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Prosecco – 3 ways to a New Years Party…

Hey, everyone! Sorry about my forced hiatus recently! I had internet troubles whilst moving into a new house! I’m back up and running now though and just in time for New Years! So scroll on down and enjoy yourselves! Thank you all for your continued readership!


Enter the New Year in style with some fancy sparkling wine! Whilst you could go for an expensive bottle of Champagne, sometimes saving a little bit of money is a good shout…

Prosecco, generally speaking, is much cheaper than even a semi-good bottle of champagne. And if you head to a specialist wine shop, you’re more than likely to find a top end brand too!

The best example I’ve come across in the past few years is Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference Prosecco Conegliano… It’s usually inexpensive and can often be nabbed when it’s on offer!

Below I give you 3 simple cocktails you can make for your new years eve party. At least to make it a bit more fun for your new-to-prosecco friends! The price detail really hits home if you have a party for more than just a few people!

Cocktail #1:

Prosecco & St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur

Ingredients:

30ml St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur

Top Up TTD Prosecco Conegliano

Method:

  • Using a standard champagne flute, gently add the Elderflower Liqueur into the bottom of the glass.
  • The simply top up with the prosecco.
  • Garnish with

Usually used at Christmas this simply made cocktail is perfect to capture the sweetness of the prosecco and pump it up into a sweeter-than-usual mouthful. The St. Germain Liqueur adds a floral note and really does make the prosecco go down easier for those with a sweeter tooth…

I tried this very recently at an italian restaurant with my girlfriend. It was delicious and should be available for everyone to try! My well-known bias for Licor 43 aside, this is my favourite cocktail in this post!

 

Cocktail #2:

Prosecco & Licor 43

Ingredients:

30ml Licor 43

Top up TTD Prosecco Conegliano

Method:

  • Pour chilled Licor 43 into a standard champagne flute.
  • Top up with the Prosecco and garnish with a twist of orange peel.

This cocktail is one I’ve wanted to try out for a long while and, thanks to my girlfriend, I was able to finally get hold of a full bottle of Licor 43. It’s a very sweet liqueur and can produce many a fine cocktail. But there’s something about this Prosecco & liqueur blend that captures my feelings for prosecco perfectly!

Prosecco, whilst sweeter than champagne, is still a little dry for my palate. But add enough of a sweet liqueur and you have the perfect balance of sweet and dry. Not to mention the addition of various subtle flavours (from the liqueur).

Licor 43 brings its blend of 43 different ingredients into the mix, but it mainly shows off the Citrus and Vanilla in this particular drink… Although there are some herbal undertones there for those with a keen nose…

 

Cocktail #3:

Prosecco & Creme De Peche

Ingredients:

25ml Creme De Peche

Top up TTD Prosecco Conegliano

Method:

  • Gently pour the Peach Liqueur into a standard champagne flute.
  • Top up with the Prosecco Conegliano…

This cocktail is very much like a mimosa, only it cuts out the fruit juice and uses an alcoholic peach liqueur instead. It has certainly got more bite, but like the other 2 drinks on this list, you get a balance to the dryness of the wine with the sugary liqueur…

This is one of the fruitier of the 3 drinks, with the peach flavour being very, very prominent throughout. Give it a try, and if it’s too sweet, try cutting it back with a dash of fresh lime!

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Sangria: A latin party maker and centrepiece to boot

sangria slowstruck

Here’s a little secret: Sangria is a perfect centrepiece for parties. Ok, so it wasn’tsuper-secret – most of you already knew that!  But do you know the best way to get the most out of your sangria recipes? No? Well, here is my guide to perfect sangrias every time…

Europe And Its Great But Terrible Sangria Obsession

To be faithful to my story telling roots (or, if you want to put it more bluntly, my rambling nature), I thought I’d start with a bit of history: about the origins of Sangria and, most importantly, about why wine takes centre stage in this universal favourite.

What are the origins of Sangria? Well done for those of you who answered ‘Spain’, but even more points for those of you who said Spain and identified the timeframe of 1700-1800’s. We know this historical period more commonly as the Middle Ages (think Game of Thrones, albeit a little less rose tinted – if that’s possible!). Sangria was created mainly out of necessity! Until the mid-late 19th century, safe drinking water was not as readily available as it is today; therefore, the people of the time looked for safer means of drinking.

Based upon the idea that alcohol kills off the harmful bacteria/nasty stuff that causes diseases like Cholera and Diptheria, alcohol naturally and literally became the only safe way to drink any water. In addition to the health benefits of this plan, it was obvious that certain concoctions would be socially shared (quite merrily, I might add).

As these potent mixtures gained popularity, they also accumulated added ingredients, and thus the first ‘Sangria’ recipes came to be. As milk was considered strictly for babies, and as water was more likely to kill you than keep you alive, this wine mixture was consumed en masse, and even given to young children – talk about an interesting childhood.

Traditionally, the typical Sangria consisted of several ingredients: wine, some type of brandy and fruit. This mixture – in one form or another – became popular across Europe for hundreds of years, and has eventually been refined into the modern Sangria we know and love so much. Introduced into the USA back in 1964’s World Fair in New York, Sangria really put Spain (and red wine, especially) on the map across the Americas.

To this day, traditional Sangria is still made using red wine, brandy and fruit, although sugar and fruit juices are generally both used as well.

But where do you begin with the preparation of your Sangria? What ingredients do you need to rustle up a crowd pleasing wonder? Well, before I share with you my easy-to-follow recipes, why don’t you quickly review this check list to get a basic Idea of the ingredients you’ll need:

  • Wine or non-alcoholic substitute.
  • Try using different fruit juices. Base fruit juices such as orange, apple, peach and grape are great possibilities.
  • Sugar: preferably unrefined brown/muscovado – it’s richer in flavour and is not as bad for you as the refined white cane sugar. Honey/Agave Nectar are also great substitutes.
  • Spirits: rum, vodka, gin, tequila and liqueurs – choose those that work best with the wine you’ve picked. For instance, try using tequila in a spicy style wine, and rum for a sweet one.
  • Fruits, Vegetables, Spices: Citrus Fruits(lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruits), Orchard Fruits (plums, apples, pears, peaches, nectarines),Soft Fruits/Berries (strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, cherries, etc.), Exotic Fruits (dragon fruit, bananas, coconut, pineapple, kiwi, sharon fruit, lychee), Vegetables (cucumber, tomatoes, peppers) andspices (fresh red/green chili, ginger, jalapeno, cinnamon).

Once you have your plethora of ingredients, you can move on to the step by step guide below (here’s some free advice: for that added ‘special something’, try using locally grown seasonal ingredients; they will add much more flavour and you can direct your friends on where to acquire them).

How to Mix Sangria

sangria (1)
If your Sangria looks a little like this? You did good 🙂
  1. One giant leap

Start by mixing the wine, chosen spirit, juice and sugar together and then cover and chill for approximately 1-2 hours.

I find that taking your sweet time will result in a better tasting end product. Stir in the sugar until it is fully dissolved, and mix in your juices and spirits thoroughly.

Did you know? – Whilst traditional Sangria primarily uses red wine and brandy, you can use pretty much any type of wine and any spirit you like. Why not try rum and sparkling white wine (Prosecco/Cava/Champagne) or vodka and still white wine?

  1. Sugar and spice and everything nice

Now comes the best bit: adding your preferred flavours.

First, quickly stir your sugar/juice mixture then introduce your ready-prepared mix of fruits and/or vegetables and spices. You can use any fruit you like, so experiment and have some fun. Once the fruit has been added, cover and return to the fridge for another 2-4 hours

  1. The mid-season finale

Like any decent process, you need to check your progress half way through, so this step it designed to allow you to do just that. Remove the Sangria from the fridge, stir it extremely well to make sure the Sangria ingredients are combining well, and then cover and put back in the fridge for one final time (again for around 2-4 hours).

Did you know? – The best tasting Sangria can sometimes involve leaving the mixture in a fridge overnight to allow the fruit to settle into the alcohol, creating deeper, more meaningful flavours in the mixture.

  1. As cold as ice

By now you should have a large bowl/container/pitcher full of a very fruity and alcohol-laced chilled liquid. But it doesn’t stop there. You need to stir thoroughly before serving and have your carbonated mixer on hand (if you’re using one – you don’t have to!). If serving straight away, then ice isn’t necessary. But have a bag or two ready in case it’s a particularly hot day (or you plan on leaving it out all evening).

  1. Service with a smile

To serve, half fill a glass with ice, then top up with your chosen sparkling mixer!

Prosecco/champagne or lemonade make great mixers, but feel free to try any sparkling mixer you want.  I find orange soda works particularly well.

This 5 step guide is genuinely all you need to produce party-popping Sangria mixes every time. You can make non-alcoholic Sangria using  the same ingredients as detailed above. Whether alcoholic or not, your Sangria will be the envy of all your friends and before you know it, they’ll all be after your recipe.

Since it’s taken you nearly an entire day to create this masterpiece on your table, respect it and take every opportunity to enjoy every scent and sip. Did I mention it’ll keep, in a sealed container, for up to 24-48 hours depending on the fruit/juice used?

And, as I don my Etiquette hat for a small moment; A good host always remembers to be responsible when serving/consuming alcohol, and will check thoroughly that no one is allergic to the fruits/vegetables being used.

One Last Thought

I love to take the slower, more traveled path when creating a great cocktail.  I’ll go out and buy ingredients to make my own infused syrups rather than buying pre-prepared, lower quality products. This process scales elegantly in mixtures such as Sangria. Of course you can create a decent version in a couple of hours; but to really blow your guests away, use fresh juice, locally sourced ingredients, maybe something a little less known, and of course take your time preparing it. You should always treat Sangria like a joint of meat in a marinade – allow plenty of time for the flavour to develop.

Stay tuned for next time – I’ll have something a little seasonal once more, in the form of a very well known and historically charged topic: London Dry Gin.

Cocktails O’ Clock: Christmas with Champagne… Part 2

The alcohol fuelled cocktails…


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

Recipe:
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

Food & Wine

Recipe:
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

Method:
–          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

kir royale

Recipe:
2 teaspoons crème de cassis
Top up Lanson Black Label Champagne Brut

Method:
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

riviera fizz

Recipe:
1 ½ measures sloe gin
½ measure fresh lemon juice
½ measure sugar syrup
Top up Etienne Dumont Brut (Non-Vintage) Champagne

Method:
–          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.

5.       Champino

Champino

Recipe:
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)

cranberry cooler

Recipe (serves 6): (build and serve)
150ml Gin
150ml Grand Marnier
330ml Orange Juice (smooth)
600ml Cranberry Juice

Method:
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)

apple and berry bucks fizz

Recipe (Serves 12):
360ml Apple & Raspberry Juice
6 oranges
Sainsbury’s TTD Vintage Cava
Fresh Mint Sprigs

Method:
–          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).

8.       Christmas Cheer (by sainsburys)

christmas cheer

Recipe:
6 glace cherries
90ml Kirsch
Sainsbury’s TTD Prosecco Conegliano

Method:
–          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)

black velvet

Recipe:
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

raspberry champagne

Recipe:
25ml Chambord
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.

Enjoy your Christmas and remember to drink responsibly. After all no one likes a let down…

Cocktails O’ Clock: Citrus Temptation

Temptation is a cruel mistress; at least this one will go down well…

If there’s one thing truer than the sky being combination of various gasses and water, then it’s that citrus juices go perfectly with almost every spirit out there. Gladly this cocktail does not break that stereotype:

Citrus Temptation:

45ml Limoncello

25ml Orange Flavoured Vodka

3 lime wedges

Image
If you get it to look like this? You’re on the right track…
Picture: courtesy of FoodNetwork

Method:

1)      Wipe the serving glass’ rim with a lime wedge and then rim with sugar.

2)      Add the Limoncello, Vodka and the 3 lime wedges (squeeze out juice and drop in) into a shaker full of ice.

3)      Shake until well chilled (around 10 seconds).

4)      Strain the drink into your ice filled glass.

5)      Garnish with an Orange twist.

Top Tip: The orange vodka can either be shop bought or your own creation, but if you have not the time to make your own, nor the availability to buy some, using 20ml vodka and 5ml orange blossom water should give your cocktail a make-shift flavour substitute.

This cocktail is something a little different, because Limoncello is not traditionally used as a base in cocktails as it is an aperitif.  This is by no means a bad thing as this drink is a testament to this. It’s sweet, a little tart and has just enough of an alcoholic kick to let you know it is actually alcoholic…

Fervent Shaker Fact: Limoncello is literally the most famous lemon-liqueur in the world, and the Italians love it. I can see why, it is pretty special. To further bolster its famous background Jamie Oliver even used it in his Lemon & Raspberry Ripple dessert…

This cocktail truly is something a bit different, and hopefully you can enjoy it and prosper.

Oh, and if there is a cocktail you’d like to read about, feel free to leave a comment/send me a message and I’ll see what I can do!

Until tomorrow readers!

Sources:

Food Network

Jamie’s Syllabub

The Fervent Shaker Top 10 Liqueurs

Image
My top 10 liqueurs… Which one makes no.1? Is it this Beauty? Or another great liqueur…

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…

10) Chambord

Image
A great berry liqueur…

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

Method:

1)      Shake ingredients over ice and strain into a large martini cocktail glass.

2)      Garnish with some fresh raspberries.

9) Agwa Bolivia (coca)

Image
A great Coca Leaf based liqueur, it even gives you a little buzz when you drink it… What’s not to like?!

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

Method:

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.

8) Disaronno

Image
A great Italian liqueur, one of our faves here in the UK…

As the story goes Leonardo 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)

Method:

Shake all the ingredients over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail (martini) glass.

 

7) Pisa Liqueur

Image
A fantastic Amaretto-like liqueur from Pisa, Italy. One I hope to see in my cupboard again very soon…

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.

Method:

1)      Shake ingredients over ice and double strain into a coupe cocktail glass.

2)      Garnish with a grating of nutmeg.

6) Prucia Plum liqueur

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One of the classiest liqueurs I’ve ever had the pleasure in owning. It will not be long before I own another bottle, trust me!

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

Method:

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.

5) Agave Sec

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Another of the great quality Triple Sec’s, this one is blended with Agave Syrup for that sweet hit…

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

Method:

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:

The Nutcracker

The Caribbean Sunset

The Beautiful Apple

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

4) Cointreau

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Cointreau have recently started up a Fizz summer cocktail awareness campaign… It went rather well…

And here we are: Remy Cointreau’s crown jewel of liqueurs: Cointreau.

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.

Cointreau Fizz Garden

Cointreau Fizz Cocktails

Cointreau Summer Cocktails

The history of Cointreau Part 1

The history of Cointreau Part 2

The history of Cointreau Part 3

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

50ml Cointreau

½ lime (cut into wedges)

100ml Club Soda

Method:

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

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A great liqueur with the best of everything… You’re sure to love it!

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)

Method:

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

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A beautifully sweet and luxurious liqueur from France, where else?

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

Method:

1)      Stir together the ingredients in an ice filled Collins glass.

2)      Garnish with a lemon twist.

1) Licor 43 (aka Cuarenta Y Tres)

My all time favourite liqueur, this has a special place in my heart, and will never be beaten to that no.1 spot!

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

Method:

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.

Previous Licor 43 posts:

Licor 43 Jewel of Southern Spain

Licor 43 Summer Cocktails

International COTM: July

Until next time readers, fare thee well!

My Favourite Liqueurs: Spoilers! Spoilers! Warning, Spoilers!

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What’s your favourite?

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

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Disaronno: An extremely famous Italian liqueur. Popular all over the world.

                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

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Southern Comfort: One of, if not the, leading whisky based liqueur from the States.

                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

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Cointreau: without doubt the worlds leading triple sec liqueur, It’s quality speaks for itself…

                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…