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!