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Some guy making a Daiquiri

You won’t be able to tell from watching the video, but this is my good mate Marty Newell, Melburnian brand ambassador for the most superior Superior Rum on Earth, Bacardi.

It’s a nice bit of vision, and an easily followable recipe for one of life exquisite little pleasures, a well made Daiquiri.

Nice work buddy.

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The Best Home Bar on Earth. Period.

Oh what a night! Such sights, such tastes, such happy day!

I remember reading a great piece Camper English from Alcademics wrote on putting together the perfect 5 bottle bar for apartment dwellers. I’ve never been able to keep my collection that tight, and thankfully, either has Jason Chan, owner of Melbourne’s fantastic Batch, Star Wars figurine and rare spirits collector.

I was lucky enough to be invited to his apartment for dinner. I have never been gladder of anything in my life than taking that invitation, well, with the exception of my birth and making the acquaintance of a certain C. Barnes.

Jason is a collector. He has shelves, draws, cubbys and corners. All chock full of the finest spirits the world has managed to produce. I’ll write about some of the highlights over the coming weeks, and the drinks nerds among you will probably be able to identify some of the bottles on the table, Tricentennial, Zacapa 30th Anniversary, Macallan Quarter Century, Richard Hennessy, El Tesoro De Don Felipe Anniversario Extra Anejo. Truly, spectaularly awesome.

Jason is an encyclopedia of booze. Who’s made them, how they eeked out that little bit more special a spirit than anyone else. I picked up a Rittenhouse 25yr old Rye, “Life changing” I hear behind me, “Single Cask – Green Apples, Massive.” Memories of taste and mouth-feel catalouged away for what must be bottles in their thousands. He says he wants to be a distiller. I’m sure as hell signing up to whatever he decides to turn his hand to producing.

Jason also has a passion for food. His venues aside, he produces cheeses and bread, acknowledging local provenance. The hand pulled Mozzarella is creamy, the Persian fetta divine, the triple cream, OMG‡. His rabbit, turned with rustic green olives and cream over quality pasta, the perfect foil for just a few more nectarous nips.

Just enough time to get this gem of a photo, holding a tiki vessel that Jason thought most closely matched me (not sure if it was the size, the shape or the 1 litre volume that prompted that) before going to visit some of Jason’s favourite bars.

Epic, memorable and amazing night. Many thanks.

‡ not something I use lightly.

At home, Cocktail

A Collins for Tom

I was reminded on Saturday night of the beauty of simple recipes. Talking the guys at Velutto through making a spectacular Tom Collins and seeing it bring a smile to the face of the guy drinking it reminded me once again why I love cocktails enough to spend my spare time writing about them.

They are at their best transformative, little windows into something else and a spark of inspiration. I had taken my friend, also called Tom, to such a window that night.

Sitting through Tom’s window was, amongst other things, an Apple Tom Collins. While I couldn’t put one together for him on the night. I came home inspired to make one. Most of the recipes asked for Applejack, and having none, I went in a different direction.

A Collins for Tom.

45mls Smirnoff Black, 15mls Sour Apple Syrup†, 7.5mls absinthe, 30mls fresh lime juice. Combine in a large glass, stir well. Ice the glass, top with soda and garnish with an apple fan.

†Sour Apple Syrup is made by first making a plain 1:1 sugar syrup and once it has cooled, the addition and steeping of 3 Granny Smith Apples, macerated as finely as you can be bothered. If you add the apple while the syrup is still warm, the fructose will stew and turn to glucose, making your syrup more poached apple than sour apple.

At home, Cocktail

The Tuxedo

This drink is a much wetter take on the Martini, with a couple of flavorful additions. I like it because I get to have a traditionally dark spirits garnish, the brandied cherry, in a Gin cocktail.

The history of this one is mixed, appearing in the Savoy book, but also being associated with the Ritz in Paris. The use of Anis as opposed to Absinthe or Pastis, makes me lean toward the French on this one. Whichever way, it remains a great way to kick off a weekend.

The Tuxedo Cocktail

50 mls Tanqueray No. Ten, 20 mls Noilly Pratt, 5 mls Maraschino Liqueur, 5mls Marie Brizard Anis (substitue absinthe or pastis, should you have none) 3 dashes Fee Brother’s Orange Bitters.

Combine all ingredients in a tin over ice, stir and strain up. Garnish with a twist of lemon and a brandied cherry. Exhale, imbibe. Relax.

Oh Gosh! has got this recipe as well, although made with Hayman’s Old Tom Gin. I prefer the addition of the orange bitters, over the version without in Dale De Grof’s “Craft of the Cocktail”

At home, Cocktail, In Memoriam

The Hot Cross

After New Zealand Butter turned up in the mystery boxes for the Ready, Steady, Shake competition in Queenstown, I’ve been thinking about how I’d put it to use in a cocktail. This morning, eating Hot Cross Buns for breakfast, I came up with this variation on Jerry Thomas’s Hot Flip.

The Hot Cross

In a heated bar glass dissolve one teaspoon of sugar in a little hot water. Add a small knob of butter, a pinch of cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice & the yolk of one egg. You could shake this, but I had more luck combining it using a barspoon as a whisk.

To this mixture add 45mls Alexander Grappa Moscato, 15mls Pedro Ximenez Sherry and 30mls boiling water. Shake thoroughly, serve in a flip glass. I’ve garnished mine with a cinnamon cross, a crown of thorns might be appropriate as well.

The Grappa is for the Romans, putting Jesus on the Cross, and then taking his message around the world from the seat of the Vatican, The PX is for the Inquisition, and because no one expects it,, the Egg because that is what easter is about these days and a bunny would have only left hair in the glass.

At home, Cocktail, MixMarch

MixMarch #21: The Shanghai Cocktail

Paris of the East, Whore of the Orient, City of Broken Dreams. Shanghai sprung from the brackish marshlands near the mouth of the Yangtze River only a few hundred years ago. It was handed, probably in jest, to the invading laowai who had proved themselves to give up the foisting of opium addiction on the people of China, if only to assuage their own addiction to the brewing leaves of tea.

Shanghai is a city that reinvents itself, almost on a daily basis. The old is swept away to make way for the new. Romance lives right there in the streets, with its kindred spirits, heartbreak and poverty. Sights, sounds and smells assualt the senses.

Embury’s Shanghai Cocktail could indeed have sprung from those very same brackish waters. It is a cocktail that balances but also is quite unlike anything I have tried before. It has a smell of leftover Christmas Cake and spices swimming in, well, something. It’s not that I hate it, I’m just not sure I’ve got my head around it yet. I think I might try it with rum next…

The Shanghai Cocktail

5mls Cointreau, 10mls lime juice, 10mls Sweet Vermouth, 40mls Rye Whiskey. Shake over ice and strain.

At home, Cocktail, MixMarch

MixMarch #20: Julep #1

Still working my way through The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks and stumbled into Julep country. Mr Embury has an obvious passion for the Bourbon Slushy so I thought I’d try my hand.

Juleps come from a time when spirits were commonplace in drinks at any time a clock could show, and the Minted Julep offered a cool, refreshing respite while sitting on the porch, watching your workforce toil in the cotton fields. With the current Bourbon revival in full swing, this is a drink that is sure to making more of an appearance in the coming year.

Julep #1

Place your metal vessel in the freezer ahead of time, getting a good frost is key to the look and feel of a Julep and a frozen cup makes this much easier to achieve.

In a bar glass place three dashes of Angostura bitters*, 15mls of simple syrup and 12 fresh mint leaves. Give these a gentle muddle, to much vigor will taint the drink with a bitter aftertaste, so take your time and tease the oils out. And a generous measure (at least 60mls) of bourbon to this mixture and set it to one side.

Take your frozen vessel from the freezer and fill it with crushed ice. If you have a machine, use that, but beating cubes in a clean tea towel works too.

Pour in the minty bourbon, giving the ice a stir with up and down movements to ensure the correct slushy consistency and to accelerate the frosty exterior. Top the cup with more crushed ice so it’s full to the brim, or heaped like a Taiwanese snow cone. Add two short straws and a garnish of mint, the tips of the plant make the best looking garnishes. Exhale deeply and enjoy this truly superior drink.

*I’ve never come across another recipe that calls for angostura and I did think it a little odd from the outset, however, it delivers a Julep of unusual character, just as Embury promises.

P.S. I do believe this might just be the prettiest looking drink I’ve ever made.

At home, Cocktail, MixMarch

MixMarch #18: Lotus Club Special

My copy of David Embury’s The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks arrived last night. Once the gauche dustcover that was obviously designed by a blind man in the late seventies was removed I was quite taken by the powder blue embossed hardcover and sat down to read the words I have heard so much about.

Embury would have done extremely well in a world of social media, and there is little wonder in my mind why his book has remained popular. He exudes a point of view, not content with listing ingredients or defining methods, he defines opinion. He is right, and you, dear reader, are most likely wrong and have been for some time, for that matter.

After thumbing through the pages, wondering what I would make, I stumbled on the section containing the Sazerac. It seems very clear that Embury was not a fan, claiming the drink satisfied neither whiskey fans nor those with a taste for herbsaint or absinthe. He goes so far as to call the drink an old fashioned flavoured with absinthe and to declare that he had never met a Sazerac fanatic, even in Nawlins.

I felt the grate a little on this, being as I am, a Sazerac fanatic. While the taste does perhaps not permit the best of either the base nor modifier to shine through, it is the interplay between them that makes me love this drink. That ordering one requires a bartender to make a little effort and is usually the start of a discussion and a number of drinks. For me, at least, the Sazerac is very much an “enlivening tonic”.

Embury focuses on cutting the corners from the somewhat finnickity practices of the absinthe wash that make a Sazerac so time consuming and offers up this method in its place.

The Lotus Club Special

In a rocks glass, place a sugar cube soaked with three dashes of Peychaud’s bitters, a few drops of absinthe and a small amount of whiskey. Muddle the sugar and stir thoroughly until dissolved. Add a curative measure of Whiskey and stir in ice until the drink is cold and the glass covered in condensate. Garnish with the peel of lemon.

I used the La Perruse 100% cane sugar cubes, about 5mls of Green Fairy absinthe at 75%abv and a slug of about 60mls of Jim Beam Rye Whiskey to make the drink in the picture. It was delicious, a little muddier than the carefully prepared Sazerac, but the time saving means I’ll be doing it again…

I think Mr. Embury ande I are going to have a lot of fun together.

At home, Cocktail, MixMarch

MixMarch #14: The Martini

It’s taken me some time to write about this drink, certainly not by any virtue of dislike, it just seemed when I started this blog that it was pretty well covered elsewhere. After a long time, a lot of martinis and a lot of different viewpoints I’ve come to realise it’s not. There is certainly room in the world for another point of view.

Firstly, Martinis are made with Gin.

Secondly, said Gin is to be mixed with dry vermouth, I like somewhere between four and six parts Gin.

Third, the mixture is to be stirred in an icy vessel to obtain the perfect dilution of spirit, vermouth and icy water.

Next, the resultant elixer is to be strained, up, into the eponymous, stemmed,  inverted triangle glass.

Lastly, the drink must be garnished with either the peel of lemon or olive. the thin oily layer imparted by either adds nirvana to perfection.

A couple of things to focus on when you decide to make a Martini, 1) Cold. Everything you are using should be chilled, the glass, the vessel. 2) The Stir. If you want to make a Martini, you should really buy yourself a barspoon, use its length to get under the ice in your vessel and try to stir the ice as a single block. 3) Preparation. Have everything ready before you start, garnish, glass, everything. 4) Portions. Make smaller drinks, more regularly. A warm Martini is ugly.

This is a drink that will take experimentation. I think that the perfect martini should be strong, cold and almost silky. it takes practice and timing to do this with regularity. Spending the time really is its own reward though…

The drink itself is certainly not the first cocktail, nor the hardest to make or find on a menu. It certainly is the most famous, as the beverage that sums up the cocktail culture, a boozy dream, cold and small enough to down in a gulp. There are a million different people who have a strong opinion on this one, some stir in stemmed Japanese glassware to ward off the warmth of a hand, some will shake (I do not, but one of the best I’ve ever tasted @Naughty Nuri’s in Ubud, Bali was) In some ways at least, everyone is right*

The Dry Martini.

80mls Beefeater Crown Jewel, 15mls Noilly Pratt French Vermouth. Stir over ice, in a vessel. Strain up and garnish with a peel of lemon. Repeat.

* there are obvious exceptions to this rule. Such as:

If it contains vodka, it’s not a Martini, if it contains juice, it’s not a Martini, if it is named for a fruit and ends in ‘tini’, it’s not a Martini, just because it is served in a Martini Glass, doesn’t mean its a martini. If it is just icy cold gin, poured straight from the bottle, it’s not a Martini, it’s just cold Gin…

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Sneaky Little Tastes

I got to try a spoonful of the good juju last night. A bottle of Hendricks Tonic Cordial manufactured by the eponymous maker of rosey, cucumberous Gin. Photographic evidence is proving hard to come by, and I’m beginning to think it doesn’t really exist. Thanks Marty.

The bottle is filled with a fine syrup, flavored with lavender, cinchona (the white, powdered bark of a Peruvian tree.) and bitter orange.

Beautifully labelled, with a recipe for a Hendricks and Tonic, calling for 50 milliliters of Hendricks Gin, 25 milliliters Tonic Cordial and 100 milliliters soda water, the bottle appears to be somewhat of a rarity.

I believe it was purloined from one who slay the Jabberwock. You, obviously, can believe what you will.

More images after the jump.

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At home, Cocktail Implements

Objects of Desire

You can’t drink it, go there, or even buy it in Australia yet. That said, i think this Cocktail Set I saw on Luxist deserves a spot on this blog. 

The Cylinda line of Barware was designed by Arne Jacobsen (of egg chair fame) in the 1960’s and it’s just been given an surface update by Paul Smith. Three piece shakers aren’t generally the ones I gravitate towards, but I just adore the martini mixing jug. Perfect when you have a crowd over and need to stir up drinks for ten, or perhaps just have a slightly lazy evening in-front of some television.

They’re being produced by Stelton, and if you’re a Sydneysider, your best bet for owning these would come from from making contact with their reseller.

At home, Cocktail

Garden Party Punch

“One part sour, two parts sweet, three parts strong and four parts weak and a pinch of spice” muttered the Hatter, waiting ever impatiently for something, not quite remembering who.

While this snippet didn’t make it into Carroll’s epistle, it is a valuable lesson in the construction of punch. It was passed on to me by Jacob Briars, vodka professor, chairman of the drinking classes and curator of the world’s largest collection of Hawthorn strainer springs.

I had a challenge of making punch for a hundred people. This recipe tantalized and intrigued, while being strong (and odd) enough to not be readily consumed by all in attendance.

Garden Party Punch (fills a 10 litre punch bowl)

3 750ml bottles of 42 Below feijoa vodka, 750mls fresh squeezed lemon juice, 1.5 liters elderflower cordial, 1.5 liters of cloudy apple juice, 1.5 liters of ginger beer.

The sober among you will know that only makes 7.5 liters. I’d suggest filling up 2 liters of that available space with a giant ice cube, done in layers with fruit or a fresh (non poisonous) flower. The remaining space should accommodate at least a cucumbers worth of thin slices, the adventurous among you could cut stars or other event relevant shapes. A good handful of ripped mint leaves will finish things off wonderfully.

Stir frequently and sip wisely.

The elderflower turns the taste of the feijoa up to the max, as my American cousins are fond of saying. If you don’t know what a feijoa is, I suggest a trip to New Zealand, where they are prevalent, or Chile, where they are native.

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Nog you. Nog you very, very much.

If I had to pick the one thing that is wrong with Christmas traditions, it would be that too many Christians live in the northern hemisphere. When the sun is blazing down outside and the mercury is hitting thirty, roasted beefs, glazed geese, Yorkshire puddings and all the trimmings feel as alien to having snow on the ground.

Translating that into drinks, warm noggy custards just about seem the most unappetizing thing you could get close to this Christmas. Excited by the challenge, I left the store with fresh free range eggs, a small bottle of full cream milk, a pound of sugar and a whole nutmeg.

I knew that my nog was going to be cold, but little else. Most of the recipes I could find online were for warm productions, so I decided to do it by trail and error. All of the recipes below are for two drink only. Multiply them by ten if you’ve got a tribe coming over.

The first nog of Christmas.

For my first attempt, I put one egg in the blender with 60 grams of caster sugar. Blitz it until it triples in volume, you could whisk it, but I was incapacitated by a powerful hangover. In an ice filled glass, add 80mls of the egg mixture, 80mls of brandy and 80 mls of cream. shake well and pour over ice into a rocks glass. Grate some nutmeg and you’re laughing. The result is tasty, but not quite the textural experience I was after.

If I ever feel better, I’ll have another nog.

As before, add sugar to the egg and blitz. I also decided the put the cream into the blender too, 60mls, as the volume increases as it whips up. I also added 10mls of Jamesons Irish whiskey to the blend too. Be careful not to over blend, you want thickened cream, not whipped up butter. I added this mixture to a tin with 80mls of Brandy and stirred them together and poured them, again over ice, with a grating of nutmeg.

Roll, roll, roll a nog, twist it at the ends.

Trying new things is important at Christmas, so I thought that making a rum nog might be just the ticket. same recipe as above but with no whiskey and Appleton Estate rum. works well with a little cinnamon I found too.

Don’t you nog who I am?

This one I was lucky enough to sample when made by its creator, Jacob Briars, a true bon-vivant’s companion and erstwhile Professor of Vodka for 42Below. It somewhat unsurprisingly contains vodka. I used a full cream milk, because I don’t remember it being quite as creamy as my previous attempts.

One egg, 50 grams sugar, 100mls 42Below passion fruit vodka, 30mls Chocolate liqueur, 50mls full cream milk. combine well and serve.

Feel free to offer your own recipe or corrections in the comments. I am but a nogice.

At home, Cocktail

Friday Fix: Grandmother’s Minted Pear Cooler

The latest fruit to become seasonally inexpensive in Sydney has been the Packham Pear. Incorporating pears into a drink with resorting to a nasty schnapps has been a bit tough for me in the past, muddling is a lot of work and only seems to impart flavor without that great velvety texture that I associate and love about pears.

With this idea, and a kilo of Packham pears for only 2.99 from Harris Farm markets, I hit the kitchen and got to work making poached pear syrup. First, I peeled the pears, leaving the stalk, as it makes it easy to grab the pear out of the hot syrup later in the process. I used two pears to make my syrup, but if you wanted to have them for dessert you could add one for each guest. Of those two pears, one will be for eating after and one will be for the syrup itself. So on one of them, cut a deep X into the base, halfway up the pear, so it gets really soft. Leave the other one peeled but otherwise whole.

In a saucepan, add 250grams of sugar and 350mls of hot water, stirring it until the sugar crystals dissolve. Add the pears to the pot, put the lid on and set the element to a low heat. (My stove, mark 4 is perfect, it only just simmers but not boils.) Leave it on the stove for a good couple of hours.

The pear with the X might slump a little, so grab some tongs and put it in a blender, put the other pear on a plate, pouring over a couple of tablespoons of the syrup. Add the remainder of the syrup to the blender and pulse until smooth. Strain this over a bowl, you might want to push the pulp through with the back of a spoon and strain it again as well, depending on how much process you can handle.

You should be left with about 350-400mls of cloudy but fine poached pear syrup. While it cools, go and eat the other pear.

The poached pear syrup is great in a Champagne cocktail and makes a fine addition to most sour cocktails.

Grandma’s Minted Pear Cooler.

Combine 60mls Basil Hayden’s Bourbon, 15mls poached pear syrup, 20mls fresh lemon juice, 6 mint leaves and a couple of dashes of Peychaud’s Bitters over ice. Give it a crisp shake and strain it up. It shouldn’t require a double strain due to your efforts earlier on. Garnish with a mint sprig.

I’m also partial to the same drink made with Gin, minus the bitters and I’d love to try it with Fee Brothers Peppermint Bitters too.

You can also serve it in an old fashioned glass with some ice and a splash of soda if you want to summer things up a little, or it’s daytime and drinking from a martini glass makes you feel a touch of a lush.

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The Manhattan Cocktail

Few cocktails are as simply great as the Manhattan. Strong, Simple, beautifully refined at the first, somewhat less at the third. A drinking man’s drink. A simple mix of vermouth, whiskey and a dash of bitters.

Drinks this good always have a number of different histories. One of the best attributes the beverage to Lady Randolph Churchill, mother of Winston. Lady Randolph was throwing a dinner party for Samuel Tilden, 25th Govenor of New York, Bourbon Democrat and erstwhile Presidential candidate in the 1876 Elections. Tilden out polled his opponent Haye’s in the election, but lost as 20 electoral college votes were awarded by the courts. His misfortune didn’t end there either. A short examination of the history books show that Lady Randolph was in France at the time of the dinner, pregnant.

The drink was probably invented at the Manhattan Club, where the aforementioned banquet allegedly took place, so Tilden’s relationship with the drink is not completely extinguished and the window of time is about right too, so he probably tried one, if not had it made in his honor.

Most agree that it is best made with rye, but prohibition introduced Canadian along the American Whiskey, and all are generally acceptable  these days, your own preference really being key here. A lot of people add maraschino, which I find just covers the taste of the spirit but again, to each his own. I’ve chosen Basil Hayden’s primarily as it has a high percentage of rye in the mash.

The Manhattan Cocktail

Add 60mls of Basil Hayden’s, 15mls sweet vermouth and a couple of dashes of Angostura bitters to a well iced shaking tin, stir well and strain up. garnish with a twist and luxuriate.


Dry Manhattan – substitute dry vermouth for the sweet.

Perfect Manhattan – half dry, half sweet vermouth.

Rob Roy – substitute the whiskey for Whisky

Paddy – Irish whiskey, to be sure.

Fanciulli – substitute the vermouth for Fernet Branca

Ruby Manhattan – substitute port for vermouth

Metropolitan – substitute cognac for whiskey

Cuban Manhattan – substitute dark rum for whiskey

Latin Manhattan – Perfect with light rum.

At home, Cocktail

Friday Fix: Cherry Gin Sour

One of the great things about this time of year in Sydney is the fresh cherries. Head up to the Kings Cross markets on a Saturday and you’;l find at least a couple of stands selling beautiful boxes of cherries.

While the fruit are quite hard to whip up into cocktails, short of making syrups or muddling handfuls and steeping them in spirits, there is another side of the proliferation of these special little fruit, Pressed Cherry Juice. The juice is made from those cherries not pretty enough to move of the shelf, luckily, these are also some of the sweetest and juiciest as well.

The juice is not a manufactured product, so expect a lot of variation between products and you’ll need to tweak the recipe to make sure you don’t just end up with Cherry tasting juice that’s alcoholic.

The Cherry Gin Sour

60mls Tanqueray 10 Gin, 10 mls pressed cherry juice, 15mls freshly squeezed lemon juice, 5mls sugar syrup. Combine all ingredients over ice in a shaker, shake, strain over a sour glass filled with fresh ice. Green garnishes look great against the deep red of the drink.

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Summer Loving

While the Northern Hemisphere tilts away from the warming light of the sun, hot punch recipes are being dusted off. Some provide warmth, others exist solely to bring a tint of colour to the milky white skin of Englishmen.

Rejoice then, that you live in Sydney, where access to sun, surf, parks and beaches are plentiful and open to all.

As you head to any of these places, to meet in large groups or small, the default choice for refreshment is a six pack of coldies or a bottle of wine. I’d ask you to consider for a moment stepping outside of that norm and heading, replete, with a fine jar of tippling punch on your next park sojourn.

Punch was invented back when alcohol was so rough, punters only wanted to mask the flavour enough to get it down and start the glorious journey to intoxication, these days, punches in the summer or the winter showcase flavours of booze,  fruit and herbacious additives. Experimentation is the key here, perfect punch is a very fluid concept, go with what’s fresh and match the flavours as best you can.

Punches are best described in ratios, as everyone will have a different sized jar, bowl or bathtub, depending on the size of one’s frivolity, and frankly your ambition.

My Summer Punch

Fill a preserving jar with ice and slide slices of lemons, limes and oranges down the side with a barspoon. Add 2 parts Tanqueray Gin, 1 part Lillet Blanc, 1 part pomegranate juice, 1 part cloudy apple juice, 1/2 part fresh squeezed lemon juice. Garnish with mint, think bush not sprig.

The walk or drive to the destination should provide sufficient mixing.

Enjoy, and feel free to share your own punch combos in the comments.

At home, Cocktail

The Italian American

One of the great things about becoming known to your friends as a bit of a cocktail nerd is that they will try and bring you weird and wonderful potions from around the world, for you to mix and match for your benefit and often theirs too.

Returning from a buying trip in Italy, Aaron smuggled me back a bottle of Alexander Grappa Amarone. This Grappa is made from a single grape variety, Amarone from the Valpolicella region. It has a dry raisiny taste and it is quite pleasant lightly chilled on its own. After doing a small amount of research, I learned that Italians often drink Grappa in their coffee calling it ammazzacaffè or the coffee killer.

Inspired I set about making a variation on an espresso martini that made the most of the spirit. I have been thinking about making a raisin or muscatel syrup which would work very nicely, but for now the half and half maple syrup and amaretto work fine.

The Italian American.

Combine 40mls Grappa, 40mls fresh black coffee, 5mls amaretto and 5mls maple syrup over ice and shake with some vigor. Strain into a sherry glass and float coffee bean or two on the froth.

If the taste of the Grappa proves too much, you could drop back to a 20/60 ratio, but in my mind that masks the character of the spirit.

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That’s a tasty Beveridge.

Whisky Sour - The Tasty Beveridge EditionI already wrote today about the newest edition to my liquor cabinet, Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve. The master blender at Johnnie Walker, perfectly named Mr Beveridge has opened the Gold Label reserve stock to create a great new extension to the brand.

The quality and character of the spirit shine through in this version of the blended whisky standard, The Sour.

The tasty Beveridge.

45ml Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve, 15ml freshly squeezed lemon juice, 15ml real Canadian maple syrup, about 1/2 an egg white. Combine all the ingredients in a Boston glass and top with ice. Shake vigorously, you want to get the protein fibers from the egg to turn into meringue and give a great fluffy finish to the drink.

I know some people are squeamish about adding raw egg to a drink. It might be a little dicey, but the finish it gives the drink just can’t be found another way. Just to make things better, use an egg that is a couple of days old, it will fluff up much more than one straight from the chicken.

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Lime in the Coconut

Tiki Drink - Lime in the CoconutIt’s getting warmer. Rum drinks and warm weather go together. Time to buy some tiki mugs.

As an interim measure, I picked up a young drinking coconut at the supermarket and decided to revel in the kitschness of it all.

Lime in the Coconut

15ml fresh lime juice, 30ml coconut juice, 15ml fresh pineapple juice, 30ml spiced rum, 30ml Mount Gay Extra Old rum,  10ml Amaretto. Shake all ingredients well and strain into a well iced coconut. Garnish in a garish fashion, I’ve gone with pineapple leaves, a wheel of lime, 1987 fluro straws and ice cube Moai heads.

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Southside Cocktail

IMG_5498This is a drink that I was most thoroughly introduced to by Jacob Briars, socialist, bon vivant, erstwhile global Professor of vodka for 42Below and the eleventh best bar chef in New Zealand.

The Southside is essentially a Gin daiquiri  with mint. It is a simple drink that relies entirely on the quality of its ingredients. I’ve found that the round mint gives the best result and I prefer it with a softer Gin, like Moore’s or South but it is palatable whichever spirit you bring to the mix.

It’s another of those great drinks that got their start during the Prohibition. Although it’s Chicago roots set it apart from most of the classics and, appropriately are wrapped up in the Gangland culture and history of that time. The territories in the city were split North & South, the boys in the North had cornered the market in high quality spirits, smuggled across the border from Canada, leaving the Saltis-McErlane gang with access only to hooch and swill, manufactured locally and of dubious provenance. The mobsters used sugar, citrus and mint to cover the imperfections in their products. While history has not been as kind to Frankie McErlane as it was to Al Capone, Frankie blazed trails outside of the field of mixology, being the first man to use the Tommy gun and racking up at least 15 bodies during the bootlegging wars.

The Southside.

Two teaspoons of caster sugar, the juice of half a lime and 60 mls of South Gin. Combine in a boston glass and add eight leaves of mint. (don’t muddle it, you’ll only make it bitter.) Ice the glass and give it a good, hard shake. Double strain the mixture into a cocktail glass, a few of the smaller pieces of mint might get through, but it makes for a pretty drink with a few specks. Slap a couple of leaves over the glass to boost the smell and the flavour. Garnish with a single mint leaf.

What you’ll be left with is a great balance of sweet, tart and strong with an amazing cool element that makes this a perfect summer drink and in the Professor’s own words “Frrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrresh.”

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Pink Gin

pink ginAnother old drink I’ve been enjoying lately is the Pink Gin. The drinks is made with Gin and  bitters from the House of Angostura.

Angostura Bitters began life at Angostura,  literally a narrowing of the Orinoco river that holds a city known later as the Bolivar city. The bitters were ‘discovered’ by Dr Siegert, a German following the original South American freedom fighter, Simon Bolivar. Most of the well researched sources I’ve found suggest that the good doctor probably borrowed heavily from the indigenous medicines of the area. The business moved to Trinidad and Tabago in 1876, where it has based production since.

The bitters were found to have some value as a sea sickness tonic by the Privateers and members of the British Navy, who took them back to their home port and source of Plymouth Gin.

There are many variations of how the drink should be served. From a single dash, stirred with Gin and strained up in a martini glass to four dashes, two pub shots of Gin lengthened with tonic. I would guess that the original would have held only Gin, a healthy dash and some brackish water to lengthen a beverage on a vessel that would only know ice in the arctic.

Distillation has come a long way since then and after diligently working my way through a number of variations I can say only how I like it. Unsurprisingly the recipe I have had most luck with belongs to the muse of my blog, Kingsley Amis. He didn’t probably use as much ice as I have and he always complained about squeezing the zest of citrus for oil, but I think it makes the drink. He suggests Booth’s or Plymouth, having neither, I have tried it with Tanqueray, T10, Beefeater and South. South and the export Tanqueray produced the best results.

Everyday Pink Gin.

Fill a glass with ice and dash six good belts of Angostura over the cubes. Add a good belt of Gin, the photo is a little stingy so say 50 mls. stir the mixture to soften and meld the two together. Take a postage stamp sized piece of lemon rind and twist it over the glass. rub the rim to lift the taste just a little more.

If you’re serving it to guests, a little jug of tonic or soda to handle those who don’t like their spirits quite so neat.

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One more thing, sah, Rhubarb.


I’ve written before about how much I love Ron Zacapa 23 yr old. It was no small amount of delight that I welcomed a courier bearing a bottle to my door. The rum is made from the first pressing of sugar cane to produce a wonderfully smooth rum in the agricole style. It is aged using a Solera system, similar to that employed by Bacardi and then a mix of rums from 6 to 23 years old are blended by a magical woman to create this wonderful drink.

On my trip to the market, I noticed both the fresh rhubarb on the shelf and the latest shipment of blood oranges from the hills. the elements of a perfect cocktail. I know that their are people out there who would say that it’s a waste to use such a great product in a mixed drink, but much of drinking is subjective and sitting here, drink in hand, I think its ok.

Rhubarb Rum.

50 mls Ron Zacapa Centenario 23 yr old, 40 mls freshly squeezed blood orange juice, 15 mls rhubarb syrup. Shake over ice until very cold, strain into an iced old fashioned glass. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.

I’m about to make another.

Rhubarb Syrup

Add 500 grams of sugar to 500 mls of hot water. Chop four stems of rhubarb into thin slices and add to the mixture. Heat the mixture and crush the rhubarb as it gets soft. Strain the mixture into a 750ml bottle. The pink liquid should keep in a fridge for a few weeks at least. Invite some friends round to polish it off before it turns.

At home, Cocktail

UPDATED: The Monkey Gland


This is one of Harry’s drinks. Published in 1922, his book, Harry’s ABC of mixing cocktails lays claim to it. The drink is made with Gin, orange juice, absinthe and grenadine. I’m not sure why, but this drink makes me think of Colin Peter Field from the Hemingway Bar in Paris and his rules for making cocktails. I remember, first reading, then hearing them straight for his lips.

I probably thought some of them seemed like a limiting. Ideas like only using a single base alcohol with the addition of citrus, small amounts of aromatizers and bitters. They do maybe limit complexity, but they also leave balance and subtlety, naked for you to experience. The orange juice tarts the drink with the strength of the Gin and the great finish of the absinthe.

The Monkey Gland.

50 mls of Beefeater Gin, 50 mls of orange juice, 10 mls absinthe, 10 mls grenadine. Over ice in a shaking glass, combine and shake with some vigour. Strain it up. I’ve gone with a ridiculous twist, but i’d also like to give a rockmelon hook supporting a plastic hanging monkey or absolutely nothing at all.

Confession time. I used a store bought fresh squeezed OJ that was quite sweet and used a pomegranate concentrate instead of grenadine.

There is something rewarding about the feeling you get working through the classics. One of the nice things about this drink is the story of its name. Harry was quite fond of naming drinks for the clients and things happening in their shared sphere of experience.

The Monkey gland got is name from Serge Voronoff, a French doctor of Russian extraction famous for his work inserting thin slices of monkey glands (testicles) into patients scrota to deliver exuberance and youth. UK footballers the Wolverhampton Wanderers were among those who swore by the therapy.

It’s definitely an enlivener.


And here is how it looks with freshly squeezed orange juice. Much better I think.

At home, Bottle Shop, Sydney

The Brothers Fee, now in Sydney

Fee Brothers Bitters

Mr Heinz built his global business on the strength of 57 varieties. Fee Brothers bring no less than 83 different cocktail products to the market. If you read much on cocktails being written around the world, it won’t be long before a recipe stipulates the use of one or more of them in the production of a brilliant new drink or a faithful reinvention of something from the distant past.

The company’s roots go right back to 1863 in San Fransisco, but mass production and distribution only really started during Prohibition when the Fee’s cordial flavourings were a popular addition to homemade hooch to cover up the heads and tails. Global scale has only really occurred since the mid nineties, where a change in labelling aligned with a global expansion of the cocktail business and a new generation of self styled mixoligists went looking for something a little different.

They grace the back bars around town easily enough, but I had been struggling to find them as a mere home enthusiast. Gouldburn Wines and Spirits now have it in stock. You can find them on Brisbane St, which is just off the lower end of Oxford St. Google Map it here.

The entrance might not look much, but the selection as enough to make you giddy.Anything you can’t find in Sydney, this would be a good option to track it down.

The taste profile of the flavoured bitters can be a lot different for those you might have experienced from the Houses of Angostura and Peychaud. I particularly like the Rhubarb Bitters, and I’ll be looking to build my collection and make some great tasty drinks.

At home, Cocktail

The Drinking Bond

James-Bond-Logo-Poster-C10053467(1)James Bond has always fascinated me. From going to the Christmas Holiday movie premieres to discovering the novels on a dusty shelf in a remote New Zealand batch, an exciting lifestyle punctuated with great food, plentiful drinks, fast cars and intriguing women inspired me enough to seek out the the rest of the stories. My girlfriend recently bought me the Quantum of Solace: The Complete James Bond Short Stories, the plot lines of which appear in many of the movies. Noticing a much wider breadth of drinking than I had recognised before, it got me wondering – What does James Bond Drink?

Bourbon whiskey
Scotch whisky
Vodka martini
Brandy or Cognac
Gin or undetermined martini
Red wine
Straight vodka
White wine
Vodka and tonic
Gin and tonic
Old Fashioned
Undetermined whiskey
Vesper martini
Canadian whiskey
Korn Schnapps
Black Velvet
Irish Coffee
Japanese whisky
Mint Julep
Pink gin
Rum Collins
Sparkling wine

66 Champagnes, mostly bottles and brand preferences of Bollinger, Tattinger, Dom Perignon and Veuve Cliqout, an average of 7 years in the bottle. 57 Bourbon whiskeys, normally straight up but with ice on occassion, brand preferences of Jack Daniels (Actually a Tennessee Whiskey) & Old Grandad. 42 Scotch Whiskies, Haig & Haig and Black & White. 41 vodka martinis, Shaken not stirred, always with a peel, Smirnoff, Stolichnaya and Finlandia. 37 Sakes, All consumed in You Only Live Twice, Kampai! 24 Brandies or Cognacs, Calvados once, French the rest of the time. 21 Gin martinis, also shaken, Beefeater or Gordons. 21 Red Wines, Mouton Rothschild more than any other. 13 Beers, Lowenbrau, Red Stripe, Miller High Life. 11 straight vodkas, Smirnoff, Stoli, Wolfscmidt and Siamese, occassionally with a pinch of black pepper. 10 vesper martinis, three measures of Gordon’s, one of Smirnoff, one of Kina Lillet, Shaken until it’s very cold and served in a deep wine goblet. 9 white wines, with a preference for Italians. 8 vodka tonics & 7 Gin and tonics. 6 Americanos, always made with Perrier, the cheapest way to improve a poor drink. 6 raki, all consumed in Asia minor. 4 Old Fashioned’s, always made with Bourbon. 4 whisk(e)y’s, of indeterminate origin.  3 Enzian, mad mountain flower schnapps from Austria, similar to Genepey in the French Alps. 3 ouzos, only in Greece. 3 Rums, only in the Carribean. 3 Stingers, the least Bond of all, brandy and creme de menthe. 2 Canadian Whiskeys. 2 Korn Schnapps. 1 Black Velvet, Pure Irish Bond, Guinness and Champagne. 1 Glüwein, in the mountains, of course. 1 each of Irish Coffee, Japanese whisky, Marsala, Mint Julep, Mojito, Negroni, Pink gin, Sazerac, Port, Rum Collins, Sherry, Slivovic, Sparkling wine, Steinhäger and 20 drinks that are not identified in any way.

A couple of other little snippets.

  • Daniel Craig is indeed the best Bond ever, consuming 12 drinks in Casino Royale and 8 in Quantum of Solace. The average consumption is 5.
  • Books are better than movies, Bond consumes 317 drinks in print, compared to 122 on screen.

The James Bond Bar.

If all this has got you wanting to live the James Bond lifestyle, or even maybe watch the back catalogue matching the man one for one, here’s what you’ll need to pull it off.

Apéritifs: Campari, Kina Lillet♣. Beer: Franziskaner, Guinness Stout, Löwenbräu, Miller High Life and Red Stripe. Bourbon: I.W. Harper, Jim Beam, Old Grand-Dad, Walker’s Deluxe. Brandy and Cognac: Calvados, Hennessy. Canadian Whisky: Canadian Club. Gin: Beefeater, Gordon’s, House of Lords, Steinhäger. Japanese Whisky: Suntory. Scotch Whisky: Black & White, Haig and Haig (Pinch or Dimple). Tennessee Whiskey: Jack Daniel’s. Vermouth: Cinzano, Martini & Rossi. Vodka: Absolut, Finlandia, Smirnoff (Red, Blue and Black Labels), Stolichnaya, Wolfschmidt. Other: Enzian, korn schnapps, kummel, ouzo, raki, sake (but only served in large tumblers), sherry, slivovic, white creme de menthe. Champagnes: Bollinger, Dom Perignon, Krug, Pommery, Taittinger, Veuve Clicquot. Wines: Name brands include Calvet, Kavaklidere, Château Angélus and Mouton Rothschild. Besides red wines in general, styles enjoyed by Bond include Chianti, Fondant, Liebfraumilch, Mâcon, Piesporter Goldtröpfchen, Pouilly-Fuissé, Riquewihr, Rosé d’Anjou, Theotaki Aspro, and White Bordeaux. Soda Water: Perrier. Other ingredients: Angostura bitters, Peychaud’s Bitters. Garnishes: Lemon peel, lime.

♣ Kina Lillet is no longer produced, you could try and buy a bottle at auction, but storage of the product means it’s likely to be off. Your best bet is to use Lillet Blanc, and if you’re willing to go the whole hog, find some bark from a Chincona tree. The tree only grows in Peru.

You can find much of this information over at make mine a 007. I’ve just updated the Quantum of Solace stats and added a little of me to the mix.

At home, Cocktail

Quick Friday Fix.

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If you’ve ever tried to explain the taste of a Feijoa to someone who hasn’t been blessed enough to have actually tried one, you’ll know it’s not an easy task.

This seeded pear, a cousin of the guava and basically the only decent thing New Zealand ever stole from the South Americans is the signature taste behind 42BELOW feijoa vodka.

Some people say it tastes great, others say it has a liniment finish, reminiscent of deep heat, or menthol rub. Anyhoo, I’ve bent to tradition and have purchased this great little product, so I’m heading home to imbibe my Friday Fix.

Quick Fix.

Take 30mls (although the drink can take far more) 42BELOW Feijoa vodka, and pour it into a highball glass filled with ice. squeeze in some fresh lime juice, top the whole thing off with CLOUDY apple juice. (it’s just not the same drink without it.) Finish it all off with a stir, sink into the couch, sigh. Repeat until the hurting stops.

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Fog Cutter Friday Fix

a_SmallerGirl-3228It’s a rainy crappy old day here in Sydney, so I’m going home to make a drink that will improve my sodden spirits and to cut through the length and breadth of another week in advertising.

The Fog Cutter is a tiki drink that’s not as sugary sweet as many in the class, but packs the punch of a zombie.

Start with a well iced shaker, add to it 45mls of Havana Club light rum, 15mls brandy, 15mls gin, 45mls orange juice, 15mls lemon juice and 15mls of orgeat. Shake the living fuck out of it.

Strain it into a tall iced glass, or better yet, a Tiki mug, float between 10 and 20 mls of Sherry on the top of the drink, garnish it with a South Seas maiden.

A couple of these and you won’t even notice the cold.

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Manhattan (Perfect)


60 mls Blanton’s Gold Bourbon, 15 mls dry vermouth, 15 mls sweet vermouth.

Add all ingredients to a shaking tin over ice, stir between 12-15 rotations, trying to make all the ice move as one. strain it all into a martini glass and luxuriate over this delightful cocktail. A twist of lemon will finish this one beautifully.

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At home, Cocktail, The Glorious Recipe, Training


Part One in a Four Part Series called The Glorious Recipe


One of the most common elements in modern cocktails is the smoothing and sometimes insipid sweet element. Learning different methods for sweetening cocktails and how to make your own syrup is an essential step to being able to make quality drinks for your guests when you are entertaining. Here are a few to get you started:

Simple Syrup.

The most basic if the sweet family of ingredients. Simply take equal parts white sugar and water and combine. There is much debate over the merits of hold vs. cold, but I have experimented and am yet to find a difference. I generally take 500 gms of sugar and add it to a pot of boiling water, that I have measured out to 500 mls (bless the metric system.) Take the pan off the heat when you add the sugar, and after about ten minutes and a couple of stirs the liquid should be free of sugar crystals. Bottled, it can be kept under refrigeration indefinitely, but you will most likely blow through the 800 odd mls that result from this recipes in two or three nights of irresponsible entertaining.

Demerara and Brown sugars, plus the new low GI cane crystals can be used, with differences in the way the final product will taste.

A note on infusion. Perhaps my single greatest revelation in mixing my own drinks at home was infusing the simple syrup with the flavors of fresh fruits, herbs and spices. Material should be chopped to small, but not obsessive slices or cubes and left to sit for an hour or more. Adding heat will speed the process but can add a stewed or caramelized note to the flavor that is not always welcome in your finished beverage. Personal favorites of mine are Lemon/Lime, made with peel and juice of each fruit; Ginger, with the skin left on to save both time and sanity; Lemongrass, with the stalks chopped and roughly smashed; Fresh Apple, I have found Fuji’s work particularly well; & Fresh Fig, which is surley one of the foods of the gods. (or god, depending on your stance.) The key here is experimentation, and remembering to remove the organic material with a sieve.


While most modern recipes consider gomme and  syrup the same thing, they are in fact somewhat different. Gomme is made by combing a paste made from equal parts Gum Arabic and water with a 2:1 (less sweet) version of the simple syrup above. Gum Arabic comes from unhealthy trees in the Sudan, it was used in the past to adhere ink to newsprint and is one of the constitute ingredients of jelly babies. It can be found at specialty food stores. 

The principle reason for adding Gum Arabic was to stop the sugar in the syrup from crystalizing with the lack of cold storage. It did have a side effect of adding a silkiness to a mixed drink, something now achieved by the addition of raw egg, making gomme the vegan alternative I suppose. Probably only made for notoriety rather than necessity.

Agave Syrup

Equal parts so hot right now and reviled because of the uneconomic nature of having said syrup slowly crystallizing on the rack, Agave Syrup is a low GI alternative to using Simple Syrup. The product is made from the Agave Plant, or more specifically, it’s core, ‘sweet cactus juice’ would probably be quite an accurate description of its provenance. Agave Syrup does carry a little hint of the sawdusty note found in Tequila, but a Tommy’s Margarita, which is made with this stuff, is possibly the nicest, smoothest, most incredible drinkable elixir I have ever laid my lips on.

Corn Syrup

Basically the reason America is fat, corn syrup is great at making things sweet, and ridiculously cheap to produce. It can be found flavouring everything from your Coke to your Cheetos. It should never sweeten your drink.

Agricole Syrup

Essentially the cane sugar syrup that is used to make Agricole rum. Can be used to great effect, especially if you can buy a bottle of both the Rhum and the syrup it came from. Tikilicious!

Artificial Sweeteners

Are acceptable, but are generally not used in bars due to the pesky nature of the complex chemicals and the way the streak up glassware, even when its put through a high temperature cycle.


Are basically syrups with some booze added.

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