I recently worked on a gift for a couple of friends who love their Jack Daniels.
It was a simple collection of cocktails, presented in menu form and then a collection of recipe cards to help them through the creation process.
These cocktails were set out in a specific way: 1 cocktail for each season of the year and then one extra cocktail especially for new year’s. The latter one being a cocktail of my own creation!
The seasonal cocktail were simply taken from the Jack Daniels official website (it’s hard enough coming up with 1 brand new recipe, and perfecting that – let alone another 4 as well!).
It might seem a bit of a cop-out but I made sure I picked 4 cocktails that my friends would not only like but cocktails that fit their chosen season well. They’re also quite different from each other – that way they could taste the various flavours Jack Daniels works well with…
The gift itself comprised of the following:
1x 70cl bottle of Jack Daniels
75ml (ish) homemade cranberry simple syrup
100g cranberries, whole
2x mason mugs
And the menu + Recipe cards.
This was a small collection of things to make a nice little hamper.
The cocktails are all extremely refreshing so I’ll be sharing them all over the next few days starting with the Spring Cocktail below…
Spring: The Tennessee Breeze
About the drink:
A surprisingly refreshing combination of Jack Daniels, Cranberry Juice, Orange Juice and Tonic water; this cocktail is simple to create yet easy to get wrong.
The balance between sweet and dry is so perfectly poised that the slightest deviation threatens to completely sink this titanic cocktail.
Jack Daniels is a perfect example of American freedom in that The whisky is simple unique in nature. This cocktail appreciates that fact and aims to elevate the spirits’ natural flavours and pepper them with various levels of sweetness. The sweetness is tapered somewhat by the tonic water but the drink in its entirety is one to really get you excited about a summer that is, very nearly, right around the corner!
2 measures Jack Daniels
1 measure Cranberry Juice
1 measure Orange Juice
Top-up Tonic Water
½ tsp Honey
Using a blender combine all of the ingredients, except the tonic water, and blitz until the right consistency (try for a slushie-style consistency).
Pour into a chilled rocks glass until ¾ full.
Top with tonic water and garnish with a cranberry skewer or cherry (with stem).
One of the infusion types I mentioned in my introduction post was that of sugar syrup infusing.
Every bartender will tell you that sugar syrup is an essential part of their arsenal and that a well-prepared syrup has the potential to raise a cocktail above the realms of normality.
Below you will find the recipes for 4 very different sugar syrup infusions, including a special spicy concoction that is perfect for those heat lovers out there!
Disclaimer: although usually I’d offer up a complimentary cocktail recipe for each of these syrups, to make the post less cluttered I’ve simply stated the spirit(s) they pair with the best!
#1 Rhubarb Simple Syrup
400 grams fresh Rhubarb
100 grams sugar
Add ingredients to a small saucepan and bring to the boil on a medium heat. Stirring consistently.
Stir until the sugar has dissolved.
Turn heat down to low and simmer.
The rhubarb will begin to soften around 5/6 minutes in (this is normal so don’t panic!)
Allow mixture to thicken a little (around 2-5 minutes) and then remove from heat.
Strain* mixture into a sterile container and allow to cool.
Seal and keep refrigerated.
*when straining gently press the fruit pieces to gain a little more juice (flavour) but be careful not to press to hard as it will make your syrup go cloudy!
This is the most versatile of the 4 recipes and works brilliantly with vodka or gin. It is particularly good in a bramble (in place of the blackberry liqueur!) and also pairs well with light mixers or those non-drinkers out there! – Homemade Rhubarb Lemonade anyone?
#2 Honey & Rosemary Sugar Syrup
2-3 Rosemary Sprigs
Mix the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil – on a medium heat.
Once boiling reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 2 minutes.
Turn off heat after 2 minutes and leave to cool (covered).
Strain out rosemary ad store in a sterile container.
Once this item is cooled seal it and keep it refrigerated. It should keep for up to 4 weeks (although if it looks spoiled at any point please don’t risk it – bin it and make some more!)
This particular syrup is a little more to taste and less sweet than the blueberry syrup but that just means it’s that perfect herbal addition to your favourite Whisky/Bourbon cocktail. It also mixes well with more savoury vodka and gin cocktails and does make a mean G&T.
#3 Cucumber & Mint Simple Syrup
100 grams Sugar
½ Cucumber (Diced)
10 leaves fresh Mint
Combine the water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Stir until the sugar has dissolved.
When the sugar has dissolved turn the heat off and allow to cool.
Once cooled add in the cucumber and mint. Leave in for at least 1hr but for a more concentrated flavour leave it in for longer (Keep refrigerated at all times).
Strain away the cucumber and mint and store accordingly.
This syrup has an odd aftertaste but is still a great tasting mix regardless. It mixes well with Gin and Vodka (as you’d expect) but also makes a great twist on the classic mojito – blending well with White rum.
#4 Spicy Jalapeno Simple Syrup
100 grams sugar
1 Jalapeno (sliced lengthways)
Simmer the water and sugar, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.
Take of the heat once the sugar has dissolved and cover to cool.
Once cooled add the Jalapeno slices and leave for at least 1hr*.
After the infusion time has passed, sieve out the jalapeno and store in a sealed container in the fridge.
*as with the cucumber and mint recipe, the longer the jalapeno is in the syrup the more concentrated the flavour profile (and heat). You might want to try creating several different concentrations of this mixture and making a note of which is which – this way you can cater for different palates…
Whilst this mixture blends well with vodka (and surprisingly gin) it is best kept for the most obvious choice: Tequila. Try adding a little bit of this to your next shot of quality tequila. Try with Habanero’s or Cazadores Tequila should you have either in your possession…
So there you go! 4 rather brilliant, and yet rather different simple syrup recipes. They’re all a perfect with their own particular spirit(s) but all have room for a little versatility.
I hope you enjoy them, and if any are not quite to your tastes, feel free to tweak them. That’s the best way to improve them. I’d love to hear your thoughts on these recipes if you try them, especially any cocktails you find them to particularly effective in…
So, as promised, here is the first of my ongoing posts from SlowStruck. This one is the first post I wrote for them and can also be found in it’s original form here: Atholl Brose
One of my favourite things about mixing cocktails is that there are always stories involved – where they originate, how they have evolved or even who famously drank them. I truly believe that by savouring the history and/or legends around our drinks, we enrich the actual experience of mixing, tasting and sharing with friends.
So, please humour me… let’s imagine we’ve set some chairs around a pub table. Let’s pour our drinks, toast to each other’s health and take some time together. Don’t despair! At the end of my tale, I have a recipe for you.
Whilst it is not my favourite spirit – I prefer good old rum – it is interesting to share that whisky is by far one of the most varied spirits out there. Unlike the intentional tastelessness of Vodka, whisky made in one part of Scotland can and usually will – taste completely different from whisky made in another part of Scotland.
This diversity in such a small amount of space is what gives this spirit category greatness.
We are going to discount the Americanised whiskies for this post – yes I know it hurts, but it’s all about the flavours Scottish whisky brings this time round.
I can this question burning in your mind: what exactly is Atholl Brose?
Well to answer this we have to visit a little tale first told to me by the Monkey Shoulder global ambassador Grant Neave, and legend of the cocktail, Gaz Regan (yes the one and only).
It’s around 1475, and the Earl of Atholl wants a Scottish castle all for himself. The problem is that the current owner of the castle is putting up a bit of a fight. Now the Earl knows the opposing army has the local water well (a big strategic point in the fight). Rather than sending his men to certain death in the battle that would most certainly occur, he sends in a small team of his best men to ‘spike’ the water In the well. Armed with the greatest poison known to man they set of to the little village. The poison of course refers to the alcohol; a rather medieval form the whisky would’ve taken back then.
So armed with the rather rough-whisky, oats, cream and honey, they set off to the little village whilst the opposing forces were asleep. Into the well they mixed the whisky, honey, cream and oats. The trick, no doubt, was to cover the taste of the whisky and when the opposing army woke up and tried the water they soon found there was something different afoot.
So what did the men do when they realised their water source was contaminated? They realised it tasted fine and shared it around with the men who had yet to realise. This obviously led to them becoming rather inebriated.
Of course the opposing earl did not know what was taking place and sent them into battle half cut. The battle was short, swift (and rather hilarious no doubt) as a direct result of the Earl of Atholl’s forward thinking.
This is the first record of this cocktail being used and is popularly considered one of the first whisky cocktails. Of course, these days, the recipes for this drink vary from source to source but generally the combination of the cream, honey, oats and whisky remains.
At last year’s London Cocktail, I attended a historical whisky tour hosted by Grant Neave and Gaz Regan. The event was essentially a time line of whisky cocktails starting with the Atholl Brose, and is where I obtained this guideline to the recipe:
“The Atholl Brose is a combination of water, Scottish oats, whisky & honey. By combining these ingredients and possibly adding some forest fruits (strawberries, cherries etc.) or even some liqueurs like Drambuie or Disaronno, this really can be turned into something a little special” – Grant Neave, Global Brand Ambassador for Monkey Shoulder Whisky.
Granted, the original recipe is more a meal than a drink; but refined in the following recipe, it resembles more of a cocktail than it ever has. This is a prime example of refinement over time. Cocktails have been around in popular culture since the 1920’s and whilst some have the same recipes they did back then, most have experienced changes and tweaks.
Atholl Brose recipe (taken from: http://londoneats.wordpress.com)
Step 1: The Oat Milk
• 1 cup oats (rolled, pinhead…your choice!)
• 2 cups lukewarm water
Mix the oats and the water. Leave to sit for at least 30 minutes (longer doesn’t hurt). Put into a blender and then pass through a muslin cloth. As you get to the end of the, now-strained, mixture you should be left with just a sludgy-oaty mess, squeeze this to get as much liquid from the mixture as possible.
Step 2: Making the Atholl Brose
• 7 parts oat milk
• 7 parts whisky
• 5 parts good single cream
• 1 part honey
Mix the honey with the ‘oat milk’. Put everything into a cocktail shaker or large jar. Shake until mixed. Taste the Brose, and then if required, adjust to taste (more honey, more cream, more whisky…). And finally the most important step of all: Serve chilled or over ice.
It has been great to spend this happy hour with you…I’ll see you soon at our favourite table.