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
50ml Tequila (your favourite)
150ml Ginger Ale/Beer
15ml Fresh Lime Juice
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!
Falernum is a sweet sugary syrup originating from the Caribbean and is most often used in rum based cocktails with a tropical feel to them. This syrup can come in both alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions, and in various brands. It’s important to look at whether or not the bottle you’re buying is alcoholic or not, as the alcoholic versions can range from 10-25% Vol. (typically speaking).
It is a thick syrupy liquid that can range from clear/white to golden and translucent and therefore the type of Falernum you use can affect the appearance of the drink you’re trying to create.
But whatever version you choose the overall flavour is almost always the same, and it’s for this reason it is so popular with bars and their cocktails (the famous OXO Tower in London uses Golden Falernum in their Dark N’ Stormy recipe).
Falernum typically contains a collection of ingredients, including (although not always together): Almond, Ginger, Clove, Lime, Vanilla and occasionally All Spice. As you can tell different brands can differ quite significantly in taste and whilst one version may enhance your Mai Tai, another might not. This is something to be aware of when you go shopping for a bottle…
So where can you purchase Falernum?
Well you would not be stoned for assuming supermarkets would stock this item, but here in the UK it has still to break the stranglehold Monin’s Grenadine & Simple syrups hold on the shelves. However there are some online sources where you can pop a bottle in with a delivery of other liqueurs/spirits. These websites are TheDrinkShop and TheWhiskyExchange. Failing that you can always brew up a homemade version, try your hand at Kaiser Penguins’ recipe. Those of you reading this in the USA, seeing as the Caribbean is a mere boat ride away, I’m sure you shouldn’t find it too difficult to source…
Cocktails using Falernum:
OXO Tower Dark N’ Stormy
2 measures Goslings Black Seal Rum
2 – 5 dashes Aromatic Bitters
½ measure Fresh Lime juice
½ measure Barbados Made Golden Falernum
Top Up Organic Ginger Beer
– Combine the first 4 ingredients in a shaker (over ice) and shake for around 10 seconds.
– Then strain into your serving glass, over ice.
– Top up with the ginger beer and garnish with a lime wheel/wedge.
Note: I could not get the exact measurements that the staff at the OXO tower use, which is a shame, but I have perused some online recipes and compared them to come to the above recipe… I’m open for comments as to your favourite recipes…
1 measure Velvet Falernum
1.5 measures Dark Rum
¾ measures Fresh Lime Juice
– Combine ingredients over ice and shake well (around 10-15 seconds).
– Strain into a cocktail glass (I prefer a coupe glass).
– Garnish with a lime wedge…
A classic recipe, this cocktail is Caribbean all over, combining rum and Falernum to create a sweet and tangy masterpiece. At a glance this cocktail looks rather similar to the dark n stormy I’ve listed above, but I believe it’s most likely where the OXO Tower got their idea from. Still this is a great cocktail and should not be sniffed at (unless of course you actually want to sniff it).
Corn N’ Oil
1 measure Bacardi Gold Rum
¼ measure Velvet Falernum
2 dashes Angostura Aromatic Bitters
– Stir all the ingredients over ice, and strain into an ice filled old fashioned glass.
This cocktail is a mystery in that no one knows where the name came from, although there are rumours that the strangely thick (almost oily) BlackStrap rum is the reason the ‘oil’ is in the name…
4 measures Goslings Black Seal Rum
1 measure Wray & Nephews overproof rum
1.5 measures Velvet Falernum
2 measures Fresh Lime Juice
½ measure Sugar Syrup
– Shake all the ingredients over ice and strain into an ice-filled glass.
– Squeeze piece of lime peel over the drink and place in the glass.
– Serve with straws.
This drink is also very much like a Dark N’ Stormy, but with a massive smack in the face from the overproof rum. With the addition of Ginger Beer (to top) this drink becomes a pumped up Dark N’ Stormy, but at the same times lengthens this rather tricky drink…
1.5 measures Light Rum
1 measure Orange Juice
½ measure Falernum
¼ measure Maraschino Liqueur
– Shake all the ingredients over ice and strain into an ice filled, chilled rocks glass.
– Garnish with a lime wedge.
1.5 measures Gin
½ Fresh Lime Juice
¼ measure Falernum
¼ measure Dark Jamaican Rum
– Shake the ingredients over ice and strain into a well-chilled martini cocktail glass.
– Garnish with a pineapple stick/finger.
These cocktails all have Falernum as an ingredient, but also all taste different. This is both a testament to the Syrup/Liqueur’s depth of flavour, but also its versatility as a cocktail ingredient. It is for these reasons that it’s my product of the month… Hopefully you all enjoy it and get a chance to experience the recipes I’ve listed above!
I’m writing this as the Bears lead the Vikings 24-21 (Half Time)
Recently i’ve been doing a daily post at around 5pm (GMT) of cocktails i like/love. I’ve decided to change it up a bit…
This is mainly because over the next 2 weeks (as well as the past week) i’m working as much as possible to help me pay for London Cocktail Week (London, UK). But also because i think it’s time to introduce some more things, links, picture and so forth.
Hopefully all you guys (readers) will enjoy the refreshment whilst I work as hard as I can now, so that in 3-5 weeks time i can bring you lots of juicy posts about my exploits during the LCW, and various photo-shoots for my upcoming cocktail book.
So here, inspired by tonights NFL game i’m watching whilst typing are 32 cocktails themed for the NFL, for your favourite teams… Especially for you Americans!
Now anyone who has read my Cuba Libre post (or seen any of the status updates on my Facebook page) will verify this: I LOVE RUM! My 2 favourite rum cocktails of all time (ever) are; 1) The Cuba Libre, 2) Dark N’ Stormy… I’ve placed the DNS as the number 1 (without a doubt) but the Cuba Libre only made it to number 3… Scroll down to find out why…
10. Twisted Lemon Mojito
60ml White Rum
15ml sugar syrup
1 lime (chunked/quartered)
8 mint leaves
20ml Lemon Juice
Top up Lemonade
Place the mint leaves in the bottom of the serving glass and place the lime pieces on top of the lime (skin-side up). Pour in the sugar syrup and gently muddle the ingredients (be careful not to tear the mint leaves as the drink will become bitter, you just want to loosen the oils from the leaves). Pour in the rum and stir very gently. Fill the glass with crushed ice and top up with the lemon juice and lemonade. Stir to mix up the drink one last time. Garnish with a lime wedge and mint sprig. Serve with 2 straws.
9. Perfect Storm
1 Vanilla Bean
½ cup Caster Sugar
30ml Ginger Ale
45ml Apple Cider
60ml Dark Rum
Mix together the rum, cider and ginger ale and pour into a vanilla sugar rimmed glass (filled with ice). Garnish with half the vanilla bean.
8. (Classic) Mai Tai
30ml Golden (light) Rum
30ml Dark Rum
15ml Orange Curacao (although a clear triple sec will suffice)
10ml sugar syrup
15ml almond (orgeat) syrup
Juice of one medium sized lime
Combine and shake all the above ingredients over ice. Shake until the metal of the shaker is well iced. Strain into a rocks glass (over crushed ice if you prefer) and garnish with a combination of the following: Lime wedges, pineapple wedges, maraschino cherries & Orange twirls.
7. Classic Daiquiri
60ml White Rum
20ml fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons sugar syrup
1 teaspoon maraschino liqueur (optional)
Shake all the ingredients over ice and strain into a cocktail glass (martini). Garnish with a thin slice of lime/lime twirl.
6. Pineapple & Mango Rum Cocktails
2 ½ small ripe mangoes, peeled & cubed (1/2 mango sliced length-ways and with the skin left on),
120ml Appleton estate golden rum
120ml cup fresh mineral water
1L Fresh Pineapple Juice
Fresh tropical/exotic fruit for garnish (Dragon Fruit, Star Fruit, Papaya, Physalis etc)
Puree the mangoes, rum and mineral water and pour 120ml of puree into each glass. Top up the glasses with ice and pour over the pineapple juice (fill the glass). Garnish with the mango slices and tropical/exotic fruit (add some flowers to make the drinks look a bit more tropical).
5. Classic Caribbean Mojito
60ml White rum
15ml sugar syrup
1 Lime (chunked/quartered)
8 Mint leaves
Top up Soda Water
Same preparation as no.10; Use as little or as much mint/lime as you prefer but no less than 1 lime worth of chunks/quarters. Top up with soda water instead of lemonade.
Top tip: for a hit of flavour, add 1-2 pieces (more for small berries) of your chosen fruit into the shaker and shake with the rest of the ingredients (various amounts of fresh juice will also work – although slightly dilute the overall strength of the drink).
4. Classic Pina Colada
500ml Fresh Pineapple Juice
180ml creamed coconut (tinned is ok)
250ml Golden (light) Rum
750ml crushed ice
Garnish: 4 lime twirls & 4 pineapple spears
Blend all of the ingredients (except the garnishes) and blend for about 1 minute. Pour into hurricane glasses and drop in the pineapple spears. Wipe a lime twirl around the rim of each glass and drop it into the drink to finish. Serve immediately with straws.
Top tip: Choose nicely flavoured golden rums; Brugal Anejo or Bacardi Gold are great choices. For an added touch of class use Angostura 1919 rum. Also if you fancy a splash of heat, use a spiced rum and drop in 2 teaspoons of fresh ginger juice just before you blend., It’ll be subtle but worth the underlying heat.
3. A Very Cuban, Cuba Libre (aka the Cuban)
50ml Havana Club 3yo Rum
Top up Coca Cola
Fill a highball glass with ice. Pour in the rum and squeeze in half a limes worth of juice (less if you prefer), and top up with coca cola (original – all the others distort the classic taste).
2. Jamaican Mule
50ml Jamaican Rum
Top up Ginger Beer
Over crushed ice, pour in the rum and top up with the ginger beer. Garnish with the lime wedge (giving the drinker the choice of adding it to the drink – personally I add 25ml lime juice in, but that’s just me!).
1. Bermudan Dark N’ Stormy
50ml Black Rum
12.5ml Fresh Lime Juice
25ml Falernum (Bermudan alcoholic sugar syrup)
Top up with Ginger Ale
‘Goslings Black Seal’ is the rum normally used in this cocktail, but it is hard to find here in the UK. For an easy to find alternative try my personal favourite: ‘The Kraken Black Spiced Rum’ it’s gentle heat and subtle caramel/molasses flavours work very well with the ginger ale.
To make this delicious cocktail the traditional way, build in an ice filled glass the ginger ale, then add a shaken mix of the falernum syrup, lime juice and rum. Stir if you want but the drink should look like the picture above if you do it right…
Top Tip: For an added hit of fresh heat try adding a couple of teaspoons of fresh pressed ginger juice.
So my post the other day should have set everything all out for you. The posts in this series will focus on supplying you 3 detailed cocktail recipes, which may or may not be alcoholic.
The basic idea is to help you understand the cocktail more (especially its flavours). Also it’s about having fun! See what ‘menus’ you can come up with at home…
Here’s a mini-intro:
Starter cocktails are simple and refreshing. These cocktails will not be anything you wouldn’t have heard of before, but they will be perfect for starting your ‘meal’ off. They should be refreshing and where possible: Crisp. Think limes, fizzy mixers and overall a balanced drink and you’re half way there…
This is the tricky course. The cocktails you’ll find here will be a little stronger than you’re probably used to, and this is not a bad thing. Think an Old fashioned, think Mad Men, think classic and classy and you’re on the right track. This course is all about alcohol with depth and will include cocktails where you can better appreciate the alcohol…
Something sweet, something to end the night on a high… This section will cover some of the better sweet cocktails. Are you one of those people that just have to have a dessert when you go out for a meal? Then this is the section for you…
This post is all about Dark Rum (Goslings is the optional rum of choice although any branded dark rum will do)
First a little bit about dark rum:
As some of you may know, Gosling’s is widely considered the national rum of Bermuda. In my opinion, and it is an educated one, this is often not as clear cut as you would think, in part due to the amount of rum brands hailing from the Caribbean, not to mention the amount coming from Barbados itself. Arguably the most famous dark (black) rum from Barbados is Goslings Black Seal.
Now the thing to remember when making this menu is the rum. It really has to be a black/dark rum (or at the very least a top quality golden rum). This is not because I’m a rum snob (I am but that’s neither here nor there) but in fact because these cocktails are all about Dark Rum. To get the best flavours out of them you need to use dark rum.
Ok, now I’ve got the rules and regulations out of the way let’s get onto the fun stuff: The cocktails…
Gosling’s Dark N’ Stormy
120-140ml Gosling’s Stormy Ginger Ale
50ml Gosling’s Black Seal Rum
Slice of lime to garnish (so the consumer can add it if needed)
So this is probably one of my most favoured cocktails. It’s simple, balanced and genuinely fantastic. I’m not a fan of too much spice and I was so happy when I found that this drink is just within my threshold.
As some of you may know, Gosling’s is widely considered the national rum of Bermuda. In my opinion, and it is an educated one, this is often not as clear cut as you would think…
It makes for a perfect start to a 3 course cocktail menu because not only is it simple to make, it’s also designed to be crisp and refreshing, a perfect start to any ‘meal’.
The problem with this cocktail though, is that you will be hard pressed to find anywhere in the UK that serves it… My local Chiquito’s restaurant serves it (and dark n stormy’s) but not many other places do. In this case, you can improvise by simply using any other dark rum. I prefer Kraken Spiced myself, but Captain Morgan’s works equally as well.
The Garnish of a lime wedge is for aesthetic pleasure, but also enables the consumer to add it if they prefer it.
Cocktails like this are the ones that creep up on you. If you’re not careful you’ll start falling over and texting ex’s before you know it. But enjoyed responsibly they can be the best cocktails you’ll ever have… Give it a go, and let me know what rum you prefer in your Dark N’ Stormy!
1 teaspoon caster sugar
75ml soda water
50ml Dark rum
The original recipe for the one above can be found here:
Add the Soda water & caster sugar to a chilled glass. Mix until the sugar dissolves and then fill the glass 2/3rds with crushed ice. Then add the dark rum and garnish. When garnishing the recipe calls for wheels and a cherry, but if you’re able to skewer the rind of a lemon, orange and the cherry then try that for some added class…
This cocktail is all about the flavour of the rum used. In keeping with the menu theme of Dark Rum, this cocktail uses the more ‘flavour-deep’ rums. Any dark rum can be used in this drink; my advice is to just use your favourite dark rum here.
Whether you prefer Gosling’s, Kraken Spiced, Morgan’s Black, or even Havana club 7yo, it’s all about the rum’s flavour and its depth.
A perfect course for sampling the flavours dark/black rum can offer. This is one of my favourite ‘strong’ cocktails and I admit I have to be in the mood for it, but it is genuinely a great drink. Do not be surprised to see it on bar menus across the U.K. & U.S.A. over the next few months…
2 teaspoons Lime Juice
2 teaspoons Falernum
25ml coconut water
50ml Dark Rum
1 teaspoon Apricot Brandy
50ml Single Cream
1 x Slice Mango
1 x Pineapple Leaf
1 x Mint Sprig
Add all the ingredients to a shaker and shake well (until the shaker ices up). Strain it into a Collins glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with the mango slice, mint sprig and pineapple leaf, using the pineapple leaf as the ‘spoon’ for the other two garnishes.
This cocktail is all about the sweet flavours from the other ingredients bringing out certain qualities in the dark rum. In some restaurants they add Falernum to dark n’ stormy cocktails to help sweeten them slightly…
A perfect end to the Dark Rum 3 course meal, this cocktail will be ever so slightly sickly, and you won’t want more than one, but it is silky smooth and has a naturally layered depth thanks to the rum used. This drink should have a golden hue to it, and you would not be wrong to think of it as a kind of golden Pina Colada (albeit without the pineapple).
Why not give it a go and let me know if you find a better way of making it? (Equally let me know if you like it just the way it is).
Did you know? Falernum is a slightly alcoholic (typically 11%) sugar syrup with various flavours infused into it. It is originally from Barbados (the brand you can buy nowadays is from Bridgetown, Barbados). So this goes perfect with Gosling’s Black Seal Rum…
Well sometimes I like a change. A change is good right?
This post is all about the ‘outing’ for my 26th birthday. I’ve always wanted to go to Chiquitos and try their cocktails, and as I rarely get to treat myself to a meal out; I felt it was the right time for a Mexican.
First let’s talk about the food, it’s unusual for me to discuss food on this blog I know, but for the sake of this post please allow it…
“Southern Fried Chicken breast and BBQ Pulled Pork”
…with skin on fries, onion rings and coleslaw.
This one of many choices from their Tex-Mex menu, it wasn’t too spicy but had just enough kick to let you know it had something about it. Pretty much everyone in our group had pulled pork of some variation on their plate so we definitely worked them hard on this dish.
It was a great tasting meal. One which, when compared to other similar restaurants (such as Frankie & Benny’s) was far superior in every way. The member of staff we had was friendly and happy to help however he could, as well as suggesting the best way for us to order so as to save a little more money. So to summarise: Fantastic food, fantastic service and overall a fantastic day out.
So now let us move on to important section: the cocktails…
The first thing I do in places like this, is pick up the drinks menu and flip straight to the cocktail section. No, not because I’m set to get hammered, but I in fact like to have a brows and see what cocktails they have from a professional point of view. You can really tell a lot about the companies stance on cocktails from their menu: If it’s just classic cocktails like the Margarita and sea breeze then you know they don’t really care as much as they should (you’ll also find their beer/wine selection is rather large too). However if they have some themed cocktails and even a nice selection of the relevant themed spirit (in this case it’s a Mexican restaurant so Tequila would be the spirit of choice) then you know they have thought a lot about what they can offer and what cocktails are within the theme. Unsurprisingly I prefer the latter when I check out a restaurant.
If I go to an General American (U.S.A.) themed bar, id assume bourbon/vodka drinks would be the specific spirit, likewise I went to an Italian restaurant I’d like to see some Amaretto, Limoncello, Grappa & other aperitif’s on the menu. It’s a simple case of fitting the specific spirits to the theme, something a lot of restaurants do not tend to do (I find Frankie & Benny’s are guilty of this among others).
Chiquito’s have a very extensive collection of ‘themed’ and ‘neutral’ cocktails, as well as having different sections for vodka, rum and, of course, several pages dedicated to tequila (including the very nice touch of offering a cheeseboard style selection of their ‘premium’ tequilas).
Even with all the choice on offer (around 14 pages give or take), from great sounding cocktails like: “The June Bug” and the refreshingly sounding “Key West Cooler”. Yet it was surprisingly easy to pick the first cocktail the “Dark ‘N Stormy”.
Now in my true ‘Rum bandit’ form, I went straight to the Rum section of the menu. This was met with what can only be called ‘fate’. At the top of the list, was a pretty looking recipe going by the name of “Dark ‘N Stormy”.
Now I’ve been making these at my home with real (freshly squeezed) lime juice, fiery ginger beer and a whole host of sugar syrups/cordials for flavour tweaks (my favourite recipe is below)…
My Favoured Home-Made Dark ‘N Stormy Recipe
2 measure Kraken Black Spiced Rum
1 measure Elderflower cordial
½ measure lime juice
Top up Sainsbury’s Fiery Ginger beer
Build this drink in the order given, over ice in a tall Collins glass. Top up with the ginger beer and stir before serving with 2 straws and a lime wedge for garnish.
So naturally I felt impelled to try this first. I see from the menu that they make it with proper Bermudan Rum, Goslings Black Seal Rum – no less, and mixed in with Goslings Ginger Beer.
Now that’s all well and good (COCKTAIL SNOB ALERT), but the picture shows it also having a lime wedge floated on top (in an attractive jam jar glass as well) but there is NO mention of the Falernum that should ideally be involved (although in almost all cases simple sugar syrup would be used – although they make no mention of this either)…
Note: Sugar Syrup/Falernum (slightly alcoholic Bermudan sugar syrup), are in fact optional ingredients and as such did not affect the review at the end of this post…
As far as I could see their typical recipe is as follows:
Chiquito’s Dark ‘N Stormy
1 measure Goslings Black Seal Rum
Top up Goslings Ginger Beer
Wedge of lime to garnish.
Now this recipe is basic, at best. Taking into consideration the prices and the fact that the drinks come secondary to the food; the drink is pretty good. Simple and effective, it’s not going to win awards, but what they lack in detail they make up for by serving it in the pretty jam jar glasses.
Although technically speaking the above recipe is the classic Dark ‘N Stormy recipe, the drink I was given contained no lime, in fact the first one had a lemon slice instead. Whilst it may only look like a superficial mistake, the taste the lemon (or worse yet a lack of lime) gave to the drink skewed the flavour slightly. It is a shame as they are one of the very few places licensed to sell Goslings in the UK. The only thing I will say in their defence is that it was first thing on Easter Sunday that we had this meal. And as such, I shall return next week to see if the lime improves the flavour from the drink I had (in which case I shall publish a re-review of the cocktail).
Next up: Mai Tai.
Now this cocktail is rather famous as rum based exotic cocktails go. Bought for me by my friends (after several ‘this is the one I will have next’ comments) this drink was slightly longer and fruitier than expected. Also it’s worth noting that there was a flavour I could not quite put my finger on, and it kind of ruined the drink if I’m honest. All in all it came down to the drink having too many flavours and nothing to tie them altogether (like some fresh lime juice for example).
Compare these two very different recipes:
Classic Mai Tai recipe:
1 measure White Rum
1 measure Golden Rum
1 measure Dark Rum
½ measure Lime Juice
½ measure Orgeat Syrup
½ measure Orange Curacao
Top Tip: this is the most universally accepted ‘Trader Vic’ style Mai Tai.
Chiquito’s Mai Tai recipe:
Note: I couldn’t gauge the amount of each ingredient used in the Chiquito recipe, although I assume it was similar measurements to the classic (with some fruit juice to lengthen the drink).
The thing with the Mai Tai is that back during the day, the recipe was kept secret. This mean recipes had to be made by taste, and well, let’s just say sometimes you’ll get Pineapple juice, but most of the time (rightly so) you wouldn’t.
The problem I have here is that the drink was slightly too sweet, and there was nothing holding all the flavours together. If you work for Chiquito’s then take note: take out the pineapple juice and maybe try something like cranberry juice, although it would be further from a Mai Tai, it would taste ten times better (especially when you add in the lime juice). I suppose the thing with ‘tiki’ style drinks like these is that tropical juices have the ability of lengthening the drink, without taking away from its exotic taste, which is obviously what they’ve gone for.
I believe that is what Chiquito’s have done with their version, made it both economically viable as well as easier on the alcohol so it is more popular among those not use to it (people who will try it when eating there – as opposed to off the street drinkers).
Next up: the Alabama Slammer
This cocktail is vodka based but still slightly fruity. I thought this to be a pretty good end to the trials, as it was rather exotic but also had a slightly deep south feel.
Chiquitos Alabama Slammer recipe:
Note: Again I couldn’t gauge how much of each ingredient was used, but I’d imagine it was 2 Vodka, 1 SoCo, ½ Amaretto, 2 OJ and ½ Grenadine… although that’s just an educated guess…
Now for the hard part… Let me explain: As with most cocktails, especially ones not commonly known, the difference in recipes can be endless. Most of these recipes use the same ingredients, but in different amounts, whilst some use completely different ingredients altogether…
The most consistent recipe I could find actually included Sloe Gin:
A classic Alabama Slammer cocktail recipe could be:
1 measure Southern Comfort
1 measure Vodka
1 measure Amaretto
1 measure Sloe Gin
2 measures Orange Juice
Top Tip: the vodka and SoCo measures in this drink are interchangeable. If you prefer more SoCo then balance the alcohol more to your tastes, just make sure it still works out to the same measure amounts, i.e. 1.5 measures SoCo – ½ measure vodka).
Note: For any of you out there thinking “that sure looks a little like a Long Island Iced-Tea” you’re kind of right as some people do in fact call it the Long Island Iced Tea of the south…
Chiquito’s Mexican Bar & Grill; a summary of the day…
So Chiquito’s is a well-known bar/restaurant chain over here in the UK, arguably not as popular as Frankie & Benny’s (although they are both owned by the same parent company!). My personal preference (along with most of my friends’) is Chiquito’s. This is not just because of their superior menus (both food and drink menus are much more thought out) and food quality, but also the quality of their staff. The members of staff in Chiquito’s always seem like they enjoy working there, which I always find is better for morale in any business (and its customers). You also get a sense of knowledge from most of their staff.
In regards to the food served this time around, there was not a complaint to be found. The cocktails were good quality for the establishment in which they were served. Let’s face it; you don’t go to restaurants like this and expect the best cocktails in the world, but you still expect quality. And they were good enough for the quality you’d expect.
Whilst not necessarily all the classic recipes, they have added their own flavours and given them a tex-mex vibe. This makes the drinks a little longer, and arguably easier to drink with the meals, but they make up for this by having a large variety of cocktails using different spirits.
The Tequila: How Mexican do you want to go?
Tequila is by all accounts the most common spirit associated with Mexico. And as a Mexican themed restaurant, you’d assume that chiquito’s would have some variety in the tequila they serve. This is something they have not overlooked. When walking into the bar area and looking across the copious amount of bottles on display you’ll notice the big names; Jack Daniels, Eristoff Vodka, Goslings Black Seal Rum. But look closer and you’ll also see a rather extensive collection of Tequila’s. These brands are listed here (please forgive me for any missed, I didn’t have time to write all of them out):
Jose Cuervo Especial,
Jose Cuervo Clasico,
Gran Centenario Reposado,
Patron XO Café,
Tequila’s ranging from the brand leading ‘Jose Cuervo’ to the Ultra-Premium brand ‘Patron’ as well as a taster selection: choose 4 of their tequila’s to try with various complimenting flavours (citrus fruits & cinnamon).
Now for the cocktail reviews: This is a new feature and I’ve tried to be critical, but in a fair manner.
Dark ‘N Stormy
1 measure Goslings Black Seal Rum
Top up Goslings Ginger Beer
Wedge of lime to garnish.
These scores were given from a critical point of view. Although personally the Dark ‘N Stormy was my personal favourite, it was, overall, the bottom rated of the three. The Alabama Slammer benefitted from a nice garnish (the stemmed cherry added a little class to an otherwise dull drink).
The differences between the Alabama Slammer and Mai Tai were minimal, except for a slightly different taste (which you’d expect seeing as one is a rum based cocktail, the other a vodka one) but not enough to tell the drinks apart. This would not be a big issue if it were not for the fact that the drinks looked exactly the same! Minus the cherry of course!
Margate is a wonderfully quaint little seaside town on the eastern tip of Kent (a county in the UK – for all you non-UK readers) but for those of you who are not acquainted with this sometimes lovely little town here are a few photos, in the form of a Google search…
Once you’ve seen some of those pictures, imagine this:
Walking along the Margate sea-front, box of cocktail equipment in hand, leftover tequila, white rum and even a bottle of Prosecco (which remained un-opened in the end) all included, I meander along the path, to be pleasantly surprised by my friend Dan (no relation) who was waiting for me after picking up a small mountain of ice for the Soiree. We both walked back to his house and as we walked in we were both met with a chorus of ‘Woos’ and ‘Dan!’ all from one of the other co-hosts excited to see the cocktail prep could begin. Now I would like to make it clear that at this point, it was around 5-5.30pm and the Soiree did not really get going until around 7-8pm.
Before I can do any prep work, I’m shown around the house. First up the main room; where I would be set up. This room also included interactive music, determined by the people in the room at the time (allowing for more personalisation of the evening for the guests – a great idea that really worked well). Then I was taken into the two-tier ‘rave’ cellar and considering it was just 2 brick built rooms the last time I saw it, the neon lights, fairy lights and luminous paint (along with the slightly later addition of strobes and lasers) made this the very club-vibe up beat part of the event.
This two level club-like look really worked and considering the 40+ people attending, was also necessary!
Onwards to the cocktails now:
I started prepping the cocktails and the ingredients needed from around 6pm. This included washing anything I hadn’t done at home, laying out my equipment (knives, strainers, shakers, jiggers etc.) and then of course the softening & cutting of the limes. The alcohol was kept in a make shift bar, an emptied bookcase worked surprisingly well, combined with a large unused table provided me with a sturdy work surface. With people not turning up (generally) until around 7-8pm I offered to make a few test cocktails for the hosts and the music suppliers.
Cocktails tried included the dark n stormy, sex on the beach and (because of a lack of gin/lemon juice) I also served up a tweaked version of the Long Island Iced-Tea (see below [cocktail no.9] for the recipe). This helped me ease into a sense of security and when people started actually turning up I was in my element. For all intents and purposes I had my own bar for the night. Working cleanly and efficiently (and under a great deal of pressure from almost all of the guests at one point) the cocktails started flying of the shelf (quite literally).
I had written the recipes down in one of my handy little notebooks and this allowed people to read what cocktails were available. This not only freed me up to concentrate on the cocktail making process, but also allowed the guests to have a good look at the ingredients and the name of the cocktails, helping them understand what was in each one. This was a little Idea I thought I’d try that also seemed to ease up some time for me to concentrate on the cocktails.
These cocktails, as you can see, are a combination of classic and contemporary recipes with a little variance in the themes. The mojitos are light and refreshing, whereas the white Russian is a creamier coffee flavoured cocktail. Whilst the Hawaiian Bay Breeze and Sex on the beach are similar in their ingredients, the simple addition/replacement of the ingredients drastically transforms the flavours…
Overall I feel this collection best suited the night and the guests that attended where full of compliments of every recipe. In hindsight the only changes would probably have been the removal of both the Tequila Sunrise and Hawaiian Bay Breeze. These would be changed purely because of a) the tequila sunrise didn’t work with the small opaque plastic cups and b) the Hawaiian bay breeze was too similar to the sex on the beach for the guests to order. Looking at the recipes available with the ingredients purchased the best move may have been to use some more Mexican themed cocktails (tequila and pineapple juice based recipes may have been a good call) to balance the collection out a little.
That put to one side, the overall feedback was good and everyone kept complimenting me on my cocktails, which is a fantastic confidence boost – as I knew pretty much nobody there, and the people I did know had not really seen me in action.
The event as a whole didn’t just benefit me from a networking point of view in that my confidence with serving quality cocktails is improving all the time. The cocktails served were not only great tasting, but well made, and that is great feedback to have.
As a further more personal note, having cocktails at an event like this, in the way it was done at this event, supplies your guests with a focal point outside of the norm. This can become a conversation topic as well as a general form of interactive entertainment.
Now onto the real bread and butter of this post: The Cocktails…
As previously stated the cocktails are a combination of all different flavours. These are not necessarily themed but do share a general Caribbean trend (light fruity juice mixed drinks)
Dark ‘n’ Stormy
1 measure Dark Rum (I used White Rum)
5 measures Jamaican Ginger Beer
I used Sainsbury’s white rum for this cocktail as dark rum is generally hard to find at a reasonable price these days. The only thing the dark rum will give you over the white rum is a larger depth of flavour, but if you use a higher quality rum (let’s use Havana Club 3yo for example) then the flavour depth is automatically quite deep, negating the need for dark rum specifically.
Top Tip: when on a low budget always try to accommodate the supermarket brands, you’ll find that the quality is just as good as some of the more ‘famous’ brands especially when mixing in cocktails…
1 measure Vodka
1 measure Galliano
4 measures Fresh Smooth Orange Juice
This cocktail is a classic version of a classic recipe. It was not tweaked in any way and I think this is by far the best way to serve it. If you do not like the vanilla then you can cut it out, but then it becomes a simple Screwdriver. Either way enjoy this cocktail over ice.
Top Tip: this drink is better built in the glass over ice than shaken. You want to create a layered feel to the flavours and shaking the ingredients works against this…
60ml White Rum
15ml Sugar Syrup
8-10 fresh mint leaves
1 ½ lime in ¼’s
Top up Soda water/Lemonade
Build the ingredients in the glass you serve it in. Start with the lime and sugar syrup and muddle well, then add the mint and gently muddle. Add the crushed ice and the rum. Top up with lemonade and garnish with a mint sprig.
This cocktail is a classic recipe ONLY when the soda water is used. However my recipe calls for lemonade purely because I have not found a soda water mojito that I like. And I am more comfortable making this slightly sweeter version. This drink is meant to be refreshing so you must use fresh mint leaves. This cocktail just does not work with dried mint at all.
Top Tip: Just before you put the mint leaves in the drink, place them in the palm of one hand, and clap your hands 1-2 times. This releases the oils from the leaves without making the drink bitter.
Sex on the Beach
1 measure Vodka
1 measure Peach Schnapps
2 measure Cranberry Juice
2 measures fresh smooth Orange Juice.
Another built drink. This drink is all about depth in flavour and the best way to do this is to loosely layer the ingredients as you make the drink (over ice of course).
Top Tip: if your guests are planning on drinking this cocktail quickly (or if it’s served in small amounts) then stir gently before serving so they get all the appropriate flavours.
Hawaiian Bay Breeze
1 measure Vodka
1.5 measures Cranberry juice
1.5 measures Pineapple juice
This cocktail can be served either built or shaken. Either way the pineapple adds some Caribbean flavour to an already fruity cocktail. The cranberry and pineapple work perfectly to create an almost punch like feel to this drink.
Top tip: if shaking, double strain the cocktail as you pour it into the glass, taking out the unnecessary foam (from shaking the pineapple).
1 measure Silver Tequila
4 measures Fresh smooth Orange juice
½ measure Grenadine Syrup
This drink is as simple as it sounds. Build it over ice with the grenadine being dropped from about 1cm above the glass. The grenadine syrup will sink to the bottom and gradually work its way up the cocktail as you drink it. The idea being that the more you drink it, the stronger/sweeter it gets.
Top tip: if you want a bit more culture in your tequila sunrise try using a quality Gold Tequila to add some depth. Jose Cuervo Reposado Gold Tequila is a good shout, but any quality gold tequila will do.
1 measure vodka
1 measure coffee liqueur
2 measures Single Cream
This cocktail is a tricky cocktail to make. It may look like it is going wrong but just persist and as long as the cream doesn’t curdle it will be perfect…
Build it over ice and stir before serving…
Top tip: I used my preferred coffee liqueur on this, and the best thing about using coffee liqueur with cream is that you really can be flexible. Try it with Kahlua, but Tia Maria and Soiree coffee liqueur work just as well.
The Sonoran Iced-Tea
1 measure Kahlua (coffee liqueur)
1 measure Disaronno Amaretto
½ measure Silver Tequila
Garnish: ½ measure freshly squeezed lime juice
Top up with cranberry juice.
I have both built and shaken this drink, for the best blend I find shaking makes it lighter and negates the need for ice in the glass, whereas building it requires crushed ice. But please find the best way that suits your taste.
At this event I served the lime juice as a garnish (adding just after pouring into the glass/cup). Shaking the rest of the ingredients negates the need for ice and also saves time as you can serve it straight away.
Top tip: you can add the lime juice to the drink and shake or pour it in at the end; I just prefer the crisp lime flavour at the beginning. Please feel free to experiment and find the way that best suits you.
Bonus cocktail recipe:
My forced-tweaked version of the Long Island Iced-Tea
1 measure vodka
1 measure rum
1 measure silver tequila
1.5 measures fresh lime juice
2 measures sugar syrup
Dash of amaretto
Top up with Coca Cola (original not diet)
This drink was born out of a lack of gin, triple sec and lemon juice. It was not one of my planned cocktails but I was challenged by one of the guests to make up what I could with what I had, using the L.I.I.T. as a base. It was rather sweet and as far as I’m concerned it worked. The guest was happy and it spread like wildfire throughout the event, becoming better than most of the cocktails on the menu.