Tag Archives: cocktail

Cinco De Mayo 2015

So Cinco De Mayo is here! It might be nearly over here in the UK but over in the USA it’s just about time to prep your drinks and start upon your drinking night…

My addition this year is a simple yet often overlooked tweak to make your lovely cocktail a little more… punchy.

Recently I was out for a meal at Chiquito’s (a Mexican/Southern American themed chain restaurant here in the UK) and my tipple of choice whenever visiting this particular branch is their exceptional Dark N’ Stormy. They use Gosling’s Black Seal Rum, and of course Goslings ginger ale – What you have to use to create a Dark n’ Stormy, and call it so.

Well I finished my first one and, sporting my Mexican sports jacket (I purchased it during the 2014 world cup – it’s a delightful shade of green) I asked the waitress if she would mind asking the bartender to make me a Dark N’ Stormy, but with a tweak… She told me they can if they have the means, so I asked for a Dark N’ Stormy but for Tequila instead of rum, I said I wasn’t too fussed on what tequila, just whatever the bartender thought would work best.

Now I don’t know what tequila the bartender used, nor did I remember to ask on my way out (a mistake on my part – although I’d had a few and was with friends). All I know is that it tasted fantastic, and worked wonderfully! So whilst I do not know what tequila was used (I’ve left that to your own tastes) I have included a recipe I know to be pretty accurate to what I had:

Cinco De Mayo Special: Mexican Storm

Whilst it lacks the famous looking dark line at the top of the drink, it has a little more kick and is perfect for your Mexican themed parties...
Whilst it lacks the famous looking dark line at the top of the drink, it has a little more kick and is perfect for your Mexican themed parties…

Recipe:

50ml Tequila (your favourite)

150ml Ginger Ale/Beer

15ml Fresh Lime Juice

Method:

  • Pour the ginger ale/beer into a half filled tall glass.
  • Squeeze in the lime juice and top up with the large slug of tequila.
  • Garnish with a slice of lime and serve with a couple of straws.

This cocktail is so simple it’s a wonder it isn’t used more often in the world of cocktails. Supplementing tequila for rum in this case means your drink packs a little more of a kick, as well as making it instantly Mexican themed…

So next time you order a Dark N’ Stormy, switch out the rum for a nice quality Tequila, preferably your favourite, and you may never go back. I know I’m sold!

Happy Cinco De Mayo Everyone!

Que tu noche sea una buena!

The Long Way Around: Homemade syrup and a cocktail to boot!

So I just got paid, and I promised myself that I’d spend around £10-£20 on some quality fresh ingredients for some lovely little infused simple syrups; you know fresh rhubarb, quality oranges, some ripe figs etc…

Whether they’re used in cocktails or simply as an ice-cream topper is up to the consumer but I started with something I’ve been wanting to recreate for a long time…

The Grapefruit Simple Syrup

Recipe:

100g granulated sugar

100ml water

2 tbsp finely grated red-grapefruit zest

Method:

  • Combine the zest and sugar in a bowl and mix vigorously.
  • Combine with water in a tall sided saucepan.
  • Simmer on a medium-low heat for around 10 minutes, stirring well the entire time.
  • After around 10 minutes the sugar should have dissolved. If not leave for another 5 minutes.
  • Once the sugar has dissolved, turn down to a low heat and leave to thicken a little.
  • Once thickened, remove from the heat and pour into a metal bowl. Cover and leave to cool for at least 30 minutes. Go away and enjoy a nice episode of your favourite TV show.
  • Once cooled, fine strain (using a muslin cloth if possible) the mixture to remove the grapefruit zest.
  • Funnel the liquid into the required amount of sterilised stopper bottles (see the picture above for the bottles I used).
  • Label and store in the fridge. If this is done right, it will keep for 1-3 weeks, although you should use it within 3-5 days after first opening. Tip: split high volumes up into smaller amounts so you don’t have to throw a lot away.

This syrup is a little bitter, but bursting with flavour. It really packs a grapefruit kick and is lovely on a dessert (ice-cream, rice pudding etc…), breakfast (porridge anyone?) and of course beverages including cocktails!!!

Here’s the reason I made this syrup in the first place; my long way around Paloma…

Long Way Around: Paloma

The Long Way Around Paloma... Tequila, with a twist...
The Long Way Around Paloma… Tequila, with a twist…

Recipe:

50ml Aqua Riva Reposado Tequila

25ml fresh grapefruit/orange juice

15ml Grapefruit infused simple syrup

Top up Soda Water

Method:

  • Build ingredients one by one in a tall, ice-filled, Collins glass.
  • Top up with the soda water and stir gently, to mix the ingredients.
  • Garnish with a lime wedge/slice and serve with a straw (or two).

For an added twist though why not try out a Cointreau Bomb: Using a mexican elbow; Squeeze the lime juice out of a lime half and then turn the lime the other way around and press the elbow together again. Tie the elbow and leave while you prepare the drink. Once the drink has been prepared the fun begins. Sit the now ‘hollowed-out’ lime half on top of your drink and fill with Cointreau.

Just before drinking push the lime half under and then enjoy…

Ingredients, Left to Right: Lime Juice, Grapefruit Juice, Aqua Riva Tequila, Cointreau, Soda Water, Fresh Grapefruit & Grapefruit infused Syrup.
Ingredients, Left to Right: Lime Juice, Grapefruit Juice, Aqua Riva Tequila, Cointreau, Soda Water, Fresh Grapefruit & Grapefruit infused Syrup.

This ‘long-way-around’ version of a great tequila cocktail is a little more bitter than it’s more simple cousin but it’s also got a greater depth in flavour and allows the drink to come across a little fresher.

I also think that creating a drink like this also adds the sophistication that using canned grapefruit soda removes. A classy little cocktail made In a loving, yet sophisticated way.

Not to mention the self-satisfaction you’ll get from creating your own infused simple syrup!

Give both of these recipes a go and let me know what you think, if you’re feeling a like a party try comparing this version of the Paloma to one made with grapefruit soda and see which you prefer…

Cocktails O’Clock: Inspired by…

Brazil

High above the favelas, this drink comes all the way from Brazil…

Caipirinha de Tangarina

Recipe:

½ very sweet Tangerine

50ml Cachaca

1 or 2 Teaspoons Demerara Sugar (to taste)

With the bright orange hue and sweet tangerine flavour; this drink is a great addition to any cocktail party…

Method:

  1. Peel the tangerine and place in a chilled rocks glass.
  2. Sprinkle over the sugar and muddle gently until the sugar dissolves
  3. Add crushed ice and pour in the Cachaca.
  4. Stir well and top up with crushed ice.
  5. Garnish with a tangerine segment and serve with a straw.

This cocktail is based on a traditional Brazilian Caipirinha, which is a great cocktail, but the tangerine twist makes this already fantastic drink a little more special.

I know what you’re thinking; “lies, this drink is too good to tweak” well, I dare you to try it! Pick the sweetest tangerine you can find and don’t be afraid to chuck in a few extra pieces for added zing.

Although this drink is a tweaked Caipirinha, it holds its own in both taste and the look; taking on a stunning orange hue courtesy of the fruit.

Cocktails O’ Clock: The Shady Grove

Shade is a small miracle on hot summer evenings so sit on down and refresh yourself…

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This shady little grove is just what you need to enjoy this cocktail…
Picture courtesy of: trailblogs.wordpress.com

I haven’t done a gin cocktail for a while now, which is odd as I have a rather full bottle of Plymouth Gin (42%) in my cupboard. So it made sense to try a few out and this one stuck in my mind…

Mixing ginger ale (if you haven’t guessed it’s my favourite mixer) and lemon juice with this gin was a master stroke. Whilst the cocktail should work with any gin, there was something about this gin that made using it the first stop for any future attempts (it may have been the slightly increased alcohol content of 42% – most gins are around 37.5-40%).

Regardless of the reason for this difference the cocktail was refreshing and had the usual heat and crisp taste Ginger ale brings to the table, but with enough sweetness from the sugar to balance out the lemons sharpness.

This drink is perfect for the final days of summer, should we have any summer weather left (it’s pouring with rain as I type this).  

Here’s the recipe:

Shady Grove Recipe

2 measures Gin

1 measure Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice

1 teaspoon Caster Sugar

Top up Ginger Ale

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Gin, Ginger & Lemon: Holy Matrimony…
Picture courtesy of: http://www.pinckneybend.com

Method:

1)      Shake the first 3 ingredients over ice vigorously (to help dissolve the sugar).

2)      Strain into an ice filled tall glass.

3)      Top up with Ginger Ale and garnish with a slice of lemon and 2 slices of fresh ginger.

This cocktail works well as a refreshing after dinner drink, but also as a standalone summer evening drink. You can add small amounts of liqueurs into the shaker to help flavour the drink lightly (try around 7ml/1 teaspoon), for example the use of Chambord will add a slightly sweet raspberry taste whereas the addition of Licor 43 (Cuarenta Y Tres) will add a Vanilla taste but with added undercurrents of citrus (with help from the use of the lemon).

Fervent Shaker Top Tip: Using a martini cocktail glass and leaving out the ginger ale is a good way of shortening this drink and allowing for a more robust taste affair. For an added Ginger hit, use a teaspoon of Domaine De Canton Ginger Liqueur. Also garnish with a stick of fresh/stem Ginger.

Fervent Fact: The use of sugar in this drink adds a slightly course taste, but for those who like their gin cocktails smoother try using Agave Nectar or Sugar syrup (the use of flavoured syrups are favourites in my book, but a double measure of a sweet liqueur would work just as well).

Until next time, why not check out these great blogs I found recently…

Trail Blogs

Summer Fruit Cup

Cocktails O’ Clock: Purple Passion Tea

This one’s for you ladies; Give it a try on a September evening and you’ll never want another cocktail again…

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The drink is called the ‘Purple Passion Tea’ but in reality it’s more a shade of pink… Perfect for the ladies out there…
Picture courtesy of: http://www.alaska-in-pictures.com

I’ve tried plenty of Iced-Tea cocktails in recent years, some classic and some I’ve made up, and when it comes to my female friends this has to be one of their favourites. Now it’s not just for the colour, that’s kind of stereotypical, it’s because of the flavours… Combining smaller amounts of the base spirits and adding a double dose of Raspberry liqueur helps sweeten the drink (and is the reason for the pink hue). The best thing about this cocktail however, has to be the versatility to mix with fruitier mixers. The recipe below is the classic version, and below that you’ll find the best mixers to substitute in for the sour mix… Take your time working out the kinks in this recipe, make a few up and enjoy yourselves. Trust me when I say you’ll love them:

Purple Passion Tea:

1 peeled Passion Fruit

(7ml) ¼ measure Vodka

(7ml) ¼ measure Rum

(7ml) ¼ measure Gin

(14ml) ½ measure Chambord (Raspberry Liqueur)

(112ml) 4 measures Sour Mix

(7ml) ¼ measure Lime Juice

Top up Lemonade

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A great refreshing cocktail perfect for September evenings, but also great for accompanying your desserts…
Picture courtesy of: http://www.delish.com

Method:

1)      Muddle the passion fruit in a shaker and then add ice.

2)      Add all of the ingredients (except the lemonade) and shake well (5-10 seconds).

3)      Strain into an ice filled glass.

4)      Top with the lemonade and garnish with a hulled passion fruit halve on the rim of the glass.

This cocktail is a less-alcoholic version of the famous long island iced tea (using half the amount of alcohol) and therefore a little easier to handle. Knocking down the alcohol levels does several things for the drink, one of which is the balancing of flavours. If you up the alcohol, you lose the Chambord (raspberry) and passion fruit flavours.

Fervent Shaker Top Tip: For an added touch of fruitiness try substituting half of the sour mix with either pomegranate or cranberry juice. Also, for a really classy touch, try using Hibiscus soda instead of the lemonade (if you do try to garnish with a Hibiscus Flower)…

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Hibiscus Flowers are one of the most elegant cocktail garnishes out there. Done right they are simply beautiful (they’re edible too!)…
Picture courtesy of: ajachicago.typepad.com

This is perfect to drink with desserts and works well with Cheesecake or Citrus tarts, perfect with the odd bit of sorbet also. Have you ever tried an ice-cream soda? – Home-made it’s just a dollop of ice-cream with a top up of Lemonade. – This is not a new dessert by any means, but this cocktail should have a fruity flavour to compliment such an ambitious idea.

So until next time drinkers, drink up and enjoy!

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And for the ladies: Yellow Hibiscus Flowers 🙂

Moscow Mule – Mixing up some Magic…

The best thing about some cocktails, in my opinion at least, is that they can have their ingredients substituted by certain other ingredients (just look at the classic Caipirinha and Caipiroska cocktails). We all have our favourite cocktails, and for some, we all have our favourite ways of preparing them. For example, I like a little extra lime in my Cuba Libre’s, I just love the taste.

This is the same with the Moscow Mule; at least in principle…

The classic recipe, of 1 part vodka to 4 parts ginger beer, with a splash of lime is one many people will look at and think ‘that’s extremely easy’. And it is. Whilst one of the easiest cocktails to both remember and make; the Moscow Mule is also one of the best tasting. The lime juice, when fresh cuts right through the ‘paint stripper’ taste you get from a lot of the poorer quality vodkas, whilst complementing the higher quality ones (not to mention its crisp, refreshing taste). The ginger beer/ale (which ever you prefer – I myself prefer the more flavoursome ginger ale).

Classic Moscow Mule Recipe

120ml Ginger Beer/Ale

45ml Vodka

5ml Freshly squeezed Lime Juice

Top tip: The higher the quality of the vodka, the better this drink will taste. I find Green Mark is the perfect balance when it comes to ‘quality vs. price’. Ginger Ale is the more flavoursome of the two ginger carbonated mixers. The beer is a flavoured soda, whereas the ale is actually made from Ginger directly.

The best thing about this cocktail is, as previously stated, its versatility when the ingredients are changed out. For a more Caribbean flavour you can substitute half of the vodka for spiced rum, or even add in a splash of gin to give it a more English feel. It’s all about your tastes.

A couple of ideas to get you all started would be:

Citrus: Changing up the citrus flavour in this drink means you can replace the distinct limey flavour with a more bitter lemon flavour, and in some cases even grapefruit and orange flavours. Granted you have to be careful not to increase the fruit juice content too much, so as not to unbalance the drink, but get it right and you have a slight twist on a classic.

A rather good recipe, as well as some others I’ve picked up along the way can be found here in the following section:

Moscow Mule, Valencian Twist

120ml Ginger Beer

45ml Green Mark Vodka

5ml Freshly Squeezed Orange juice

2-5 dashes angostura orange bitters (to taste)

Top Tip: Garnish with an orange twist, and if your skill is up to it, flame the zest of the twist too.

A Great Moscow Mule Pitcher

300ml Vodka

100ml Lime Juice

750ml Ginger Beer

Top Tip: Serve over ice and throw in some Lime wheels to make the jug/pitcher look a little colourful.

A slightly bitter version

3 dashes Angostura bitters

50ml green mark vodka

25ml fresh lime juice

Top up Ginger beer

Top tip: when adding the bitters, make sure it mixes well with the vodka and lime before topping up. Otherwise this drink does not balance well. 3 dashes is the average for this drink, but depending on your taste you can have as little as 1 dash, or as many as 5 before this drink is unbalanced; add the bitters to your own tastes.

The Interurban Kentucky Mule

45ml Kentucky Bourbon

5ml freshly squeezed lime juice

Top up ginger beer

Top Tip: Kentucky bourbon is the only American whisky you should be using in this variation, but if you cannot get a hold of one, then Canadian will suffice. Jack Daniels is just not on the same level.

This version is a Portland (as in Portland, USA) favourite. They folks there swear by these and the bourbon is cleverly disguised within the first sip.

Mezcal Mule/Mexican Mule

45ml Mezcal/Gold Tequila

15ml Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice

Top up with Ginger Beer

The Mezcal Mule (obviously using Mezcal not Tequila) is a house cocktail from the ‘Central’ Bar in Southwest Portland. The Mexican Mule however has a more ‘full on’ Mexican vibe to it.

Either way you’ll enjoy these refreshing cocktails, especially If you love tequila/mescal.

Did you know? – All Tequila’s are a type of Mezcal but not all Mezcal is a type of Tequila.

For 3 other Portland moscow mule variations check out this site:

http://www.neighborhoodnotes.com/news/2012/05/mule_variations_5_portland_takes_on_the_moscow_mule/

The White Russian – A Classic Cocktail from the Very Cold East…

The White Russian, as it appears, is synonymous with well-to-do folks drinking at high-end soirees. Seen in movies such as: ‘How to lose friends and alienate people’, ‘the big lebowski’ and many others, the white Russian often comes across as a cool drink that upper-class/cool people tend to order.

This cocktail is a relatively famous thanks to Hollywood; like the Martini, it is only known as well as it is because of its movie tie-ins. Now i concede that the Martini would arguably be well just as mainstream without 007, but the white Russian, however, is a bit of an oddity and as such it may possibly have been overlooked by many…

The recipe explains this more than I ever could in words:

Classic White Russian recipe:

1 measure Vodka

1 measure coffee liqueur

2 measures Fresh Semi-Skimmed (2% fat) Milk.

This recipe straight away screams a warning: mixing milk and alcohol?! – But try it out and you’ll be suprisingly impressed! It’s sweet, creamy and delicious, a cocktail with something special going for it: it’s different.

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Before mixing, a White Russian certainly looks different, and once mixed its the flavours that mix with the milk that create something a little special…

The combination of cream and vodka, reminds one of a nice mellow alcoholic milkshake brand; Mudslides (Mudslides here in the UK were very popular once upon a time). And when you mix in the coffee liqueur you get an alcoholic café-latte-type drink, that will be pleasant for those not use to strong alcoholic cocktails.

This cocktail is forever a classic, one you will hear of at least once in your life and if that time is now, then I suggest that you try it whenever you next get the chance. The flavour of this cocktail will reward your wise choice ten-fold.

Give the recipe above a try, and if you are finding it a little difficult to get right take a look below for some tips:

Tips when making The White Russian cocktail at home:

–          Don’t restrict yourself to milk. Try single cream, double cream, or combinations of the three (single cream and milk works particularly well)…

–          I tend to stick to semi-skimmed milk (2% fat) but again try things for yourselves and find your preferred recipe (although try to keep away from skimmed (0.1%) milk, or the 1% (orange top) milk some supermarkets are selling now…

–            Try different Coffee Liqueurs. I always use quality where I can, but sometimes a small budget dictates a compromise. Here in the UK some supermarkets have their preferred ‘discount brands’, of liqueurs like Coffee, Limoncello and even Amaretto. Try some out. I prefer Kahlua out of all the brands I’ve tried but it is expensive at £15-20.

A Sonoran Iced-Tea Please… A Taste Of Mexico In Your Glass!

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A classic Mexican mix, but with a little electric twist…

At the party ‘south of the border’ (http://theferventshaker.wordpress.com/2012/11/28/the-songwriters-shindig-south-of-the-border/) I was tasked with concocting a drink at very short notice. Now given choice of alcohol was restricted to the party’s specific Mexican theme. I wanted to create something with a Mexican feel, but, at the same time, offered something a little different. So I tried mixing the coffee with cranberry. The combination of just those two flavours would have been too dry, but by adding the amaretto the drink has the sugar to balance the cranberry and coffee as well as that extra layer of flavour (with the almond).

Overall the drink balances out well, and is both crisp and refreshing in equal parts.

People would have you think that the cocktails we now call ‘classic-cocktails’ were well researched, highly thought out masterpieces. Whilst in some cases that’s true (and in my opinion they are all pretty much masterpieces) for the most part, they are a result of pure experimental work. And this is exactly how this one came about.

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A lovely refreshing cocktail. Give it a try and drop me a comment or two…

Im not saying this is a classic cocktail, im not that big headed, but it does have something a little different about it, something that I feel most classic cocktails have. In all my years drinking cocktails (I’ve had more than my fair share) I’ve never had a cocktail that tasted quite like this… The Sonoran Iced-Tea is a carefully layered cocktail that hits you in stages of flavour. First you smell the coffee liqueur, then you get hit with the fresh fruity flavours and the dryness of the cranberry. Finally you finish with the Tequila and Coffee liqueur. The main thing about this drink is that it makes you think. It looks like a normal summer evening drink, and it is, but it has a hidden flavour surprise and that’s what I strive for.  Give them a try and let me know what your thoughts are. It was very well received at the event, but always I look for feedback where possible!

The more perceptive of you, will notice that the recipe I included in the Mexican Party post did not include the tequila… This is because since then i’ve had time to refine the cocktail to help balance, as well as add to, the layers of flavour…

Sonoran Iced Tea

2 measures Coffee Liqueur

2 measures Amaretto

1 Splash (1 teaspoon) of silver tequila

½ measure Lime Juice

Top up with Cranberry Juice

Shake  the first free ingredients well (until the shaker ices up), then top up with the cranberry juice. Serve in a highball glass filled with ice.

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: http://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.