Updated: Mar 23
Sick of the same old gin and tonic or want to mix up your Mai Tai? Here are some slightly more unusual recipes to whet your whistle
Cocktails have come a long way from throwing a splash of coke in some rum and calling it a Cuba Libre, possibly sticking a little umbrella in for a tropical feel. In fact, the Mixology profession is now fully-fledged and serving us all sorts of concoctions on a night out. But we tend to be uninspired or lazy at home or maybe there just isn’t enough imagination without a menu.
I love a cocktail and do have a booze cupboard that the Sanderson bar would envy, but this is all tied into my gastronomic quest for wonderful flavours. Spending just a little time mixing a drink at home, will not only be cheaper, but will totally make you look like a cocktail hero with your friends!
You can make great drinks with little more than a cocktail shaker and a swizzle stick, but I have to say I do love the kit to play with. Here are three of my favourite drink recipes.
The Moscow Mule is a 1940s classic; invented to shift crates of Smirnoff vodka and cases of ginger beer in a Manhattan bar in 1941. I love mezcal and short of shooting it, it is sometimes tricky to find a way to mix it. In this case, the spicy ginger beer takes the spirit really well and is livened up by the lime juice. Don’t skimp on the mezcal. It’s a bit like cheap tequila, it’s just bad. But invest and you won’t regret it. Quiquiriqui is a good brand to start with.
50ml Espadin Mezcal
25ml Lime Juice
120ml Ginger Beer/ Ale
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Put all the ingredients in a hiball glass over plenty of ice, give it a swizzle and garnish with either a slice of lime or a piece of candied ginger.
Rooibos Old Fashioned
This is an Ottolenghi invention from his Nopi recipe book. I was never the biggest fan of Bourbon but I am a total convert since trying this cocktail. It uses an unusual liqueur from the amaro family, a herbal alcohol that the Italians swear will cure a hangover, but I just think it gets you drunk again. You can make the syrup a day before, so easy for party planning. Go easy on these, they are lethal!
50 ml Woodford Reserve Bourbon (or Bulleit)
1 tsp Fernet Branca
2 tsp Rooibos Tea Syrup (see below)
2 dashes Chocolate bitters
1 shaved strip of Orange peel
For the tea syrup
125 gm Caster Sugar
5 Rooibos Teabags
½ Star Anise piece
1 small Cinnamon stick
2 Black Peppercorns
1 ½ tbsp Runny Honey
First make the syrup. Put all the ingredients in a small saucepan with 125ml of water. Bring to a simmer on a medium heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. If you over boil or simmer too long, it will get too thick. Remove from the heat and leave to cool in the pan. Once cooled, strain the liquid into a jar or bottle and store in the fridge. Discard the aromatics.
Get a tumbler full of ice and pour over all the ingredients, except the orange peel. Stir with a bar spoon or swizzle for about 20 seconds (you want the ice to melt a little). Roll up the piece of orange peel and squeeze it above the glass to extract the oils and then drop it into the drink for a a garnish. If you are making two lots, do it in a cocktail shaker or mixing glass and strain into two tumblers of ice, before adding the orange peel.
There are so many martinis nowadays - Espresso Martini, Porn Star Martini, Lychee Martini - but I am a sucker for the classics. The true dry martini just shows the vermouth to the ice before mixing in the drink. Generally, we think of olives for the garnish, but onions are less astringent and taste great at the end of the drink. This recipe is designed to be as dry as grandma’s old bones, for a really pure taste. Personally, I am a gin drinker, but you could make this with Vodka if that’s your preference. Pick your favourite brand and run with it.
25ml Extra Dry Vermouth
50ml Gin/ Vodka
Put some ice and cold water in a martini glass. Fill a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice, pour over the vermouth, put the lid on and shake for about 10 seconds. Strain the vermouth down the sink (yes, all of it) keeping the ice. Pour the gin into the shaker and stir with a bar spoon or swizzle until the sides frost (about 20 - 30 seconds). Ditch the water and ice in the martini glass and pour in your martini mixture. Garnish with 3 little onions and enjoy.
It would be great to get your favourite recipes to try. Why not post in the comments section?
As always, please drink responsibly. Or at least with someone responsible!