Tag Archives: angostura bitters

Offers on Alcohol: Calvados special…

Offers on Alcohol everywhere: You just need to know where to look…

Alcohol is getting more and more expensive, no better example than sharp increases that are showcased by Angostura Bitters & Cointreau, especially over the last 3 or so years. It’s averaged that the price of alcohol per unit has risen by 6.5% in comparison to last years’ prices (3.5% more than the 3% inflation rate). This information is taken from the WSTA an organisation for the wine and spirits industry here in the UK.

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Although the average price of alcohol has continuously risen, there has also been an increase in variety, especially in the Vodka & Rum categories over the same period…

Roll back a few years and you could buy a 70cl (700ml) bottle of Cointreau for around £14.99. That might sound like a bargain in today’s money (and it is) but you would expect a small increase. However what you really get is the fact that any bottle of Cointreau in a supermarket you try and buy will now be around £17-£20 at full price, and what’s worse is that the bottle will only be a 50cl (500ml) one! Not to mention Angostura Bitters have double in price over the last 12 months (although that’s a HMRC issue, not the company Angostura itself).

But where can you get good products at a cheaper price?

Basically anywhere that sells the things you want… I work at a supermarket and can tell you that offers are periodical, usually on 2-4 week rotations (depending on the products). Alcohol in particular is a range highly discounted on a regular basis. Whether you prefer the cocktail spirits, beer or wine there will always be a way of saving, as long as you don’t mind changing your choice every month…

Let’s use my shopping habits for example: I love rum, it’s as simple as that. I am willing to purchase and try any rum, as that’s the only real way to find the ideal style/product that suits me (or you).

The best way for me to do this, and spend as little as possible, was to only buy the rum on offer (there’s always rum on offer). This could be any rum, and is also part of the allure, but mainly the bigger brands (such as Havana Club, Mount Gay & Bacardi). So as you can see you can, sometimes, get a proper bargain.

The savings can be anything from £1-£10 depending on the product and time of year. So again I reiterate the importance to looking for a good deal where you can.

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Alcohol is always on offer, you just need to know where to look for the best savings…

Anyway moving on to the main point of this post; saving money on Alcohol.

The Drink Shop is a favourite online source of mine and along with the Whisky Exchange they offer several products at a discount price (like you’d expect a supermarket would). So here below are some links, allowing you to take full advantage of these offers, after all why pay full price when you don’t have to?

This weeks special offer on the Drink Shop is Calvados, which coinsides with National Calvados Week. Calvados, in simple terms, is an Apple Brandy made in the French region of Lower Normandy. Dating back to 1554, apple based distillation is an ancient tradition and can result in a wonderful spirit perfect for drinking straight, cooking with, or – you guessed it – cocktails!

The one thing key to saving money is not to be set in your ways. If you go looking for a particular brand of spiced rum but find it’s out of your price range, then look at other brands of spiced rum and find one that is. This method is compounded by you shopping around; if you’re lucky you’ll find the product you want cheaper somewhere else…  

Good luck and I hope these links serve you well:

DrinkShop: Calvados offer (for national calvados week)

DrinkShop: Wine offers

DrinkShop: Spirits offers 

DrinkShop: Beer offers

Whisky Exchange: Sale Items

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Picture courtesy of: http://www.DIYLOL.com
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Cocktails O’ Clock: The Whisky Sour

Bourbon on the rocks, with the addition of sugar, lemon and a straw…

The whisky sour is another rather famous cocktail that is both simple yet effective. Utilising 50ml (2 measures) of Bourbon, this cocktail is a bit stronger than I’m used to, but it is a great tasting sugary cocktail.

This cocktail is the basis for several similar cocktails including both the ‘Boston Sour’ and Ward 8. The idea is that the combination of the sugar with the lemon juice supplies a sour taste to the whisky and that (obviously) makes it a whisky sour.

Here’s a classic but tweaked recipe, it’s how I prefer mine…

Whisky Sour Recipe

50ml Bourbon

15ml Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice

2tsp caster sugar

1tsp vanilla syrup

2 dashes Angostura Bitters

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Whisky cocktails done right: The Whisky Sour.
picture courtesy of BBCFood

Method:

Shake all of the ingredients over ice and strain into a tumbler filled with ice. Garnish with a lemon slice and maraschino cherry.

Top Tip: For a Boston sour, remove the vanilla and add 1 whole egg white to the shaker.

This is a great cocktail, and whilst I don’t usually drink whisky (I can’t say I like the flavours very much) this is one of the very few whisky based cocktails I actually like drinking.

Another version of this cocktail, known as the Ward 8, is based on the whisky sour, but couldn’t be more different flavour wise…

Ward 8 Cocktail

50ml Bourbon/Rye Whisky

20ml Fresh Lemon Juice

20ml Fresh Orange Juice

1tsp Grenadine

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A red sour is a treat indeed, this one may taste slightly sweeter but it’s still whisky at heart…
Picture courtesy of http://www.saveur.com

Method:

Mix all of the ingredients over ice and then strain the mixture into an ice filled tumbler. Garnish with a lemon and orange slice.

Fervent Shaker Top Tip: for a splash of instant flavour, wipe a mint sprig around the rim of the glass. If mint is not your thing you can squeeze an orange twist over the glass releasing the oils for an intense flavour hit.

Interesting Fact: Ever tried a cocktail sorbet? They are rather popular and done right they are just as good as the cocktails themselves… Check out this post for a cosmopolitan sorbet I prepared recently…

Hopefully this will whet your appetite for more to come.

Cocktails O’ Clock: Touch of Venice

A Venetian inspired romantic cocktail, one for all the lovers…

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The wonderful Canal in Venezia…
Picture taken from http://www.made-in-italy.com

This cocktail is full of glamour and romance and will add a touch of class to any event where it’s served. Not holding a fancy soiree? Then why not include them whilst cooking for a loved one at home? Or better yet, serve them for friends over a late lunch?

The recipe:

90ml Dry white wine

30ml Limoncello

½ teaspoon Amaretto

½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice

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Classy drinks for a classy night… Make them for your loved one, you won’t regret it… Picture courtesy of http://www.FoodNetwork.co.uk

Method:

1)      Shake the ingredients over ice in a shaker. Shake for 5 seconds.

2)      Strain the mixture into a large wine goblet.

3)      Garnish with a Lemon zest spiral.

I don’t particularly favour wine cocktails, but as far as they go, this one is rather nice. I prefer mine to come with a bit of a fizz… If you do too, remove 30-40 ml (to your own taste) of white wine and prepare like normal, but top up with a splash of Prosecco.

The best way to serve this cocktail is obviously chilled and prepared as above, but for that added romantic touch, drop in one of the following (use the one that suits your taste and colour):

Parfait Amour: Violet flavour and purple in colour, this will inject a touch of romance into your very own touch of Venice…

Angostura Bitters: For a dash of extreme flavour and a burgundy colour flowing through the drink choose this wonderful ingredient…

Green Chartreuse: Use a ½ teaspoon of chartreuse per glass here, and you’ll witness a slither of green run through you’re drink…

Blue Curacao: Like the parfait amour addition only it’s a lovely river of blue…

Grenadine/Sloe Gin:  This is a slightly fruitier choice, and adds a shade of red to your romantic evening.

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Venice is the city of Romance, this cocktail is your little touch…
Picture from http://www.isango.com

The choice is yours! Simply use ½ a teaspoon of the above, or just have it originale…

recipe and cocktail picture taken from The Food Network, pictures borrows from: isango  and made in italy.

Cocktails O’clock: The Headless Horseman

Fabled in the lore of old, this drink is no mystery…

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A classic fable of horror and bloodshed, the cocktail is a little lighter…

The man himself:

The headless horseman (Sleepy Hollow, Headless Horseman, The Hollow) is a famous fable, one born out of mystery and lore. Fabled to be a ghost dating back to the American civil war, at least in theory, the horseman himself is a mystery with no one really knowing who he is or what he wants.

The Tales:

There are several stories and versions of the classic tale, but interestingly there are stories not just from across the States, but also from other parts of the globe:

Two other stories appear across Europe, one in German folklore the horseman hunts those who have committed capital crimes. Another (also in Germany) states the horseman as being accompanied by a pack of fire breathing hounds. Further to this there are several tales in celtic folklore (Old Irish & Scottish tales) and even middle England has its own stories. The horseman, it seems, is a bit of an A-Lister among fables.

The Drink:

This drink is modelled, clearly, on the Moscow Mule (although any similarity may be coincidental), minus the lime.

Boasting a strong vodka content, followed up with some flavourful bitters and all topped with the wonderful mixing capability that comes with the use of Ginger Ale

The Recipe:

50ml Vodka

3 dashes Angostura

Top up Ginger Ale

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Ginger Ale & Orange, a great mixture for any spirit…

The Method:

1)      Build the ingredients in a glass, over ice.

2)      Top up with the ginger ale.

3)      Place a slice of orange in the glass to garnish.

This drink should be rather robust and flavourful. The bitters should come through the ginger ale and give the vodka a little depth. At risk of ruining this drink, to make it a little more to your palate you can add a squeeze of lime juice, but as I say it’s a risk I leave down to you…

This cocktail epitomises what cocktails are all about: Flavour, simplicity and elegance. It won’t win any awards but it sure holds its own against some of the better known cocktails out there.

As a little ending note: this cocktail encapsulates something else too… I am a fervent believer in experimenting with flavours and ingredients in cocktails. Why settle for something standard when you can make it exceptional? This cocktail is a great tasting cocktail that separates itself from other ginger ale topped drinks, and does it well…

Cocktails O’clock: Agricole Guava Cooler

Watch out for the long grass!

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A French-Caribbean Fusion…

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.

Recipe:

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

Method:

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).

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A wonderful liqueur with a Cognac base…

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…

King of Cool: Cocktails and Justin Timberlake…

“Take Back the Night… With a Cuba Libre”

At home I make cocktails all the time, granted I drink a lot of Cuba Libre’s, (hell if I have rum I’ll drink them all day long) but every now and then I push the boat out, buy some Tanqueray, and chill with a classic Gin fizz, but mainly I’ll use my Boston Shaker for something a little more challenging. Now when I do this, it’s like making a meal, I gather all my ingredients; making sure I have all the tools (utensils, shaker glass etc.) ready and the right measuring jiggers for what I need.

Now to really get into the ‘zone’ I like to chuck on some music, whatever I happen to be into at the time. When I want a classic cocktail from the prohibition I go for Jazz, it just sets the mood, but when I’m making something more modern I like to listen to a bit of pop. Mainstream I know but its easy listening and easy to jig along to.

Anyway, to the point, the other day I chucked on Justin Timberlake’s new song ‘Take Back the Night’ and started to test out some cocktails for the Angostura 2014 Global Cocktail Competition. This was one of the more fun sessions I’ve had recently, both distressing from my current job, and also general life. You might say it’s my happy place… Now I’ll listen to anything me, I’m quite partial to a bit of the classic 80’s & 90’s stuff but also quite into artists like Diana Vickers. Something happy, upbeat and fun, that’s the name of the game for me. This is where good old JT comes in to the fray:

JT likes a drink or two... He's also pretty good at music if you hadn't heard...
JT likes a drink or two… He’s also pretty good at music if you hadn’t heard…

I was jigging along to we take back the night, mixing away working out cocktails that worked and those that didn’t (those that were as crisp and refreshing as being hit around the face by a Pimms marinated cucumber, and those that were worse than a martini containing more brine than a walrus’ backside), when I realised I’d come up with something a little special.

What I came up with are 3 very fantastic but equally dangerous cocktails. I have no doubt that I will not be invited to the UK heats, as I’m sure that there are other people better than me, but I live in hope, the hope that I get to go to such an event and have someone professional judge my work. That’s my aim, for professional feedback from someone in the drinks business. The money always helps should I ultimately win it too hehe.

One of these cocktails is a tweaked version of a mule cocktail I published on a recent post; the Mordor Mule (that’s right the New Zealand themed Mule Cocktail).

I won’t be sharing the cocktails just yet as, should I be invited to the heats, I want them to be a surprise (you never know who’ll read the post right folks?)…

What I’m trying to get across is that for me, music and cocktail making work extremely well together. If I enjoy the music, it helps me get lost in the atmosphere I create, letting my creativity run a little looser than usual.  And the magic potion this time: JT’s Take Back the Night

Although my favourite song at the moment is: Diana Vickers: Music to make boys cry

It doesn’t always result in great cocktails every time, but I find it helps me focus in on the ingredients that work better than others. It may not work for you but that’s the point, I find it works for me, so thought I’d share that with you all… Not to mention this funny cocktail related picture 😀

Even the lesser mammals enjoy a cocktail or three...
Even the lesser mammals enjoy a cocktail or three…

Drink well, drink responsibly!

I Entered a Competition!!!

“I hope I win…”

So recently I entered two competitions, whilst one involved coming up with 3 cocktails (one initially but 3 in total should you make it to their UK heats) the other was a screenplay competition. In my spare time (when I’m not working on my cocktails, this blog or my book in progress) I love coming up with Sci-Fi novel ideas. None of which I’ve had the time to write up in full yet.

However these competitions have given me something to focus on heavily (hence the abundance of shorter posts from me in recent weeks). The screenplay was only for a 3 minute scene, but I actually got some great ideas written down for my own novel, which I’ll be working on this week coming.

This screenplay competition is something I’m extremely excited about from a personal point of view; however this next competition is something I’m also proud about from a business point of view…

With London cocktail week coming up (October 7th-13th) I wanted to enter a proper cocktail creativity competition. Then I saw the Angostura Bitters Global Competition. An annual competition, Angostura looks for ways to showcase one of their flagship products: Angostura Bitters.

The prestigious Angostura global cocktail championships…

This competition calls for three cocktails:

1)      A Rum based cocktail containing 5 dashes of Angostura bitters. Rest of the ingredients were my own, as were the garnishes, glassware and methods.

2)      A freestyle cocktail: Can use any combination of alcohol but must contain 5 dashes of bitters once again.

3)      An Angostura Rum (1919, 1824, Reserva, 5yo & 7yo Rums) & bitters drink.

All 3 are allowed up to six ingredients as long as 1 is Angostura bitters (5 dashes). Now I think 5 dashes is far too much, but I set out to prove myself wrong and try and come up with something a little better than I have done before. Now straight away I singled out Ginger Ale as the obvious mixer for at least one of my three drinks…

The others are very orchard like, and what I feel to represent the best fusion of Angostura Rum/Bitters with the British produce. One is a soft berry & mixed berry themed punch (my signature one) and the other rum one is an orchard special (using apple and elderflower).

I won’t be sharing the cocktails just yet as, should I be invited to the heats, I want them to be a surprise (you never know who’ll read the post right folks?)…

With any luck I can make it to the heats, be told how my cocktails are, and either take the brutal criticism on the chin or revel in some great remarks (most likely a mixture of the two).

Anyway I shall leave you with this, rather special, cocktail you should all try:

Open House Punch

750ml Southern Comfort

175ml Lemon Juice

175ml Fresh Lemonade*

175ml Fresh Orange Juice*

3 litres lemon-lime soda (7up/Sprite)

Perfect for large parties, this punch is soft enough but if you're not careful it'll kick like a Bucking Bronco...
Perfect for large parties, this punch is soft enough but if you’re not careful it’ll kick like a Bucking Bronco…

Method:

1)      In a punch bowl combine all the ingredients, and stir well.

2)      Chuck in some fruit you like (citrus works well, and so do orchard fruit, soft fruit & berries).

3)      Chill well if making in advance (cover and place in fridge for 2/3 hours) if making to order:

4)      Add ice and stir until cold. The bigger the ice cubes the less the dilution. A single large block of ice is best.

5)      Serve out with a ladle and enjoy.

Top tip: Try experimenting with fruit liqueurs and different fruit juices, it won’t be an ‘Open House Punch’ but you just might discover something a little special…

*these can be found down your local supermarkets fresh juice aisle. The original recipe calls for frozen 6 oz cans of both the lemonade and OJ but over here in the UK we don’t have those readily available. Should you also want something a bit fresher (I’m aiming that one at all you north Americans (USA & Canada alike) then fresh lemonade and (not from concentrate) smooth Orange juice work as a great substitute.