So my last post was geared more towards those who like their cocktails classic, simple, and giving them the opportunity to try something they may have overlooked before.
That is all well and good (I’m one of those people after all) but let’s not forget the important thing this weekend: It’s Halloween!!!
Halloween means over the top fancy dress, lots and lots of candy, and of course some great alcoholic beverages (for those of us over the legal drinking age of course!).
And that usually means shots! – Not just simple flavoured vodka shots either. I’m talking spooky, scary, and downright wrong looking shots!
So here below are 5 shots that tick all of those boxes and more! Just remember to enjoy them responsibly!
The Classic Brain Haemorrhage
1 measure Peach Schnapps
½ measure Irish Cream liqueur
1 tsp Grenadine
Pour the peach schnapps into a shot glass and layer the Irish cream on top.
Drop the grenadine in on top of the Irish cream and serve.
2 measures Repsado Tequila
1 measure Lemon-Lime Mix
Splash pumpkin puree
Shake ingredients over ice and strain into a well-chilled, large shot glass.
1 ½ measure Anejo Tequila
½ measure Melon Liqueur
Pour the Tequila into a chilled shot glass, then drop the Melon Liqueur into the middle of the tequila. Down in one.
Candy Corn Shooter
1 measure Banana Liqueur
1 measure Coconut Rum
1 measure Cream
1 measure Orange Curacao
1 measure 80proof Vodka
Combine the vodka and banana liqueur with ice and shake well.
Layer into the bottom of the glass.
Combine the Cream, Orange Curacao, and Coconut Rum with ice and shake well.
Layer this on top of the first layer and top with whipped cream
1 measure TY KU Premium Liqueur
1 measure Coconut Rum
Splash lemon-lime soda
Stir the rum and TY KU liqueur together over ice. Add into a shot glass and add a splash of soda.
There you go, 5 spooky Halloween themed cocktails that are perfect if you want to impress your friends and family this weekend. Some are scarily strong and will need to be handled with care – the 80 proof vodka should not be handled near an open flame – and as stated many a time: Please Drink Responsibly!
And here, finally, we have our 4th section of rum: Spiced. This is arguably the most important section of this list as the ‘spice’ in these rums can be what gives a tiki cocktail its kick!
There are a couple of rums on here you might need to scour online shops for, but for the most part the rums in this list are readily available in your local supermarket/off licence!
Kraken Spiced Dark Rum (USA) £21.95 – The Whisky Exchange
This 40% black spiced rum is somewhat of a genius. Its quality is unmistakable, earmarking it for greatness in the eyes of rum-tasters. But what really sets it apart from every other bottle of rum on the supermarket shelf is its old-style bottle shape. The traditional handle-necked bottle invokes visions of pirates and the romance often associated with the idea of a free life at sea.
Whilst the bottle makes it stand out, it does so knowing full well that the gloriously thick, molasses based alcohol contained within can more than hold its own; one of the only spiced black rums at home being sipped neat as it is swirling around a glass full of lime and cola. This is a perfect topper in a tiki cocktail too! Especially when you do not want to set the house on fire, but still want some theatre to your drink!
Fervent Shaker insider tip: Made in the USA from Caribbean rum and named after the mythical giant squid-like beast, Kraken rum is fantastic; a black spiced rum that is extremely reasonably priced! What’s more, for a limited time only, the whisky exchange is selling a special pack that includes an awesome looking mason-style glass! Perfect for Kraken’ your bottle open when you get in! Excuse the pun – Sorry, not sorry.
Captain Morgans Original Spiced Rum (Jamaica) £17-20 Sainsbury’s
One of the favourites of my best mate at university, this rum truly has stood the test of time. In the past 10 years I’ve seen it go from strength to strength and literally fly of the shelves!
Perfect for combining with a mixer for a quick drink, this rum is often overlooked in its ability to fill out a cocktail or two. Regardless of your feelings towards it, Captain Morgans Original Spiced Rum is a fantastic addition to any ones tiki-cabinet. Try substituting it into your next Mai Tai, it won’t taste like a classic mai tai, but it will be something a little special I’ll tell you that for nothing!
Sailor Jerry’s Spiced Rum (Guyana) £20 – Tesco
Another original spiced rum, Sailor Jerry’s fits into the ‘classic’ tiki choice section as it comes under one of the mandates set out in my first tiki cocktail post: It’s from Guyana!
Although Sailor Jerry’s has changed its recipe several times, and some consider Kraken to be more akin to the recipe everyone loved, this rum is still something very, very special. If you’re not a fan of Captain Morgans, for whatever reason – I’m not one to judge – then you should definitely be setting your sights on this classic tiki-suited spiced rum…
Fervent Shaker insider tip: Ever tried a spiced mojito? Well you’re missing out! Try this recipe out the next time you have a bottle of Sailor Jerry’s knocking about…
This is the second Bacardi rum to make it into one of my top 5 lists, and it is by far the best of the bunch! I tried this a year or two back and it certainly did not disappoint! Combining a rich hearty gold rum with the heart of charred oak barrels this rum is smooth, spiced and even has a tang of smokiness about it! Wonderful in a Cuba Libre or ‘your own tweak’ on a dark n stormy ‘like’ cocktail this rum is best mixed with other ingredients for sure, but make use of it when creating your tiki masterpieces and you shall never be disappointed!
Fervent Shaker insider tip: If I’m honest, of the two Bacardi rums on my lists this should be the one you buy (if you have to choose)… Sweet, Smooth, Spicy, Smokey and damn good; this rum is perfect in a spiced Pina colada and even better in a rum-toddy…
Admiral Vernons Old J Tiki Fire Spiced Rum (England) £30-36 The Drink Shop / The Whisky Exchange
Ok, so here’s another ‘danger’ warning. This rum, at 75.5%, is by far the strongest of all the rums included in any of the previous lists! Thus it should be treated with the upmost respect.
So with the warning let me share some info about this fine, high-proof, rum:
This rum was the brain child of Admiral Edward Vernon. He enforced a strength reduction on the rum the British Navy gave to its sailors (back in 1740). After hearing the complaints of his men however, ‘Old Grog Vernon’ suggested the addition of lime & sugar to help the flavour and make the drink more enjoyable.
This Old J rum was created in honour of ‘Old Grog’ himself and whilst the strength of the rum has been readdressed, it was increased back to 151-proof [75.5%], it has kept the same balance of spices, lime and sugar that made the original rum a great hit.
Fervent Shaker insider tip: Although this rum is perfect for tiki cocktails (it has tiki in its name after all) it is a 151-proof rum and therefore highly flammable! Whilst it gets a little old for me to keep warning you, you seriously need to be careful when handling such high-strength rum. It may taste great, used properly, but when you mess around; things can and will go wrong!
The colour is the first thing you’ll notice – it’s not called gold for the fun of it after all!
Ok so I covered the basic white rums. There were a few brands (and countries) covered but now we move onto my favourite type of rum: Gold Rum.
This section should allow you to expand your rum styles, and your geography knowledge, a little further. With Gold rums from Venezuela to Cuba and across the entire Caribbean; there is sure to be a choice for everyone…
Diplomatico Anejo (Venezuela) £22.84 – The Drink Shop
This smooth-sipping golden rum is blended from a combination of continuous still rums and potstill rums. Although blended, the average age of the finished product is 4 years old. Diplomatico is a very strong brand from Venezuela and can hold its own in almost any rum-sipping competition (its various products have won various awards over the years) and yet it blends into tiki cocktails remarkably well.
Fervent Shaker insider tip: If you’re looking for a well-balanced, blended gold rum and want to try something other than Caribbean rum then I strongly suggest giving this brand, including this particular rum, a go!
Ron de Jeremy – Reserve Adult Rum! (Panama) £33.32 The Drink Shop
Ron de Jeremy is an extremely well-balanced 7 year old rum and is quite literally distilled by a living legend: Cuban Master Distiller Francisco ‘Don Pancho’ Fernandez. Don Pancho is 72 years old and is considered one of the most experienced and renowned master distillers in the rum industry.
Fervent Shaker insider tip: This rum is fantastic to sip, and will reward those with a well-developed palate. However it has been created in such a way that it will also mix well with other ingredients, especially when mixing cocktails.
Mount Gay – Eclipse (Barbados) £19.70 The Drink Shop
Another long standing favourite of mine, this reasonably price rum is one of the sleeper hits of the last few decades. Whilst all of the top-end rums clean up at awards ceremonies, this rather unassuming bottle sits itself on the supermarket shelf and literally sells by the bucket.
Those who have been to Barbados and visited the distillery will know its history well and even those not interested in rum will have heard of it whilst on the island.
Hand-crafted since 1703, Mount Gay Rum is made using the finest Barbados sugar cane and pure spring water. This leaves you with a rum that can be sipped neat and yet is equally, if not more so, at home combined with your favourite mixer…
Fervent Shaker insider tip: this rum is reasonably priced and found in most of the bigger supermarkets in the UK. Failing that you can find it easily in online alcohol shops.
Flor De Cana – 4YO Gold (Nicaragua) £22.68 The Drink Shop
Flor de Cana 4YO Golden Rum is a little something different. From central/south America this rum is well-balanced and perfect for combining with mixers and works brilliantly in light cocktails.
Palate notes: “A soft entry leads to a round, dry medium-bodiea palate with caramel, sugar cane and peppery spice flavours. Finishes with a dash of toasted coconut shavings and pepper. Very clean and pure.” – Flor De Cana.com
Appleton Estate Special (Jamaica) £14.00 – Sainsbury’s
The price tag on this rum may make you cringe and think ‘bargain basement’ but the idea here is to give you a cheaper option whilst making sure you get your money’s worth. Appleton Estate special Jamaica Rum is only £14 yes, but it’s an absolute bargain in regards to its taste and overall finish. It’s not as sophisticated as some of the other rums on this list, but its sheer versatility means it can be used in a range of tiki (and non-tiki) cocktails. And for that reason alone it makes the list…
White Rum is the foundation for any rum collection. It’s a base for literally hundreds of cocktails, not least some of the most famous cocktails of all time; The Pina Colada, Mojito & Daiquiri all contain this clear elixir!
White rum is distilled from the sugar cane plant and can be made using one of two methods: Pot still or continuous still. Some rums use a combination of the two, and all three types have their merits and come-downs.
Check out my list of what I consider to be 5 of the best white rums for use in tiki cocktails (all under £40 of course!)…
(1) St. Aubin – Rhum Agricole (Mauritius) £22 – The Drink Shop
In my first post about tiki cocktails I mentioned that the best rums to start with included rum from Martinique, Jamaica and, of course, a white rum. Well this Mauritian white rum is a perfect shoe-in if you’re unsure of which white rum to choose.
At 50%abv it’s a heavy hitter, but surprisingly it’s rather smooth and supple. It’s made with the freshly squeezed sugar cane juice, a very French way of making rhum, and is made at St. Aubin which has been a sugar plantation since 1819…
(2) Brugal Blanco (Dominican Republic) £20.85 – The Whisky Exchange
Brugal Blanco is a white rum all the way from the Dominican Republic. Its process includes ageing rum for 2-5 years in old American oak bourbon casks. The rum is then triple filtered, removing the colour, and that leaves you with a rum that’s as smooth as super-premium vodka but with all the character you get from premium rum. Basically it’s pretty darn good!
Fervent Insider Tip: Brugal is one of my favourite rum brands and this is one of my go-to white rums for new exotic cocktails; its smoothness compliments the addition of various fruit juices and syrups perfectly.
(3) Havana Club Anejo 3 YO White Rum (Cuba) £15-£20 Sainsbury’s/Tesco
One of my long standing favourites, Havana club has a superb collection of rums, so much so that they could potentially be on all 4 of these posts, but alas the one I’ve chosen is arguably their most versatile Anejo rum: their 3yo Blanco. Found readily in your local supermarkets, this rum is a quick journey away from becoming part of your now-growing rum library!
Aged for 3 years in Cuba this light yet crisp rum is fantastic in those famous Cuban cocktails, but it also works miracles in classic tiki cocktails like the Pina Colada!
(4) Plantation Rum – Three Stars White Rum (Barbados) £22 – The Drink Shop
This is a well-balanced mildly vibrant rum, blending the finesse, character and fuller-flavours of all 3 historical rum producing islands: Jamaica, Barbados & Trinidad. Its name ‘Plantation 3 Stars’ honours those 3 historical islands and stands as a signal to all who lay eyes on the bottle: This is premium…
Fervent Shaker insider tip: This rum is extremely sophisticated and works better with cocktails that allow the flavours of the rum to come out in the drink. So whilst the juices of some tiki cocktails are not always suited for this rum; cocktails like the Zombie and similar ‘shorter’ cocktails are perfect to make the most of this particular rum…
(5) La Mauny – Rhum Blanc (Martinique) £27 – The Drink Shop
This rum from Martinique, one of the countries mentioned in my first post, is a clear white and has a strong 50% abv. With this in mind it is one of the stronger rums on this list and is more suited to the fruit juice laden concoctions that make tiki cocktails so popular.
Fervent Shaker insider tip: Coming in at just under £30 this rum is a bit steep compared to supermarket brands and even some better known brands. But unlike a lot of things in this world, when it comes to Rum, as well as straight alcohol in general, you pay for what you get.
Honourable Mention: Wray & Nephews Overproof White rum (Jamaica) £26.00 – Sainsbury’s
This honourable mention is simply because I could not fit all of the rums I liked into the 5 slots I limited myself too. Tiki cocktails often invoke memories of that beach bar on that Caribbean island you never learned to pronounce, along with flames galore. Drinks on fire are usually gimmicky but sometimes this adds to the theatre of the bar world. With regards to tiki cocktails you need a spirit that combusts and yet will not damage the overall flavour of the drink. Enter Wray & Nephews. This high abv alcohol is perfect for this job as it is highly flammable – that means you can light it to give you your fiery theatrical gimmick whilst not altering the overall taste of the cocktail…
Show me a Tiki Cocktail and I’ll show you a good rum…
Tiki cocktails have, traditionally, always used rum in some form or another. The thing is; rum doesn’t just come in 1 style. Just go to your local supermarket, find the alcohol department and you’ll see just how many brands there are.
Whilst you can split rum up into the 4 main types: White, Gold, Dark & Spiced; the complications for choosing one to make your tiki cocktail arise when you look a little closer. Whilst the branding of a rum will be the easiest way to determine a difference, there are also differences in styles.
The style of a rum is determined by several factors. These can include the type of still used, the type of sugar-base* used even the area of which thee rum is distilled can affect the style, and therefore the taste, of a rum. Just like with the difference between different Whiskies there is an equal difference between any two rums.
*All rum uses sugar as a base for the alcohol, but some use molasses (a thick black liquid) and others use sugar cane. The results are often significantly different – with the processes using molasses usually resulting in a darker more viscous end product.
So with this in mind let’s look at 5 of the best rums for your Tiki cocktails, all can be found in the UK although not all can be found in your supermarket (website links can be found at the bottom of each post), and all of the bottles [at the time of posting] are under £40 (around $60)…
Ok, so one of my rather sad pastimes is perusing the internet for new and innovative cocktails, new bars in my local area and literally anything to do with cocktails in the UK (and to be honest I don’t usually stop at the UK, but it’s a good start). Now recently this pastime has led me to uncover what I feel are great summer cocktails, and they are cocktails either not being served locally or just unheard of by people I speak to.
Whether you want a long refreshing fizzy aide to your evening or a shorter more refined flavour experiment, there’s a summer cocktail for you. Like Rum, Vodka, Tequila or Gin? Well you’re in luck, just follow the links for 10 of the best summer cocktails, using those spirits, you’ll ever try.
For the here and now, this great pink cocktail is rather refreshing and a perfect strong arm for all you ladies out there…
The Campari Flamingo
¾ measures Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
1 ½ measures aged rum*
½ measure Campari
3 measures Grapefruit SodaT
1) Fill a shaker with ice, and pour in the Rum, Campari and Lime juice.
2) Shake well & strain into an ice-filled rocks glass.
3) Top up with the grapefruit soda and garnish with a lime wedge and grapefruit twist.
Top Tip: The best rum for this sort of cocktail is one full of flavour, try Appleton Estate, or Chairman’s Reserve for the best results. But ultimately, like any cocktail, just use your favourite rum, and you’ll get a great drink.
*The term ‘Anejo’ is Spanish for aged (and Reposado the Spanish for rested). Anejo Rum is rum that is aged by (generally) leaving it in sealed barrels over a period of time. 5 year old rums have been aged for 5 years and 7yo for 7 (it really is that simple). For best results and ease of purchase, look for the golden/dark rums as aging of spirits like this commonly results in the golden/black hues of the spirit.
T Grapefruit Soda is a great flavoured fizzy drink, but if you like your soda a little more natural why not take a leaf out of Phillip Ward’s book and check out this great alternative using soda water, fresh grapefruit juice and sugar syrup: Phillip Ward’s Paloma Recipe…
So as you can see this cocktail is a great summery drink, with the crisp refreshing tastes of citrus and the bitter taste of Campari. The soda just lightens the drink up a bit to make it a truly refreshing summer spritzer.
Great for BBQ’s, summer garden parties, and; due to the ease of which it can be scaled up to a punch sized volume, it even suits house parties (should the mood take you).
This drink should be on your ‘to try’ list if only as you finally have a drink other than the 3 basic (and rather classic) Campari cocktails everyone knows about… Hopefully this leads you to try this wonderful spirit and how it can blend well with other spirits, but also other flavours allowing you to experiment and come up with new and wonderful drinks yourselves.
Enjoy it and, as always, drink responsibly folks! 70cl of Campari can go a long way if you treat it right. Worth the £15 odd you will shell out for it.
So I sit here sipping on my very last drops of Havana Club 7YO (Sad Face) and let’s be honest with ourselves, you all feel my pain. Let’s have 30 seconds of pause for a sad moment…
Ok so with that over we can carry on (I’ll attempt to make this Cuba Libre last the entirety of the writing of this post). Recently I’ve had a bit of a fetish for tequila, and seeing as today (July 24th) is “National Tequila Day” in the U.S.A . it thought I’d celebrate it here in the UK with one of the newer Tequila’s on the US market: Casamigos.
Now I know what you’re thinking “we’ve all been there, and thrown up” well you’re wrong. I’m not talking about Jose Cuervo ‘Salt, tequila, lime’ (or however you prefer to take the three) Tequila.
I’m talking about the Cazadores/El Jimador/Casamigos style Tequilas; the ‘Craft Tequilas’ of our time period.
Now the latter of the three is a Tequila I want to focus on (for the remainder of this post anyway). Casamigos Tequila, if you haven’t heard, is something a little different to the norm.
Sure it’s distilled and created in Jalisco (Mexico) and to all the specifications it needs to be called Tequila, but there’s a bit of a Hollywood feel to this tequila. But enough teasing for now, that’s a little surprise for later!
Casamigos Tequila was formed by the common interest of two friends and originally meant for just them and their circle of friends & family (if you believe the stories anyhow) until they decided one day, for some reason or another, to share their gold with the world.
The mystery owners aside, this Tequila really is something a little special; although the company has only been distilling long enough to produce a small amount of their Tequila (by industry standards), they have still found the time and methods to distil a great spirit in a growing market (it’s expanding exceptionally fast – especially in the U.S.A.) that has various flavours and aromas you’d expect from a company distilling tequila for years.
It is (as I keep saying) something special. And this may be because of those mystery owners I mentioned earlier. Do any of you know who they are? Hell some of you may even know them personally… They may even be reading this as you do (in which case HEY GUYS!). Have you guessed? No? Well here’s a little picture to put you out of your misery…
That’s right folks, George Clooney & Rande Gerber are behind the new and emerging glass of pure, distilled agave gold.
With the addition of their long-time friend Mike Meldman they are surely a force to reckoned with. It would not surprise me if this time next year, they became one of the top 3 craft tequila’s in the USA. Let alone Europe, should they expand this far (I really hope they do – I’m dying for a sip!).
They are trying different things with both the cooking/distilling and the advertisement (albeit they are in a unique position to exploit their famous reputations). Whether it’s slow roasting the Agave Piña’s or using Gerber’s & Clooney’s star status to advertise both the product and their love for it; putting across the products quality – “if it’s good enough for Clooney it’s good enough for me” is a great slogan to use subconsciously (it’s worked on me at least).
So let’s sum up:
As I cannot taste it and review it that way, I’ll be pining (excuse the pun) over it instead… I want to try it. I want to test it. I want to make some Mexican Mules, Margaritas, Palomas & even sip it on the rocks. Until then I’ll suggest all you American readers jump on the bandwagon and give it a try. I know it’s about $50-60 per bottle, and not everyone can afford it, but if you’re in the market for a craft tequila, I suggest you give this one ago (and let me know what you think as well?!)…
Want to know more about Casamigos Tequila? Clooney? Or even just watch the cheesy but smart advert/trailer for Casamigos (watch out for the painfully good pay off at the end) then follow THIS link and enjoy. Or for a quick link to their Tequila Day blog post check out THIS.
Finally enjoy this picture of Clooney and Gerber enjoying themselves behind the classiest bar in the world: