So Cinco De Mayo is here! It might be nearly over here in the UK but over in the USA it’s just about time to prep your drinks and start upon your drinking night…
My addition this year is a simple yet often overlooked tweak to make your lovely cocktail a little more… punchy.
Recently I was out for a meal at Chiquito’s (a Mexican/Southern American themed chain restaurant here in the UK) and my tipple of choice whenever visiting this particular branch is their exceptional Dark N’ Stormy. They use Gosling’s Black Seal Rum, and of course Goslings ginger ale – What you have to use to create a Dark n’ Stormy, and call it so.
Well I finished my first one and, sporting my Mexican sports jacket (I purchased it during the 2014 world cup – it’s a delightful shade of green) I asked the waitress if she would mind asking the bartender to make me a Dark N’ Stormy, but with a tweak… She told me they can if they have the means, so I asked for a Dark N’ Stormy but for Tequila instead of rum, I said I wasn’t too fussed on what tequila, just whatever the bartender thought would work best.
Now I don’t know what tequila the bartender used, nor did I remember to ask on my way out (a mistake on my part – although I’d had a few and was with friends). All I know is that it tasted fantastic, and worked wonderfully! So whilst I do not know what tequila was used (I’ve left that to your own tastes) I have included a recipe I know to be pretty accurate to what I had:
Cinco De Mayo Special: Mexican Storm
50ml Tequila (your favourite)
150ml Ginger Ale/Beer
15ml Fresh Lime Juice
Pour the ginger ale/beer into a half filled tall glass.
Squeeze in the lime juice and top up with the large slug of tequila.
Garnish with a slice of lime and serve with a couple of straws.
This cocktail is so simple it’s a wonder it isn’t used more often in the world of cocktails. Supplementing tequila for rum in this case means your drink packs a little more of a kick, as well as making it instantly Mexican themed…
So next time you order a Dark N’ Stormy, switch out the rum for a nice quality Tequila, preferably your favourite, and you may never go back. I know I’m sold!
The long island iced-tea is one of those cocktails that, when ordered, will get you contemptuous looks and pure anger from some ‘mixologists’. Now the problem is that they, in their ‘infinite wisdom’ think people that order a LII-T are just wanting as much alcohol in a glass as possible (with a splash of coke). Now whilst in some places this is true, I’d like to think better than that. Sure it is a drink that is kind of asking for it (containing no less than 5 different strong spirits), but look past the high alcohol content and look at the actual ingredients and you have the recipe for something potentially fantastic…
Here is the classic Long Island Iced-Tea recipe:
1 measure Vodka
1 measure Gin
1 measure Rum
1 measure Tequila
1 measure Triple Sec (or Cointreau)
1.5 measures Lemon Juice
2 measures Sugar Syrup
Top up Coke Cola
Top Tips: For a perfect amount try using 15ml as one measure (so 15ml of each alcohol, then 21ml for the lemon juice – about half a small lemons worth – and 30ml sugar syrup). Measured right it should allow you to add a couple of large splashes of Cola, allowing for a more potent flavourful drink.
As you can see this cocktail has the means to be quite potent, and mistreated it can result in very a drunken you, very quickly. However treated with respect, and measured/served properly and this drink is one that can be savoured and enjoyed to its fullest. Meant for kicking back on a beach somewhere in Bali, this cocktail offers a refreshing taste I’m yet to find with any other cocktail (yes, including Mojito’s)…
Now in keeping with my philosophy of ‘if you haven’t got all of the ingredients, improvise’ this recipe was privy to one of my improvisations recently. Now at a recent event (https://theferventshaker.wordpress.com/2013/03/03/a-secret-soiree-in-margate-old-town/) I did not have all the ingredients available for this classic recipe, so I created a work around. Based on the Original Iced Tea method, of building in a glass, over ice, I used the following recipe:
My Tweaked Long Island Iced-Tea
15ml White Rum
15ml Silver Tequila (Tequila blanco)
20ml Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice
30ml Sugar Syrup
1 large dash of Amaretto Liqueur
Top up with Coke Cola
Now as you can see this recipe starts off the same as a classic LII-T, but the lack of lemon juice, gin and triple sec meant I had to improvise. Now the use of amaretto liqueur and sugar syrup means this drink is rather sweet, but a simple ‘too-taste’ rule when adding the sugar syrup would be a smart move: If you find this amount too sweet, cut it down slightly until you find it perfect.
I feel that the addition of the Amaretto gives this drink a nice hint of almond, just underneath the alcohol. The layers of rum, vodka and tequila (especially the rum and tequila) come through more, as the floral notes of the gin are not there. Add to this the crisp nature of the lime juice and you get rid of the nasty alcohol taste (you know that taste at the back of your throat). This drink, in my and my friends’ opinions is well balanced and arguably better overall than the classic recipe. Although that’s something you’ll have to decide for yourselves!
Margate is a wonderfully quaint little seaside town on the eastern tip of Kent (a county in the UK – for all you non-UK readers) but for those of you who are not acquainted with this sometimes lovely little town here are a few photos, in the form of a Google search…
Once you’ve seen some of those pictures, imagine this:
Walking along the Margate sea-front, box of cocktail equipment in hand, leftover tequila, white rum and even a bottle of Prosecco (which remained un-opened in the end) all included, I meander along the path, to be pleasantly surprised by my friend Dan (no relation) who was waiting for me after picking up a small mountain of ice for the Soiree. We both walked back to his house and as we walked in we were both met with a chorus of ‘Woos’ and ‘Dan!’ all from one of the other co-hosts excited to see the cocktail prep could begin. Now I would like to make it clear that at this point, it was around 5-5.30pm and the Soiree did not really get going until around 7-8pm.
Before I can do any prep work, I’m shown around the house. First up the main room; where I would be set up. This room also included interactive music, determined by the people in the room at the time (allowing for more personalisation of the evening for the guests – a great idea that really worked well). Then I was taken into the two-tier ‘rave’ cellar and considering it was just 2 brick built rooms the last time I saw it, the neon lights, fairy lights and luminous paint (along with the slightly later addition of strobes and lasers) made this the very club-vibe up beat part of the event.
This two level club-like look really worked and considering the 40+ people attending, was also necessary!
Onwards to the cocktails now:
I started prepping the cocktails and the ingredients needed from around 6pm. This included washing anything I hadn’t done at home, laying out my equipment (knives, strainers, shakers, jiggers etc.) and then of course the softening & cutting of the limes. The alcohol was kept in a make shift bar, an emptied bookcase worked surprisingly well, combined with a large unused table provided me with a sturdy work surface. With people not turning up (generally) until around 7-8pm I offered to make a few test cocktails for the hosts and the music suppliers.
Cocktails tried included the dark n stormy, sex on the beach and (because of a lack of gin/lemon juice) I also served up a tweaked version of the Long Island Iced-Tea (see below [cocktail no.9] for the recipe). This helped me ease into a sense of security and when people started actually turning up I was in my element. For all intents and purposes I had my own bar for the night. Working cleanly and efficiently (and under a great deal of pressure from almost all of the guests at one point) the cocktails started flying of the shelf (quite literally).
I had written the recipes down in one of my handy little notebooks and this allowed people to read what cocktails were available. This not only freed me up to concentrate on the cocktail making process, but also allowed the guests to have a good look at the ingredients and the name of the cocktails, helping them understand what was in each one. This was a little Idea I thought I’d try that also seemed to ease up some time for me to concentrate on the cocktails.
These cocktails, as you can see, are a combination of classic and contemporary recipes with a little variance in the themes. The mojitos are light and refreshing, whereas the white Russian is a creamier coffee flavoured cocktail. Whilst the Hawaiian Bay Breeze and Sex on the beach are similar in their ingredients, the simple addition/replacement of the ingredients drastically transforms the flavours…
Overall I feel this collection best suited the night and the guests that attended where full of compliments of every recipe. In hindsight the only changes would probably have been the removal of both the Tequila Sunrise and Hawaiian Bay Breeze. These would be changed purely because of a) the tequila sunrise didn’t work with the small opaque plastic cups and b) the Hawaiian bay breeze was too similar to the sex on the beach for the guests to order. Looking at the recipes available with the ingredients purchased the best move may have been to use some more Mexican themed cocktails (tequila and pineapple juice based recipes may have been a good call) to balance the collection out a little.
That put to one side, the overall feedback was good and everyone kept complimenting me on my cocktails, which is a fantastic confidence boost – as I knew pretty much nobody there, and the people I did know had not really seen me in action.
The event as a whole didn’t just benefit me from a networking point of view in that my confidence with serving quality cocktails is improving all the time. The cocktails served were not only great tasting, but well made, and that is great feedback to have.
As a further more personal note, having cocktails at an event like this, in the way it was done at this event, supplies your guests with a focal point outside of the norm. This can become a conversation topic as well as a general form of interactive entertainment.
Now onto the real bread and butter of this post: The Cocktails…
As previously stated the cocktails are a combination of all different flavours. These are not necessarily themed but do share a general Caribbean trend (light fruity juice mixed drinks)
Dark ‘n’ Stormy
1 measure Dark Rum (I used White Rum)
5 measures Jamaican Ginger Beer
I used Sainsbury’s white rum for this cocktail as dark rum is generally hard to find at a reasonable price these days. The only thing the dark rum will give you over the white rum is a larger depth of flavour, but if you use a higher quality rum (let’s use Havana Club 3yo for example) then the flavour depth is automatically quite deep, negating the need for dark rum specifically.
Top Tip: when on a low budget always try to accommodate the supermarket brands, you’ll find that the quality is just as good as some of the more ‘famous’ brands especially when mixing in cocktails…
1 measure Vodka
1 measure Galliano
4 measures Fresh Smooth Orange Juice
This cocktail is a classic version of a classic recipe. It was not tweaked in any way and I think this is by far the best way to serve it. If you do not like the vanilla then you can cut it out, but then it becomes a simple Screwdriver. Either way enjoy this cocktail over ice.
Top Tip: this drink is better built in the glass over ice than shaken. You want to create a layered feel to the flavours and shaking the ingredients works against this…
60ml White Rum
15ml Sugar Syrup
8-10 fresh mint leaves
1 ½ lime in ¼’s
Top up Soda water/Lemonade
Build the ingredients in the glass you serve it in. Start with the lime and sugar syrup and muddle well, then add the mint and gently muddle. Add the crushed ice and the rum. Top up with lemonade and garnish with a mint sprig.
This cocktail is a classic recipe ONLY when the soda water is used. However my recipe calls for lemonade purely because I have not found a soda water mojito that I like. And I am more comfortable making this slightly sweeter version. This drink is meant to be refreshing so you must use fresh mint leaves. This cocktail just does not work with dried mint at all.
Top Tip: Just before you put the mint leaves in the drink, place them in the palm of one hand, and clap your hands 1-2 times. This releases the oils from the leaves without making the drink bitter.
Sex on the Beach
1 measure Vodka
1 measure Peach Schnapps
2 measure Cranberry Juice
2 measures fresh smooth Orange Juice.
Another built drink. This drink is all about depth in flavour and the best way to do this is to loosely layer the ingredients as you make the drink (over ice of course).
Top Tip: if your guests are planning on drinking this cocktail quickly (or if it’s served in small amounts) then stir gently before serving so they get all the appropriate flavours.
Hawaiian Bay Breeze
1 measure Vodka
1.5 measures Cranberry juice
1.5 measures Pineapple juice
This cocktail can be served either built or shaken. Either way the pineapple adds some Caribbean flavour to an already fruity cocktail. The cranberry and pineapple work perfectly to create an almost punch like feel to this drink.
Top tip: if shaking, double strain the cocktail as you pour it into the glass, taking out the unnecessary foam (from shaking the pineapple).
1 measure Silver Tequila
4 measures Fresh smooth Orange juice
½ measure Grenadine Syrup
This drink is as simple as it sounds. Build it over ice with the grenadine being dropped from about 1cm above the glass. The grenadine syrup will sink to the bottom and gradually work its way up the cocktail as you drink it. The idea being that the more you drink it, the stronger/sweeter it gets.
Top tip: if you want a bit more culture in your tequila sunrise try using a quality Gold Tequila to add some depth. Jose Cuervo Reposado Gold Tequila is a good shout, but any quality gold tequila will do.
1 measure vodka
1 measure coffee liqueur
2 measures Single Cream
This cocktail is a tricky cocktail to make. It may look like it is going wrong but just persist and as long as the cream doesn’t curdle it will be perfect…
Build it over ice and stir before serving…
Top tip: I used my preferred coffee liqueur on this, and the best thing about using coffee liqueur with cream is that you really can be flexible. Try it with Kahlua, but Tia Maria and Soiree coffee liqueur work just as well.
The Sonoran Iced-Tea
1 measure Kahlua (coffee liqueur)
1 measure Disaronno Amaretto
½ measure Silver Tequila
Garnish: ½ measure freshly squeezed lime juice
Top up with cranberry juice.
I have both built and shaken this drink, for the best blend I find shaking makes it lighter and negates the need for ice in the glass, whereas building it requires crushed ice. But please find the best way that suits your taste.
At this event I served the lime juice as a garnish (adding just after pouring into the glass/cup). Shaking the rest of the ingredients negates the need for ice and also saves time as you can serve it straight away.
Top tip: you can add the lime juice to the drink and shake or pour it in at the end; I just prefer the crisp lime flavour at the beginning. Please feel free to experiment and find the way that best suits you.
Bonus cocktail recipe:
My forced-tweaked version of the Long Island Iced-Tea
1 measure vodka
1 measure rum
1 measure silver tequila
1.5 measures fresh lime juice
2 measures sugar syrup
Dash of amaretto
Top up with Coca Cola (original not diet)
This drink was born out of a lack of gin, triple sec and lemon juice. It was not one of my planned cocktails but I was challenged by one of the guests to make up what I could with what I had, using the L.I.I.T. as a base. It was rather sweet and as far as I’m concerned it worked. The guest was happy and it spread like wildfire throughout the event, becoming better than most of the cocktails on the menu.
The wine & wisdom event at my work was always a constant thing in the past, so when HR decided to start them up again, i asked if they wanted me along to make some cocktails. Thankfully they obliged, agreeing it would add something new to the experience (and also help me get some exposure through the work colleagues i have yet to speak to)…
3 cocktails and a bucket load of questions no one knows the answers to…
1) A Classic Tequila Sunrise
2) A Hawaiian Bay Breeze
3) The Clicquot Rico
So the plan was to attend the wine and wisdom as a part of the competition but further to this during the break (around halfway through) I was to create and serve 3 cocktails of my own choosing. The alcohol was supplied by the company and any donations were towards comic relief.
The thought process was simple I was given a simple brief: 3 eye catching but simple cocktails. Something that looks good but at the same time wouldn’t take all night to create.
The first cocktails I chose for the event were the vibrant blue curacao type cocktails, those that shock and awe. But to be honest I thought this was far too obvious and would put to waste some of the more tasty cocktails out there. The cocktails mentioned above where set on after another think through. The Classic Tequila Sunrise is simple to make, but looks both elegant and quite striking. The Hawaiian Bay Breeze is rather simple both in creation and aesthetics but its flavour is far better than any breeze cocktail and even some versions of the sex on the beach. The elegance and sophistication really takes off in the final drink of the three; The Clicquot Rico…
1) Classic Tequila Sunrise
So this is the cocktail I’ve been waiting to make at an event for some time, it was far too obvious for the Mexican themed party I did a while back and not cheap enough for the other event I did (tequila can cost a small fortune over here in the UK).
So the recipe I used was a ‘classic’ recipe, one almost every bar/cocktail enthusiast will use:
– 1 measure Silver Tequila
– 6 measures Fresh Orange Juice
– ½ measure Grenadine Syrup (the proper stuff – try ‘Monin’ syrups)
This recipe is simple sure, but its visually effective as the grenadine instantly sinks to the bottom and then over time will work its way into the bulk of the drink, rising in an aesthetically pleasing reddish-pink hue(hence the name).
2) Hawaiian Bay Breeze
The Hawaiian Bay Breeze is a cocktail born out of experimentation. Replacing the orange juice used in most Vodka Sea Breezes this drink instantly supplies a Caribbean kick to a drink already made refreshing thanks to the cranberry juice. Not only is it far better in taste than a normal sea breeze cocktail, the pinkish hue the drink creates in a lightly lit room is something special (something orange juice and cranberry juice just cannot supply).
The recipe I used contains supermarket brand vodka, but any other medium-high quality vodka will work just as well:
– 1 measure Vodka
– 3 measures Cranberry Juice
– 3 measures pineapple juice
Served over ice this drink becomes a light and refreshing cocktail that is worthy of any event. This one in particular was by far the favourite of the three cocktails available at the wine & wisdom, out-playing the tequila sunrise by around 5-10 drinks.
3) The Clicquot Rico
This cocktail is a spin off from research for a future post, and is for all intents and purposes a champagne cocktail. The recipe I had used Veuve Clicquot champagne with rum and pineapple juice.
Mixing equal parts sophistication (champagne) and fun (white rum and pineapple) this drink encapsulates the very best of the champagne cocktails.
Whilst this recipe calls specifically for Veuve Clicquot, it is a rather expensive and inefficient mixer for an event catering for 50+ people; unless you’re flashed for cash in which case go for something even more expensive! – If things are the opposite and you find you’re on a tight budget then try using a good quality Prosecco. It gives the same experience with a little less body to the drink (generally speaking anyway).
At the Wine & Wisdom I used ‘Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference ‘TTD’ Prosecco Conegliano. This is a good quality Prosecco that is genuinely one of my favourite ‘budget buys’.
The original recipe:
– 1 measure White Rum
– 2 measures Pineapple Juice
– Top up Veuve Clicquot
My ‘tweaked’ recipe:
– 1 measure White Rum
– 2 measures Pineapple Juice
– Top up TTD Prosecco Conegliano
All the cocktails were well received and enjoyed by everyone that tried them, granted the Clicquot Rico was the least consumed and that was mostly down to everyone taking the other two recipes and running off before I had them fully prepared. Otherwise the Hawaiian Bay Breeze was the stand-out favourite, the Caribbean flavour the pineapple brings to the drink, seemed to be the defining feature.
So to summarise;
Whilst the event in general did not go as i had envisioned (it was rather poorly organised on the companies part) the cocktails went down well and everything i had control over worked. Which for me is a small victory. It shows that people are receptive to the unique nature cocktails bring to an event.
So then onwards to my next post. You may notice that one of the above recipes is a Champagne/Prosecco topped cocktail. Well my next post is all about cocktails that contain some sort of sparkling wine, whether it be renown Champagne brands, or the lesser known sparkling wines. To whet your appetite, as it were, here’s a little spoiler:
This brings us onto the cocktails themselves and there are many varied, famous cocktails. Almost all of which hold some sort of colourful back-story as to how they were invented, however for the premise of this blog I am far from interested in the stories. I’m more interested in the cocktails and their recipes. Now discarding the recipes with what I like to call ‘dangerous’ ingredients (ingredients people generally shy away from when making cocktails at home; such as egg whites), the recipes to be discussed here are generally fruity, floral drinks with a very easy-to-consume nature about them. “
Thank you for taking the time to read my work and until next time, take care 🙂