As we are now in mid September, our thoughts have started to turn to autumn. Our first cocktail of autumn is making the best of the plums that are now in season. For our Cocktail of the Week we decided to go for a change from the sweet, summer inspired cocktails. We wanted to try something that could be enjoyed in the last of the sun or next to an outdoor fire. We found this one from Difford’s Guide that fitted the bill, the Plum Sour.
The Plum Sour is originally a Japanese cocktail made with sake that has evolved over many years. It falls into the sours family of cocktails. Sours were the original cocktail and classic sours, such as the margarita, kamikaze and the daiquiri can be dated back to the 1860s. The Plum Sour made its leap across from the East some time during the early 20th Century as more Japanese people moved across the world, taking the mix with them and finding an alternative to the sake to create the drink.
For this week’s cocktail, you will need:
- 1 fresh plum
- 1 plum piece for garnish
- 2 measures of vodka
- 1 measure of fresh lemon juice
- ½ measure of sugar syrup
- ½ a fresh egg white
Take the plum and roughly chop it into small pieces. Use a muddler to crush the fruit into a mush. Add a good amount of ice to the shaker and add the remaining ingredients. Give the mix a good shake to cool it well. Take a glass and add some ice before pouring the cocktail in. Add the plum garnish and there you have our cocktail of the week, the Plum Sour.
If you like a sour drink, this is a good cocktail to enjoy. The egg white did make it a slightly unusual drink and something we would probably leave out if we made it again. We would also use sweeter plums to draw out a stronger plum taste.
On a recent trip to the Cinema, we stopped off at Bill’s beforehand to have some dinner. Whilst perusing their cocktail menu to gain a few ideas for the future cocktail of the week, we came across a cocktail called the Bee’s Knees. We were interested in this as every drink ordered; 25p is donated to the Royal Botanical Gardens campaign to highlight the importance of bees. Whilst we were not in a cocktail mood that night, we did want to try it and took a sneaky pic. To be fair to the Kew Gardens and Bill’s collaboration project, we will still be donating to the Kew Gardens Hive project.
The bees knees cocktail is a gin based cocktail that dates back to the prohibition era in the 1920’s and 30’s where a ban on alcohol was in place. The phrase ‘bee’s knees’ was a colloquial term at the time for ‘the best’. The poor quality bathtub gin was mixed with citrus, honey and other mixes to improve the taste and hide the smell of the gin. The cocktail comes in various measures and combinations depending on where you ordered the drink, for ours, we stuck with the cocktail that came from Bill’s.
For this week’s cocktail, you will need;
- 1 measure of gin (bath tub gin is still available if you wish to have the authentic mix!)
- 2 tablespoons honey syrup
- Juice of one lemon
- Pink lemonade
- Sprig of thyme
Firstly, to make the honey syrup, use the sugar syrup I describe before on the Raspberry Collins. Replace the sugar with the same quantity of honey. In a tumbler glass, add the gin, honey syrup and lemon over ice and stir. Fill the remainder of the glass with the pink lemonade. Add the sprig of thyme and you have the bee’s knees of our cocktail of the week the Bee’s Knees!
You can have this as a virgin cocktail and tastes the same without the gin, which is useful as it was designed to hide the taste of the gin! It is a good, flavoured cocktail and definitely one to try if you don’t like gin.
With the Olympics ending, we thought there would be no better way to celebrate the Olympics, and the rather splendid efforts by Team GB than to enjoy a Brazilian themed BBQ on Saturday night. You can read about the food we cooked here. The only cocktail to accompany anything Brazil-based has to be the Caipirinha, Brazil’s national drink. As such it became our cocktail of the week.
The origin of the Caipirinha is unknown and did not appear in São Paulo until 1918 as a remedy for the Spanish Flu. It was originally made with only lime, garlic and honey with a spirit added to the home concoctions. It is still commonly used in this format as a cure for common colds. As with all cocktails, someone decided to experiment! Removing the garlic and honey and adding sugar helped make it a ubiquitous drink across Brazil. The word Caipirinha comes from the word caipria, which in Portuguese refers to someone from the Countryside. A similar word in English would be a ‘hillbilly’.
For this week’s cocktail, you will need;
- Crushed Ice
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 lime cut into 8 parts & a slice for garnish
- 1 large measure of Cachaça
To make this week’s cocktail add the chopped lime and the sugar to a sturdy glass. Use a muddler and crush the fruit and mix the sugar together. Add the cachaça and give the mix a stir. Top the glass with ice and stir again. To finish place the garnish on the glass and lá vai vocé de uma caipirinha (there you go, a caipirinha).
The caipirinha is a great drink if you like lime and sweetness. We would be happy to continue drinking these in the sun watching the Olympics; sadly, all good things must come to an end!
To top off the week long celebrations for Calum’s birthday we hosted a french style dinner party for a dozen of our friends. Like any good meal, it should always start with a cocktail as a welcome drink. As we went for a French theme dinner, we pulled out the Crème de Cassis, a blackcurrant liqueur, and the champagne that we picked up on our recent trip to France and created our cocktail of the week, a Kir Royale.
The Kir Royale is based on the Kir cocktail, in which white wine is used rather than champagne. The Kir was originally called a blanc-cassis and can be dated back to 1841 following the increased production levels of the Crème de Cassis. It was usually made with red wine, but after a man called Fèlix Kir, who was the mayor of Dijon after World War II, made the drink popular by presenting it at hosted events to visiting dignitaries, it was renamed. There are thoughts to suggest that the drink was reintroduced as the German Army ‘confiscated’ all the red in Burgundy during the war and left with a large amount of white. The drink has evolved greatly in recent years with the inclusion of many other versions with different liqueur such as peach, or different drinks such as beer, cider and even milk.
For this week’s cocktail, you will need:
- Crème de Casis
- Champagne or other sparkling wine
- Flute glass
To start, make sure the sparkling white you use is chilled. Add two teaspoons of crème de casis to the flute and fill the glass with the sparkling wine. Then sit back and enjoy this week’s cocktail, the Kir Royale.
It is a perfect drink to use as an aperitif and to add a slight difference to serving just champagne.
For this week’s cocktail of the week, we took inspiration from a recent Italian themed dinner party we had. There are a plethora of Italian cocktails that we could have tried, but the Negroni was the one cocktail neither of us had sampled before and thought it would be giving it a try, especially as it used up some of the red Vermouth we have!
The Negroni has a link to Italian nobility through Count Camilo Negroni. It was reportedly first mixed in Florence in 1919 where the Count asked his bartender to boost his favourite cocktail the Americano. His bartender, Fosco Scarselli, replaced the soda water in the Americano with gin and gave it an orange garnish to distinguish it as a different drink. Given that the family started producing a ready made version of the drink in 1919, it is possible that this story is a little bit of a corporate myth. On the other hand, if it is true, it is a good start to how most cocktails are made, by experimentation.
For this week’s cocktail, you will need:
- 1 measure of gin
- 1 measure of sweet red vermouth
- 1 measure of Campari
- One orange for garnish
To make the cocktail, take a tumbler or old fashioned style glass and add the ice. Pour in the gin, red vermouth and Campari over the ice. Stir the mix and add the orange for the garnish and there you have the cocktail of the week, the Negroni.
The cocktail has a very dry, bitter taste and probably needed more ice than we added. However, as Orsen Wells stated when he came across the drink “The bitters are excellent for your liver, the gin is bad for you. They balance each other”, we will take that as a sign that we made it correctly.
When we returned from France in June, we brought back a basil plant. There is something different about the way it is grown in France that gives it a stronger flavour. It has been sitting on the window sill since we returned getting used for the odd meal and we thought we should try to use it as the base flavour in our cocktails. We came across a Basil & Lime cooler on The Italian Dish blog whilst doing some research for an Italian themed meal and thought would be great to use the basil and the Cointreau we picked up on holiday.
Our basil usually ends up in the ratatouille rather than a cocktail, but being the adventurous type we are, we were up for the experience. As an ingredient, it has been around for 5,000 years and is known in some parts of the world as the ‘king of herbs’ or the ‘royal herb’. The world basil comes from the Greek word basileus. It has slightly odd cultural and fictional associations including being carried in passage to the after life or smelling too much can cause scorpions to breed in the brain and in some parts of Mexico, it is used to draw fortune. For the record, we now have two basil plants!
For this weeks cocktail, you will need;
- 10 small to medium basil leaves
- 1 Lime
- 2 measures of tequila
- 1 measure of Cointreau
- 1 tablespoon of simple syrup
- 4 measures of club soda
To make the cocktail, slice the lime in half and take one half and slice it into quarters. Add the lime and the basil to a cocktail shaker, use a muddle to extract the juices. Add some ice to the cocktail shaker, along with the remaining ingredients and give it a quick shake. Too much and you will loose the bubbles from the club soda. Stain the mix in to a glass filled with ice, garnish using the remaining lime and there you have this weeks cocktail, a Basil & Lime Cooler.
The cocktail is certainly one to keep in mind. The flavour of the basil comes through well and compliments the other ingredients perfectly. We are now thinking what other cocktails can we create or improve with basil!
As it is now officially summer, Calum has done his traditional thing and bought a watermelon! As he grew up in Hong Kong, it is one of the things that reminds him about living there. Due to their size, eating it all in one sitting was not an option so we needed to find something else to do with it! Sliced and packed into the freezer we started our weekly mission to find a cocktail of the week. Relatively quickly we decided on a Watermelon Daiquiri.
The history of the daiquiri is rather interesting! The name ‘Daiquiri’ is a Taíno word that comes from the indigenous people of Cuba and is also the name of a local beach and iron mine. Origins of a drink similar to the daiquiri can be traced back to the 1740s. A drink call grog was made at the time that British Navy sailors would drink. By the end of the century, the sailors had as part of their grog rations, the key ingredients to the drink now known as the daiquiri; rum, water, lemon or lime and sugar. The drink became common across the Caribbean where it reappeared in Cuba in the late 1890’s.
It is likely that the drink was an established Cuban speciality when it was introduced to the Americans. An American expat called Jennings Cox who ran out of gin whilst entertaining and created something similar to the drink. It wasn’t until 1909 when a US Navy officer tried Cox’s drink and introduced it to the Army and Navy Club in Washington where its popularity grew. It was also thought to be a favourite of Ernest Hemingway and JFK. Variations of the drink have become popular over the last few years with frozen and fruit versions.
For this weeks cocktail you will need;
- 1 cup of watermelon, sliced into inch cubes and frozen
- 1 measure of rum
- 2 teaspoon of sugar syrup
- 1 teaspoons of lime juice
- Zest of half a lime
- 1 watermelon slice with the rind for garnish
To make the drink, place all the ingredients in a blender and blitz until you have a smoothish liquid and pour into a glass. Garnish with the watermelon slice and you have a Watermelon Daiquiri.
Its great to think that a drink started by the British Navy with the rum rations, popularised in the Caribbean and adopted by the American Navy and Army is still going today. Sadly (or rather sensibly), as the rum rations were ended in 1970 on a day known as Black Tot Day, we probably won’t have the British and American Navy for another interesting cocktail.
As we have finally hit summer with the temperatures hitting 33 degrees, it was time to find a refreshing drink for this week’s cocktail of the week. Once again taking inspiration from the garden, where our cucumber plant has just started to flower, and the spirits we have in the cupboard we stumbled on a Cucumber and Thyme spritz.
This is not your usual cocktail combination, but that is the joy of cocktails, a little bit of experimentation. It is also one of the things Calum enjoys about cooking. Needless to say, experimentation does not always work, but it does give you some great and, sometimes, surprising results. The only thing to remember when you are experimenting is to write down what you do, if you don’t and it turns out great, you won’t be able to recreate it! We found this drink on belvederevodka.com and thought it was a good use of the ingredients we are growing in the garden and an opportunity to use up some more of the vodka collection Calum has amassed over the years!
For this weeks cocktail, you will need:
- One measure of dry vermouth
- One measure of vodka (as we used a Belvedere recipe, we thought it right to use Belvedere)
- Soda water
- Tonic water
- Three ribbons of cucumber
- One sprig of thyme
To create the drink, place the tall glass you intend to use in the fridge to chill them. Take the cucumber and peel across the length to create the ribbons. Take the glass from the fridge and place the cucumber and thyme in the glass followed by a handful of ice. Pour in the measure of dry vermouth, the measure of vodka and use equal parts of tonic water and soda water to fill the glass. Once full, give the mix a little stir and there you have this weeks cocktail, a Cucumber and Thyme Spritz.
We found the cocktail to be a good savoury drink, if a little drier than we normally would like. It is certainly a summer drink to enjoy on a hot afternoon to keep your sprits up when drinking cocktails!
This week we decided to be a bit more adventurous with our cocktail of the week and decided to open the Crème de Violette we bought on our recent trip to France. The issue with using the Crème de Violette was hunting down a suitable cocktail to use it in, this was no easy task! We finally came across a drink known as a ‘Water Lily’ on saveur.com and thought it was worth a try, mainly as it meant we could try the bottle of Cointreau we picked up in Angers!
Crème de Violette is a French liqueur traditionally made with natural violet flower flavouring and has a brandy or plain spirit base. It has a distinctive floral taste that can overpower most flavours. In researching ideas for the cocktail this week, it became apparent that it is also a difficult liqueur to obtain and it seems very few drinks use it as a key ingredient as a result. It also appears that its rarity was a plot point in a 1965 episode of the Avengers. The good thing about the research we do to bring you our Cocktail of the Week is that it throws up a large number of random, but mildly interesting facts. On the plus side, we have also found other another cocktail to try!
For the Water lily cocktail you will need a;
- Measure of triple sec (we used Cointreau)
- Measure of Crème de Violette
- Measure of fresh lemon juice
- Measure of gin
- Twist of orange, for the garnish
Using a cocktail shaker, pour the triple sec, crème de violette, lemon juice and gin into a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake for a few minutes. Strain the mix into a glass and garnish with the twist.
And that is this week’s cocktail! The distinctive floral taste certainly comes through strongly and tastes very much like the violet sweets that you used to get in a pick’n’mix bag thinking they were Refreshers, but were always left disappointed! As a cocktail, it makes up for those years of disappointment!
There is really only one thing to say about the 24th June 2016, MIDSOMMAR! If you needed an excuse to have a cocktail, this excuse goes without saying! The Swedes enjoy a drink and Midsommar is the start of making the most of the warmth and sun! To be fair, winter is as good a time to enjoy a drink as well!
One of the most prevalent and probably, easily recognisable Swedish fruits is the lingonberry. It is a key ingredient in many dishes. You are likely to have had a lingonberry jam at Ikea when you stop to have meatballs in the restaurant. We bought a bottle of lingonberry syrup on a recent trip to Ikea and tried to think of a suitable cocktail to use it with. After some thinking, and a rummage in the drinks box, we decided the best drink to make the most of the flavour would be a Collins based drink. Digging out the Vodka Collins recipe from a few weeks ago, we adapted it slightly to work for the lingonberry. It was handy to learn that this cocktail is quite versatile.
For the cocktail of the week, you will need:
- A tall Collins glass
- 1 Measure of lingonberry syrup
- 2 Measures of vodka
- ½ measure of lemon juice
- Soda water
Start by adding the ice to the glass and adding the measure of lingonberry, followed by the vodka and lemon juice. Stir to mix the drink before adding the soda water to fill the glass. We did not use sugar syrup for this drink, as the sugar in the lingonberry was sufficient to compensate for it. We used a jug to make this cocktail as a welcome drink for the Midsommar dinner party we had with our friends and multiplied the mix by four.
There you have a Lingonberry Collins, our fusion of a vodka Collins and a Swedish staple. It was certainly one way to start the summer off in style!