Here, listed below, are some of the best cocktails you should be trying out this Christmas and New Year… Using French Champagne, Italian Prosecco and of course good old English Sparkling Wine these cocktails aim to add a bit of colour (and class) to your drinking experiences this festive period.
1. Kitsch Revolt
1 measure absolut vodka
½ measure strawberry puree
Top up Laurent Perrier Champagne Brut Method:
Combine the strawberry puree and vodka in a chilled champagne glass and then top up with well chilled champagne. Fervent Shaker Top Tip: this recipe is unusually suited for mass mixing. Combining the vodka and strawberry puree together and pouring and sharing between the required glasses really speeds things up.
Champagne: The best price you’ll find at the moment is at sainbury’s where you can save a whole £10 and nab a 75cl for only £26.99.
2. La Siene Fizz
1 measure Brandy
½ measure fraises de bois
½ measure fresh lemon juice
Dash of orange bitters
2 strawberries (hulled)
Sugar syrup (to taste)
Top up Marca Oro Prosecco
½ measure Grand Marnier
– Muddle the strawberries and sugar syrup together in a cocktail shaker and then add all the other ingredients (except the champagne and Grand Marnier) and shake well.
– Strain into a tall, ice filled Collins glass. Top up with champagne, float in the Grand Marnier and garnish with a strawberry on the glass’ rim.
Champagne: Available at Sainsbury’s for a very tempting £8.49 (75cl). A good choice for a budget sparkling wine and perfect with the fruit flavours in this cocktail.
3. Kir Royale
2 teaspoons crème de cassis
Top up Lanson Black Label Champagne Brut
Drop in the cassis and then top up with chilled champagne. Fervent Shaker Top Tip: for added sweetness, especially if you’re using a dry sparkling wine, try using a sugar cube to soak up the cassis and place that in the glass. The drink will become sweeter the more you drink. Top up as desired…
Champagne: On offer at Sainsbury’s, this champagne is £10 cheaper than normally, and for a limited time (no really, after Christmas I have a feeling they’ll be removing the offer rather quickly) it is only £23.99.
4. Riviera Fizz
1 ½ measures sloe gin
½ measure fresh lemon juice
½ measure sugar syrup
Top up Etienne Dumont Brut (Non-Vintage) Champagne
– In a cocktail shaker, combine the gin, lemon juice and sugar syrup and shake well.
– Strain into a champagne flute and top up with the chilled champagne.
Champagne: This champagne, one of the bigger brands, is on offer at Sainsburys (check online to see if it’s available near you) at a very reasonable £13.49.
1 measure Campari
1 ¼ measures Sweet Vermouth
Chilled Antoine De Clevecy Champagne Method:
Combine the ingredients in a champagne glass and top up with chilled champagne. Champagne: Sainsbury’s currently have this champagne on a good offer. Saving £9.99; you can grab a bottle at a fantastic £12.
6. Cranberry Cooler (by sainsburys)
Recipe (serves 6): (build and serve)
150ml Grand Marnier
330ml Orange Juice (smooth)
600ml Cranberry Juice
Combine in a large jug and mix well with a selection of fresh (appropriate) fruit. Spread among 6 ice-filled highball glasses and serve straight away. Fervent Shaker Top Tip: This drink’s recipe reads very much like a summer punch, except the flavours your end up with are very much winter-orientated.
7. Apple & Berry Bucks Fizz (by sainsburys)
Recipe (Serves 12):
360ml Apple & Raspberry Juice
Sainsbury’s TTD Vintage Cava
Fresh Mint Sprigs
– Add 30ml of the Apple & Raspberry Juice into a champagne glass and then squeeze half an orange worth of juice in as well.
– Top up with the Vintage Cava and then garnish with the mint sprigs. Fervent Shaker Top Tip: When preparing fresh mint the best way to release the oils without damaging the leaf is to follow this simple to remember routine:
Place the mint leaves in the palm of your left hand.
Then with one swift and forceful motion clap your hands together. This releases the oils and allows for applying the oils to the rim of the glass and also creates a fantastic fresh mint smell when you put your nose to the glass.
Champagne: This sparkling wine is a real bargain this time of year, especially seeing as, at full price, it is already a discount product. You can expect to spend around £7.49 right now (£9.99 usually).
– Drop a cherry into a champagne flute and then add 15ml of the Kirsch.
– Top up with the Prosecco.
Champagne: I’ve made no secret about this product being one of my favourite sparkling wines. Having used it several times for events and cocktails at home, it is perfect for both fruit flavours (such as a classic bellini) or straighter drinks such as this one. Prices can range depending on the time of year, but generally it costs around £9.99. It is available at this moment 25% off – £7.49.
9. Black Velvet (Tesco)
880ml (1 ½ pints) Guinness
Top up Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Grande Reserve Champagne Method:
Half fill the champagne glass with the Guinness and then top up with chilled champagne. Fervent Shaker Top Tip: This cocktail is specifically built for particular taste, especially seeing as it uses Guinness. It’s a very eclectic tasting cocktail but the aesthetics of the drink is something a little different (and different is good).
Champagne: Now this champagne is one I’ve yet to try (I have a bottle unopened in my cabinet) but I’ve heard nothing but good things. Better still it is on offer at Sainsbury’s and if you’re quick enough you’ll be able to nab a free specifically designed Ice bucket. Price (if you’re quick): £14.99!!!
10. Raspberry Champagne
25ml Raspberry Puree
Top up Champagne Method:
Layer the liqueur then the puree and finally top up with the chilled champagne.
Champagne: Sainsbury’s TTD Champagne is a bit of a jewel when it comes to cheaper champagnes. Supermarket wine/champagne buyers are extremely clued up when it comes to what’s good and what’s not. So you should definitely try this whilst it’s still on offer: £20.99.
Look out for Part 2 coming your way very soon… Oh and a very Merry Christmas to you all! CHEERS!
Now for the disclaimer: Let me apologise for one thing: Sainsbury’s. They seem to be the easiest supermarket whose online grocery website allows you to look at individual products in detail (as you’ll notice from the links in this post) as well as stocking the best sparkling wines (champagne or no) available. And so they are mentioned exclusively when it comes to pricing of the champagne/sparkling wine. I would like to point out that this post has not been sponsored, nor influenced by Sainsbury’s in any official capacity whatsoever.
A brief introduction to Champagne and where to buy it…
It’s not all about Champagne…
The first thing you need to know about champagne is that the word ‘Champagne’ is geographically patented and can only be used for a sparkling wine if it is made within the Champagne region of France. However the process used to make champagne is not exclusively used by the French (a common misconception).
This process itself is not an uncommon practice with products that sell well, think about Cognac and Cornish Pasties, and protects the so called quality of the product. Now that’s not to say that all champagnes are great because, trust me, there are not! But what it does mean is that a premium can be charged by companies for calling a product champagne. And without going into the economics of champagne making; they probably need it a lot more than the domestic companies…
What Champagne should you use in a cocktail anyway?
There are hundreds of different sparkling wines out there, as many as there are grape varieties in fact, but there is more to the world of cocktails than just champagne.
There was once a time when only the best champagne was used for cocktails, that was until other countries tried their hand at this so called ‘secret’ method of making sparkling wine. Sure they could never recreate the same processes the French used (for obvious legal reasons) but therein lied the secret to success: Their products were different, but in a good way. they do say after all that variety is the spice of life.
So then different countries had different products: Italy had Prosecco ( a slightly sweeter but essentially the same as the French) and as of the last couple of decades us English folk also started producing our Sparkling Wine. Prosecco is becoming more acclaimed and in some cases as highly regarded as the best champagnes.
Whilst English Sparkling Wine is in its infancy, it is pretty darn good, and winning awards all over the shop. Sure i’m English, and biased, but English Sparkling Wine is genuinely good (for the most part).
Of course you shouldn’t take my word for it, why not try it out for yourself? Or even get out there and try a tasting course or two?
Check out the links at the bottom for more information…
So where can you buy Champagne/Prosecco/Sparkling Wine?
As already stated they are all pretty much made the same way, meaning that if you can source one, chances are you can find all different kinds. The best/easiest places to start, here in the UK at least, are the supermarkets; places like Sainsbury’s, Tesco, ASDA, Morrisons, M&S & Majestic wines.
Then when you know what you’re looking for you can head online to speciality companies and even try out websites like TheWhiskyExchange and TheDrinkShop.
Using an ice filled shaker, shake together all the ingredients for about 30 seconds (or until the shaker is iced).
Strain it into a Martini glass and garnish with a twist grapefruit peel.
This cocktail is a great way to introduce France to both you and your cocktails; Using 2 of Frances well known spirits/liqueurs, this cocktail oozes class and all the subtlety the French are famous for…
Combining the sweet and fragrant St. Germain and Lillet Blanc with the tartness of the Grapefruit; this cocktail is well balanced and even emits a rather subtle juniper taste on the palate (from the gin).
Try this cocktail out at home and experiment with different grapefruits (I find golden & pink grapefruits work the best, but it’s all down to your palate).
For commercial purposes (i.e. what you’re able to go out and buy yourselves) I’ll only be including liqueurs you can purchase on the UK market. Although this does not really reflect the list, as I do come from the UK and therefore am limited to these myself…
Possibly the sweetest liqueur on this list, Chambord Liqueur has one of the most ‘Royal’ beginnings too. It is said that King Louis XIV (that’s 15th for anyone who doesn’t know) visited Chateau Chambord and was presented with a Raspberry Liqueur that he loved. Well it is this liqueur that has inspired the spirit we all know and love: Chambord Liqueur. This world renowned black raspberry liqueur is a favourite of many of the modern mixologists ingredients.
This raspberry liqueur screams quality, and even the process shows it:
Using only the best raspberries (among other raspberry like berries) the fruit is then double infused and married with the other ingredients (and cognac wouldn’t you believe).
If this doesn’t scream enough quality the shape and design of the glass it comes in certainly covers any excess. Let’s face it, the French do romance and beauty better than any other country in the world and this liqueur is no different. From the minute you open a bottle you’re hit with the strong ‘raspberry jam donut’ fragrance supplied by the black raspberries. This to me makes it one of the best liqueurs, not just in Europe, but in the world.
Cocktail O’Clock: The Chambord French Martini
50ml Raspberry Vodka
15ml Chambord Liqueur
100ml Pineapple Juice
1) Shake ingredients over ice and strain into a large martini cocktail glass.
2) Garnish with some fresh raspberries.
9)Agwa Bolivia (coca)
I make no secret about my love affair with liqueurs/spirits with great stories. And why should this one be any different? Hint – it’s not.
Agwa De Bolivia is a dangerous and controversial liqueur. Dangerous in that What makes it so controversial is what it is made from: The Coca Leaf (that’s right, Coca as in Cocaine). There is nothing illegal about the use of the leaf, nor the consumption of this liqueur, however when it first came to be, it’s safe to say there were some shamefully shaking heads. But ignore them, because this liqueur is something special indeed.
Hand-picked to extremely high standards, the coca leaves are then transported (by armed guard) to Amsterdam where they are processed and infused until we get this almost florescent bottle of magic.
This liqueur is just a little different, a little crazy and a little controversial enough to not only be an instant hit across the globe, but to also interest people into making cocktails with it.
And that’s why it makes it onto this list.
Cocktail O’Clock: Agwa Berry Kiss
45ml Agwa de Bolivia coca leaf liqueur
150ml Italian Prosecco
Fresh Lime Juice (1/2 lime or round-abouts)
Fresh black berries and raspberries
1) Fill a fancy champagne flute with the chilled Prosecco.
2) Shake the lime juice and Agwa in a shaker, over ice.
3) Strain into the glass, over the Prosecco, watching it ripple through the sparkling wine.
4) Garnish with some fresh berries however you prefer (we like to skewer them, slicing them and putting them on the glass’ rim works too!)
That cocktail was courtesy of someone who’s had the pleasure of sampling and reviewing the liqueur first hand… Liquor Chick.
As the story goesLeonardo Da Vinci’s apprentice ‘Bernardino Luini’ was commissioned to paint a picture of ‘Madonna of the miracles in Saronno’ and in return for choosing an innkeeper to model as Madonna the young maiden innkeeper gave him a bottle of ‘golden liqueur’. Then later on this recipe was rediscovered and eventually sold as Disaronno.
Today Disaronno is among the most recognized of liqueurs across the planet. With a sweet Almond taste (imagine concentrated liquid marzipan being loosed upon your tastebuds) Disaronno is both perfect for drinking as is, or in well balanced cocktail.
Due to its carefully smooth texture and taste it can blend well with both the Neutral vodkas and white rums, but also well with the more flavourful tasting spirits like aged rum, Tequila and Gin.
Now this is something you do not often find in liqueurs, at least not an amaretto. Usually they are just good for aperitifs or as the base of a cocktail (where the other ingredients work around them). This however is different, and it’s for this reason it is my 3rd favourite liqueur.
A drink worth trying disaronno out with would be:
Cocktail O’Clock: Disaronno Jazzy Hour
½ measure Disaronno
1 measure Vodka
½ measure Tangerine Liqueur
1 measure Pineapple Juice
¼ measure Lemon Juice (about 5ml)
Shake all the ingredients over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail (martini) glass.
Pisa Liqueur is one of my all time favourite drinks, and was discovered purely by accident. I remember it well, I was looking for a new amaretto I saw in a shop window (a luxardo one, but I couldn’t remember the name) and stumbled across this on the drinkshop. I fell in love with the bottle design and it sounded good, so I bought a bottle for around £13-£14. Since then it’s become no longer available on the drinkshop, but I’m sure that within the next year or so they will break back onto the international market.
How do I know this? Well as recently as January this year (2013) this liqueur was show during an American tv’s superbowl cocktail segment. This alone makes me think they are branching out and it shouldn’t be too long for them to hit the UK commercially again (if they haven’t already)… For all you American reading this: You lucky buggars you, I’m extremely jealous. And would appreciate a few bottles sent my way!!
Here’s what the Pisa Liqueur official website has to say about their history:
“Liquore Pisa was born long ago from a domain steeped in history, rich in flavour and character. Its flavours come from a distant past, a history of intrigues of the renaissance. Therefore Liquore Pisa is aged and wise and imparts the feel of another world. Pisa has been bottled since the beginning in Italy at two Italian owned companies; Franciacorta which exists since 1901, and Torino Distillati.”
Cocktail O’Clock: The Pisa Sour
1 ¼ oz measure Pisa Liqueur
1 ¼ oz measure Stetson Bourbon
¾ oz Fresh Lemon Juice
1 egg white (optional)
Fresh grated nutmeg for garnish.
1) Shake ingredients over ice and double strain into a coupe cocktail glass.
2) Garnish with a grating of nutmeg.
6)Prucia Plum liqueur
Prucia is a bit of an enigma when it comes to liqueurs. However whilst it may be half Japanese and half French it is, after all, 100% Plum. This wonderful liqueur is something I discovered after originally falling in love with Brentzen Plum Liqueur. After trying the Brentzen liqueur, I found Prucia and thought I’d spend out the extra £££ for a little extra quality (or so I thought at the time). What I received for my £26 was a liqueur that, quite literally, blew my mind. I cannot shout enough good things about this Liqueur. My only problem is it’s slightly higher price tag – then again you are quite literally paying for the quality of the product, after all the Japanese part of this liqueur cannot come cheap.
“When bored by a splurge of poncey spirit brands, it’s a relief to taste something different…” – The London Paper.
This Liqueur is something a little special, and I wish I could have placed it higher, this with a splash of pepsi cola is just sublime, it’s simple yes, but so good.
Cocktail O’Clock: Prucia Formula
25ml Prucia Plum Liqueur
20ml Antica Formula Vermouth
Top up Champagne
Cherry & orange twist to garnish
1) Shake the Prucia & Vermouth together over ice and strain into a chilled champagne flute.
2) Top up with the Champagne.
3) Garnish by dropping the cherry in the glass and squeezing the twist over the glass and dropping that in too.
Created jointly by Giffard, the mighty Liqueur Giants, and Simon Difford (author of Difford’s guide to cocktails), this curious but elegant blend of agave nectar and Curacao Triple Sec elbows its way onto the world market. It gives Cointreau a run for its money when it comes to a unique and rather floral triple sec brand. Clocking in at 40%, the same as Cointreau, this triple sec fills a niche some bartenders were craving: A triple sec that go toe to toe with Tequila.
The obvious thing that sets this triple sec apart is in the name: Agave Nectar. Using 100% Mexican agave nectar; this triple sec blends the Curacao orange peels, that triple sec are renown for, but without losing the quality in the process.
There are only two things that keep this ‘triple sec’ from bettering Cointreau:
1) Exposure: basically Cointreau has this triple sec beat on popularity. Cointreau has been around for hundreds of years and it has a brutal stranglehold on all things triple sec. I mean face it, would you swap out that Christmas favourite for something you’re not sure about? No me either (I would for this but hey that’s me).
2) Cointreau’s combination of bitter & sweet orange peels is still that missing ingredient from every other triple sec out there. Sure this one has Agave Nectar for sweetness, but Cointreau is still on another level. And rightly so, as said above, it’s been around for several hundreds of years, you’d have thought they’d done well in that time right?!
Cocktail O’Clock: The Agave Sec Margarita
40ml Tequila Blanco (choose your favourite brand)
20ml Giffard Agave Sec
20ml Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
1) Combine ingredients in an ice filled shaker.
2) Shake well and strain into a margarita cocktail glass.
3) Garnish with a lime wheel.
Check out Giffards Agave Sec product page for a little bit more about its history and for some more cocktails, including:
Fun fact: “Agave Syrup is 90% fructose, which has a very low glycemic index – this means that it’s a much healthier alternative to cane sugar and you need far less to achieve the same level of sweetness.” – Mangrove UK
A list of my favourite liqueurs would not be complete without this beauty. It misses out on the top 3 by literally the smallest of margins. I couldn’t decide between this and the next and I had to flip a coin for it. Not very scientific but let’s face it: drinking rarely is.
As you know from the whole host of Cointreau blogs I’ve written before Cointreau is a premium grade Triple Sec made using both bitter & sweet orange peels (most other triple sec brands use just the bitter peels). I won’t go into too much detail as that will negate the point of all the other Cointreau post’s I’ve written. However below I shall leave link’s to all my other Cointreau posts.
Fun fact: Cointreau turns opalescent when added to water, it shows the liqueur is pure and of good quality.
Cocktail O’Clock:The Cointreau Fizz, Original
½ lime (cut into wedges)
100ml Club Soda
1) Fill your glass with ice.
2) Add in the Cointreau.
3) Squeeze the lime wedges into the glass and drop in when done.
4) Top up with Club Soda
3)Domain De Canton Ginger liqueur
Domain de Canton Ginger Liqueur is another one of those French enigmas (like Prucia), in that it uses an interesting process and flavour to create something that truly is unique.
I tried this liqueur at university, having more money than I knew what to do with, when I bought and tried several expensive liqueurs. At around £30, it’s quite expensive all though these days that’s not far off some of the more established liqueurs.
Using the best Vietnamese baby ginger macerated with a blend of herbs and spices, unlocking it’s fresh essence.
“Domaine de Canton made in small batches and by hand, therefore mass quantities are not possible.” – partial descritption from the Domaine de Canton website.
This liqueur blends a whole collection of ingredients, including:
– Fine Eau de Vie,
– VSOP cognac
– XO Grande Champagne Cognac
– Tahitian Vanilla Beans
– Provencal Honey
– Tunisian Ginseng
If these ingredients are not enough for you, this liqueur is made naturally without preservatives, or colourings.
It’s worth a try if you have the monies knocking about, or even if you find a bar selling it. It’s perfect for cocktails, but even better with champagne, not to mention its use in food recipes.
Cocktail O’Clock: The Canton Cocktail
2 ½ mesures Domaine de Canton
½ measure Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
8 mint sprigs
Top up Club Soda (optional)
1) Shake all the ingredients over ice.
2) Strain into a rocks glass.
3) To make this drink slightly longer, top up with club Soda.
4) Garnish with a mint sprig and a slice of caramelised Ginger.
2)St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
What makes St-Germain my 2nd faviourite liqueur? Well apart from the heavenly taste, which by St-Germains own words “is a curious mixture that rivals Paris’ culture”, it’s all about the process St-Germain go through to create their signature liqueur…
Picking only the best fresh elderflower blossoms over the course of a few spring time weeks, the men that gather these blossoms then transport (by bicycle) the blossoms to the collection depot.
It is here that the fresh blossoms are then macerated using St-Germain’s secret method. Further to this the process they employ created the exceedingly fresh and complex elderflower liqueur we all know. With hints of pear, peach and even grapefruit zest, St Germain truly is a unique and superbly special liqueur. And it is for this reason it beats the other liqueurs in this list to 2nd place. The only liqueur to beat it, is one that holds a special place in my heart…
“Neither passionfruit nor pear, grapefruit nor lemon, the sublime taste of St-Germain hints at each of these and yet none of them exactly. It is a flavour as subtle and delicate as it is captivating. A little like asking a hummingbird to describe the flavour of its favourite nectar. Tres curieux indeed, n’est-ce pas?” – Exerpt from the St-Germain website.
Cocktail O’Clock: The St-Germain Cocktail
2 measures Brut Champagne (or dry sparkling wine)
1.5 measures St-Germain
2 measures Club Soda
1) Stir together the ingredients in an ice filled Collins glass.
2) Garnish with a lemon twist.
1)Licor 43 (aka Cuarenta Y Tres)
Repeat readers of this blog may or may not be surprised by this choice. Either way to me it was the easiest place to decide. I don’t think I could ever willingly go back to not knowing what this liqueur tastes like. Also I will not be going too much into its history or the cocktails, seeing as I have several posts dedicated to this…
A little re-cap of my introduction and history of this liqueur starts with my university life (once again, surprise, surprise). In my first year I was staying in halls which were situated 10 minutes walk away from the local Asda supermarket (a UK company owned by WallMart – a reference all you Americans will get). One time I went out with the intention to purchase a vanilla liqueur and was going to buy Galliano, until I saw this little Gem on the bottom shelf. It looked stunning in its unique little bottle, its black label and that golden liqueur.
So I gave in and spent the £16 (then, it’s around £18-£25 nowadays) and it was probably the best £16 I ever spent. I tried to find what it went best with, and strangely found that Pepsi (rather than coca cola) made the best mixer. Although it works well in plenty of cocktails, just look here for the best ones.
Another nail in the coffin of love I have for this liqueur was when I was on a Geography (University) Field trip to Southern Spain. At the hotel we stayed in, Licor 43 was one of most consumed liqueurs, and I got a lot of approving looks from the people at the bar for asking for it. Even the lady behind the bar seemed rather happy I’d asked for it (it probably helped me asking it using its Spanish name).
A little fact I want to end on it something not a lot of people know: Licor 43, also known as Cuarenta Y Tres, is a descendent of the Mirabilis liqueur made in the Cartangena region of the Mediterranean. And was originally founded by four Spaniards, and that company, Diego Zamora, is still completely family owned.
Cocktail O’Clock: The Power of Cuarenta Y Tres
7 measures Licor 43
1 measure Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
8 measures Cranberry Juice
4 measure Passion Fruit Nectar
1 measure Caramel Syrup
Fervent twist: Top up Ginger Beer
1) Shake all the ingredients into a shaker and strain over ice in a hurricane glass.
2) For a slightly longer drink, use our Fervent Twist and top up with Ginger beer.
3) Garnish with the in-season fresh fruit, and a lime wheel.
This cocktail is the one that, for me, really brings out what Cuarenta Y Tres stands for, both in name and taste.
Keep a look out for an on-going set of posts sharing (and celebrating) Licor 43’s current cocktail of the month initiative.
So everyone enjoys a cocktail (if you don’t? Leave! NOW!), and I’m no different. But when it comes to liqueurs I just love a story. It adds a bit of romance to the bottle your drinking from. To know where it came from, and where it is now.
When I first started out on my journey up this cocktail brick road I met some truly wonderful liqueurs. There was the Tin Man looking for a heart: Disaronno, The Lion: looking for its courage: Southern Comfort and finally the Scarecrow searching for it’s brain: Cointreau.
Now let me briefly explain the above metaphors are by no means insults. They are just observations of where these spirits were, in my mind at least, around 8 years ago as well as their personal histories and challenges they faced…
The Tin Man: Disaronno
Disaronno is a liqueur through and through. The company claims the recipe was given to an artist under the guidance of the Leo Da Vinci, by a greatful innkeeper, then rediscovered several decades later and produced it for family consumption. If you fancy reading more about the liqueur’s history then click here and enjoy the story. I’m not one to call their bluff as I don’t care if its a fake or real story; I love it when liqueurs like this have romantic stories behind them…
The Lion: Southern Comfort
Southern comfort, back in my teenage days, was a lowly bottle of whisky-based liqueur on the shelf for about £15 (yeah I know, cheap right?!), I knew of three or four people that drank it, and they always recommended it, but everyone else I asked had either never heard of it or never tried it… Now you look for it, and it’s one of the most famous liqueur brands full stop. When you think about liqueurs, SoCo will always be on someone’s tongue. And to further point out its heightened market share it has, over the last couple years, released both lime and black cherry flavours (going back to their fruity routes with the latter).
The Scarecrow: Cointreau
I cannot remember a time when Cointreau was not a Christmas favourite, but always I have thought of it as more – I mean think about some of the most famous cocktails in the world, they all include Cointreau (think Margaritas & cosmopolitans). Now in recent years they’ve really gone for the jugular when it comes to advertisement, they are plastering our T.V. screens, they are subtly creating an air of affordable exclusivity. As recent as June-July this year they have held 4 ‘Cointreau Fizz Garden’ Parties where they invited limited numbers to attend the specifically designed Magdalen house rooftop (with an amazing view of the Shard I might add).
So with those explanations out of the way I’d like to think you have taken away 3 things:
1) My love for cocktails, doesn’t stop with the drinks, it extends to both the spirits and other ingredients.
2) Nothing is straight forward when it comes to describing a spirit. I like to think of things a little more creatively and to me, the above 3 liqueurs bring all the things above to mind when I think about them.
3) Liqueurs are great. And to prove this I’ll be sharing my top 10 favourite liqueurs below…
And with luck, tomorrow evening you’ll be able to see (a) were I’m going with this. and (b) that all important top 10 of my favourite liqueurs… And believe me there are some wonderful liqueurs on that list…
The Moscow Mule arguably one of the most famous mule cocktails ever made. But what you might not know is that there are literally dozens of variations. From Paris to New Zealand and everywhere in between, there is a Mule for everyone…
The idea of a mule is very simple… Top with Ginger Beer/Ale (whichever one you prefer). Of course you need other ingredients but if you take a gander at the recipes below you’ll see that those depend on the theme…
It’s important to keep the ratio’s in these drinks as they are written. Use this conversion: 1 measure = 25ml (UK) or 1oz (USA). This way the balance of the drink remains as it should be and everyone is happy!
Onto the cocktails:
2 measures of Raspberry Vodka
¼ measure Chambord (Raspberry Liqueur)
½ measure Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
Top up with Ginger Beer/Ale
1) Add the vodka and blackberries and muddle well.
2) Add the Chambord liqueur and lemon juice.
3) Shake over ice and strain into an ice filled glass.
4) Top up with Ginger Beer/Ale and garnish with a blackberry and lemon peel skewer.
2 measures Light (white) Rum
2.5 measures Cranberry Juice
Top up Ginger Beer/Ale
1) Build this cocktail in an ice-filled Collins glass.
2) Garnish with a Lime wedge.
This cocktail is a simple Caribbean style Mule. Made ideally at Christmas, so you can use cranberries when they are in abundance (here in the UK at least) for a fresher crisper drink, this cocktail is perfect for the summer too. Refreshing and crisp this drink is simple yet flavourful. Try experimenting with your favourite aged/dark rums for a deeper taste.
1.5 measures Vodka
½ measure Crème de Mure (Blackberry Liqueur)
½ measure Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
6-8 fresh blackberries
Top up Ginger Beer/Ale
1) Muddle the blackberries with the vodka in a shaker tin.
2) Then add the crème de mure and lime juice.
3) Shake well over ice and double strain (to keep out the seeds) into an ice filled Collins glass.
4) Top up with Ginger beer/ale.
5) Garnish with 2 plump blackberries.
A great UK summer cocktail, the Blackberry Mule comes to fruition around the same time as the blackberry bushes bless us with their bounties. Fresh blackberries mean a fresher drink. Sure you can shell out for some supermarket blackberries (the ones that have probably gained more air miles that you will in a couple of years) or you could go blackberry picking and gather some for yourself. Over here in the UK berry picking is still a pastime. I even tried my hand at it when I was younger. There are plenty of farmers that take on hands to help (as volunteers mainly – but they do let you keep the odd punnet or two). It’s a fun day out and you get to enjoy your spoils with a nice splash of your favourite spirit.
Oh right, one last thing, this cocktail tastes just as great using any spirit. Try it with some of these if you’d prefer: Tequila, Rum, Gin & Cachaca.
7)The Mordor Mule
1.5 measures ‘42 Below’ Vodka
½ measure Lime Juice
¼ measure Agave Nectar
1 whole Kiwi (skinned & chopped into chunks)
Top up Ginger Beer/Ale
1) In a mixing tin muddle the Kiwi chunks, lime juice and sugar syrup.
2) Add the vodka and fill with ice.
3) Shake and strain into an ice filled Collins glass
4) Top up with ginger beer/ale
5) Garnish with a Kiwi wheel (leave skin on this one).
This Middle Earth (New Zealand) themed Mule is something a little different. It combines one of the best vodkas in the world (from NZ of course) with a New Zealand Kiwi fruit and then using the ginger beer/ale as a top up. This cocktail, as a result, is extremely refreshing and crisp and great for those summer evenings when you want something a little different.
Again the room for tweaking lies with the fruit. There are several other edible species of Kiwi fruit available that are different to the commercial one we are all accustomed to. If you want to try them, and they’re available in your country, start here; on the Wikipedia site and have a search around.
Oh and not to mention this is one of my very own recipes so please let me know how it goes down!
2 measures Vodka
1 measure Crème de Cassis
1 measure Lime Juice
Top up Ginger Beer/Ale
1) In an ice filled shaker add the vodka, crème de cassis and lime juice.
2) Shake well and strain into an ice filled Collins glass.
3) Top up with Ginger Beer/Ale and serve with a lime wedge as garnish.
This is a recipe I’m really proud of, back during the early days of this blog I catered cocktails for a friend of a friend’s birthday party. One of those cocktails was a pitcher sized serving of a Parisian Mule. Now various other mules do exist and probably more appropriately named too. But this cocktail is special to me, and when I think of Crème liqueurs I think of France, of the romance capital of the world: Paris. Now the other recipe I have found for a Parisian Mule contains Cognac, a fine vintage too I might say, and it is a delicious drink. But rather than fill up another spot for a cocktail of the same name, if you follow this link for what I have dubbed the Imperial Parisian Mule you’ll find the original website for it. Whichever taste of Paris you prefer, you will not be disappointed.
2 measures Vodka
½ measure Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
3 dashes of Angostura Bitters
Top up Ginger Beer/Ale
1) Build this cocktail in an ice filled mixing glass.
2) Start with the Vodka, then lime juice and bitters.
3) Stir well and strain into an ice filled Collins glass.
4) Top up with your preference of Ginger Beer/Ale.
5) Garnish with a Lime Wedge and serve with straws.
This classic cocktail is all about the kick. Refreshing and crisp (the lime and ginger pair exceptionally well) it lulls you into a full sense of security, then after about 3 or 4 you try and stand and remember the vodka; It’ll sit you right back down again, I assure you. Perfect for those summer evenings when you just don’t want to get up the next morning. Still they taste great and a couple wouldn’t hurt…Right? Right.
1) Add the Gin, Honey Liqueur, Pineapple juice and bitters into an ice filled shaker and shake well for about 20-30 seconds.
2) Strain into an ice filled sling glass (see glass in the picture).
3) Top up with ginger beer/ale and garnish with a slice of lemon.
This cocktail was first tasted by me when I went to London Bridge’s Bar Blue (on the way to the Cointreau Fizz Garden event). Combining the floral flavours of Bombay Sapphire Gin, and the sweetness of Krupnik Honey Liqueur, this cocktail is a borderline Mule, and therefore a controversial choice, but it is just so good I could not leave it out. It is just a wonderfully refreshing drink everyone needs to try at least once.
1 measure Light Rum
½ measure Dark Rum
½ measure triple Sec
¼ measure Fresh Lime Juice
2 dashes of Angostura Bitters
Top up Ginger Beer/Ale
1) Add all the ingredients (except the ginger beer/ale obviously) and shake well over ice.
2) Strain into an ice filled Collins glass and top up with Ginger beer/ale.
3) Garnish with a lime wedge sat on the rim of the glass*.
Now I love all types of rum. Whether it’s the classic white stuff or the darker, aged stuff, it doesn’t bother me as long as it tastes great (which most of them do). Usually I find it hard to choose between light and dark rum, but this drink puts a line through this conundrum with a simple answer: Use both…
*this allows for your friends/customers/drinkers to add a splash more lime juice if they would like.
1.5 measures Light Rum
½ measure Spiced Dark Rum
½ measure fresh squeezed lime juice
½ measure guava juice
1 measure pineapple juice
3 dashes of angostura bitters
1) Combine the first 5 ingredients in an ice filled shaker and shake well.
2) Strain into an ice filled sling glass and top up with ginger beer/ale.
3) Garnish with a pineapple wedge and cocktail cherry.
4) Serve with straws.
Similar to the Anejo Mule, this cocktail adds a little Caribbean flavour to the mixture with some exotic fruit juices. This does lengthen the drink somewhat and water down the rum a little, but it makes it a little more beach specific and refreshing. The ginger beer/ale adds a splash of crispness and heat that is really balanced well with the sweetness of the juices.
Give it a go and close your eyes, you’ll be hearing waves roaring at your feet and feel a tan coming on before you know it…
2 measures good quality Tequila
¾ measures fresh squeezed lime juice
¼ measure agave nectar
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Top up Ginger Beer/Ale
1) Add the tequila, lime juice, agave nectar and bitters into an ice filled shaker and shake well.
2) Strain into a tall glass filled with crush ice.
3) Top up with ginger beer/ale and garnish with a lime wedge.
This cocktail is my number one by a country mile. This cocktail takes everything great about the classic Moscow mule and just spins it on its head, in a way only the Mexicans can, with TEQUILA!
And then there was National Tequila Day (NTD) which was as recent as last week! Again it’s largely an American ‘Holiday’ (I’m starting to notice a theme here, are you?) upon which much more Tequila is consumed (naturally). Now I did a post on the 24th July (NTD) and this was based on the craft Tequila George Clooney has co-financed, along with his life-long buddy Rande Gerber and this is the perfect tequila to use here. If you cannot get a hold of it (I know I can’t) then use the best quality Tequila you can find (that means 100% Agave people!).
This drink, as already stated, turns the classic vodka based version on its head and creates a rather delicious monster. Tequila mixes well with lime, we all know this, but it also mixes fantastically well with Ginger Beer/Ale. So combining the 3 sounds perfect right? Right.
“Never ever mix tequila with lime and ginger beer/ale” – Said no one. Ever.
So mix one of these up, chuck a poncho and a fake moustache on and put the maracas down, Sit back on your hammock and enjoy the sunset – beach, sunset, fake moustache, maracas & poncho notincluded.
finally enjoy this lovely couple of Mules, can you guess their names? Hint: Even I’m not sure of their names, so good luck…