Tag Archives: sugar syrup

Dia De Los Muertos – A Mexican Celebration

Tequila is, undoubtedly, the spirit of Mexico. Tequila’s sophisticated and continuously increasing quality is the result of blending native agricultural techniques and modern technology, all held together with tradition.

Being Mexican, this traditional backbone inevitably includes one of the most spiritual celebrations in the human world: Dia De Los Muertos.

Dia De Los Muertos, or the day of the dead (DOTD), is a celebration that grips the entirety of Mexico on the 1st & 2nd of November. To pay homage to this spiritual celebration I’ve gathered three of the best 100% agave tequilas available to me here in the UK.

 

day-of-the-dead-204541_960_720.jpg
Dia De Los Muertos is tradition across Mexico!

 

Taking one cocktail from each brands’ website, I will recreate them, aiming to not only showcase brand used but to really help you get a traditional Mexican celebration going this Dia De Los Muertos.

But, before we delve into the recipes, let’s take a little look a what Dia De Los Muertos is, and why it is so widely celebrated across the country Tequila calls home…

Whilst predominantly celebrated in the central and southern regions of Mexico, DOTD has spread to most of the northern regions as well, no small part due to the Mexican Government declaring it a national holiday.

DOTD takes place on the 1st & 2nd November every year and even though this coincides with the catholic holidays of All Souls and All Saints day, the Mexican population has managed to blend both religion and tradition together, culminating in this very spiritual event.

DOTD rests on the belief that, for the 1st of November, the spirits of deceased children will be allowed passage to Earth, from heaven. During this 24hr period, the children return to their loved ones and enjoy the festivities laid out for them by their friends and families.

On the 2nd of November, adult spirits also return down to their loved ones, enjoying the singing, dancing, and other festivities laid out especially for them.

Almost all houses will contain a homemade altar decorated with marigold flowers, candles, sugar skulls, and pictures of the deceased loved one(s) along with their favourite food and drink. This is all done by the deceased’s families and friends and can come at a great personal expense. But, as this holiday is all about celebrating the lives of their loved ones, the economic cost is not a driving factor – it just serves as an example of how important to the Mexican people this tradition is.

On the 2nd, festivities are taken to the cemeteries and there the individuals will sing, dance, and care for their loved ones’ gravestones. Stories are told of their loved ones and families, friends, and others, all gather to celebrate the lives of their deceased.

Dia De Los Muertos is an upbeat celebration that captures the spirit of joy and ultimately shows a true acceptance of death in everyday life. This tradition celebrates the life of the deceased rather than simply mourning the dead.

Dia De Los Muertos is such a celebration that tequila brands jump at the chance to share it with the world. Of course, it acts as a great selling point for their brands but, ultimately, they also share this celebration with the world.

Simply put, Tequila brands make Mexico’s most famous alcoholic beverage and they make it in the traditional way. Part of this tradition is celebrating Dia De Los Muertos. That is why most tequila brands (especially the 100% agave ones) will really kick things up a notch around the end of October…

Now for what you’ve all been waiting for, the 3 gloriously delicious Dia De Los Muertos cocktails…

Patron – Fresas En Fuego

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Recipe:

(45ml) 3 measures Patron Silver

(15ml) 1 measure Ginger Liqueur

(15ml) 1 measure Fresh Lime Juice

(15ml) 1 measure Sugar Syrup

4 x Hulled Strawberries

2 x Jalapeno coins (slices)

Garnish: Strawberry & Jalapeno Skewer.

Method:

  • In a shaker, muddle the strawberries, jalapeno coins, and sugar syrup.
  • Add the tequila, ginger liqueur, and lime juice.
  • Shake well over ice.
  • Double strain into a chilled coupe cocktail glass.
  • Garnish with the strawberry & jalapeno skewer.

Patron Tequila is as beautifully crafted as they come. It is a premium brand in that it does cost a small fortune to sample some of their high-end products but, as with all alcohol brands, you pay for what you get. All their products are handmade, from Pina to Cork, and this is evident in the high quality taste their products are renown for.

Fervent Shaker Top Tip: If you love spice in your cocktail, try infusing your Patron Silver tequila with some sliced Jalapenos.

Herradura – Agave Seco

20161029_141852

Recipe:

1 measure Herradura Silver Tequila

1 ¼ measure Cointreau

½ measure Campari

1 measure Fresh Orange Juice

1 measure Fresh Grapefruit Juice

Garnish: 1-2 slices Kiwi, 1-2 slices strawberries, and 1 sprig Mint.

Method:

  • Add the tequila, Cointreau, Campari, and juices to an ice-filled shaker.
  • Shake well (10-15 seconds should do it)
  • Strain into a chilled rocks glass.
  • Garnish with the kiwi, strawberries, and mint sprig.

Herradura produce 100% agave tequila and they pride themselves on slowly aged uncompromising tequila. They barrel age their Tequila longer than the standard required and the quality of their products show through. I had the pleasure of sampling their range at Imbibe Live 2016 and believe me, they are sublime in their quality.

 

Ocho – El Diablo

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Recipe:

50ml  Ocho Blanco

25ml Fresh Lime Juice

10ml Fresh Ginger Syrup

10ml Creme De Cassis

Top Up Ginger Ale

Garnish: 2 x Lime wedges

Method:

  • Combine all ingredients over ice and shake well (again, 10-15 seconds should suffice).
  • Strain into an ice-filled Collins glass.
  • Garnish with a lime wedge. Or two.

The El Diablo Is a cocktail I’ve been excited about for a long time. It’s simple, yet tremendously satisfying to drink. Its balance of heat and sweet is sublime and it brings out the playfulness of the tequila!

Fervent Shaker Top Tip: If you want a higher hit of heat to this drink, muddle some fresh root ginger in the bottom of the glass with the lime juice. It will add a little raw heat to the overall taste!

So there you have 3 stunning cocktails, using 3 rather eloquent 100% agave tequilas, and what’s more, they’ll all help you kick off your Dia De Los Muertos celebrations with a bang!

Do you have any parties planned for this spooky weekend? Try turning them into a celebration and revel in the spiritual togetherness Dia De Los Muertos stands for!

Disclaimer: the Herradura Tequila was provided as a sample by the grace of Mangrove, a drinks distributor here in the UK. The sample was free, but that in no way biases y statements. Any comments made in this post (or any other) is strictly of my own opinion and will always be so.

Are you a celebrator of the spiritual Dia De Los Muertos? If so, what is your cocktail of choice, if you choose to drink one?

If you enjoy your tequila in other ways this time of year, why not share them in the comments?

Just in Thyme: A Simple Syrup

I don’t usually post syrup style recipes on here but, due to a request for the thyme syrup used in my previous post, I thought I’d make an exception.

This is one of the more fragrant syrups out there and you need to be careful how much thyme you use. the best thing to do is to start with 2 sprigs and add more if you want more flavour…

thyme syrup

Fresh Thyme Simple Syrup

500g Sugar

500ml Water

2-5 sprigs Fresh Thyme

Method:

  • Stir water and sugar together in a non-stick saucepan over a low heat until the sugar dissolves.
  • Let simmer for 2 minutes – DO NOT boil.
  • Gently rub the thyme with your hands as you drop it into the syrup.
  • Once the thyme is added, remove pan from the heat.
  • Let steep for 10 minutes.
  • Strain into a sterilised jar with a fine strain.
  • Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Offers! – Gin & Gimlets

I know that it may have been noted that in the recent few months I’ve not really posted much content.

That’s due to some personal circumstances that do not belong on this website. Bar any awful reoccurrence that is now behind me, which thankfully means I can get back to writing for this blog!

My return to this blog after a momentary lapse has come at the perfect time seeing as I’ll be visiting London at the end of the month. During my time I’ll be visiting a shortlist of cocktail bars I’ve always wanted to visit. I’ll also be popping into a few others within a reasonable distance of my hotel.

I’ll obviously be making an event of this and will be sharing pictures via Instagram and twitter. So if you’re looking to follow me please do! There are links in the drop down menu located on the homepage.

For now, at least, let me share with you the latest offer over at The Drink Shop: GIN!

Gin is awesome and is one of the big spirits (alongside Rum, Vodka etc.) and, whilst not #1 on my spirit list, it is an irreplaceable ingredient in several classic cocktails including the Gimlet.

The gimlet is a fantastically simple blend of Gin, Lime Juice and Sugar Syrup.

Using the Gimlet recipe below, and the link supplied here, why not try out that gin you’ve always wanted to try or were intrigued by?

I personally prefer a fragrant gin like Hendricks or Sipsmith – both of which can be found on the offers page!

Cocktails O’clock: The Gimlet

classic gimlet

Recipe:

2.5 measures Gin

0.5 measures Lime Juice

0.5 measures Sugar Syrup (2:1 ratio)

Method:

  • Combine ingredient in a cocktail shaker and shake well.
  • Strain into an old fashioned glass filled with fresh ice.
  • Garnish with a lime wheel and serve immediately.

Enjoy this cocktail and enjoy the gin! Within the next two months I’ll hopefully be starting back up with Shaken Cocktails so expect a flourishing selection of posts to come. Until then? Remember to always drink responsibly!

The Nova Scotia Sipper; an original cocktail by the Fervent Shaker…

This months’ theme, as you may already be aware, is all about Infusions! That includes alcohol and sugar syrup infusions and in some cases both! This post, a post that precedes my week of infused vodka, is all about a sugar syrup recipe and the fresh new cocktail I created with it! I’m sharing both the recipe for the syrup and the cocktail and hope that at least a few of you try them both out and enjoy the drink! So, without further ado, here is my Blueberry Maple Syrup and my very own original cocktail: The Nova Scotia Sipper!

Blueberry Maple Syrup

This syrup is perfect for deserts and can be used in cooking as well! Experiment why don't you!
This syrup is perfect for deserts and can be used in cooking as well! Experiment why don’t you!

200 grams Blueberries

230 ml Maple Syrup

Method:

  • Combine the ingredients in a saucepan over a medium heat.
  • Simmer until the blueberries soften and begin to burst.
  • At this point, gently mash the blueberries (not too much) and allow to simmer on a low heat for another 2-3 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and strain out the solids. Discard them.
  • If using this recipe for desserts you can mix in another 200grams of fresh blueberries and make a glorious syrup for you pancakes…

Cocktail: Nova Scotia Sipper

A great, refreshing long drink that has a wealth of fantastic flavours!
A great, refreshing long drink that has a wealth of fantastic flavours!

Recipe:

25ml Plantation 3 star white rum

12.5ml Blueberry-maple syrup

7.5ml Pernod

5ml Lime Juice

50ml Apple & Passionfruit Juice

3-5 blueberries

Garnish: Skewered Lime twist & Blueberries*

Method:

  • Muddle the blueberries with the rum in a Boston cocktail shaker.
  • Fill with ice.
  • Add the other ingredients, top up with ice if needed.
  • Shake well, for around 15 seconds, or until the tin ices over.
  • Strain into a sling glass full to the brim with crushed ice.
  • Garnish & serve with 2 straws…

*this is my preferred garnish, although like the picture shows you can garnish it however you like, it’s all about the theatre for this cocktail…

So there you have one of the nicest cocktails i’ve ever made! It does have a slight twist to the flavour profile, thanks to the anise fro the Pernod, but used in such a small amount it merely coats the drink and the other flavours still make their presence known! Hope you all enjoy the recipe, feel free to tweak it if needed and please do let me know what you think! Until next time!!!

Sweet, Sweet Infusions: Sugar and its Syrup!

One of the infusion types I mentioned in my introduction post was that of sugar syrup infusing.

Every bartender will tell you that sugar syrup is an essential part of their arsenal and that a well-prepared syrup has the potential to raise a cocktail above the realms of normality.

Below you will find the recipes for 4 very different sugar syrup infusions, including a special spicy concoction that is perfect for those heat lovers out there!

Disclaimer: although usually I’d offer up a complimentary cocktail recipe for each of these syrups, to make the post less cluttered I’ve simply stated the spirit(s) they pair with the best!

#1 Rhubarb Simple Syrup

A stunning red hue, this rhubarb syrup is perfect for adding a little colour to your cocktails...
A stunning red hue, this rhubarb syrup is perfect for adding a little colour to your cocktails…

Ingredients:

400 grams fresh Rhubarb

100 grams sugar

100ml water

Method:

  • Add ingredients to a small saucepan and bring to the boil on a medium heat. Stirring consistently.
  • Stir until the sugar has dissolved.
  • Turn heat down to low and simmer.
  • The rhubarb will begin to soften around 5/6 minutes in (this is normal so don’t panic!)
  • Allow mixture to thicken a little (around 2-5 minutes) and then remove from heat.
  • Strain* mixture into a sterile container and allow to cool.
  • Seal and keep refrigerated.

*when straining gently press the fruit pieces to gain a little more juice (flavour) but be careful not to press to hard as it will make your syrup go cloudy!

This is the most versatile of the 4 recipes and works brilliantly with vodka or gin. It is particularly good in a bramble (in place of the blackberry liqueur!) and also pairs well with light mixers or those non-drinkers out there! – Homemade Rhubarb Lemonade anyone?

#2 Honey & Rosemary Sugar Syrup

Infusing honey with rosemary is a quick way to make this syrup. Although it tastes better with the cooked method...
Infusing honey with rosemary is a quick way to make this syrup. Although it tastes better with the cooked method…

Ingredients:

2-3 Rosemary Sprigs

100ml Honey

50ml water

Method:

  • Mix the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil – on a medium heat.
  • Once boiling reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 2 minutes.
  • Turn off heat after 2 minutes and leave to cool (covered).
  • Strain out rosemary ad store in a sterile container.

Once this item is cooled seal it and keep it refrigerated. It should keep for up to 4 weeks (although if it looks spoiled at any point please don’t risk it – bin it and make some more!)

This particular syrup is a little more to taste and less sweet than the blueberry syrup but that just means it’s that perfect herbal addition to your favourite Whisky/Bourbon cocktail. It also mixes well with more savoury vodka and gin cocktails and does make a mean G&T.

#3 Cucumber & Mint Simple Syrup

Cucumber & mint - Perfect in your next G&T
Cucumber & mint – Perfect in your next G&T

Ingredients:

100 grams Sugar

100ml Water

½ Cucumber (Diced)

10 leaves fresh Mint

Method:

  • Combine the water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Stir until the sugar has dissolved.
  • When the sugar has dissolved turn the heat off and allow to cool.
  • Once cooled add in the cucumber and mint. Leave in for at least 1hr but for a more concentrated flavour leave it in for longer (Keep refrigerated at all times).
  • Strain away the cucumber and mint and store accordingly.

This syrup has an odd aftertaste but is still a great tasting mix regardless. It mixes well with Gin and Vodka (as you’d expect) but also makes a great twist on the classic mojito – blending well with White rum.

#4 Spicy Jalapeno Simple Syrup

The striking green colour is what gives this syrup its WOW factor...
The striking green colour is what gives this syrup its WOW factor…

Ingredients:

100 grams sugar

100ml water

1 Jalapeno (sliced lengthways)

Method:

  • Simmer the water and sugar, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.
  • Take of the heat once the sugar has dissolved and cover to cool.
  • Once cooled add the Jalapeno slices and leave for at least 1hr*.
  • After the infusion time has passed, sieve out the jalapeno and store in a sealed container in the fridge.

*as with the cucumber and mint recipe, the longer the jalapeno is in the syrup the more concentrated the flavour profile (and heat). You might want to try creating several different concentrations of this mixture and making a note of which is which – this way you can cater for different palates…

Whilst this mixture blends well with vodka (and surprisingly gin) it is best kept for the most obvious choice: Tequila. Try adding a little bit of this to your next shot of quality tequila. Try with Habanero’s or Cazadores Tequila should you have either in your possession…

So there you go! 4 rather brilliant, and yet rather different simple syrup recipes. They’re all a perfect with their own particular spirit(s) but all have room for a little versatility.

I hope you enjoy them, and if any are not quite to your tastes, feel free to tweak them. That’s the best way to improve them. I’d love to hear your thoughts on these recipes if you try them, especially any cocktails you find them to particularly effective in…

Shaking things up in Battersea Park: Who let the Dodd’s out?

So I recently subscribed to Shaken Cocktails, and covered that in my post last week. After reading my post; Mark Jennings, one of the founders of Shaken Cocktails, invited me up to Battersea Park, or the nearby area to be specific, for a gathering of members and founders at the base of operations for Dodd’s Gin (The London Gin Distillery). Now this is the sort of event I’ve been looking forward to and the type of event I simply don’t get to go to enough.

From Left to Right: Mark Jennings, Darren Rook, Darren's Gin Still: 'Christine',  Sarah, Sophie & Fergus...
From Left to Right: Mark Jennings, Darren Rook, Darren’s Gin Still: ‘Christine’, Sarah, Sophie & Fergus…

Shaken bill the event as ‘A Shaken Lock-In’ and event where you go to meet like-minded people and, using the ingredients supplied in that specific months box, create 2 gloriously alcoholic cocktails. This event, at the London Gin Distillery in Battersea, consisted of meeting Mark Jennings as well as Darren Rook of Dodd’s Gin as well as several other members of Shaken Cocktails. It was a well organised and extremely down to earth event that was opened by Mark himself. Mark spoke very humbly about the event, Shaken and of course all those who attended. He came across highly passionate and very emotional when speaking about their recent successes at crowd funding (they’ve surpassed their original total and have since raised over £97,000… Congratulations to them!

congrats

It continued with a “15-minute” talk from the gin distillery’s main man: Darren Rook. Darren came across as extremely knowledgeable yet extremely down to earth and happy to talk about his work. Now you’d expect that from most people in his position but what’s refreshing is his openness and blatant passion for his craft. He’s humble yet highly knowledgeable.

Moving onto the cocktails and why everyone came: To experience Shaken and their cocktails…

So this month’s main cocktail was The Negroni, and was backed up with the Elderflower Collins.

Both cocktails used the Gin from the very establishment we met at: Dodd’s.

Check out the recipes below:

1) The Dodd’s Negroni

Recipe:

30ml Dodd’s Gin

30ml Cocci Torino Vermouth

15ml-30ml Cynar

1 part Dodd's Gin + 1 part Cocci Torino + 0.5 parts (OR 1 part) Cynar = One damn fine Negroni!
1 part Dodd’s Gin + 1 part Cocci Torino + 0.5 parts (OR 1 part) Cynar = One damn fine Negroni!

Method:

  • Into a rocks glass add the Dodd’s Gin and Cocci Torino Vermouth.
  • Then add the Cynar bitter liqueur. Try 15ml at first and then if you’d like it a little drier try add the other 15ml.
  • Add ice to the top of the glass and then stir for around 10-20 seconds.
  • Take a slice of orange peel and using your thumbs and forefingers squeeze the oils over the top of the drink.
  • Wipe the peel around the glass and then place it into the drink and sip away.

2) Elderflower Collins

Recipe:

45ml Dodd’s Gin

30ml Fresh Lemon Juice

15ml St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur

15ml Sugar Syrup

Top up Soda Water

Blending Gin, lemon juice, elderflower liqueur and sugar syrup with a dash soda water results in a spritzy little number...
Blending Gin, lemon juice, elderflower liqueur and sugar syrup with a dash soda water results in a spritzy little number…

Method:

  • Fill the metal tin (from a Boston shaker) 2 thirds full with ice.
  • Using the glass part of the shaker add together the Gin, Lemon, Elderflower liqueur and sugar syrup.
  • Shake well, for around 10-15 seconds (until the tin ices over).
  • Strain into a tall, ice filled, and top up with Soda water.
  • Garnish with a lemon wedge and serve with 2 straws.

Now these cocktails are complete opposites and by Marks own admissions this was purposely done to cater for those who like their alcohol straight and for those who enjoy a longer crisper drink.

The Negroni, with its unusual mix of more exotic ingredients is both stronger and more abusive than the Elderflower Collins yet it also holds greater depth and its lighter dilution level means you get to experience all of the great flavours from each of the 3 spirits used in its creation.

However this doesn’t write off the elderflower as a lesser cocktail. Sure the Negroni is a classic, but let’s not forget that the Elderflower Collins, by name as well as nature, is a tweak on another classic cocktail: The Tom Collins.

This tweak lightens the drink up a little and also adds a floral note, one that reminds you of the summer days gone, and makes you look forward to those to come. It’s an easy drink to consume and whilst perfect for a summer’s eve, I would state that it’s a pretty good all-rounder and something I would happily make myself when at home.

margate evening
Chill out, kick back and relax.

This event was a joy to attend and cocktails with Shaken & Dodd’s aside, meeting the other people like minded and enjoying both Shaken and cocktails in general.

Shaken is doing wonderful things and they’re headed up by Mark Jennings who not only believes in Shaken but passionately believes in what they’re doing. His sincerity and humble manner will take the company a long way and I’m proud to be a paying subscriber. I simply cannot wait for the next box to arrive!!!

The Shaken & LDC Folk: Left to Right - Mark Jennings, Darren Rook, Darrens Gin Still: Christine, Sarah, Sophie & Fergus...
So one big thank you to the team at both Shaken & LDC…

As a final note I’d like to add this:

I used to hate gin. A couple years ago I met the group over at Sipsmith and they turned me. And that’s all I’ve drunk Gin-wise since. Now, after meeting Darren Rook and experiencing the effort and quality that goes into Dodd’s gin (along with the actual gin itself – sublime) I can safely say that my self-labelled bottle will be treasured for a long time to come!

So from me here at The Fervent Shaker: Thank you Mark Jennings & Shaken Cocktails for the invite and event. And thank you to Darren Rook at Dodd’s Gin for hosting and sharing your knowledge with us all!

Cocktails O’Clock: The Paloma, a Mexican treat…

This is one of Mexico’s favourite cocktails. Forget the Margarita (that’s a common misconception) the Paloma combines tequila with some wonderful fresh grapefruit juice.

This particular recipe is a more craft like cocktail, instead of using grapefruit soda (which is a great choice should you have it) it requires sugar syrup, grapefruit juice and club soda instead.

This tweak creates a bit more depth in the drinks flavours and creates a more balanced cocktail (in my mind at least).

Note: I must say here that I strongly recommend using a high gradeTequila (see here) anything with the phrase “100% Agave” is what you’re looking for. Whilst the supermarkets stock the cheaper Jose Cuervo tequila’s consumption of these will result in worse hangover effects than those a little more expensive (the ones that say “made with 100% Agave”). A good example is the Tequila on sale at your local Waitrose Supermarket (or alternatively you could checkout Ocado’s online service)…

So remember: Cheaper is not always better! Always read the label and buy 100% agave – Tequila that does not say this clearly on the label will give you a worse hangover than those that do! (It’s a process in the distillation, one that I will share in post at another time but should you be interested in further reading try out this: Tequila Facts)

Yeah, yeah I know that was a bit of a lecture but here, check out this great recipe and enjoy you Tequila:

Phillip Wards Paloma

1 lime wedge

Salt

2 measures Blanco (silver/white) Tequila

1 measure Fresh Grapefruit Juice

¾ measures fresh lime juice

½ measure Sugar Syrup (1:1)

Top up club soda

1 lime wedge, for garnish

Image
The pinkish hue in this version comes from the use of fresh grapefruit juice. It gives it a greater flavour boost than just flavoured Soda…

Method:

1)      Moisten the rim of a highball glass with a lime wedge and lightly dust with the salt.

2)      Fill the serving glass and shaker tin with ice.

3)      Add the Tequila, grapefruit juice, lime juice, sugar syrup and shake wel.

4)      Strain the mixture into the serving glass and stir in the club soda to taste (you should only need around 1 measure for every 2 measures of tequila).

This cocktail is a Mexican classic, but has been tweaked to allow greater flavour and enjoyment. Whilst this is my preferred method of mixing up a Paloma, I know some of you would prefer the quicker, easier version…

So here it is (you can thank me later)…

Paloma, Classic

2 measures Blanco (silver/white) Tequila

½ measure Fresh Lime Juice

6 measures (top up) Grapefruit Soda

Image
This paler drink is the result of using just the grapefruit soda, if you want a splash of pink add a couple dashes of grenadine…

Method:

1)      Rim the highball glass with salt (using lime juice to moisten the rim).

2)      Combine the tequila and lime juice in a shaking tin and fill with ice.

3)      Shake well and strain into the serving glass.

4)      Top up with Grapefruit Soda and gently stir it in.

5)      Garnish with a lime wheel/wedge and a maraschino cherry.

So there is the classic recipe and Ward’s tweaked recipe. Either way I hope you enjoy them, remember: Tequila is not bad as long as you respect it. That being said please remember to drink responsibly!

Caipirinha Please… No, Wait. A Caipiroska

Continuing my theme of the day: how interchangeable certain alcohols are in certain cocktails; I feel compelled to discuss, briefly at least, the family of Caipirinha cocktails:

Across the Caribbean and now most of the world the preferred distillate of sugar cane is Rum. White, golden, dark, spiced even the newer infused rums, it doesn’t matter what type of rum, what matters is that it is RUM.

Image
The Caipirinha, packs a punch, but it’s full of South American flavour.

This may be the case across almost all the world, but down in South America, Brazil especially, this is far from the case. Cachaca is the distillate of choice. Cachaca is a sugar distillate not too dissimilar to rum, but it arguably lacks the same smoothness of some rum products. Regardless of its texture, it has been used in one of the 20th century’s most popular cocktails. Served across the beaches of South America, be it Brazil, Argentina and even Uruguay, Caipirinha’s are a source of great joy for locals and tourists alike.

The standard recipe for a Caipirinha takes half a lime (cut into wedges) and muddles it with brown sugar, then after topping up with crushed ice, 2 measures (around 50ml) of Cachaca is added. A quick stir later and you’re sipping on a very strong, but refreshingly crisp cocktail.

This cocktail is traditionally served with crushed ice in a rocks glass.

Classic (American/UK) Caipirinha Recipe

50ml Cachaca

½ lime (cut into wedges)

2 teaspoons brown sugar

Top up ice.

Top tip: very gently muddle the lime with the sugar until the sugar has all but dissolved. Then add the cachaca and give it a swizzle stir. Serve with 2 straws.

This recipe is so easy to tweak to your tastes its perfect for chilled evenings watching the football with your pals, or catching up with your girlfriends after a busy day shopping. Either way this versatile drink can be tweaked several ways:

Short Cachaca Mojito

45ml Cachaca

½ lime (cut into wedges)

2 teaspoons sugar syrup

2-5 mint leaves

Top up crushed ice.

Splash of soda water

This version of the Caipirinha is simply a short version of a Mojito using cachaca instead of rum. Using the same method for the standard Caipirinha, only when muddling the lime and sugar you muddle the mint leaves too.

The splash of soda water adds the familiar mojito fizz, without diluting the drink.

Margarita Caipirinha

40ml cachaca

10ml triple sec

¼ orange (cut into chunks)

2 teaspoons sugar syrup

Top up crushed ice.

This cocktail uses the margarita as inspiration, mixing triple sec, cachaca and lime to create the feel of a margarita but served in a traditional South American way.

Image
Try using all your favourite fruits in Caipirinha’s you try at home, this one is made with Passion fruit. Just add a little bit of your fruit to the muddling phase…

The interchangeable alcohol idea:

A famous north American/European cocktail known as the Caipiroska is a simple twist on the standard Caipirinha cocktail. The Caipiroska uses high quality vodka, lime and sugar to the same ends as a Caipirinha. The idea is that this is a refreshing drink using an alcohol that North Americans and Europeans are used to (vodka).

Classic Caipiroska Recipe

50ml high grade vodka (i.e. Green Mark)

½ lime (cut into wedges)

2 teaspoons brown sugar

Top Tip: If you have it available, use agave nectar. This sugar syrup like product is fantastically sweet and works brilliantly with this cocktail (as well as mojito’s but that’s a discussion for a future post).

If you find this drink a little too strong for your tastes, then try having it in a taller Collins glass and top up with soda water…

One last note about the Caipiroska; the citrus noted above is lime, but because vodka is such a neutral spirit, there is no reason why you cannot use the same quantities of any citrus fruit; some good examples and quantities are as follows:

Orange – ¼ orange (cut into chunks)

Lemon – ½ small lemon (cut into wedges/chunks)

Grapefruit – ¼ small Grapefruit (cut into chunks)

After note: now it has come to my attention (through a source) that the above recipe is purely an Americanised version of the cocktail. I have it on good authority (see the comment below) that the original recipe from Brazil actually uses lemons. Although they are actually green lemons! It’s quite easy to see that from an american point of view if it’s green it must be a lime… Well this is not true. Brazilians use what are simply green lemons. So if you want a Brazilian Caipirinha (and you don’t mind swapping out the green colour for yellow) replace the lime chunks with lemon. For an extra special twist, shave a large full circumference slice of lemon peel and fit it around the glass (after muddling the chunks & sugar), then add the ice and Cachaca … Whichever recipe you choose I’m sure you’ll enjoy the drink all the same. sure lemons will change the flavour slightly, but it’ll still be a refreshing summer drink!

Drink up I’ve just ordered you another one!

Thanks to http://thingsthatfizz.wordpress.com/ for the advice below!

A Secret Soiree in Margate Old Town…

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A busy day at Margate Beach

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…

https://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&q=margate,+kent,+uk&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.&bvm=bv.43148975,d.d2k&biw=1366&bih=643&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi&ei=gIIzUbHVJq2a1AWc_oHwDA

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.

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Like walking into a literal time machine, this part of Margate almost feels magical…

After the disappointment of the poorly organised wine and wisdom night (http://theferventshaker.wordpress.com/2013/02/21/wine-wisdom-cocktails-slight-distraction/), I had been looking forward to this event purely because I knew it had been planned well. I know the hosts well enough to expect an exceptionally well organised night both for me and the cocktail serving but also to maximise the enjoyment of the 40+ attendees.

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.

I had planned on serving 8 different cocktails, with a varying amount of flavours and tastes (sweet, sour, dry etc.). These cocktails were a combination of tried and tested recipes along with recipes that I knew would be well received and then one of my own (purely to see if was as well received as it was at the Shindig South of the Border – http://theferventshaker.wordpress.com/2012/11/28/the-songwriters-shindig-south-of-the-border/).

These cocktail were as follows:

1)      Dark ‘n’ Stormy

2)      Harvey Wallbanger

3)      Mojito

4)      Sex on the Beach

5)      Hawaiian Bay Breeze

6)      Tequila Sunrise

7)      White Russian

8)      Sonoran Iced-Tea

And the addition of:

9)      My tweaked Long Island Iced-Tea.

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…

Harvey Wallbanger

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…

Classic Mojito

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).

Tequila Sunrise

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.

White Russian

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.

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Sonora is a beutiful part of mexico, and This sunset encapsulates everything The Sonoran Iced Tea represents… A Refreshingly different slice of Mexican culture…

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.

Stilettos – Don’t get too excited ladies, I’m not talking about shoes!

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Looking rather classy, this potent but flavoursome cocktail is a female favourite…

Recipes online generally stick to two or three base recipes and tend to vary the ratios of their ingredients. The two base recipes, again, are the same except that 1 uses Lime Juice, and the other uses Lemon juice:

 

Recipe 1:

1.5 measures Bourbon

1.5 measures Amaretto

1 measure fresh lime juice

1 lime wedge, for garnish

Recipe 2:

1 measure Amaretto

2 measures Bourbon

1 measure Lemon Juice

Lemon twist to garnish

Now usually when you have citrus and bourbon, you would opt for lemon juice (as in recipe 2), and the amaretto in such a high amount would be far too sweet. However the tartness of the lime juice helps cut through the amaretto’s sweetness and works perfectly to marry the two alcohols together…

For a longer version you can top up either recipe with Ginger beer (not ginger ale – it just doesn’t work as well).

However the version I spent my early cocktail and university life drinking was completely different:

Stiletto, My way:

1.5 measure amaretto

¾ measure crème de banane

1 measure Pineapple juice

1 measure Orange juice.

Now my version is both infinitely smoother and a tad sweeter.

Now the first recipe made for a great cocktail, a tad too strong and I did need the ginger beer, but nice none the less. The second recipe is made ‘long’ already so it should go down quite well. If you need to tweak it to your own tastes then please do so. I find that to add a little depth in flavour, adding a dry curacao (or triple sec – but not Cointreau) works wonders.

Other recipes, not quite so well-known include the following (sources are credited where appropriate)

Recipe from http://partywithleah.blogspot.co.uk

1 measure Grand Marnier

1 measure cognac

Top up with champagne

3 dashes Angostura bitters

Spiral of orange zest, for garnish

Recipe from http://www.orlandosentinel.com/

1.25 measures Hendrick’s Gin

1 measure sugar syrup

0.5 measure fresh lime juice

5 fresh blackberries

Top up Ginger Ale

2 blackberries for garnish

 These two recipes were taken from their sources as they have the same name as the other recipes in this post. Whilst being made up of different ingredients their quality is as good as the original and of course my recipe. If you try them out let me know what you think, it would be interesting to see which Stiletto is the favourite…