Juice
Combine all the ingredients in an ice-filled shaker and shake well (around 5-10 seconds – just enough time for the shaker to ice over).
Strain mixture into a well-chilled martini cocktail glass.
Garnish with an orange/lime peel.
This cocktail is a lovely little drink similar in hue (and length) as a cosmopolitan. It’s a girly favourite and that should make it a shoe in for any of you guys trying to impress a lady on a night in (or order them on a night out – always a winner).
*if you’re not a fan of the wonderfully sweet Cointreau Liqueur then you can always replace it with the same measurement of orange or lime juice. Equally if you want alcohol but want a less-sweet liqueur then try replacing it with Orange Curacao.
Rum Valentine: Cranberry Kiss
1 measure Captain Morgan’s Original Spiced Rum
2 measures Sour Mix*
2 measures Cranberry Juice
1 wedge of lemon
Build the ingredients over ice in a Collins glass and stir well as you do so (you can mix this drink but it’s best built).
Drop in a lemon wedge and stir gently. Serve with a straw.
This is a lovely long-ish cocktail with a slightly sweeter-than-normal taste. Great for chilling out on a long night out (or in) especially if you need a slight pick-me-up, this cocktail is definitely perfect for intimate evenings with loved ones and will go down a treat.
*Sour mix is a fancy term for lemon & lime flavoured sugar syrup. It can be made by following the usual sugar syrup method and adding lemon & lime juice to the mix. Click on the Sour Mix in the recipe for the sour mix recipe itself. Again – all the ingredients can be found in your local shop(s).
Tequila Valentine: Phoenix Rising
2 measures Blanco Tequila (100% Agave)
4 measures Fresh Orange Juice*
1 measure Agave Nectar
1 splash (5ml) Lime Juice
5-6 fresh pitted cherries**
Muddle the cherries with a splash of lime juice and leave to one side.
Combine the remaining ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice.
Shake well (for around 5-10 seconds – or until the shaker ices-over).
Strain into an ice filled rocks glass and drop in the cherries for a garnish.
Serve with a straw, or straight if preferred.
This cocktail is what Valentines is all about: Sharing something special with someone special. Sure it’s only for tequila lovers as the tequila really shines through, but this cocktail, prepared correctly is a fantastic combination of flavour and kick.
*You can use juice from a carton but the fresher the better: Long Life Carton < Chilled Carton < Fresh Squeezed. Hint: The middle option, whilst not the freshest is the best value without losing too much quality. Especially if you choose a nice brand or supermarket top brand e.g. Sainsbury’s TTD or Tesco’s Finest.
**The cherries, if muddled just right, will release their burgundy coloured juice and tint the cocktail a nice reddish hue that dances about your glass with every sip. It also adds a slight fragrance to the drink enticing you in…
Gin Valentine: Lady Killer
1 measure Hendricks Dry Gin
½ measure Cointreau/Triple Sec
½ measure Apricot Brandy*
2 measures Passion fruit Juice**
2 measures Pineapple Juice***
Combine all of the ingredients in an ice filled cocktail shaker.
Shake well (5-10 seconds or until the shaker ices over).
Strain into a champagne flute half filled with crushed ice.
Garnish with a cherry on a long skewer & serve with a straw.
*Apricot Brandy is an apricot flavoured liqueur and the most common brands (at least here in the UK) are: De Kuyper & Bols (surprise, surprise they’re both Dutch!).
** This can be found in long life cartons in the UK, as for the USA: you should be able to find it in a grocery store (failing that a large supermarket should sell what you need).
*** Whilst fresh pineapple juice is always better than pre-juiced products it is also extremely expensive. So go for the ‘not from concentrate’ pineapple juice available in almost all supermarkets (UK readers hint: use the supermarket own brand).
Cognac Valentine: Angel’s Shoulder
1 ½ measures Cognac (V.S.O.P.)
¾ measure fresh lemon juice
½ measure rosemary simple syrup*
¼ measure Amaretto
¼ measure Crème de Peche (Peach Liqueur)**
¼ measure Benedictine
Red wine (Cotes Du Rhone)
Combine all the ingredients (except the red wine) in an ice filled cocktail shaker and shake well (around 5-10 seconds – or until the shaker ices over).
Strain into a rocks glass containing 1 large ice cube.
Then float the red wine on top of the drink (best done using the back of a bar spoon).
This cocktail has a bit too it, but if you practice it before hand; surprising your date with this rather classy drink is certain to get you some plus points. Use a bar-spoon (a teaspoon will suffice) to layer the red wine and look like a real pro! – Don’t know how to do this little trick? Worry not; click here and you’ll master the technique in no time at all!
* Click here for a rosemary simple syrup recipe, and liven up your cocktails today!
** This is a peach liqueur and the most common brands are again the 2 big Dutch brands of Bols & De Kuyper. But failing that Archers peach liqueur is a very handy substitute.
Whisky Valentine: The Rob Roy
2 measures Blended Scotch
1 measure Vermouth
1 Dash of angostura bitters
Garnish: Lemon Peel Twist
Pour ingredients into a mixing glass full of cracked ice.
Stir well for around 30-60 seconds (stirring for longer helps chill the drink right down).
Strain into a well-chilled small rocks glass.
Garnish with the lemon peel twist and a cocktail cherry (optional).
This cocktail will be the focus of a whisky special coming soon, but for now it’s perfect for wooing those you truly care about. You may have to ask the drinker if they like whisky, but if they answer yes the chances are they’ll love this classic Scottish cocktail.
Top Tip: For the sharp eyed this cocktail will resemble a classic Manhattan cocktail almost exactly. Except the Rob Roy uses Scotch Whisky instead of American Rye whisky…
OK, so that may be a little dramatic, but this cocktail came to me recently in a vision I can only describe as genius… Combining two great Tequila based drinks (the Tequila highball & Margarita) this cocktail creates a balanced Mexican themed cocktail with a crisp finish to it.
There are those out there who will be sick at the prospect of changing a margarita so much and still use the name, and to them I say only this: Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it…
1) Using the lime wedge, wipe the rim of the glass and dip in sugar. Place the cherry on the rim (leave the stem on and have it lean away from the glass.
2) Fill the glass with ice.
3) In a shaker combine the tequila, lime and Cointreau.
4) Shake well over ice and double strain into the glass.
5) Top up with ginger ale.
6) Garnish (finally) with the Angostura and cherry brandy.
The brandy should drift gently to the bottom of the glass, but should also pull the Angostura down with it, creating a cascading effect. The sweetness in this drink comes from both the Cointreau and cherry brandy, but what really sets it apart is that it’s lengthened by the ginger ale, adding a slight spice to the drink, not to mention the Angostura weighing in with its trademark flavour.
This drink is a great little fusion that may not win all of you over but try it with your favourite brand of ginger ale and try different cherry liqueurs (or even take out the cherry and try an actual brandy instead, either way that’s the bit that adds the richness to drink).
Hopefully you like this cocktail as much as I do, leave a comment should you have any about it.
Until next time here’s a little something:
Fervent Shaker Fact of the Day:
There is a significant different between Fresh Lime Juice and Lime Juice Syrup. The fresh lime juice is always freshly squeezed from the fruit (the fresher the better). Whereas the syrup is a blend of water, juice and sugar (kind of like a lime flavoured sugar syrup). The best known brand of lime juice syrup is ‘Roses’ and is popular both here in the UK and across the pond in the USA.
This cocktail takes me back to my Pokémon-Gameboy days. I am not too proud to admit as an 18/19 year old I still enjoyed that addictive game. Hell, if I still had a cop of the games I’d be playing them now!
This cocktail is made using Rhum Agricole; an exotic (even by rums standard) rum from the French Caribbean… It has a rather grassy flavour that is usually un-aged (white/blanco) but can come in Anejo (aged) form.
2 measures Rhum Agricole
2 measures Guava Nectar*
¾ measures Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
½ measure Agave Nectar
½ measure NavanT
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Top up club soda,
Fresh grated cinnamon, mint sprig, cinnamon stick & lime wheel for garnish
1) Fill a shaker with ice and add the Rhum, Guava, lime, agave nectar, Navan and bitters.
2) Shake well and strain into an ice filled tumbler glass.
3) Drop in a pinch of ground cinnamon and top up with the club soda.
4) Squeeze in the cinnamon stick and place the lime wheel on the glass’ rim to garnish.
This cocktail requires what seems like a lot of effort, but the payoff is something special indeed. If you prefer your drink a little less gritty, then dust the ground cinnamon on the rim of the glass, using lime juice as the adhesive (it should look like the salt on a margarita glass).
*Should you not be able to obtain Guava Nectar, then juice will suffice, and that is available at all good supermarkets for a relatively low cost (Sainsbury’s sell 1L for £1).
TNavan is a Cognac infused with Black Madagascan Vanilla. It can be hard to come by, so try using a vanilla liqueur instead, it’s not the same but it’s still pretty delicious. Licor 43 is my liqueur of choice for this…
This is one of Mexico’s favourite cocktails. Forget the Margarita (that’s a common misconception) the Paloma combines tequila with some wonderful fresh grapefruit juice.
This particular recipe is a more craft like cocktail, instead of using grapefruit soda (which is a great choice should you have it) it requires sugar syrup, grapefruit juice and club soda instead.
This tweak creates a bit more depth in the drinks flavours and creates a more balanced cocktail (in my mind at least).
Note: I must say here that I strongly recommend using a high gradeTequila (see here) anything with the phrase “100% Agave” is what you’re looking for. Whilst the supermarkets stock the cheaper Jose Cuervo tequila’s consumption of these will result in worse hangover effects than those a little more expensive (the ones that say “made with 100% Agave”). A good example is the Tequila on sale at your local Waitrose Supermarket (or alternatively you could checkout Ocado’s online service)…
So remember: Cheaper is not always better! Always read the label and buy 100% agave – Tequila that does not say this clearly on the label will give you a worse hangover than those that do! (It’s a process in the distillation, one that I will share in post at another time but should you be interested in further reading try out this: Tequila Facts)
Yeah, yeah I know that was a bit of a lecture but here, check out this great recipe and enjoy you Tequila:
1) Moisten the rim of a highball glass with a lime wedge and lightly dust with the salt.
2) Fill the serving glass and shaker tin with ice.
3) Add the Tequila, grapefruit juice, lime juice, sugar syrup and shake wel.
4) Strain the mixture into the serving glass and stir in the club soda to taste (you should only need around 1 measure for every 2 measures of tequila).
This cocktail is a Mexican classic, but has been tweaked to allow greater flavour and enjoyment. Whilst this is my preferred method of mixing up a Paloma, I know some of you would prefer the quicker, easier version…
So here it is (you can thank me later)…
2 measures Blanco (silver/white) Tequila
½ measure Fresh Lime Juice
6 measures (top up) Grapefruit Soda
1) Rim the highball glass with salt (using lime juice to moisten the rim).
2) Combine the tequila and lime juice in a shaking tin and fill with ice.
3) Shake well and strain into the serving glass.
4) Top up with Grapefruit Soda and gently stir it in.
5) Garnish with a lime wheel/wedge and a maraschino cherry.
So there is the classic recipe and Ward’s tweaked recipe. Either way I hope you enjoy them, remember: Tequila is not bad as long as you respect it. That being said please remember to drink responsibly!
For commercial purposes (i.e. what you’re able to go out and buy yourselves) I’ll only be including liqueurs you can purchase on the UK market. Although this does not really reflect the list, as I do come from the UK and therefore am limited to these myself…
Possibly the sweetest liqueur on this list, Chambord Liqueur has one of the most ‘Royal’ beginnings too. It is said that King Louis XIV (that’s 15th for anyone who doesn’t know) visited Chateau Chambord and was presented with a Raspberry Liqueur that he loved. Well it is this liqueur that has inspired the spirit we all know and love: Chambord Liqueur. This world renowned black raspberry liqueur is a favourite of many of the modern mixologists ingredients.
This raspberry liqueur screams quality, and even the process shows it:
Using only the best raspberries (among other raspberry like berries) the fruit is then double infused and married with the other ingredients (and cognac wouldn’t you believe).
If this doesn’t scream enough quality the shape and design of the glass it comes in certainly covers any excess. Let’s face it, the French do romance and beauty better than any other country in the world and this liqueur is no different. From the minute you open a bottle you’re hit with the strong ‘raspberry jam donut’ fragrance supplied by the black raspberries. This to me makes it one of the best liqueurs, not just in Europe, but in the world.
Cocktail O’Clock: The Chambord French Martini
50ml Raspberry Vodka
15ml Chambord Liqueur
100ml Pineapple Juice
1) Shake ingredients over ice and strain into a large martini cocktail glass.
2) Garnish with some fresh raspberries.
9)Agwa Bolivia (coca)
I make no secret about my love affair with liqueurs/spirits with great stories. And why should this one be any different? Hint – it’s not.
Agwa De Bolivia is a dangerous and controversial liqueur. Dangerous in that What makes it so controversial is what it is made from: The Coca Leaf (that’s right, Coca as in Cocaine). There is nothing illegal about the use of the leaf, nor the consumption of this liqueur, however when it first came to be, it’s safe to say there were some shamefully shaking heads. But ignore them, because this liqueur is something special indeed.
Hand-picked to extremely high standards, the coca leaves are then transported (by armed guard) to Amsterdam where they are processed and infused until we get this almost florescent bottle of magic.
This liqueur is just a little different, a little crazy and a little controversial enough to not only be an instant hit across the globe, but to also interest people into making cocktails with it.
And that’s why it makes it onto this list.
Cocktail O’Clock: Agwa Berry Kiss
45ml Agwa de Bolivia coca leaf liqueur
150ml Italian Prosecco
Fresh Lime Juice (1/2 lime or round-abouts)
Fresh black berries and raspberries
1) Fill a fancy champagne flute with the chilled Prosecco.
2) Shake the lime juice and Agwa in a shaker, over ice.
3) Strain into the glass, over the Prosecco, watching it ripple through the sparkling wine.
4) Garnish with some fresh berries however you prefer (we like to skewer them, slicing them and putting them on the glass’ rim works too!)
That cocktail was courtesy of someone who’s had the pleasure of sampling and reviewing the liqueur first hand… Liquor Chick.
As the story goesLeonardo Da Vinci’s apprentice ‘Bernardino Luini’ was commissioned to paint a picture of ‘Madonna of the miracles in Saronno’ and in return for choosing an innkeeper to model as Madonna the young maiden innkeeper gave him a bottle of ‘golden liqueur’. Then later on this recipe was rediscovered and eventually sold as Disaronno.
Today Disaronno is among the most recognized of liqueurs across the planet. With a sweet Almond taste (imagine concentrated liquid marzipan being loosed upon your tastebuds) Disaronno is both perfect for drinking as is, or in well balanced cocktail.
Due to its carefully smooth texture and taste it can blend well with both the Neutral vodkas and white rums, but also well with the more flavourful tasting spirits like aged rum, Tequila and Gin.
Now this is something you do not often find in liqueurs, at least not an amaretto. Usually they are just good for aperitifs or as the base of a cocktail (where the other ingredients work around them). This however is different, and it’s for this reason it is my 3rd favourite liqueur.
A drink worth trying disaronno out with would be:
Cocktail O’Clock: Disaronno Jazzy Hour
½ measure Disaronno
1 measure Vodka
½ measure Tangerine Liqueur
1 measure Pineapple Juice
¼ measure Lemon Juice (about 5ml)
Shake all the ingredients over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail (martini) glass.
Pisa Liqueur is one of my all time favourite drinks, and was discovered purely by accident. I remember it well, I was looking for a new amaretto I saw in a shop window (a luxardo one, but I couldn’t remember the name) and stumbled across this on the drinkshop. I fell in love with the bottle design and it sounded good, so I bought a bottle for around £13-£14. Since then it’s become no longer available on the drinkshop, but I’m sure that within the next year or so they will break back onto the international market.
How do I know this? Well as recently as January this year (2013) this liqueur was show during an American tv’s superbowl cocktail segment. This alone makes me think they are branching out and it shouldn’t be too long for them to hit the UK commercially again (if they haven’t already)… For all you American reading this: You lucky buggars you, I’m extremely jealous. And would appreciate a few bottles sent my way!!
Here’s what the Pisa Liqueur official website has to say about their history:
“Liquore Pisa was born long ago from a domain steeped in history, rich in flavour and character. Its flavours come from a distant past, a history of intrigues of the renaissance. Therefore Liquore Pisa is aged and wise and imparts the feel of another world. Pisa has been bottled since the beginning in Italy at two Italian owned companies; Franciacorta which exists since 1901, and Torino Distillati.”
Cocktail O’Clock: The Pisa Sour
1 ¼ oz measure Pisa Liqueur
1 ¼ oz measure Stetson Bourbon
¾ oz Fresh Lemon Juice
1 egg white (optional)
Fresh grated nutmeg for garnish.
1) Shake ingredients over ice and double strain into a coupe cocktail glass.
2) Garnish with a grating of nutmeg.
6)Prucia Plum liqueur
Prucia is a bit of an enigma when it comes to liqueurs. However whilst it may be half Japanese and half French it is, after all, 100% Plum. This wonderful liqueur is something I discovered after originally falling in love with Brentzen Plum Liqueur. After trying the Brentzen liqueur, I found Prucia and thought I’d spend out the extra £££ for a little extra quality (or so I thought at the time). What I received for my £26 was a liqueur that, quite literally, blew my mind. I cannot shout enough good things about this Liqueur. My only problem is it’s slightly higher price tag – then again you are quite literally paying for the quality of the product, after all the Japanese part of this liqueur cannot come cheap.
“When bored by a splurge of poncey spirit brands, it’s a relief to taste something different…” – The London Paper.
This Liqueur is something a little special, and I wish I could have placed it higher, this with a splash of pepsi cola is just sublime, it’s simple yes, but so good.
Cocktail O’Clock: Prucia Formula
25ml Prucia Plum Liqueur
20ml Antica Formula Vermouth
Top up Champagne
Cherry & orange twist to garnish
1) Shake the Prucia & Vermouth together over ice and strain into a chilled champagne flute.
2) Top up with the Champagne.
3) Garnish by dropping the cherry in the glass and squeezing the twist over the glass and dropping that in too.
Created jointly by Giffard, the mighty Liqueur Giants, and Simon Difford (author of Difford’s guide to cocktails), this curious but elegant blend of agave nectar and Curacao Triple Sec elbows its way onto the world market. It gives Cointreau a run for its money when it comes to a unique and rather floral triple sec brand. Clocking in at 40%, the same as Cointreau, this triple sec fills a niche some bartenders were craving: A triple sec that go toe to toe with Tequila.
The obvious thing that sets this triple sec apart is in the name: Agave Nectar. Using 100% Mexican agave nectar; this triple sec blends the Curacao orange peels, that triple sec are renown for, but without losing the quality in the process.
There are only two things that keep this ‘triple sec’ from bettering Cointreau:
1) Exposure: basically Cointreau has this triple sec beat on popularity. Cointreau has been around for hundreds of years and it has a brutal stranglehold on all things triple sec. I mean face it, would you swap out that Christmas favourite for something you’re not sure about? No me either (I would for this but hey that’s me).
2) Cointreau’s combination of bitter & sweet orange peels is still that missing ingredient from every other triple sec out there. Sure this one has Agave Nectar for sweetness, but Cointreau is still on another level. And rightly so, as said above, it’s been around for several hundreds of years, you’d have thought they’d done well in that time right?!
Cocktail O’Clock: The Agave Sec Margarita
40ml Tequila Blanco (choose your favourite brand)
20ml Giffard Agave Sec
20ml Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
1) Combine ingredients in an ice filled shaker.
2) Shake well and strain into a margarita cocktail glass.
3) Garnish with a lime wheel.
Check out Giffards Agave Sec product page for a little bit more about its history and for some more cocktails, including:
Fun fact: “Agave Syrup is 90% fructose, which has a very low glycemic index – this means that it’s a much healthier alternative to cane sugar and you need far less to achieve the same level of sweetness.” – Mangrove UK
A list of my favourite liqueurs would not be complete without this beauty. It misses out on the top 3 by literally the smallest of margins. I couldn’t decide between this and the next and I had to flip a coin for it. Not very scientific but let’s face it: drinking rarely is.
As you know from the whole host of Cointreau blogs I’ve written before Cointreau is a premium grade Triple Sec made using both bitter & sweet orange peels (most other triple sec brands use just the bitter peels). I won’t go into too much detail as that will negate the point of all the other Cointreau post’s I’ve written. However below I shall leave link’s to all my other Cointreau posts.
Fun fact: Cointreau turns opalescent when added to water, it shows the liqueur is pure and of good quality.
Cocktail O’Clock:The Cointreau Fizz, Original
½ lime (cut into wedges)
100ml Club Soda
1) Fill your glass with ice.
2) Add in the Cointreau.
3) Squeeze the lime wedges into the glass and drop in when done.
4) Top up with Club Soda
3)Domain De Canton Ginger liqueur
Domain de Canton Ginger Liqueur is another one of those French enigmas (like Prucia), in that it uses an interesting process and flavour to create something that truly is unique.
I tried this liqueur at university, having more money than I knew what to do with, when I bought and tried several expensive liqueurs. At around £30, it’s quite expensive all though these days that’s not far off some of the more established liqueurs.
Using the best Vietnamese baby ginger macerated with a blend of herbs and spices, unlocking it’s fresh essence.
“Domaine de Canton made in small batches and by hand, therefore mass quantities are not possible.” – partial descritption from the Domaine de Canton website.
This liqueur blends a whole collection of ingredients, including:
– Fine Eau de Vie,
– VSOP cognac
– XO Grande Champagne Cognac
– Tahitian Vanilla Beans
– Provencal Honey
– Tunisian Ginseng
If these ingredients are not enough for you, this liqueur is made naturally without preservatives, or colourings.
It’s worth a try if you have the monies knocking about, or even if you find a bar selling it. It’s perfect for cocktails, but even better with champagne, not to mention its use in food recipes.
Cocktail O’Clock: The Canton Cocktail
2 ½ mesures Domaine de Canton
½ measure Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
8 mint sprigs
Top up Club Soda (optional)
1) Shake all the ingredients over ice.
2) Strain into a rocks glass.
3) To make this drink slightly longer, top up with club Soda.
4) Garnish with a mint sprig and a slice of caramelised Ginger.
2)St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
What makes St-Germain my 2nd faviourite liqueur? Well apart from the heavenly taste, which by St-Germains own words “is a curious mixture that rivals Paris’ culture”, it’s all about the process St-Germain go through to create their signature liqueur…
Picking only the best fresh elderflower blossoms over the course of a few spring time weeks, the men that gather these blossoms then transport (by bicycle) the blossoms to the collection depot.
It is here that the fresh blossoms are then macerated using St-Germain’s secret method. Further to this the process they employ created the exceedingly fresh and complex elderflower liqueur we all know. With hints of pear, peach and even grapefruit zest, St Germain truly is a unique and superbly special liqueur. And it is for this reason it beats the other liqueurs in this list to 2nd place. The only liqueur to beat it, is one that holds a special place in my heart…
“Neither passionfruit nor pear, grapefruit nor lemon, the sublime taste of St-Germain hints at each of these and yet none of them exactly. It is a flavour as subtle and delicate as it is captivating. A little like asking a hummingbird to describe the flavour of its favourite nectar. Tres curieux indeed, n’est-ce pas?” – Exerpt from the St-Germain website.
Cocktail O’Clock: The St-Germain Cocktail
2 measures Brut Champagne (or dry sparkling wine)
1.5 measures St-Germain
2 measures Club Soda
1) Stir together the ingredients in an ice filled Collins glass.
2) Garnish with a lemon twist.
1)Licor 43 (aka Cuarenta Y Tres)
Repeat readers of this blog may or may not be surprised by this choice. Either way to me it was the easiest place to decide. I don’t think I could ever willingly go back to not knowing what this liqueur tastes like. Also I will not be going too much into its history or the cocktails, seeing as I have several posts dedicated to this…
A little re-cap of my introduction and history of this liqueur starts with my university life (once again, surprise, surprise). In my first year I was staying in halls which were situated 10 minutes walk away from the local Asda supermarket (a UK company owned by WallMart – a reference all you Americans will get). One time I went out with the intention to purchase a vanilla liqueur and was going to buy Galliano, until I saw this little Gem on the bottom shelf. It looked stunning in its unique little bottle, its black label and that golden liqueur.
So I gave in and spent the £16 (then, it’s around £18-£25 nowadays) and it was probably the best £16 I ever spent. I tried to find what it went best with, and strangely found that Pepsi (rather than coca cola) made the best mixer. Although it works well in plenty of cocktails, just look here for the best ones.
Another nail in the coffin of love I have for this liqueur was when I was on a Geography (University) Field trip to Southern Spain. At the hotel we stayed in, Licor 43 was one of most consumed liqueurs, and I got a lot of approving looks from the people at the bar for asking for it. Even the lady behind the bar seemed rather happy I’d asked for it (it probably helped me asking it using its Spanish name).
A little fact I want to end on it something not a lot of people know: Licor 43, also known as Cuarenta Y Tres, is a descendent of the Mirabilis liqueur made in the Cartangena region of the Mediterranean. And was originally founded by four Spaniards, and that company, Diego Zamora, is still completely family owned.
Cocktail O’Clock: The Power of Cuarenta Y Tres
7 measures Licor 43
1 measure Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
8 measures Cranberry Juice
4 measure Passion Fruit Nectar
1 measure Caramel Syrup
Fervent twist: Top up Ginger Beer
1) Shake all the ingredients into a shaker and strain over ice in a hurricane glass.
2) For a slightly longer drink, use our Fervent Twist and top up with Ginger beer.
3) Garnish with the in-season fresh fruit, and a lime wheel.
This cocktail is the one that, for me, really brings out what Cuarenta Y Tres stands for, both in name and taste.
Keep a look out for an on-going set of posts sharing (and celebrating) Licor 43’s current cocktail of the month initiative.
So I needed to top up on the ‘extras’ for my cocktails (the sugar syrup, fresh fruit, fruit sodas and other weird and wonderful things) and the best way to do that? Shopping trip! Now some of the things can be expensive (like Hibiscus flowers – 11 of them in syrup can cost anywhere from £9-£20 depending on where you find them), whilst others can be cheap and cheerful.
Take the fresh fruit I got today; 4 Oranges or a punnet of strawberries £2 each or 2 packs for £3, so obviously I saved there by getting one of each. Agave Nectar was relatively cheap for what it is at £2.50 and even the Espresso Coffee Beans were on offer at £2… So really I save quite a bit today. I fact almost everything I bought on this trip happened to be on offer. Even the Pomegranate juice was on an introductory offer (a bit weird as they’ve had it for over a week, I should know I put it on the shelf!).
Still it means I was able to get some good bits, and I even found some Molasses at a health food shop (the same health food shop that told me they’d never heard of the stuff 2 weeks ago – pays to have a look for yourself it seems)…
So how does all this tie in with my cocktail recipes?
Well overall I’m almost set up for my massive Mojito session in a couple of weeks. My next post, as I’ve already shown you a preview of it in my last post, on here will contain a small library’s worth of mojito recipes. But a few weeks after that I’ll post a series of mini-reviews on how some of them (and others) tasted, how well they worked etc… They will be made using various fruits and sugar syrups (mainly infused syrups like lavender, hibiscus, jasmine, apple and kiwi, to name but a few).
Expect this about 2 weeks after Easter. But until then I thought it would be nice to show you that you can get some really great ingredients for less than you may have thought (over here in the UK at least anyway). Granted some things can cost a bit, some of you may think £2.50 for 200ml of Agave Nectar is expensive but when you liken it to the prices of honey…
1) Spend as much time thinking about the non-alcoholic ingredients you’ll be using as you do about the actual alcohol – it is these ingredients that usually deepen the flavours in the drink and also make a lot of them nice to drink (After all a Mojito without soda water, mint and sugar syrup is, well, just rum.
2) Spend out on hard to find ingredients, if you have the money set aside for a selection of ingredients, don’t be afraid to spend out on some of the rarer ingredients. Whilst you don’t want to spend more than £5 per 70cl of Grenadine (if you’re not making it yourself) you should be prepared to spend out a bit more for fresh fruit, especially with the weather how it is (You’ll find fruits like strawberries relatively unaffected in price, but their quality will not be at their best – this cannot be helped without going straight to the farms, however fruits like blueberries and more exotic fruits like mangoes, guava and even farmhouse classics like Rhubarb can be difficult to get cheaply at all).
3) Enjoy the ingredients well. Obviously don’t overuse them, but don’t be afraid to try new things out. Have you purchased a new, flavoured sugar syrup? Then try it in any recipe with sugar syrup in, Hibiscus Mojito? Yes please. Jasmine & Lemon Gin Fizz? Right on! – Experiments drive the world. Give it a go and don’t be afraid to dabble.
4) Things don’t always work how you want. Do not let that deter you, for every 1 drink you make and love, you’ll create on average 20 drinks you hate. Fact. Science. Science Fact.
I hope this has helped some of you, and please do not feel afraid to ask for help, pop me a message if you have an ingredient you want some advice with, or leave a comment. The aim of the game: Try Something New.
Continuing my theme of the day: how interchangeable certain alcohols are in certain cocktails; I feel compelled to discuss, briefly at least, the family of Caipirinha cocktails:
Across the Caribbean and now most of the world the preferred distillate of sugar cane is Rum. White, golden, dark, spiced even the newer infused rums, it doesn’t matter what type of rum, what matters is that it is RUM.
This may be the case across almost all the world, but down in South America, Brazil especially, this is far from the case. Cachaca is the distillate of choice. Cachaca is a sugar distillate not too dissimilar to rum, but it arguably lacks the same smoothness of some rum products. Regardless of its texture, it has been used in one of the 20th century’s most popular cocktails. Served across the beaches of South America, be it Brazil, Argentina and even Uruguay, Caipirinha’s are a source of great joy for locals and tourists alike.
The standard recipe for a Caipirinha takes half a lime (cut into wedges) and muddles it with brown sugar, then after topping up with crushed ice, 2 measures (around 50ml) of Cachaca is added. A quick stir later and you’re sipping on a very strong, but refreshingly crisp cocktail.
This cocktail is traditionally served with crushed ice in a rocks glass.
Classic (American/UK) Caipirinha Recipe
½ lime (cut into wedges)
2 teaspoons brown sugar
Top up ice.
Top tip: very gently muddle the lime with the sugar until the sugar has all but dissolved. Then add the cachaca and give it a swizzle stir. Serve with 2 straws.
This recipe is so easy to tweak to your tastes its perfect for chilled evenings watching the football with your pals, or catching up with your girlfriends after a busy day shopping. Either way this versatile drink can be tweaked several ways:
Short Cachaca Mojito
½ lime (cut into wedges)
2 teaspoons sugar syrup
2-5 mint leaves
Top up crushed ice.
Splash of soda water
This version of the Caipirinha is simply a short version of a Mojito using cachaca instead of rum. Using the same method for the standard Caipirinha, only when muddling the lime and sugar you muddle the mint leaves too.
The splash of soda water adds the familiar mojito fizz, without diluting the drink.
10ml triple sec
¼ orange (cut into chunks)
2 teaspoons sugar syrup
Top up crushed ice.
This cocktail uses the margarita as inspiration, mixing triple sec, cachaca and lime to create the feel of a margarita but served in a traditional South American way.
The interchangeable alcohol idea:
A famous north American/European cocktail known as the Caipiroska is a simple twist on the standard Caipirinha cocktail. The Caipiroska uses high quality vodka, lime and sugar to the same ends as a Caipirinha. The idea is that this is a refreshing drink using an alcohol that North Americans and Europeans are used to (vodka).
Classic Caipiroska Recipe
50ml high grade vodka (i.e. Green Mark)
½ lime (cut into wedges)
2 teaspoons brown sugar
Top Tip: If you have it available, use agave nectar. This sugar syrup like product is fantastically sweet and works brilliantly with this cocktail (as well as mojito’s but that’s a discussion for a future post).
If you find this drink a little too strong for your tastes, then try having it in a taller Collins glass and top up with soda water…
One last note about the Caipiroska; the citrus noted above is lime, but because vodka is such a neutral spirit, there is no reason why you cannot use the same quantities of any citrus fruit; some good examples and quantities are as follows:
Orange – ¼ orange (cut into chunks)
Lemon – ½ small lemon (cut into wedges/chunks)
Grapefruit – ¼ small Grapefruit (cut into chunks)
After note: now it has come to my attention (through a source) that the above recipe is purely an Americanised version of the cocktail. I have it on good authority (see the comment below) that the original recipe from Brazil actually uses lemons. Although they are actually green lemons! It’s quite easy to see that from an american point of view if it’s green it must be a lime… Well this is not true. Brazilians use what are simply green lemons. So if you want a Brazilian Caipirinha (and you don’t mind swapping out the green colour for yellow) replace the lime chunks with lemon. For an extra special twist, shave a large full circumference slice of lemon peel and fit it around the glass (after muddling the chunks & sugar), then add the ice and Cachaca … Whichever recipe you choose I’m sure you’ll enjoy the drink all the same. sure lemons will change the flavour slightly, but it’ll still be a refreshing summer drink!