Easy cocktails, from all over the world,
selected specially for you by yours truly.

Mister Cocktail

Posted on 03/04/2012 by Mistercocktail

 

All over the world bartenders are always looking for new combinations of flavours and spirits. Thta’s how it used to be and that’s how things will probably be forever. Because by doing this, new cocktails are born, just like you would try to do at home with cooking or maybe when you’re mixing your own cocktails.

Last week I wrote about the Gin Basil Smash – a cocktail that made  it’s way from a local bar to the gallery of Contemporary Classics. That cocktail was created by a great bartender called Jörg Meyer and the good thing is that around the world there are more bartenders curious enough to explore new combinations of flavours.

One of these bartenders is Max La Rocca, bartender at Ohla Boutique Bar in Barcelona, well worth the visit for a number of reasons, the person said being a one of them! Max is a very talented host and bartender, being amongst the leading explorists of new ways to create cocktails and drinking experiences for their customers. His bar previous bar was famous for their afternoon tea and he was looking for ways to incorporate the drinking of cocktails into the teadrinking-ritual. Also because he liked to serve cocktails rather then serving tea. The cocktail he designed for this is based on the way to serve tea, poured from a teapot. He named his drink “Irish Mermaid” for two reasons: the base ingredient for this cocktail is Irish Whiskey and the second reason is to pay his homage to the statue of the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen, where the Cherry Heering Liqueur is from.

Method:
Pour 35 ml a good quality Irish Whiskey, 10 ml Cherry Heering, 10 ml Aperol, 5 ml Orgeat Syrup and 2 dashes Angostura Bitters in a small teapot. Add ice and pour the contents into a small container, with enough room for the liquid to move around and to start foaming. Put the liquid back in the teapot and repeat all five or six times, when you think it’s ready!

Serve the drink in a nice cocktailglass (I used a small wineglass here) and use a nice zest of orange to garnish the drink.
You can do this by cutting a 2 x 5 cm piece of zest with a peeler, place it between your thumb and indexfinger and squeeze it with the orange side towards the glass.

 

Posted on 25/03/2012 by Mistercocktail

Today was such a fine day that I treated myself not to 1, but 2 Gin & Tonics (I mean variations, not servings of course). The weather was just great and daylight saving kicked in, giving me an extra hour of enjoying a g&t in the sun. Since I already opened a bottle of Schweppes, to mix with Citadelle, I decided to go further with this one and mix it with another new addition to my collection: No. 3 Gin.

No. 3 Gin uses ‘only’ 6 botanicals, distilled with a high quality base-spirit. Although No. 3 Gin is a new product, it is created by the Berry Bros & Rudd, one of the oldest and highly regarded distillers in the U.K. that has been around since 1698. Each botanical can be identified quite easily, without being simple: this is still a wonderfully balanced gin. It is bottled at 46 % ABV / 92 proof so it needs to breathe just a little before you start nosing and tasting. Besides the juniper and lemon flavour (which comes historically almost invariably from coriander) you get the cardamom very strong. At the same time there are sweet fruity notes from orange and grapefruit which also deliver some sweetness.

Schweppes Tonic is one of the largest mainstream brands available in the world, but it all started in Geneva in 1783, where Johann Jacob Schweppe founded his company to produce carbonated softdrinks. This was invented a mere 13 years earlier by Joseph Priestly, who was an extremely clever guy back then, although he failed to commercialize his invention. Schweppes Tonic is high in carbonation and together with the kinine delivers quite a strong bitter taste. The high levels of sugar make it quite sweet, also because there are very little citrus-notes in Schweppes.

How do these 2 work together in the mix?
This is actually a very nice combination! The absence of citric-notes in Schweppes are a very good match with the No. 3 Gin. And because this gin does not have strong sweetener agents incorporated, it benefits from the strong sweetness in Schweppes. The addition of lime in the drink does not benefit the drink too well, I enjoyed it better without the lime, but I can imagine adding a slice of orange or grapefruit will lift this drink even further. The recommendation on their site is lemon which you can also try, as this has a less stronger sour taste than that of a lime. Please post any of your own findings in the comments below!

Rating: 9.0/10

Method: Pour 50 ml No. 3 Gin in a longdrink and fill with icecubes. Top with Schweppes Tonic and add your choice of garnish. Stir gently and serve.

Posted on 24/03/2012 by Mistercocktail

It is the year 2008. Hamburg. A hot Summer. This summer would see the birth of one of the most successful contemporary cocktails: the Gin Basil Smash. The team of Le Lion, a very stylish speakeasy-style bar in the old centre of the city, was fooling around with some gin and some basil and they were inspired by the Whiskey Smash. This is a very old drink, based on Bourbon, which is ‘smashed’ with fresh lemon, fresh mint and a little bit of sugar. The Gin Basil Smash uses a good Gin as a basis, with fresh lemon, fresh basil and a little bit of sugar and the rest is history.

The drink spread like wildfire across Germany, causing the infamous Basil-mania, comparable to the Tulip-mania in Holland. It was only through a firm intervention of the government that this didn’t lead to a public outrage against basil-farmers, when angry bartenders occupied them to protest against the increased price. Ok, maybe I exaggerated a little here, but in short: it became very popular, very quickly. And here, the influence of social media was showcased for one of the first times: social media hadn’t been around for that long in 2008, can you remember the time before facebook and twitter? Me neither!

The Gin Basil Smash made the transition from a local cocktail to a modern classic in a matter of months. And lucky for us that it’s such an easy cocktail to make at home!

Method:
Cut a lemon in half and squeeze it in a shaker, the squeezed lemon goes into it as well. Add 20 ml/0.7 oz sugarsyrup (or 2 teaspoons fine white sugar and 2 teaspoons water), 6 – 8 large basil-leaves and muddle all well (smash!!). Now add 60 ml/2 oz good gin and fill the shaker with icecubes. Shake it really, really well – this way you make sure that the contents colour a bright green. Strain in a tumbler, filled with fresh ice. It you have a finestrainer (or tea-strainer), use that, so no fine particles of basil can ruin your perfect smile.

Posted on 21/03/2012 by Mistercocktail

I couldn’t think of a more appropriate cocktail to celebrate the first day of spring, than the Russian Spring Punch. It was a great day here in Amsterdam, 18 degrees with no cloud in the sky at all. Just perfect! If only the evenings were just a few hours longer and a bit warmer, it would be even better. And it would be called summer.
Back to the Russian Spring Punch. This cocktails is invented by the great London-based bartender Dick Bradsell, who is also responsible for the creation of the Bramble, the Vodka Espresso and many more in the mid 80s. He’s also known as the Godfather of modern cocktails in London.

The good thing about this cocktail, is that the origins are very well known and documented, so no need for me to reproduce history here, but I’d like to take one quote from an interview that another great bartender called Tony Conigliaro had with Mr Bradsell in October 2003:

“If a cocktail or mixed drink is going to get around and become well known, it has to be simple, or at least, memorable. Being a traditionally trained bartender, I know the differences between Slings, Collins and Fizzes. I was taught how to combine a spirit, citrus and sweetner so that it tastes nice. Proportions seen obvious to me. I don’t get why someone would adjust this drink so it becomes unpalatable. I guess there are a lot of variables: quality of Champagne, freshness of lemon juice, strength of cassis. Maybe bartenders are lazy, and just want to make the drink rather fast than well.”

In other words: if you want to reproduce a cocktail at home, stick to the recipe at first. You can always adjust a little, like you would do with a nice meal. And you can rest assured that many cocktails have become the classics that they are today, just because people stuck to that same recipe over and over.

Method:
Mix 25 ml/0.75 oz of good vodka, 25 ml/0.75 oz fresh lemon juice, 3 barspoons of Creme de Cassis (depending on strength and sweetness) and 2 barspoons sugarsyrup (take one barspoon of white sugar if you don’t have syrup around). Stir (or shake) the ingredients and top with decent dry Champagne – it can be flat. Quellany excess fizzing by pouring 25 mls of vodka over the drink. Garnish with a lemonslice.

Posted on 20/03/2012 by Mistercocktail

The liqueur Mandarin Napoléon is of course inspired by the famous French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, who was born on Corsica in 1769. Corsica happened to be the perfect place to grow tangerines, that initially came from China and symbolic for wealth and luxury. It was Antoine-François de Fourcroy, a chemist and teacher, who introduced a distillate of tangerines to Napoléon while being a high representative in his government. The brand Mandarin Napoléon is based on his recipes and they added cognac to the distillate of tangerines, after which they let it rest in barrels for up to 3 more years.

The combination of the cognac and the distillate is a quite light and refreshing yet mature taste. There’s a slight bitter note from the oils in the skin of the tangerine and it nicely balances out with wood-tones from the cognac.

Method:
The sour is pretty much the basis for half of all cocktails in the world, if not more: some sugar, some sour and a base spirit. And there are endless variations to this theme. Today I’ve made the Mandarin Sour for myself – it was the first day of spring and I felt like drinking this cocktail, which adds a great fruity flavour to the sweet n sour. Here’s how you get to work: Get a cocktailshaker and add 50 ml/1.5 oz Mandarin Napoléon, 40 ml/1.3 oz fresh lemonjuice and 20 ml/0.7 oz sugarsyrup in a shaker. Also add 1-3 dashes of Angostura Bitters, depending how much depth and complexity you’d like to add to the drink. Now fill your shaker with icecubes and shake well. Make sure you have a large tumbler ready. If you’ve got plenty of icecubes, you can fill this with fresh icecubes and strain the cocktail over the ice. However, if you’re short on supplies which happens a lot more often, then just pour the entire drink in the glass, including the ice. Serve with a straw and a cherry if you still have that jar in your fridge.

Posted on 19/03/2012 by Mistercocktail

My apologies for being one day late, I had the pleasure of visiting the Jenever Festival in Schiedam yesterday. Schiedam is a city, incorporated by the larger Rotterdam and home to a few of the oldest distilleries in the world. For the third year the festival is organized in the Jenever Museum and is drawing a larger crowd every year. Now how does Jenever (or Genever) relate to G&T Sunday? Distillery Van Toor is producing beautiful products like Jenever, Schelvispekel and Bitters but since last year, they’re also distilling gin: VL92 Gin. This gin is based on the old roots of the category, which is Genever and so the circle is complete.

VL92 Gin is based on Malt Wine ( 25 % moutwijn), a distillate from different types of grain. This is re-distilled with botanicals, including fresh corianderleaf, giving a fresh citrus flavour to the spirit and creating a very interesting taste that’s pretty one-of-a-kind for any spirit. This is definitely not a gin for inexperienced G&T drinkers, but all the more interesting for the G&T lover!

I’ve used the Fentiman’s tonic before in combination with Hendrick’s Gin, and described the tonic water as dry, from natural quinine and very citrussy, coming from the lemongrass and lime leaves. The combination with Hendrick’s didn’t work out perfectly, despite the great qualities of the separate products. The prefect G&T needs to have that 1+1=3 logic to it. How does the VL92 combination with fentiman’s stand out in this test?

I was lucky enough to have one served by the creator of the gin, Sietze Kalkwijk, product-designer in his normal life, who turns into a spirits-designer by night. He suggested to serve the G&T not with the standard lime because of the combined citrus already present in both liquids. He served them with a very thin slice of fresh ginger, which added a nice spicy dimension to this mix and also triggers the other botanicals in the gin. The combination of these two works extremely well: the Fentiman’s Tonic leaves enough room for the floral notes of the gin to shine through and the VL92 has a great sweetness from the malt wine and a little from liquorice. Here you notice the special addition of the malt wine and how well that works in the G&T.

Rating: 9.5/10

Method: Mix 40 ml / 1.5 oz VL92 Gin in a longdrink. Add a thin slice of fresh ginger, fill with icecubes and top with Fentiman’s tonic water. Give a gentle stir and enjoy!

Posted on 11/03/2012 by Mistercocktail

This is just one perfect day for another G&T Sunday-review. One of the first real spring-days, at least here in Amsterdam. My choice for today is Bombay Sapphire Gin and since I’ve still got some bottles of Fever Tree, I figured I’d just try that combination. The gin I’m using today has a different method of distillation than the one from last week , although both Bombay Sapphire and Tanqueray are London Dry Gins. The main difference lies in the fact that Bombay Sapphire uses a vapour distillation, in which it allows the vapours of the grain alcohol to pass the botanicals to infuse the spirit. The spirit has a lighter character than most other gins and this is exactly why Bombay Sapphire has been produced: to attract people who like a lighter spirit, but more exciting than plain vodka. There are 10 botanicals that are used for producing Bombay Sapphire, adding a lot of depth to the gin, although it remains quite a light gin overall.

Just like last week, my tonic of choice is Fever Tree, quite a young brand that goes back to the origins of Tonic Water. It uses quinine, which gives it a somewhat bitter flavour, balanced with a pleasant sweetness. Subtle citric notes complete the palate, so a very pleasant tonic water in itself.

Now how do these two combine? Does the light character of the gin have enough strength to work with the flavours in fever Tree? The nice thing is that together these products become a very interesting mix, complementing each other nicely. Because the juniper is not so heavy in Bombay Sapphire, the upper tones in flavour are those of citrus, coming from the coriander and lemon in Bombay and also from the tonic itself. The bitter elements in Fever Tree are still there, and the sweet notes in Bombay Sapphire, like cinnamon and liquorice balance it out quite nicely. The smell of the two combined is especially nice: the vapour distillation of the gin delivers a light-bodied spirit, but with a strong nose. Fever Tree is well carbonated, so these aromas reach your nose before you take a sip – an extra dimension to the taste. You can add a part of fresh lime of lemon to the drink, which will freshen it up. Nice tip I got from a bartender: add a mintsprig to the drink, that will add even more flavour to the G&T.

To me, this is a very refreshing G&T, perfect for a lazy afternoon drink in the sun. You can drink a few of these without getting that juniper-belly, which too me is good when I want to drink, well, a few. The drink gets better when it’s a bit diluted, the bitter edges are taken off making it even better.

Rating: 8.0/10

Method:

Mix 50 ml /1.5 oz Bombay Sapphire in a longdrink with lots of ice. Top up with Fever Tree Tonic Water and add lime or lemon if you’d like. Give a gentle stir and serve.

Posted on 10/03/2012 by Mistercocktail

Again, this is one of those cocktails who’s origins are covered in smoke, not entirely clear who was the first ever to create this drink. However, it was created at the end of WWI, in either London or Paris. In Paris, it is said that Harry macElhone created the drink in his famous Harry’s New York bar. A great drinks-author called David A. Embury writes in his book “Fine Art of Mixing Drinks” (1948): “It was invented by a friend of mine at a bar in Paris during World War I and was named after the motorcycle sidecar in which the good captain customarily was driven to and from the little bistro where the drink was born and christened”. This little bistro he calls for is assumed to be Harry’s New York Bar, but the owner of this bar, Harry MacElhone, credits someone else for inventing the cocktail in his own book: Pat MacGarry of Buck’s Club in London.

There are also several ways in which the drink was said to be prepared, and I’d suggest to try them so you can find your personal favourite. The French way of mixing the drink is 3 equal parts of Brandy, Triple Sec and fresh lemonjuice. The English way is 2 parts Brandy, 1 part Triple Sec and 1 part fresh lemonjuice. But of course your own taste matters most, so adjust it a little as you go.

Method:

Squeeze the fresh lemon juice (15 ml/0.5 oz) in your mixing glass and add 15 ml/0.5 oz Triple Sec (I use Cointreau) and 30 ml/1 oz Brandy (I use Cognac). Now you prepare the glass: take one squeezed half lemon and rim the top 1 inch/2 cm of your cocktailglass with the juice. After this you coat the outside with fine white sugar. By doing this, you add a little sugar with each sip, balancing the drink. You can also add 1 teaspoon fine white sugar in the drink and shake it along – this way you don’t need to sugarcoat the glass.

Now you shake all ingredients with lots of ice and strain this into the cocktailglass. No garnish is needed here.

Posted on 04/03/2012 by Mistercocktail

Time to test another mix of a fine gin and a good tonic water. Today I found my fridge was blessed with a nice bottle of Fever Tree Tonic and I decided to go for Tanqueray to mix with. I have a whole line-up of great gins just waiting to be tested in my weekly Sunday G&T-review, but I need to focus and just have this mix for today.

The gin I’m using today has a name that conveniently starts with a T, so their G&T can be called a T&T. Anyways, the brand was founded in 1830 by Charles Tanqueray and it is a real London Dry Gin-style gin. This doesn’t mean the gin comes from London, but it refers to the style of gin-producing: pure grainalcohol is re-distilled after which in a second distillation all the botanicals are introduced to the spirit at once. The main flavours are juniper and citrus, which comes mostly from coriander. It is a very full-bodied gin that at first has some forrest-notes notes, which come from angelica-root. After that, the flavour stays in your mouth for quite some time with a slightly bitter, yet sweet and citrussy finish. The sweetness comes from liquorice, the 4th botanical in Tanqueray. Not overly complex but quite nice indeed.

The tonic that I’ll be using today is Fever Tree, which is quite a young brand that was launched in 2005. It has a somewhat bitter taste at first that is accompanied by a pleasant sweetness. The bitterness comes from real quinine, the original ingredient of tonic water when it was invented in the 1800s in India. The name “Fever Tree” also refers to the tree where the quinine is sourced from. In the aftertaste the bitterness works perfectly and it doesn’t leave a dry taste in your mouth.

As you can read, I have two very good products here, but how do they work together? From the looks of it, the two carry different flavours, so they could very well compliment each other perfectly. But they could also work against each other.

My first taste makes clear to me that it’s going to be the first one: The angelica-notes come in from the gin, balancing the bitterness of the quinine very well. The natural sweetness of the tonic goes great with the citrus-notes that are quite dominant in the Tanqueray and together with the pleasantly sweet taste of liquorice it creates a very nice aftertaste. I decided to add one part of fresh lime to it and for me that brings in the real freshness that a G&T finishes off.

Rating 8.5/10

Method:

Mix 50 ml of Tanqueray Tonic in a longdrink filled with icecubes. Squeeze one part of fresh lime over the drink, you can leave the part in the drink as well. Now top off with the Fever Tree Tonic and give a gentle stir.

Posted on 02/03/2012 by Mistercocktail

Mint Julep served in a traditional Julep Cup

This cocktail is probably the most associated cocktail with the deep south of the United States. The main reason for this is the Kentucky Derby of which the Mint Julep is the official drink. No less than 120,000 are served during this legendary event, which makes up for a good 6,000 litres of fine bourbon. The drink probably came to life in the 18th century, but the first written reference is in a publication by John Davis in 1803: “a dram of spirituous liquor that has mint steeped in it, taken by Virginians of a morning”. It was believed to give protection against Malaria. The name of the drink comes from the Arabian word “Golab”, which was a sweet mixture of rose petals and water. The drink than travelled through the Mediterranean, where the rose was replaced by mint. When it travelled to the U.S. spirit was added to it, but at that time it could be any spirit: brandy, genever, rum…I guess they just liked a lot of good stuff at that time. To the Southern citizens of the U.S., the Mint Julep has become almost a religion and recipes vary from city to city, so the one you can found below is just the one that I know tastes great. But again, that is just me.

Method:

Actually, the first start to this great drink would be the day before you want to drink it, or at least 4 hours before you start sippin’ away, so plan ahead! The first step is to pick about 12 large mint leaves from the stem. Pick them a little careful so they don’t get torn up! Are the leaves medium or small, take some extra. Next, you need to release the aromas of the mint: place all the leaves in one hand and clap your other hand on them. Put the leaves in a large tumbler or Julep Cup. This makes sure that the aromas will go in your drink, but you keep the bitter oils inside the leaves. So make sure the leafs do not break or tear.

The next ingredient you put inside is sugar: 1 heaped teaspoon of fine white sugar with 5 ml/.15 oz water or 10 ml/.3 oz of sugar water. Also, you add 3 dashes of Angostura Bitters in the glass. A dash is a short pour with the bottle held upside-down. Final addition for now is the Bourbon, 60 ml or 2 oz. This is Whiskey, made in the U.S. of A. which should be made from a grain-mixture that contains at least 51 % corn. Also, it should be aged for a little while in new, uncharred barrels. I will not bore you with other official rules for making bourbon, but should you be a curious person by nature, let me point you in the right direction here.  I suggest for you to invest at least a little money in a good bourbon, as the quality of this spirit determines the overall quality of your cocktail greatly. For my Dutch readers, here’s a good link to some good bourbons, but typing in “buy bourbon online” at Google will get you pretty far.

Press the mint leaves down gently in the cup or glass, so they are soaked in Bourbon and sugar and cover all up with clingfilm. Store in the fridge to keep it fresh.

Day 2 (or 4 hours later, but go for the 2nd day). First you prepare the ice, because that’s about the only thing you need  to add now. Make sure you have small cubes or preferably crushed ice (towel and hammer work just fine – just don’t make it too fine). Take the cup out of the fridge and fill with the ice cubes. Stir the contents slowly so it mixes nicely with the ice, garnish with a good sprig of mint and a short straw, so you can smell the mint. If you use a julep cup, you will notice that the outside will get frosted pretty fast, which makes it an even better-looking drink.

Cheers!