Tag Archives: Caribbean

Aguas Fresca – Fresh Water

Smoothies, Just a little… Smoother.

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A great Selection of aguas fresca for sale in the America’s…

A little bit more from the Mexican/Central American part of the world… Now this blog is all about cocktails, but it’s also not too proud to admit that alcohol is not always needed for a great drink (I know it’s a bit of a shocker but trust me sometimes needs must!).

The whole idea behind this post is to show that people out there who do not drink alcohol, whether the reasons are religion, dietary or just plain personal choice there’s a cocktail for everyone.

These ‘cocktails’ are not really cocktails per-sae, but are a mixture of fruit/cereal/flowers/seeds, sugar and water. This may not sound too appetising, but trust me, after the concoctions I’ve been trying I’m fully sold on the idea.

And the best thing about this drink is that should you want a little alcoholic kick, you can just mix in a little vodka spike…

Now onto a bit of information – don’t say I never give you anything!

Also known as Aqua Fresca, the term is Spanish for ‘Fresh water’. These drinks are popular across Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and more recently the USA.

Mexican & Central American Aguas Fresca’s regularly come in these flavours:

Sweet

MelonPapayaMangoStrawberryBananaOrangePassion Fruit, as well as other exotic fruits…

Sour

PineappleLemonLimeCucumberTamarind.

Seeds / Flowers

Hibiscus TeaHorchataAlfalfaCebadaChia.

This collection of flavours shows how varied this type of drink is. It’s a testament to the versatility of that wonderful chemical we all depend on: H2O (Water).

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Courtesy of Desert Dreaming*, this picture shows how vibrant the aguas fresca drinks can look…

It’s also a testament to our nature; humanity’s inevitably get bored. We look for something new, try to recreate things. After all that’s how fire and the wheel were invented. Not to mention the Light Bulb, even artists such as Da Vinci & Michelangelo worked to improve and change every day items.

So this idea of blending fruit with water (and sugar) should not come as a surprise. It changes something some consider boring into something vibrant, in both taste and appearance.

Here is the basic recipe for you use at home, just add your own fruit and enjoy…

Ingredients:

–          4 cups of water

–          2 cups of fresh fruit

–          ¼ cup of sugar (caster is best used for this)

–          2 teaspoons lemon OR lime juice (fresh squeezed)

–          Lime/Lemon wedges/wheels for garnish

Method:

1)      In a blender pour the fruit and water. Blend until smooth.

2)      Pour the mixture through a sieve and into a pitcher.

3)      Stir in the citrus juice and sugar.

4)      Add additional sugar to bring up to your own tastes.

5)      Garnish in the pitcher and serve over ice with your friends.

So as you see it’s a simple process that results in something truly amazing. Of course you can change out the sugar for agave nectar and honey, but you would need to blend it in with the fruit water (after sieving the mixture put it back in with the honey and mix well). Equally you could hand whisk.

Hopefully this has helped you all understand Aqua Fresca a little better. If this is your introduction to the drink, try it out; let me know what you think. Better yet, share it with friends and combine fruits.

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Courtesy of Chef Martin*, this picture shows again a shop vendors selling prowess…

I do enjoy the odd Summer Berry blend, as well as peach and apricot. For an added alcoholic kick, add in a few doses of fruit liqueurs into the first blend.

For more information on Aqua Fresca and related topics, check out these links:

Original Method

Wikipedia

Also see:

Licuado    &    Paleta,

*Desert Dreaming

*Chef Martin Seasons

A Classic Preview – Of a Classic Drink… THE MOJITO

Here’s a preview of my upcoming post about the magic of the MOJITO

Basically Mojito’s ROCK! – they are superbly refreshing, glorious drinks for those glorious summer nights we never seem to get any more here in the UK… Well i have news for you, Rum is making a comeback this year and among a few other drinks, the MOJITO will he right on the front lines of this overdue revival.

The Mojito is a classic Caribbean style cocktail, although adopted my many a Mexican resort as a slight diversifier from Tequila; this drink is by far superior from the Caribbean using home grown local ingredients…

As i always say a cocktail can only be as good as its ingredients. And the Mojito is no exception. The original recipe calls for Caribbean white rum, Cuban in particular (as if it would be any other). Add to this the local sugar, limes and mint and you have one of the most crisp, breathtakingly refreshing drinks you’ll ever try…

A Classic Recipe…

60ml Caribbean White Rum

15ml Sugar Syrup

4-8 mint leaves

1/2 lime cut into chunks

top up soda water

crushed ice…

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Mojito’s everywhere… Coming soon: More Mojito Recipes than you could shake a stick at (who does that these days anyway!)…

For methods on how to mix this drink and a large collection of different flavour-filled Mojito recipes (including some rather special easter related recipes), look out for my forthcoming post titled: Mojito’s – The many flavours of Caribben Rum

Keep mixing and dont forget: Drink Responsibly!

Planters Punch – Another great Caribbean delight…

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

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

Planters Punch Classic Recipe:

45ml Dark rum

35ml Orange Juice

35ml Pineapple juice

20ml Fresh Lemon Juice

10ml Grenadine

10ml Sugar Syrup

2-4 dashes Angostura Bitters

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

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

My own tweaked Recipe:

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

35ml Grapefruit Juice

35ml Pineapple Juice

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

10ml Grenadine

10ml Sugar (Vanilla flavoured)

2-4 dashes Angostura Bitters

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

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

Tequila Highball – a taste of Mexico, with a Caribbean twist…

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Combining Tequila with Grapefruit juice whilst not new, when combined like this, it makes for a great recipe…

This recipe takes its inspiration from the Anejo Highball recipe (albeit purely inspiration).

The Anejo Highball (as previously posted) is as follows:

1.5 measures Anejo Rum

½ measure fresh lime juice

½ measure dry curacao/triple sec liqueur

2-4 dashes Angostura Bitters

Top up with Ginger Beer

Lime/orange wheel slices to garnish.

The Tequila Highball recipe is, however, slightly different;

1.5 measures Gold Tequila (preferably Anejo, but Reposado will do)

 ½ measure fresh lime juice

½ measure dry curacao/triple sec liqueur

1.5 measures Pink Grapefruit Juice

1 measure Peach Schnapps

Top up with Grapefruit Soda

As you can see this is very much a Mexican themed drink, but coming from a Caribbean train of thought. Using the lime for the same reasons the rum version does, to help cut through the taste of the alcohol but using the Grapefruit juice to help blend the otherwise Margarita style concoction with the Peach Schnapps. And topping up with grapefruit soda purely lightens the up the drink (without losing the flavours).

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Tequila can mix well with almost all sweet fruits… As long as its mixed well… Don’t be afraid to experiment

This is very similar to the thought process I went through for the Mexican themed party (see my previous blog: https://theferventshaker.wordpress.com/2012/11/28/the-songwriters-shindig-south-of-the-border/) and the use of grapefruit soda along with grapefruit juice blends in well with the Mexican theme of this drink.

A side note; the Schnapps in this particular recipe, for all intents and purposes, is Peach flavoured, but you can substitute your favourite flavour if you do not like peach.

The Cuba Libre – A classic cocktail for the new era.

 “The Cuba Libre requires Bacardi rum and Coca Colatm with ice and a wedge of fresh lime. Why? Because that’s how an original Cuba Libre has always been made – at least since 1900, when American soldiers on Neptuno Street, Havana, first persuaded a barman to mix his precious Bacardi rum with their tasty new beverage called Coca Cola” – Bacardi’s description of the Cuba Libre on their website. (http://www.bacardi.com/uk/Cocktails/BACARDI-Cuba-Libre)

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Old Havana Skyline, taken by Wikimedia Commons/Flickr user Gabriel Rodríguez.

The Cuba Libre has all the mysterious history you need from a classic cocktail and then some. Now I’m not saying it’s because of this that it’s actually considered a ‘classic cocktail’ but you have to admit the uncanny similarities to some of the other classics (Mojito, Martini, Margarita etc…).

The one thing that the Cuba Libre has in its favour though is its base spirit: Rum. Rum, as any well-to-do person will tell you, has a mysterious history all to its own. It just so happens that the Caribbean (that’s the collection of islands that includes Cuba would you know) is arguably the best place for premium quality rums anywhere in the world. Whether it’s the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Trinidad or even the ‘Rum King’ Island known as Barbados, the rum used in Cuba Libre’s has traditionally been of the best quality full stop (little wonder it’s become a classic then eh?).

The Recipe:

So traditionally it was made using Coca Cola, a Premium quality Cuban Anejo Rum and a wedge of Lime to freshen the drink up a little. However recently (mainly due to the lack of any Cuban rum in my repertoire) I have been trying out different brands and styles of rum both to find my favourite, and also because it is a simple recipe to stick to and easy to tweak without destroying the original idea…

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As you can see it keeps to the simple and balanced nature of the classic cocktail, but also packs a great taste (just try it if you don’t believe me)…

Of course there are many variations, more variations than the time I have to write them down for you, and some include different types/brands of rum. From the classic white(light) rums  to the semi-aged golden and Aged ‘Dark’ rums of the Caribbean and even the spiced rums (Captain Morgan’s, Kraken etc.) which have become more and more popular over recent years here in the UK…

The last time I got paid (just after Christmas) I went out and stocked up on some quality rums that my local Sainsbury’s had on offer at the time (and I also got a bottle of Makers Mark, but that’s a story for another time)… The Rums purchased/received as presents were;

–          Brugal Ron Anejo Rum £20-25 (I got it on offer for £16.99)

A Golden (semi-aged/aged) rum from the Dominican Republic; considered to be of a very high quality.

–          Kraken Black Spiced Rum £18-23 (depending on store)

Imported from the USA, Kraken comes in a glorious pirate themed bottle and denotes a giant squid (hence the ‘Kraken’) on the label. It’s a high quality black spiced rum and it tastes magical, which is probably why it has gathered quite the cult following. This was a very well received present from my sister for Christmas.

–          Bacardi Oakheart  £18-19 (£12 – offer price when I got it)

My soul reason for buying this bottle of rum was the price. It was a mere £12 at the time (worked out around £10.80 after my discount) and I just could not pass that up (considering its usual RRP is around £18-19!!!)…

Also I was a little wary because whilst Bacardi is a quality product, I feared they had created something that might not work (needless to say I was very, very wrong!).

Anyway, back to the recipes;

                So I tried a Cuba Libre using a 2-1 (Rum-Lime) ratio and topped up with a cola (Pepsi as it’s my favourite but feel free to change that to your favourite). Needless to say you do get 3 very different tasting drinks.

The Brugal Anejo Cuba Libre is as close as a Classic Cuba Libre these recipes got, purely in the way of geographical accuracy (Dominican Rep. is as close to the Havana Club style Anejo I have) and I imagine it’s similar in tastes to a classic Cuba Libre too. Whilst not the best when mixed with Pepsi, if you use Coca Cola like the classic recipe requests, it becomes sublime. And as a classic Cuba Libre (if you don’t have any Cuban rum) then this is the recipe I suggest you use!

The Bacardi Oakheart Cuba Libre was a standout favourite among my friends and family, with its smooth taste blending with the lime and Pepsi better (in their opinion anyway) than the Brugal Ron Anejo. The Bacardi was obviously made for cocktail mixing; such is the way with their other rum products.

The Kraken Black Spiced Cuba Libre, after a few tries, was my personal standout recipe. Purely for the thick, almost syrupy taste it brings to the drink. The Lime juice, when freshly squeezed, cuts through the nasty aftertaste of the alcohol (that horrible kick you get that can spoil a drink) allowing you to pile in 2 measures without thought, and the Pepsi brought out the Spiced notes perfectly and made sure they were there in the background, but not too overpowering.

In my opinion the Kraken Rum brought something extra to the Pepsi recipes that the others simply did not have: a thick almost syrupy, spice texture that when cut with the fresh lime juice created this sensation of pure bliss; that something a little bit special.

Now don’t mistake my gushing for naivety. I know that the classic Cuban rum recipe will always be the classic Cuba Libre, I wouldn’t have it any other way, but what I am saying is that If you want something a little special and a bit of a taste-treat in the disguise of a Cuba Libre; then Kraken Black Spiced Rum is your poison of choice. Trust me you will not regret it.

Footnotes:

–          Always use freshly squeezed lime juice. Lime cordial is never a replacement at the best of times, and especially not here. It is too sweet and doesn’t help balance out the rum. Don’t expect the taste to be that good if you do use it. Having said that, if you have no choice try to use a little less rum so you don’t overpower the drink.

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Always use fresh lime juice where possible. It is far superior to any lime cordial in every way.

–          These rums were used purely because they were accessible at the time I tried them. So whilst I am raving about the Kraken Rum here, it is very likely you will disagree. Please don’t hate me for ignoring your favourite rum; that is not the intention. It was simply MY favourite of the 3!

Recipes:

Brugal Ron Anejo Cuba Libre (Coke)

2 measures Brugal Ron Anejo Rum

1 measure freshly squeezed lime juice*

Top up Coca Cola

Brugal Ron Anejo Cuba Libre (Pepsi)

2 measures Brugal Ron Anejo Rum

1 measure freshly squeezed lime juice

Top up Pepsi

Bacardi Oakheart Cuba Libre

2 measures Bacardi Oakheart

1 measure freshly squeezed lime juice*

Top up Pepsi

Kraken Black Spiced Cuba Libre

2 measures Kraken Black Spiced Rum

1 measure freshly squeezed lime Juice*

Top up Pepsi

*this is equivalent to around 1 small lime being around 25ml

Now as a slight addition to this post, one I did not intend I might add, will be in relation to the fact that whilst in the process of writing this post; I was again paid.

This payday I invested in a rather well-known brand of Cuban Rum, mainly to test out the theory of ‘Cuban rum for a Cuba Libre is better’ and also because I love it. That’s right ladies and gents; Havana Club 3yo white rum.

Now normally I would keep this sort of information to myself, but seeing as it was mainly to try a proper Cuba Libre Recipe out, I thought it best to add. The recipe I used was a 2:1 ratio (the same as the above recipes) only I added the lime juice to the glass first (following Havana Club guidelines).

And can I just say, from the above recipes, Brugal & Coca Cola was my favourite (not including the Kraken & Pepsi recipe), but this Havana Libre I made up, was on another level… It is very strange, but the flavour of the Havana Club comes through the cola perfectly, so you taste the rums flavour, but without the painful bite of the alcohol (thank the lime juice for that).

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Havana Nights: Cuba is the birthplace of the Cuba Libre and Cuban Rum should always be your first stop…

So I suppose to summarise I just have to leave you with this bit of advice: Cocktail recipes can be fluid. You make them to your own tastes. And sometimes you may want a spiced rum, sometimes you want a white. But if you ever have a Cuba Libre, try it first with the Havana Club 3yo, create a Cuba Libre the way it was intended and then, if you want to, experiment with other rums. You’ll find that this classic recipe is just that: a classic. You may find you prefer a spiced version, or even the taste of black rum. But no matter what you try you cannot beat the Cuban Anejo rum recipe. It’s just one of those things… Like gravity or the short life of a turkey; it’s inevitable.