Tag Archives: cocktails in a box

Cognac… In a cocktail?!

So the title of this post may confuse some, after all Cognac is a common spirit used in cocktails. However it’s not a spirit I usually meddle with when creating cocktails, mainly because it’s not my favourite, although its slightly higher price tag (for a decent quality bottle anyway) is always a turn off.

So it was a refreshing surprise to see that the March Shaken Cocktails box came with a cognac theme! It meant that I had to use it to create, at least, the two cocktails in the booklet…

The box, as plain – yet slightly alluring, as always came with the main spirit: Cognac, a couple of minor spirits: Triple Sec & Kings Ginger Liqueur (41 %!!!) and then followed up with a couple of syrups: Cinnamon Syrup & plain sugar syrup. Whilst I had to go out and buy the fresh apple juice and fresh lemons*, creating of the drinks was simple yet fulfilling…

As always the two cocktails were different enough as offer a strong, short cocktail as well as a longer, more refreshing (and lighter) cocktail for those, like me, who like their alcohol a little more mixed in

I created both cocktails to the specifications sent with the box, before tweaking the recipes to my taste as and where needed. The stronger cocktail was, as thought, strong and quite hard to finish for someone of my persuasion.

The long cocktail, however, was near perfection, and the recipe helped blend the ingredients perfectly. Although I feel Cinnamon is a flavour that should rarely roam outside of autumn or winter, the longer cocktail is perfect for mild spring-time evenings out in the garden.

Every time a box turns up I get all giddy, I just love making cocktails, and better yet I love making new cocktails. There are only so many times you can make a mean Daiquiri before it gets a little old.

So every time one turns up the box is destroyed (then recycled) and the bottles are fawned over until I calm down and read the booklet… I’ve included the recipes, along with a little picture of each drink…

The recipes:

#1: Sidecar

Blending Cognac, Triple Sec & Lemon Juice perfectly: The Sidecar Cocktail...
Blending Cognac, Triple Sec & Lemon Juice perfectly: The Sidecar Cocktail…

Recipe:

40ml Merlet Brothers Blend Cognac

30ml Merlet Brothers Triple Sec

15ml fresh Lemon Juice

5ml sugar syrup

Method:

  • First rim a fancy cocktail glass with sugar, use lemon juice as an adhesive.
  • Shake for 20-30 seconds with ice, or until the shaker ices over.
  • Strain into the rimmed cocktail glass and garnish with a twist of lemon peel.

This cocktail is based on a classic Sidecar with a few little tweaks. The original is a 3 ingredient special: A strong spirit, sweeter spirit & fruit juice [Cognac, Triple Sec & Lemon Juice]. Shaken say the taste of the original is a little sour, and they’re not wrong. Personally I like the original but I also love tweaking recipes so this version is right up my street.

Whilst I’m not usually a fan of strong cocktails the Sidecar, like the Daiquiri, is a strong, yet refreshing cocktail and therefore a little easier on your mouth.

Whilst I love tweaking cocktails, this recipe is pretty good and there was not much I could do with the other ingredients I currently have, so no tweaking here.

#2: Covet

This cocktail is perfect for what I like to call porch time: When it's a nice evening and you can just chill-out with a nice cocktail in your hands...
This cocktail is perfect for what I like to call porch time: When it’s a nice evening and you can just chill-out with a nice cocktail in your hands…

Recipe:

40ml Merlet Brothers Blend Cognac

15ml Kings Ginger Liqueur

15ml Cinnamon Sugar Syrup

20ml Fresh Lemon Juice

30ml Cloudy Apple Juice

Optional: Top up with Soda Water

Method:

  • Chill a tall glass in your freezer and fill a shaker half way with ice.
  • Combine all the ingredients in the shaker and shake well, for around 30 seconds (or until the shaker ices over).
  • Fill your tall glass ¾ full with cubed ice.
  • Strain your drink into the glass and garnish with a twist of lemon and a couple of straws.

This cocktail is perfect for a summers evening, and even better for the spring. Spring time is famous for trees flowering their blossoms, birds singing glorious songs and the weather, whilst unpredictable (here in the UK at least), is just starting to warm and if you luck out you might just get some porch time. This cocktail will be perfect for that porch time. It’s long, so it’s not too strong. It’s also going to keep cold enough to sip thoughtfully, as well as drink quickly. Its flavours are surprisingly fit for spring, despite the cinnamon being more of an autumn/winter spice.

Overall it’s a very good cocktail, that whilst I tweaked mine by adding some soda water (just to lengthen it a little), it’s got a bit of a kick to it without the soda so if that’s how you prefer your drink, leave it out.

These cocktails are a great addition to my repertoire and a wonderful selection by the guys and gals over at Shaken Cocktails. I’ll be enjoying a few more drinks using that Ginger liqueur too, at least until the next box turns up later this week!!!

Until then, enjoy the recipes and tweak away!

Shaking things up in Battersea Park: Who let the Dodd’s out?

So I recently subscribed to Shaken Cocktails, and covered that in my post last week. After reading my post; Mark Jennings, one of the founders of Shaken Cocktails, invited me up to Battersea Park, or the nearby area to be specific, for a gathering of members and founders at the base of operations for Dodd’s Gin (The London Gin Distillery). Now this is the sort of event I’ve been looking forward to and the type of event I simply don’t get to go to enough.

From Left to Right: Mark Jennings, Darren Rook, Darren's Gin Still: 'Christine',  Sarah, Sophie & Fergus...
From Left to Right: Mark Jennings, Darren Rook, Darren’s Gin Still: ‘Christine’, Sarah, Sophie & Fergus…

Shaken bill the event as ‘A Shaken Lock-In’ and event where you go to meet like-minded people and, using the ingredients supplied in that specific months box, create 2 gloriously alcoholic cocktails. This event, at the London Gin Distillery in Battersea, consisted of meeting Mark Jennings as well as Darren Rook of Dodd’s Gin as well as several other members of Shaken Cocktails. It was a well organised and extremely down to earth event that was opened by Mark himself. Mark spoke very humbly about the event, Shaken and of course all those who attended. He came across highly passionate and very emotional when speaking about their recent successes at crowd funding (they’ve surpassed their original total and have since raised over £97,000… Congratulations to them!

congrats

It continued with a “15-minute” talk from the gin distillery’s main man: Darren Rook. Darren came across as extremely knowledgeable yet extremely down to earth and happy to talk about his work. Now you’d expect that from most people in his position but what’s refreshing is his openness and blatant passion for his craft. He’s humble yet highly knowledgeable.

Moving onto the cocktails and why everyone came: To experience Shaken and their cocktails…

So this month’s main cocktail was The Negroni, and was backed up with the Elderflower Collins.

Both cocktails used the Gin from the very establishment we met at: Dodd’s.

Check out the recipes below:

1) The Dodd’s Negroni

Recipe:

30ml Dodd’s Gin

30ml Cocci Torino Vermouth

15ml-30ml Cynar

1 part Dodd's Gin + 1 part Cocci Torino + 0.5 parts (OR 1 part) Cynar = One damn fine Negroni!
1 part Dodd’s Gin + 1 part Cocci Torino + 0.5 parts (OR 1 part) Cynar = One damn fine Negroni!

Method:

  • Into a rocks glass add the Dodd’s Gin and Cocci Torino Vermouth.
  • Then add the Cynar bitter liqueur. Try 15ml at first and then if you’d like it a little drier try add the other 15ml.
  • Add ice to the top of the glass and then stir for around 10-20 seconds.
  • Take a slice of orange peel and using your thumbs and forefingers squeeze the oils over the top of the drink.
  • Wipe the peel around the glass and then place it into the drink and sip away.

2) Elderflower Collins

Recipe:

45ml Dodd’s Gin

30ml Fresh Lemon Juice

15ml St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur

15ml Sugar Syrup

Top up Soda Water

Blending Gin, lemon juice, elderflower liqueur and sugar syrup with a dash soda water results in a spritzy little number...
Blending Gin, lemon juice, elderflower liqueur and sugar syrup with a dash soda water results in a spritzy little number…

Method:

  • Fill the metal tin (from a Boston shaker) 2 thirds full with ice.
  • Using the glass part of the shaker add together the Gin, Lemon, Elderflower liqueur and sugar syrup.
  • Shake well, for around 10-15 seconds (until the tin ices over).
  • Strain into a tall, ice filled, and top up with Soda water.
  • Garnish with a lemon wedge and serve with 2 straws.

Now these cocktails are complete opposites and by Marks own admissions this was purposely done to cater for those who like their alcohol straight and for those who enjoy a longer crisper drink.

The Negroni, with its unusual mix of more exotic ingredients is both stronger and more abusive than the Elderflower Collins yet it also holds greater depth and its lighter dilution level means you get to experience all of the great flavours from each of the 3 spirits used in its creation.

However this doesn’t write off the elderflower as a lesser cocktail. Sure the Negroni is a classic, but let’s not forget that the Elderflower Collins, by name as well as nature, is a tweak on another classic cocktail: The Tom Collins.

This tweak lightens the drink up a little and also adds a floral note, one that reminds you of the summer days gone, and makes you look forward to those to come. It’s an easy drink to consume and whilst perfect for a summer’s eve, I would state that it’s a pretty good all-rounder and something I would happily make myself when at home.

margate evening
Chill out, kick back and relax.

This event was a joy to attend and cocktails with Shaken & Dodd’s aside, meeting the other people like minded and enjoying both Shaken and cocktails in general.

Shaken is doing wonderful things and they’re headed up by Mark Jennings who not only believes in Shaken but passionately believes in what they’re doing. His sincerity and humble manner will take the company a long way and I’m proud to be a paying subscriber. I simply cannot wait for the next box to arrive!!!

The Shaken & LDC Folk: Left to Right - Mark Jennings, Darren Rook, Darrens Gin Still: Christine, Sarah, Sophie & Fergus...
So one big thank you to the team at both Shaken & LDC…

As a final note I’d like to add this:

I used to hate gin. A couple years ago I met the group over at Sipsmith and they turned me. And that’s all I’ve drunk Gin-wise since. Now, after meeting Darren Rook and experiencing the effort and quality that goes into Dodd’s gin (along with the actual gin itself – sublime) I can safely say that my self-labelled bottle will be treasured for a long time to come!

So from me here at The Fervent Shaker: Thank you Mark Jennings & Shaken Cocktails for the invite and event. And thank you to Darren Rook at Dodd’s Gin for hosting and sharing your knowledge with us all!

Shaken, Not Stirred: Cocktails in a box…

So I finally did it. I’ve subscribed to Shaken Cocktails.

I’ve been meaning to take a proper look for a month or two now, mainly to see if the price was reasonable. All too often you come across these ‘Product-X to your door’ services and they’re either outrageously over-priced or so pants you might as well be ordering manure in a box. Yes things can be that bad. I recently had a seriously disappointing experience with MyGeekBox and whilst my issue was dealt with well (I got a full-refund and return-postage refund) it has left me a little suspect of these box-to-your-door style services. Although I still have my Lootcrate to turn up – that might restore some faith.

Coming in cute little bottles this venture might just be a winner...
Coming in cute little bottles this venture might just be a winner…

Anyway the point is I finally went and researched Shaken Cocktails and their box of cocktails to your door service… I was so happy with what I read that I instantly signed up and am now eagerly awaiting my Negroni/Elderflower Collins Cocktail box (that’s the March 2015 box). At only £24 per box it’s surprisingly cheap compared to how much the same drinks would cost you out and about.

So for those of you who don’t know what Shaken Cocktails do here’s a little bit of information straight from their website:

“Shaken is a small company; just Alex, David, Mark (see our team page). We create cocktail kits for our members, featuring a different drink each month. The kits are designed to showcase a classic cocktail and its variations. We include premium ingredients (as recommended by that month’s drink designer) for the classic and a single variant. Each kit makes 4 servings (2 of each drink) and includes a bit extra.”

Taken from the Shakencocktails.com website.

Now what exited me, as an amateur (albeit kind of semi-professional) cocktail maker, is that whilst catering for the beginner there is also enough information to allow more experienced cocktail makers the opportunity to learn about the ingredients they’re using as well as the drinks themselves. Perfect for this blog don’t you think?

So here’s my monthly plan: Every Sunday after I get the latest box from Shaken, I’ll take some pictures of the ingredients, mix some cocktails up and test them out. But I’ll also try the spirits/liqueurs they send (along with the other ingredients they supply) neat. This way you’ll get a view at what the boxes are like both information wise as well as the quality of the ingredients they supply.

Last months box: the Manhattan...
Last months box: the Manhattan…

Now aside from the initial box they send I’ve read that they also offer the chance to attend exclusive events (whether this is held by them or partners/suppliers is unknown to me, as are the general prices of said events) and also offer discounts with certain suppliers. Now this is the intriguing part because I have yet to see or hear about any upcoming cocktail related events in the UK (or at least local to me here in Kent). So whilst I’ll be looking initially at the cocktails supplied, I’ll also be looking at the ingredients as well as attending some events.

Now if Shaken Cocktails box-to-your-door service is something you’re interested for you or a friend, why not sign up? It’s a monthly payment so you can cancel anytime you want (this sold it to me if I’m honest). What’s more if you use the link at the bottom of this post you’ll receive £5 off your first box. How about that for a sign up bonus?

Also you can look forward to this blog having a few more ingredient focused posts than usual thanks to this adventure…

Link for £5 off your first box: ShakenCocktails.com/fkue