Tag Archives: Rum

Rum Diarys: Best rums for tiki cocktails Part III

The colour is the first thing you’ll notice – it’s not called gold for the fun of it after all!


Ok so I covered the basic white rums. There were a few brands (and countries) covered but now we move onto my favourite type of rum: Gold Rum.

This section should allow you to expand your rum styles, and your geography knowledge, a little further. With Gold rums from Venezuela to Cuba and across the entire Caribbean; there is sure to be a choice for everyone…


Diplomatico Anejo (Venezuela) £22.84 – The Drink Shop

Classic Venezuelan Rum at its best...
Classic Venezuelan Rum at its best…

This smooth-sipping golden rum is blended from a combination of continuous still rums and potstill rums. Although blended, the average age of the finished product is 4 years old. Diplomatico is a very strong brand from Venezuela and can hold its own in almost any rum-sipping competition (its various products have won various awards over the years) and yet it blends into tiki cocktails remarkably well.

Fervent Shaker insider tip: If you’re looking for a well-balanced, blended gold rum and want to try something other than Caribbean rum then I strongly suggest giving this brand, including this particular rum, a go!

Ron de Jeremy – Reserve Adult Rum! (Panama) £33.32 The Drink Shop

Distilled by a Legend, tastes like it was too...
Distilled by a Legend, tastes like it was too…

Ron de Jeremy is an extremely well-balanced 7 year old rum and is quite literally distilled by a living legend: Cuban Master Distiller Francisco ‘Don Pancho’ Fernandez. Don Pancho is 72 years old and is considered one of the most experienced and renowned master distillers in the rum industry.

Fervent Shaker insider tip: This rum is fantastic to sip, and will reward those with a well-developed palate. However it has been created in such a way that it will also mix well with other ingredients, especially when mixing cocktails. 

Mount Gay – Eclipse (Barbados) £19.70 The Drink Shop

A great rum at a reasonably low price... Perfect for mixing and a shoe in for this list...
A great rum at a reasonably low price… Perfect for mixing and a shoe in for this list…

Another long standing favourite of mine, this reasonably price rum is one of the sleeper hits of the last few decades. Whilst all of the top-end rums clean up at awards ceremonies, this rather unassuming bottle sits itself on the supermarket shelf and literally sells by the bucket.

Those who have been to Barbados and visited the distillery will know its history well and even those not interested in rum will have heard of it whilst on the island.

Hand-crafted since 1703, Mount Gay Rum is made using the finest Barbados sugar cane and pure spring water. This leaves you with a rum that can be sipped neat and yet is equally, if not more so, at home combined with your favourite mixer…

Fervent Shaker insider tip: this rum is reasonably priced and found in most of the bigger supermarkets in the UK. Failing that you can find it easily in online alcohol shops.

Flor De Cana – 4YO Gold (Nicaragua) £22.68 The Drink Shop

A Nicaraguan Rum perfect for light cocktails. Try it in your next tiki attempt...
A Nicaraguan Rum perfect for light cocktails. Try it in your next tiki attempt…

Flor de Cana 4YO Golden Rum is a little something different. From central/south America this rum is well-balanced and perfect for combining with mixers and works brilliantly in light cocktails.

Palate notes: “A soft entry leads to a round, dry medium-bodiea palate with caramel, sugar cane and peppery spice flavours. Finishes with a dash of toasted coconut shavings and pepper. Very clean and pure.” – Flor De Cana.com

Appleton Estate Special (Jamaica) £14.00 – Sainsbury’s

A supermarket staple, this gold rum is perfect for adding to your collection...
A supermarket staple, this gold rum is perfect for adding to your collection…

The price tag on this rum may make you cringe and think ‘bargain basement’ but the idea here is to give you a cheaper option whilst making sure you get your money’s worth. Appleton Estate special Jamaica Rum is only £14 yes, but it’s an absolute bargain in regards to its taste and overall finish. It’s not as sophisticated as some of the other rums on this list, but its sheer versatility means it can be used in a range of tiki (and non-tiki) cocktails. And for that reason alone it makes the list…

Honourable Mention: Angostura 1919 (Trinidad & Tobago) £26.00 – Sainsbury’s

Links for further reading:

Flor De Cana

Appleton estate

Mount Gay

Diplomatico

Ron de Jeremy

Angostura

Sainsbury’s

Tesco

Rum Diarys: Best rums for tiki cocktails Part II

White Rum is the foundation for any rum collection. It’s a base for literally hundreds of cocktails, not least some of the most famous cocktails of all time; The Pina Colada, Mojito & Daiquiri all contain this clear elixir!

White rum is distilled from the sugar cane plant and can be made using one of two methods: Pot still or continuous still. Some rums use a combination of the two, and all three types have their merits and come-downs.

Check out my list of what I consider to be 5 of the best white rums for use in tiki cocktails (all under £40 of course!)…

(1) St. Aubin – Rhum Agricole (Mauritius) £22 – The Drink Shop

Hitting hard of the bat, this 50% rum is a sucker-punch if you're not careful...
Hitting hard of the bat, this 50% rum is a sucker-punch if you’re not careful…

In my first post about tiki cocktails I mentioned that the best rums to start with included rum from Martinique, Jamaica and, of course, a white rum. Well this Mauritian white rum is a perfect shoe-in if you’re unsure of which white rum to choose.

At 50%abv it’s a heavy hitter, but surprisingly it’s rather smooth and supple. It’s made with the freshly squeezed sugar cane juice, a very French way of making rhum, and is made at St. Aubin which has been a sugar plantation since 1819…

(2) Brugal Blanco (Dominican Republic) £20.85 – The Whisky Exchange

A fine looking bottle for a fine tasting white rum from Brugal (Venezuela)
A fine looking bottle for a fine tasting white rum from Brugal (Venezuela)

Brugal Blanco is a white rum all the way from the Dominican Republic. Its process includes ageing rum for 2-5 years in old American oak bourbon casks. The rum is then triple filtered, removing the colour, and that leaves you with a rum that’s as smooth as super-premium vodka but with all the character you get from premium rum. Basically it’s pretty darn good!

Fervent Insider Tip: Brugal is one of my favourite rum brands and this is one of my go-to white rums for new exotic cocktails; its smoothness compliments the addition of various fruit juices and syrups perfectly.

(3) Havana Club Anejo 3 YO White Rum (Cuba) £15-£20 Sainsbury’s/Tesco

Havana club are one of my favourite rum brands and this is one of my all-time favourite white rums...
Havana club are one of my favourite rum brands and this is one of my all-time favourite white rums…

One of my long standing favourites, Havana club has a superb collection of rums, so much so that they could potentially be on all 4 of these posts, but alas the one I’ve chosen is arguably their most versatile Anejo rum: their 3yo Blanco. Found readily in your local supermarkets, this rum is a quick journey away from becoming part of your now-growing rum library!

Aged for 3 years in Cuba this light yet crisp rum is fantastic in those famous Cuban cocktails, but it also works miracles in classic tiki cocktails like the Pina Colada!

(4) Plantation Rum – Three Stars White Rum (Barbados) £22 – The Drink Shop

I have one of these in post as we speak. It's a great silver-rated blended white rum...
I have one of these in post as we speak. It’s a great silver-rated blended white rum…

This is a well-balanced mildly vibrant rum, blending the finesse, character and fuller-flavours of all 3 historical rum producing islands: Jamaica, Barbados & Trinidad. Its name ‘Plantation 3 Stars’ honours those 3 historical islands and stands as a signal to all who lay eyes on the bottle: This is premium…

Fervent Shaker insider tip: This rum is extremely sophisticated and works better with cocktails that allow the flavours of the rum to come out in the drink. So whilst the juices of some tiki cocktails are not always suited for this rum; cocktails like the Zombie and similar ‘shorter’ cocktails are perfect to make the most of this particular rum…

(5) La Mauny – Rhum Blanc (Martinique) £27 – The Drink Shop

A fancy Martinique rum in a simple bottle. Don't let its subtlety fool you, this rum is class through and through...
A fancy Martinique rum in a simple bottle. Don’t let its subtlety fool you, this rum is class through and through…

This rum from Martinique, one of the countries mentioned in my first post, is a clear white and has a strong 50% abv. With this in mind it is one of the stronger rums on this list and is more suited to the fruit juice laden concoctions that make tiki cocktails so popular.

Fervent Shaker insider tip: Coming in at just under £30 this rum is a bit steep compared to supermarket brands and even some better known brands. But unlike a lot of things in this world, when it comes to Rum, as well as straight alcohol in general, you pay for what you get.

Honourable Mention: Wray & Nephews Overproof White rum (Jamaica) £26.00 – Sainsbury’s

Strong and, from personal experience, not a nice straight. But fantastic for adding a little theatre to your cocktails...
Strong and, from personal experience, not a nice straight. But fantastic for adding a little theatre to your cocktails…

This honourable mention is simply because I could not fit all of the rums I liked into the 5 slots I limited myself too. Tiki cocktails often invoke memories of that beach bar on that Caribbean island you never learned to pronounce, along with flames galore. Drinks on fire are usually gimmicky but sometimes this adds to the theatre of the bar world. With regards to tiki cocktails you need a spirit that combusts and yet will not damage the overall flavour of the drink. Enter Wray & Nephews. This high abv alcohol is perfect for this job as it is highly flammable – that means you can light it to give you your fiery theatrical gimmick whilst not altering the overall taste of the cocktail…

Links:

Sainsbury’s

Tesco

The Drink Shop

The Whisky Exchange

St. Aubin

Havana Club

Plantation

LaMauny

Brugal

Wray & Nephews

Rum Diarys: Best Rums For Tiki Cocktails Part I

Show me a Tiki Cocktail and I’ll show you a good rum…

tiki bar disneyland


Tiki cocktails have, traditionally, always used rum in some form or another. The thing is; rum doesn’t just come in 1 style. Just go to your local supermarket, find the alcohol department and you’ll see just how many brands there are.

Whilst you can split rum up into the 4 main types: White, Gold, Dark & Spiced; the complications for choosing one to make your tiki cocktail arise when you look a little closer. Whilst the branding of a rum will be the easiest way to determine a difference, there are also differences in styles.

The style of a rum is determined by several factors. These can include the type of still used, the type of sugar-base* used even the area of which thee rum is distilled can affect the style, and therefore the taste, of a rum. Just like with the difference between different Whiskies there is an equal difference between any two rums.

*All rum uses sugar as a base for the alcohol, but some use molasses (a thick black liquid) and others use sugar cane. The results are often significantly different – with the processes using molasses usually resulting in a darker more viscous end product.

So with this in mind let’s look at 5 of the best rums for your Tiki cocktails, all can be found in the UK although not all can be found in your supermarket (website links can be found at the bottom of each post), and all of the bottles [at the time of posting] are under £40 (around $60)…

Tiki Cocktails; A day out in paradise…

Where has all the rum gone? – Jamaica, Guyana, Martinique, Cuba & Puerto Rico, that’s where!

Rum will forever be synonymous with beaches and the exotic getaway the Caribbean can envision...
Rum will forever be synonymous with beaches and the exotic getaway the Caribbean can envision…

There are not many Tiki themed cocktail bars in my local area [Sad face] and therefore my exotic getaways are restricted to what I make for myself,  unless I want a poorly made Pina Colada – everywhere sells those!

Unfortunately, for me at least, that means that certain products are only available seasonally and whilst most would argue that the need for a tiki cocktail in the winter is not quite like it is when in the height of summer, I feel that it’s my right to be able to get a decently made tiki cocktail whenever I want!

So whilst I struggle on with my local bars and pubs, trying ever so hard to find at least a good tiki cocktail, I dream of bigger and most definitely better things: A great tiki cocktail!

That usually means I’m left with gathering ingredients and making the drink myself, and that is exactly what I’ve done for the 3 cocktails used in this post…

Bars like this one, the Punch Tiki Bar (LA), are no where to be found down here in South East Kent :(
Bars like this one, the Punch Tiki Bar (LA), are no where to be found down here in South East Kent 😦

But first: What is a tiki cocktail? It’s all well and good me saying “tiki this” and “tiki that” but I suppose unless you have some context it could be a little over your head. Well let’s discuss what a tiki cocktail is and why they’re too important to be made poorly…


The Great American Tiki Rush

People will come for miles to get a taste of a great tiki cocktail...
People will come for miles to get a taste of a great tiki cocktail…

So whilst I yearn for well-made and great tasting tiki, I had a thought: What exactly makes a great Tiki cocktail? I mean I know how to make all the classic tiki cocktails: the Mai Tai, Zombie, even the often poorly made Pina Colada; but what is the history of this exotic cocktail genre? And what does it mean to drink a Tiki drink like the Mai Tai?

Well here I look to share some of the discoveries I’ve made whilst trawling through the endless recipe pages the internet unsurprisingly supplied… I’ll even throw in three (3) of my favourite classic tiki cocktails for good measure!

Forget the gold rush and mid-west gunfights; the biggest rush of recent American history was the rise of the Tiki cocktail. Tiki cocktails came from seemingly nothing and, spearheaded by two particular individuals, rose to become one of the most popular cocktail genres of the current time! But a little more about that a little later.

What tiki cocktails are meant to provoke are memories of exotic locations and beach side haunts. At the very least they’re meant to help take you away from the everyday trivialities of life.

Tiki cocktails are more than just another genre of cocktails, and it’s all too easy to think of them as just rum cocktails and this is the unfortunate trap a lot of bars that serve these cocktails fall prey to.

A tiki cocktail, by general definition is a cocktail that uses Jamaican rum, Martinique rum and then a combination of syrups, juices and other liqueurs. The importance in that definition is the first two ingredients: 2 types of Rum. Although other spirits are being used more and more – this is in no way a bad thing!

The overall definition is a little open to interpretation and whilst some die-hards will tell you that “a tiki cocktail simply has to contain rum” most bartenders and mixologists understand that restricting ones pool of inspiration is a bit short-sighted. After all you can make an old fashioned with rum, why not a tiki cocktail with scotch?

This Mai Tai shows how simple a rum tiki drink can be. There maybe a few ingredients but it's a simple mix, shake and serve routine...
This Mai Tai shows how simple a rum tiki drink can be. There maybe a few ingredients but it’s a simple mix, shake and serve routine…

However, that being said, almost every cocktail expert will tell you one thing: When getting into tiki drinks always start with rum and master the classics first and only then should you think about expanding into other spirits and liqueurs as ingredients…

It might seem a little contradictory but when you think about the most famous tiki cocktails they always almost contain rum as a base spirit. This is no coincidence as back during their infancy, tiki cocktails used rum exclusively. It’s only been in the most recent times that tequila, vodka and whisky – among other spirits – have been used. It is the classic nature of these cocktails, as well as other rum-based tiki cocktails, that give rise to the stigmata of using other spirits.

So let’s assume that you want to start out on your very first tiki cocktail adventure, and to do that you need to heed the advice of cocktail experts: Start with Rum…

The type(s) of rum you start with is important, if only for the sake of creating the best cocktails you can possibly make. This collection of 3 main types of rum should be enough to get you started and then, as stated above, you can expand to your own pace:

  • A rich Demerara-style rum from Guyana or a nice rhum agricole from Martinique – El Dorado 12YO rum is expensive, but one of the best rums out there, at least in this category
  • A rich Jamaican rumAppleton Estate ‘Special Jamaican Rum’ is a great choice, especially as it is readily available in most UK supermarkets
  • And, arguably the most overlooked rum for beginners: White rum. A white rum in the style of Cuba or Puerto Rico is the best choice – Brugal & Havana club are great brands to start with

Once you have the rum you simply need to pay a visit to your local supermarket/green grocers and do one of two things: Decide on your laziness level!

If you want truly authentic tiki cocktails, then you simply have to go full-fresh juice. To do this find the produce section of the shop and pick up some exotic fruits:

  • Pineapples, mangoes, passion fruit, dragon fruit, lychee, oranges, lemons, limes and of course coconuts. Feel free to experiment with literally any exotic fruit you can lay your hands on.

Then simply blend the ingredients up to create truly fresh fruit juice for your cocktails! You can also use chunks and slices of the same fruit for creating home-made sugar syrups, which can really help to add further depth in taste to your cocktails.

Failing that most supermarkets, at least here in the UK, stock ‘NFC – Not From Concentrate’ juices and I cannot state clearly enough that this is literally the lowest you should go when making cocktails. Juices from concentrates are a little cheaper but for truly authentic and, simply put, better tasting cocktails you really should get the juice as fresh as possible…

Everyone knows the fresher the juice the better. All I know for sure is that fresh-squeezed = better tasting.
Everyone knows the fresher the juice the better. All I know for sure is that fresh-squeezed = better tasting.

The only other things you need to make your tiki cocktails are:

  • Ice (cubed) – you will need the best quality you can find and for the sake of any blended drinks please use cubed ice rather than crushed! – Although if you require crushed by all means do get it, but do not use it in place of the cubed ice! Trust me you don’t want to blend crushed ice, unless you want to water out your drink…
  • Decent glassware and garnishes: Get a decent hurricane glass (or two) and also some nice straws. You can also go all out on the garnish, using umbrellas and various fruit twirls etc. but I prefer it when the motto less = more is in effect!

Once you have all the things mentioned above you’re ready to move onto the recipes!


So what are the most famous tiki cocktails?

Left to Right: Pina Colada, Mai Tai, Zombie...
Left to Right: Pina Colada, Mai Tai, Zombie…

Obviously everyone knows of the main 3 cocktails: The Mai Tai, The Zombie and of course that sleeper tiki big-hitter: The Pina Colada.

But not many people know how to make these cocktails properly. The recipes shared below are believed to be the original or, in case of the Mai Tai, the closest possible match using today’s ingredients…


How to make a Classic Tiki cocktail at home?

Rum + Fruit Juice + Syrup = COCKTAILS O’CLOCK!!!


Mai Tai

mai tai

Before we start I have to confess: This is not the original recipe. The original recipe calls for a type of rum no longer made, however the fusion of the two rums used is supposedly the closest you can get to the original. And like all things on this blog I’ve given this cocktail a teeny-tiny little fervent shaker tweak…

Recipe:

  • 1 measure Martinique Rum
  • 1 measure Jamaican Rum
  • 1 measure fresh Lime Juice
  • ½ measure Orgeat Syrup
  • ½ measure Cointreau

Garnish: Sprig of mint & fresh lime…

Method:

This cocktail is a simple yet effective mixture that is usually ruined by the type of ingredients used and not the method. As you’ll see below the method is pretty darn easy…

  • Combine all of the ingredients (except the garnish) in an ice filled shaker and shake well – for around 10-20 seconds [or until the tin ices over].
  • Strain the mixture into a rocks glass full of crushed ice and garnish with a sprig of mint and a lime wedge/wheel/twist [whichever you prefer].
  • Fervent Shaker teeny-tiny little tweak: Try floating some dark, high quality rum on top of the drink before garnishing… It’ll add a little richness to the final sips of this already awesome drink…

Zombie

Zombie Cocktail

Originally created by the original beachcomber himself, it contains a super-secret ingredient which for years was just that: secret. Turns out it was just a mix of grapefruit and cinnamon syrups!

Recipe:

  • 1.5 measures gold Puerto Rican Rum
  • 1.5 measures Jamaican Rum
  • 1 measure 151 Demerara Rum
  • ¾ measure fresh lime juice
  • ½ Dons Mix (Grapefruit & Cinnamon syrup mixture)
  • ½ measure Falernum liqueur
  • 1tsp Grenadine
  • 8 drops absinthe
  • 1 dash angostura bitters

Method:

  • Blend all the ingredients together, with ice, for about 5-10 seconds (high speed).
  • Pour the mixture into a chimney* glass and garnish with a sprig of mint!

* A chimney glass is a type of glass you are already probably aware of and, depending on their shape/size, are known by several names: The delmonico, The collins & The highball.


Pina Colada

Recipe:

  • 2 measures White Rum
  • 2 measures Coconut Cream
  • 2 measures Pineapple Juice
  • 100 grams crushed ice

Method:

  • Blend all of these ingredients together and strain into a well-chilled hurricane glass and garnish with a wedge of pineapple, a couple of cherries and, if you’re feeling exceptionally exotic, a decently sized pineapple leaf.

So there you go! 3 classic tiki cocktails 1 from each of the ‘fathers of tiki’ and of course everyone’s summer classic: the Pina Colada.

Tiki cocktails are more than just a rum mix; they’re an escape from reality and all things boring. They’re a chilled, and sometimes eclectic, mix of rum juice, syrup and of course exotic flavours. The next time you go out and about why not order a mai tai, or a pina colada? Or, and only if you’re feeling exceptionally brave, why not try a zombie or two? Although most places will only allow you a double tap…

Keep your eyes peeled for more Tiki fun coming up later this month, from the best tiki cocktails to the best rums to use in those cocktails and all sorts of other tid-bits. This month, come away with me and enjoy an escape like no other: Tiki Cocktails…

Cocktails O’Clock: I WANT SPIDERMAN!!!

“He doesn’t want to be famous? Then I’ll make him infamous” – J. Jonah Jameson


Marvel Themed Cocktails: Spiderman

The soon to be Avenger (rumoured) and his token cocktail…

Spiderman has long been my favourite superhero. I grew up reading the kids comic-magazines, watching the 90’s cartoon (yeah the one where Spidey goes full mutant-spider). This is the first if my themed cocktail post’s and I wanted it to be special. To me the epitome of a superhero is Spiderman. He’s young when he first gets his powers and abuses them somewhat. However through various tragedies he learns the truth behind that famous marvel line “With great power comes great responsibility”. Some say that phrase has since been overused but to me it’s all about a boy becoming a man, a super-heroic man.

So this post needed to be special, and the cocktail needed to be special. So I through caution to the wind and tried to create something perfect for the summer…

Here in the UK we’re having a bit of a torrid time of things, that’s my opinion on it anyway. Whilst everyone loves the lovely skin-crisping heat the summer sun brings and given our position geographically, we tend to end up having a sweat-pouring muggy month or two. The best type of cocktail during summers like these is one pack with ice and flavour. Below is something that, prepared properly, will rock your Spidey-loving world!

This is a ½ & ½ cocktail and will take some preparation. You will need a food processor/smoothie maker/blender to create this cocktail in all its glory…

The Spectacular Spiderman

Combining alcohol with a child favourite: the slushy drink... Genius I believe!
Combining alcohol with a child favourite: the slushy drink… Genius I believe!

Recipe:

Blue half – Blue Margarita:

1.5 measures Tequila

1 measure Blue Curacao,

1 measure Lime Juice

Red half –Red Set Punch:

1.5 measures Grenadine

1.5 measures Raspberry Vodka

1.5 measures White Rum

Method:

For the blue margarita half:

  • Blend the Tequila, Blue Curacao & Lime Juice with ice until the mixture is like a slush-drink.
  • Pour this into a tall sling glass, filling it halfway.

For the red set punch half:

  • Blend the grenadine, vodka and rum together with ice until the mixture is like a slushy-drink.
  • Top the sling glass up with the red mixture and garnish with a gummy spider and serve with a straw.

This cocktail is a bit of a blend of two fantastic cocktails. The blue half of the drink is a tweaked margarita cocktail, the tweak being the replacement of the triple sec with blue curacao. Using Blue Curacao instead of the triple sec merely tints the colour an electric blue…

The second half is red and the grenadine is the obvious colour additive here. This mix of Raspberry vodka and rum, combined with the grenadine adds a slightly fruity edge to the top of the drink.

This cocktail, made from two halves, starts off fruity and sweet and is relatively easy on the throat. However the blue section hides the kick and as you progress through the drink you’ll start to taste the blue margarita more and more. This is no coincidence. The drink is built for you to drink from the top to the bottom. You can do the reverse, and the drink will get easier the more you drink – but where’s the fun in that!?

Flip to reverse it... This cocktail works well with either red or blue on top...
Flip to reverse it… This cocktail works well with either red or blue on top…

This cocktail is a great little number for themed cocktail parties or for impressing your friends on a night in…

Until next week, drink well but drink responsibly!!!

Theme of the Month: Marvel – They have a Hulk!!!

This month’s theme: An Introduction…

Theme of the Month: What a Marvel Idea…

The idea behind this new theme system is that it should allow me to write more posts more often. Recent months, for one reason or another, have not been good for my writing. So to help me write, as well as schedule, posts better I’ve decided to restrict myself to a certain theme every month. This means every month you’ll get a post (like this one) that introduces the theme, as well as giving you decent selection of themed cocktails. You’ll also get another 3 or 4 posts spread over the month also themed to that particular topic. Using this month’s theme: Marvel Superheroes as an example; you can expect another 3 or 4 posts showcasing cocktail recipes themed towards a particular Marvel superhero. Depending on the theme, you may also get a few other themed posts about spirits or events. If, for example, the theme is pirates you could be forgiven for thinking a rum brand might get a little piece during that particular month.

Please understand that whilst 90% of the posts from now on will show a connection to that particular month’s theme, I will still continue to post about relevant events, spirit brands and other interesting things I come across.

marvel

Why superheroes? Why marvel?

I love cocktails, but I also love superheroes, and I’ve been a child of Marvel from the very beginning of my comic-hood (the first comic I ever read was Spiderman).

So to kick off this whole theme idea I thought starting with superheroes would be perfect. With the recent blockbuster success of Avengers: Age Of Ultron meaning Marvel have kept up their consistent strength-to-strength success of their avengers world films (films like Thor, Iron Man, Captain America and the soon to be released Ant  Man), I thought it would be a fitting tribute if I gathered up some great Marvel superhero themed drinks; perfect for those silly fancy dress parties or just a good old geeky Marvel film-a-thon. What’s more, these cocktails are all pretty simple to make, all you need is the ingredients.

As a pre-curser to these cocktails please note:

  • Most of ingredients for these cocktails can be found at your local supermarket or corner shop.
  • However some of the harder to find ingredients, like the Viniq or flavoured vodkas, can be found online through various merchants. I’ll leave a few links at the end of the post for those interested in having a look around some of the better sites (please be aware this is only really worth it for UK readers as the sites are UK based).

So let’s begin with some of the cast from one the biggest films of the year: The Avengers: Age of Ultron…

Age of Ultron

  1. The Hulk (From the Tipsy Bartender)
Taken from the Tipsy Bartender, this cocktail packs a delightful, yet refreshing punch...
Taken from the Tipsy Bartender, this cocktail packs a delightful, yet refreshing punch…

Recipe:

1 measure Viniq Vodka Liqueur

½ measure Grape Vodka

½ measure plain Vodka

½ measure Blue Curacao

1 measure Orange Juice

Splash Sprite (Lemon & Lime Soda)

Garnish: Black sugar rim

Method:

Purple Half

  • Fill a blender with cubed ice.
  • Add in the Viniq Liqueur, Grape Vodka & Sprite.
  • Blitz until the mixture is the texture of a slushy.

Green Half

  • Fill a blender with cubed ice.
  • Add in the plain vodka, blue curacao & Orange juice.
  • Blitz until the mixture is the texture of a slushy.

Garnish

  • Combine some granulated sugar with black food colouring and pile onto a plate.

Main Drink

  • Rim a tumbler glass with the black sugar.
  • Fill the tumbler half way with the purple slush.
  • Then top up with the green slush.
  • Garnish with the black sugar rim.

This cocktail is probably the most time intensiveCheck out the Tipsy Bartender for more great cocktails like this Hulk themed one.

  1. Iron Man
This Iron Man cocktail is a gold/red/blue combination inspired by the superhero's armour.
This Iron Man cocktail is a gold/red/blue combination inspired by the superhero’s armour.

Recipe:

1 measure Grenadine

1 measure Drambuie

2 measures Orange Juice

1 measure Scotch whisky

Method:

  • Build/layer the ingredients, in order, over ice in a tall Collins glass.
  • Serve with a glowing ice cube if you have one, use two straws either way…
  1. Thor – Shooter
Dropping the shot into a glass is a little like Mjolnir hitting the ground. It will hit hard and fast, but there's something strangely beautiful about it all...
Dropping the shot into a glass is a little like Mjolnir hitting the ground. It will hit hard and fast, but there’s something strangely beautiful about it all…

Recipe:

½ measure Whisky

1 measure Rum

1 measure Vodka

2 measures Orange Juice

Method:

  • Stir together the Whisky, Vodka & Rum.
  • Strain into a shot glass and set aside.
  • Pour a glass of orange juice and top it with soda.
  • Serve by dropping the shot glass in the glass of orange juice and enjoy…

Like the immovable Mjolnir itself, this cocktail will thump you like a hammer and then make sure you don’t remember it afterwards. Try sharing this serve with several of your friends, that way no one will think less of you, I promise!

  1. Black Widow
This cocktail, shown here with the bells and whistles, is the only hot cocktail in this post...
This cocktail, shown here with the bells and whistles, is the only hot cocktail in this post…

Recipe:

1 measure Kahlua

1 measure Vodka

2 shots espresso

Method:

  • Combine in a glass and stir in.
  • Serve Hot.

The only hot cocktail on this list, the Black Widow tastes amazing but let it and it will make you wish you’d never heard of it…

  1. Hawkeye – Purple Rain
Shown here as a shorter martini version, the Purple rain cocktail has been a classic across 100's of bars for the last few years...
Shown here as a shorter martini version, the Purple rain cocktail has been a classic across 100’s of bars for the last few years…

Recipe:

1.5 measures Vodka

1.5 measures Blue Curacao

3 measures Cranberry Juice

Top up Soda Water (Optional)

Method:

  • Build the ingredients over ice in a tall glass.
  • Top up with Soda water and serve with a straw.
  1. Captain America – Frappé
This cocktail is a primarily a shot. But follow the frappe method and you'll end up with something a little like this...
This cocktail is a primarily a shot. But follow the frappe method and you’ll end up with something a little like this…

Recipe:

1 measure Grenadine

1 measure Crème De Cacao

1 measure Blue Curacao

Method:

  • Layer the ingredients into a fancy shot glass in the order written above. Handy tip: Use the back of a spoon to slow the liquid down and allow it to settle on top of the previous liquid.

Frappé Method:

  • Fill a tall collins glass 1/3 of the way full with crushed ice and add in the Grenadine.
  • Now fill it another 1/3 with crushed ice and then add the Crème De Cacao.
  • Finally fill to the brim with the crushed ice and then top with the Blue Curacao.

This layered shot is stronger than most cocktails on this list, but not only is it fitting for the theme but it also shows off all that was great about the great Captain America: The United States of America, via their flag of course…

  1. Quicksilver – Kamikaze, Shooter
Sure, it doesnt look like much. But the Kamikaze shooter is some what of a legend around the circuit... Powerful, potent but highly refreshing...
Sure, it doesnt look like much. But the Kamikaze shooter is some what of a legend around the circuit… Powerful, potent but highly refreshing…

Recipe:

1.5 measures Vodka

0.75 measures Triple Sec

0.75 measures Lime Juice

Method:

  • Combine all 3 ingredients in a cocktail shaker and add ice.
  • Shake well, for around 10-15 seconds, and then strain into a fancy shot glass.
  • Serve with a slice of lime for a real kicker.

This cocktail is not so much a themed cocktail as it is a fitting cocktail. SPOILERS.

This suits Quicksilver’s character to a tee. Short, fast and it sure does pack a punch when it hits you. Share these out as they taste surprisingly great for a shooter.

Moving forward…

Keep an eye out over the next 3-4 weeks for more marvel superhero themed cocktails right here, on this blog!

This month’s theme is perfect for summer evenings with your mates because the cocktails are bound to be fun, bold and simply delicious!!!

So, regardless of whether you’re a DC or Marvel, suit up and be ready for anything. Enjoy the cocktails, have fun, but most importantly drink responsibly!

Links:

Tipsy Bartender: Youtube

TheDrinkShop: Website

Urban Drinks : Website

Viniq Vodka Liqueur: Official Website

Marvel: Official Website

10 Cocktails you should be drinking this summer… Part 1, 1-5

Summer is the time of cocktails and outdoor living, below are 5 cocktails you definitely should be drinking this summer...
Summer is the time of cocktails and outdoor living, below are 5 cocktails you definitely should be drinking this summer…

So you’re at a friends’ BBQ one summer’s evening and everyone is having a nice time, the sun is shining, there’s a gentle breeze rolling through the pine trees surrounding the pool, and although the kids are screaming, they’re having fun.

You’ve spoken to all your friends, caught up on gossip and everyone’s enjoyed the hosts’ BBQ skills. But now the temperature has chilled slightly and the sun has started to set. The Kids have gone home to the supervision of their child-minders and that leaves all you adults about with a choice: Lemonade and soft drinks… Or the hard stuff?

But that decision is made for you; out comes the hosts’ and their stash of liquor. Vodka, Tequila, Rum, Triple Sec & plenty of other obscure, highly alcoholic elixirs that do not look healthy at all…

So in come the dedicated spirit drinkers, taking their share of their designated poison, rum, vodka – it doesn’t matter there’s plenty for everyone. What really gathers your attention is not the boring spirit drinkers, they can keep their Bourbon, Neat; you want what’s in that glass on the opposite table: A tall mountain of a glass, with sweeping curves and a cool orange nectar, swirling with a red syrupy surprise… Of course I’m talking about a Tequila Sunrise – the epitome of pool-side tropical cocktails…

But did you know that the cocktails available to you for your summer evenings are not restricted to generic boring simple cocktails. Sure they look great and every now and then they’re great to enjoy but if you really want to impress everyone you know, why not give these few recipes a little tipple…

Recipe #1: Limoncello – Limoncello Citrus Cooler

Blending Sorbet with a stunning cocktail results in a sumptuously sweet treat perfect for the summer time...
Blending Sorbet with a stunning cocktail results in a sumptuously sweet treat perfect for the summer time…

20ml Limoncello

20ml Maraschino Liqueur

40ml Lemon Juice

1 scoop mandarin sorbet

1 teaspoon marmalade

2 dashes hibiscus bitters

Method:

  • Shake all the ingredients with ice.
  • Strain into a rocks glass containing a large ice cube (ice-balls work well here)
  • Garnish with a pair of maraschino cherries and an orange twist.

This cocktail blends sweet Limoncello with some other sweet, citrus flavours and creates a cocktail that is not as sweet as it looks to be. The ingredients blend well, as mentioned, but you can still separate the intricate flavours of a high quality limoncello and the maraschino liqueur. The hibiscus bitters lends a bitter, yet exotic fragrance to the drink. This is a great drink to have in your repertoire for a romantic evening date…

Recipe #2: Gin – Italian Collins

A classic Gin cocktail tweaked with some Italian twists...
A classic Gin cocktail tweaked with some Italian twists…

1 measure Sipsmith Gin

¾ measure Limoncello

¼ measure fresh lemon juice

4 measures Club Soda

Method:

  • Mix the first three ingredients together and shake well, over ice, for around 10-15 seconds.
  • Strain into a tall glass filled with ice.
  • Top up with club soda and garnish with a thin slice of lemon peel.

Recipe #3: Vodka – Wake County Cooler

From the USA this brilliant cocktail uses infused vodka, a trend gaining a lot traction...
From the USA this brilliant cocktail uses infused vodka, a trend gaining a lot traction…

Black Tea infused Vodka

Sugar Syrup

Lemon Juice

Club Soda

Method:

(Sweet) Black Tea Vodka:

  • Combine 750ml Vodka with 150ml loose-leaf black tea and allow to infuse (should take around 2 hours).
  • Then, separately: Combine 60ml water with 60g sugar and mix into a sugar syrup.
  • Combine the sugar syrup with the vodka and mix well.

Main Cocktail:

  • Half fill a Collins glass with crushed ice.
  • Add 50ml of the infused vodka to the glass.
  • Then add 12.5ml of lemon juice.
  • Top up with the club soda and garnish with a lemon wedge and mint sprig.

If you create the full amount above (750ml) you’ll have plenty to share (or keep for yourself). 

One of the best things about this cocktail is that you have to infuse your own Vodka. As a home-taught cocktail maker one of my favourite hobbies is the infusing of neutral alcohol. Not only do you end up with something delicious and flavour-fuelled, most of the time you improve the original drink (obviously you don’t want to use top end Vodka for this sort of infusion). If you have enough forethought to purchase some nice kilner-jars (think along the lines of pressure topped bottles – like Grolsch beer) you can share out your good infusions for family gifts and even age some spirits…

Give it a go, you’ll be surprised what you can come up with!

Recipe #4: Licor 43 – Carta Marina

Using 2 of my favourite spirits, this cocktail is quite literally the one you have to try...
Using 2 of my favourite spirits, this cocktail is quite literally the one you have to try…

1 ½ measures Kraken Black Spiced Rum

¾ measures Licor 43

¾ measures Lemon Juice

¼ measure Aperol

2 dashes Cardamom bitters

Garnish: Vanilla Bean & orange twist.

Method:

  • Shake all the ingredients together over ice for 15-20 seconds (or until the tin ices over).
  • Strain into a coupe cocktail glass and garnish with a vanilla bean wrapped inside the orange twist.

This cocktail mixes two of my favourite spirits in Kraken & Licor 43. And boy do they blend well! This looks like an odd mixture of spirits and bitters but if shaken well (and properly) this drink elevates you to another level. When a drink can supply you with a mix of refreshment, great taste and an almost bottomless depth in quality you know you’ve hit gold; with the Carta Marina you have some good old US/Mediterranean Gold. If you only drink one cocktail of this list: Pick this one!

Whilst Licor 43 is one of the lesser known liqueurs outside of Spain, it is also one of the best, at least in my opinion, in the world...
Whilst Licor 43 is one of the lesser known liqueurs outside of Spain, it is also one of the best, at least in my opinion, in the world…

Recipe #5: Rum – Daisy De Santiago

A funny little twist on the Mojito, the Daisy De Santiago is a fantastic blend of refreshing and crisp.
A funny little twist on the Mojito, the Daisy De Santiago is a fantastic blend of refreshing and crisp.

40ml Bacardi Superior White Rum

20ml fresh lime juice

5ml sugar syrup

15ml Yellow Chartreuse

Garnish:  fresh berries & a sprig of mint.

Method:

  • Add the rum, sugar syrup & lime juice to a shaker filled with ice and shake well – for around 20-30 seconds.
  • Fill a wine goblet with crushed ice and strain the mixed liquid into the glass.
  • Garnish with the sprig & berry bouquet and then float the yellow Chartreuse on top of the drink.

The Daisy de Santiago is possibly one of the freshest and most refreshing drinks I’ve had the pleasure of sipping in a long time. It’s got a lovely rum kick from the Bacardi yet it’s sweet and almost minty after taste compliments most summer evenings. A difficult drink to balance perfectly but one that is very much worthwhile mastering.

Valentines Day Cocktails – A gift from the Fervent Shaker

Valentine Day

Spirits, as any good bartender knows, are the door to many a persons’ heart (buy me a bottle of rum and you’ll have a friend for life), come in many shapes and sizes and nowadays flavours. There is a lot of choice out there and even more so these days, the choice can be very difficult for those not up to date with the ‘in’ product. For instance do you know the best types of Dark rum to buy for your dark ‘n’ stormy? Or whether Smirnoff is the best UK vodka? (Hint: it’s not even from the UK).

Well the idea behind these valentines inspired cocktails is that they use spirits (as well as other ingredients) that can all be easily found in your local supermarkets (UK readers) or liquor stores (USA & other worldly destinations)…

So here we have 6 cocktails: 1 for each of the big 6 spirits: Whisky, Rum, Vodka, Tequila, Cognac & Gin. As I stated above; all the ingredients used can be easily sourced and in short notice too. So without delay let’s get started, with this wonderful Vodka cocktail:

Vodka Valentine: The Pomegranate Martini

Lustful and Red, this 'Martini' might not be classic, but it sure is classy...
Lustful and Red, this ‘Martini’ might not be classic, but it sure is classy…

Recipe:

1 measure Vodka

½ measure Cointreau*

3 measures POM Pomegranate Juice

Method:

  • Combine all the ingredients in an ice-filled shaker and shake well (around 5-10 seconds – just enough time for the shaker to ice over).
  • Strain mixture into a well-chilled martini cocktail glass.
  • Garnish with an orange/lime peel.

This cocktail is a lovely little drink similar in hue (and length) as a cosmopolitan. It’s a girly favourite and that should make it a shoe in for any of you guys trying to impress a lady on a night in (or order them on a night out – always a winner).

*if you’re not a fan of the wonderfully sweet Cointreau Liqueur then you can always replace it with the same measurement of orange or lime juice. Equally if you want alcohol but want a less-sweet liqueur then try replacing it with Orange Curacao.

Rum Valentine: Cranberry Kiss

Simple and extremely effective; This rum cocktail is perfect for stargazers and long movies...
Simple and extremely effective; This rum cocktail is perfect for stargazers and long movies…

Recipe:

1 measure Captain Morgan’s Original Spiced Rum

2 measures Sour Mix*

2 measures Cranberry Juice

1 wedge of lemon

Method:

  • Build the ingredients over ice in a Collins glass and stir well as you do so (you can mix this drink but it’s best built).
  • Drop in a lemon wedge and stir gently. Serve with a straw.

This is a lovely long-ish cocktail with a slightly sweeter-than-normal taste. Great for chilling out on a long night out (or in) especially if you need a slight pick-me-up, this cocktail is definitely perfect for intimate evenings with loved ones and will go down a treat.

*Sour mix is a fancy term for lemon & lime flavoured sugar syrup. It can be made by following the usual sugar syrup method and adding lemon & lime juice to the mix. Click on the Sour Mix in the recipe for the sour mix recipe itself. Again – all the ingredients can be found in your local shop(s).

Tequila Valentine: Phoenix Rising

Not for the faint of heart, this cocktail packs a hell of a kick, but a flavour profile to match: Perfect for Tequila lovers and for something a bit different...
Not for the faint of heart, this cocktail packs a hell of a kick, but a flavour profile to match: Perfect for Tequila lovers and for something a bit different…

Recipe:

2 measures Blanco Tequila (100% Agave)

4 measures Fresh Orange Juice*

1 measure Agave Nectar

1 splash (5ml) Lime Juice

5-6 fresh pitted cherries**

Method:

  • Muddle the cherries with a splash of lime juice and leave to one side.
  • Combine the remaining ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice.
  • Shake well (for around 5-10 seconds – or until the shaker ices-over).
  • Strain into an ice filled rocks glass and drop in the cherries for a garnish.
  • Serve with a straw, or straight if preferred.

This cocktail is what Valentines is all about: Sharing something special with someone special. Sure it’s only for tequila lovers as the tequila really shines through, but this cocktail, prepared correctly is a fantastic combination of flavour and kick.

*You can use juice from a carton but the fresher the better: Long Life Carton < Chilled Carton < Fresh Squeezed. Hint: The middle option, whilst not the freshest is the best value without losing too much quality. Especially if you choose a nice brand or supermarket top brand e.g. Sainsbury’s TTD or Tesco’s Finest.

**The cherries, if muddled just right, will release their burgundy coloured juice and tint the cocktail a nice reddish hue that dances about your glass with every sip. It also adds a slight fragrance to the drink enticing you in…

Gin Valentine:  Lady Killer

This elegant cocktail oozes class and will help you charm her back for a second date.
This elegant cocktail oozes class and will help you charm her back for a second date.

Recipe:

1 measure Hendricks Dry Gin

½ measure Cointreau/Triple Sec

½ measure Apricot Brandy*

2 measures Passion fruit Juice**

2 measures Pineapple Juice***

Method:

  • Combine all of the ingredients in an ice filled cocktail shaker.
  • Shake well (5-10 seconds or until the shaker ices over).
  • Strain into a champagne flute half filled with crushed ice.
  • Garnish with a cherry on a long skewer & serve with a straw.

*Apricot Brandy is an apricot flavoured liqueur and the most common brands (at least here in the UK) are: De Kuyper & Bols (surprise, surprise they’re both Dutch!).

** This can be found in long life cartons in the UK, as for the USA: you should be able to find it in a grocery store (failing that a large supermarket should sell what you need).

*** Whilst fresh pineapple juice is always better than pre-juiced products it is also extremely expensive. So go for the ‘not from concentrate’ pineapple juice available in almost all supermarkets (UK readers hint: use the supermarket own brand).

Cognac Valentine: Angel’s Shoulder

Class redefined... This unique little cocktail is perfect for showing off your flair and a risky move - but done right it's a sublime master-stroke.
Class redefined… This unique little cocktail is perfect for showing off your flair and a risky move – but done right it’s a sublime master-stroke.

Recipe:

1 ½ measures Cognac (V.S.O.P.)

¾ measure fresh lemon juice

½ measure rosemary simple syrup*

¼ measure Amaretto

¼ measure Crème de Peche (Peach Liqueur)**

¼ measure Benedictine

Red wine (Cotes Du Rhone)

Method:

  • Combine all the ingredients (except the red wine) in an ice filled cocktail shaker and shake well (around 5-10 seconds – or until the shaker ices over).
  • Strain into a rocks glass containing 1 large ice cube.
  • Then float the red wine on top of the drink (best done using the back of a bar spoon).

This cocktail has a bit too it, but if you practice it before hand; surprising your date with this rather classy drink is certain to get you some plus points. Use a bar-spoon (a teaspoon will suffice) to layer the red wine and look like a real pro! – Don’t know how to do this little trick? Worry not; click here and you’ll master the technique in no time at all!

Click here for a rosemary simple syrup recipe, and liven up your cocktails today!

** This is a peach liqueur and the most common brands are again the 2 big Dutch brands of Bols & De Kuyper. But failing that Archers peach liqueur is a very handy substitute.

Whisky Valentine: The Rob Roy

A Scottish classic if there ever was one; this cocktail is for the Scots out there. Have a Scottish date that loves whisky? Then order them one of these...
A Scottish classic if there ever was one; this cocktail is for the Scots out there. Have a Scottish date that loves whisky? Then order them one of these…

Recipe:

2 measures Blended Scotch

1 measure Vermouth

1 Dash of angostura bitters

Garnish: Lemon Peel Twist

Method:

  • Pour ingredients into a mixing glass full of cracked ice.
  • Stir well for around 30-60 seconds (stirring for longer helps chill the drink right down).
  • Strain into a well-chilled small rocks glass.
  • Garnish with the lemon peel twist and a cocktail cherry (optional).

This cocktail will be the focus of a whisky special coming soon, but for now it’s perfect for wooing those you truly care about. You may have to ask the drinker if they like whisky, but if they answer yes the chances are they’ll love this classic Scottish cocktail.

Top Tip: For the sharp eyed this cocktail will resemble a classic Manhattan cocktail almost exactly. Except the Rob Roy uses Scotch Whisky instead of American Rye whisky…

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.

The Legend of the Cuba Libre…

cuba cab

The Cuba Libre the epitome of a classic cocktail – it is 114 years old after all! Better yet, it has not only stood the test of time, but today it remains one of the most ordered cocktails across the world.

But for a drink some only know as ‘Rum & Coke’ to have lasted so long would’ve required some rather important factors;

  • A colourful history
  • Simplicity
  • Fantastic taste
  • The use of a world class Mixer

Now simplicity doesn’t always work, and let’s be honest, a colourful history could be good or bad. But mix the good kind of colourful history with simplicity and then blend in the great taste of a classic American mixer then you have formed the perfect storm, in cocktail terms at least.

I’ll be honest here; The Cuba Libre’s success is in no small part down to its drinkability and the fact it’s mixed with arguably the most famous mixer in the world, Coca Cola, is no mistake.

As you can probably already tell, the Cuba Libre is my favourite cocktail. Whilst you’ll rarely see me order one when out and about, as they are so easy to make, at home they’re pretty much all I drink.

Give me a well-made Cuba Libre and I’ll be a happy man.

So let’s look at the facts:

The History of the Cuba Libre…

cuba libre 4

The history of the Cuba Libre cocktail is well documented as being around the turn of the 20th century – when cuba won it’s freedom after the American-Spanish war of 1898. It’s said that after the war ended, around August 1900, Captain Russell (of the US Military) ordered Bacardi Rum with Coke and a slice of lime. The name of the drink was coined when he toasted the phrase “Por Cuba Libre” – For a free Cuba. This phrase was of great political significance at the time, especially as it was used by both American and Cuban citizens alike. Whilst Bacardi Rum is no longer ‘Cuban’ rum (they vacated the Island back when the American Prohibition hit hard) they are still considered the Rum of choice when ordering a Cuba Libre or, as it is better known; “A Bacardi & Coke please”…

Simplicity & the taste of America…

Coca Cola is unequivocally American. Any American will tell you that Coca Cola is as much a part of the USA’s history as the Wild West and JFK, with some of the older memorabilia selling for $100’s with some more specific items fetching far higher prices! The fact that it’s so simple to create; combined with the classic taste of America and the history surrounding the cocktails’ creation means it’s not that surprising it has, arguably, become one of the most famous cocktails of all time.

An Advocate for slow sipping…

The Cuba Libre can be a pleasure when well-made and should always be enjoyed sip by sip; especially, if like me, you like to use it to help taste the finest of rums. I find that Cola helps bring out some of the better flavours of golden/dark rums and this for me not only means I get to enjoy a rum without the burning feeling of the alcohol, but also allows me to spend more time enjoying it. The use of Cola takes a drink that would be over far too soon and lengthens it to perfection.

So whilst this cocktail is certainly a classic, especially when Bacardi is used, it also allows people like me to enjoy the rum they love for longer, by allowing us to sip it slowly over a greater amount of time.

And finally; the two Cuba Libre’s that matter:

The Original (1900) Cuban Recipe…

Recipe:

1 measure Bacardi Gold Rum

3 measures Coca-Cola (bottled*)

2 lime wedges

Method:

  • Build over ice and drop in the Lime wedges for garnish.
  • For an added lime kick, squeeze the juice out of the lime and into the drink before putting the wedges in. Remember to stir before serving…

This recipe is as close to the original as today will allow, with the problem being that Bacardi vacated Cuba shortly after the USA took over. They relocated production to Puerto Rico & Mexico and have rightly had the title of ‘Cuban Rum’ removed from their current products. However if you want a taste of a current day ‘Cuban’ Cuba Libre then check out my favourite recipe:

‘True Cuban’ Cuba Libre:

cuba libre 1

Recipe:

1 measure Havana Club Especial (Gold) Rum

3 measures Coca-Cola (glass bottle*)

2 wedges lime

Method:

  • Squeeze one of the lime wedges into your ice-filled glass.
  • Then pour in the rum.
  • Top up with the Coca-Cola and then stir.
  • Drop in the 2nd lime wedge, put your feet up and sip away.

*It’s no secret that bottle Coca-Cola tastes better than Canned and this is not a coincidence. Using glass bottled cola is the best way to enjoy it in my opinion, and it is definitely the better of the 3 types for the ultimate Cuba Libre. However any Coca-Cola will do just fine.