Melburnians. Forget the Cup and put your money down on this.


Turns out that #baxterchef isn’t the only person from Masterchef willing to turn their hand to pairing dishes with cocktailian creations.

Bombay Sapphire are stepping things up a notch with MasterChef judge Gary Mehigan, matching 10 dishes with each of the botanicals which give Bombay Sapphire its world famous taste. The ‘Urban Turban’ Raj Nagra has put his head together with Sean Forsyth on the cocktails and will be returning to his homeland to celebrate and invigorate the trade.

35 smacks gets you 2 dishes and 2 cocktails, with the option of buying more should you be hungry, thirsty or just greedy.

The event is running at 64 Sutton, a new warehouse venue on the cities upcoming Northern fringe. Places are limited, and it is all only going down between the 10th of November and the 6th of December.

www.projectbotanicals.com.au for all the details and tickets.



Paired Dish

Almond Swizzle Pacific Oysters
Lemon Thyme Collins Crisp Tostaditas with Cured King Fish
Juniper Sublime G&T Blue Swimmer Crab Toasts
Liquorice Hanky Panky Liquorice Grilled Quail
Angelica Negroni Tartine of Field Mushrooms
Coriander Chinese Lantern Vietnamese Rolls with Yellowfin Tuna
Cassia Blackberry Fix Sticky Braised Pork Ribs
Cubeb Berry Fizz Crunchy Chicken Slider
Grains of Paradise Flip White Chocolate & Pepper Berry Cheesecake
Orris Root Aviation Strawberries & Cream

196DISCLAIMER: My team and I are working with Bombay Sapphire to bring this idea to life.


No. 3 London Dry Gin

No 3 London Dry Gin 750ml HR

Packing wise, this gin is a winner from the start. Packaged in a fine white box, beautifully printed, I’ve got a feeling of anticipation usually reserved for the premium end of the whisky and cognac spectrum. The bottle slides out, hand wrapped in a custom printed tissue map of the home of Berry Bros. & Rudd wine merchants. The bottle itself is adorned with the key to the premises at No. 3 St. James Street and closed with a great piece of lead foiling stamped the the merchants Royal Warrant.

Uncorking the bottle you get a massive hit of juniper. The theme of threes is more than just packaging. Three fruits; juniper, grapefruit and orange lie down perfectly with three spices; angelica, coriander and cardamom. Designed as the last word in Gin for a Dry Martini by a man with a doctorate in distillation, the liquid certainly doesn’t disappoint.

46% abv makes it a pleasure in a G&T, particularly when you pair things up with a quality Quina Fina tonic and a decent squeeze of lemon. The juniper is a standout in a super Dry Martini, and I liked a 5:1 ratio with Dolin that I’ve just sucked down too.

This is the perfect gin to supercharge your Gin classics for the holidays. The spirit of cricket might have taken a beating these last few days in Australia but you shouldn’t think that everything English has gone past date. London Dry Gin defines a style as old as modern drinking for a reason, as a category it is great and this is its epitome.

Brandwise, this is a beautifully conceived and executed example. The story is inextricably welded to an authentic history. The paper hand wrapping of each bottle, like the proprietors have been turning out of St. James St more than 300 years. The spirit is distilled in the copper pots in Schiedam, Holland, where the original gin the British stole improved upon came from.

$80 a bottle from Nicks. Not the cheapest of juniper liquids in this country but a delightful change up to the citrus driven English and more floral craft gins on the market.

An excellent gift or treat to any lover of Mother’s Ruin.


Four Pillars Gin


Four Pillars Gin launched last night in Sydney, a few days after bottles of the 1st batch began to drop into the mailboxes of Pozible funders around the country.

An obvious passion project between two lovers of the juniper spirit, it is a worthy addition to the current crop of homegrown spirits producers starting their journey around the country. They’ve made their home on the edge of the wine producing Yarra Valley in Victoria, sourcing water and a measure of inspiration from their locale.

Distilled to epitomise a modern style of Australian gin, juniper and citrus take a back seat to more subtle cardamom, star anise, coriander seed and cinnamon. Australian botanicals, namely the Tasmanian pepperberry leaf and lemon myrtle also make an appearance. Lovers of a London Dry will be disappointed with the lack of up front in this gin, but you’d be wrong to assume that a lack of juniper dominance signals a lack of complexity in the taste. There are classic matches, with orange, cardamom and cinnamon passing over the palate in an elegant fashion.

This gin is softer than the English batting line up. It will provide an elegant stage for the country’s bartenders to experiment with and will bring many Australians claiming not to be gin drinkers into the fold. The toned down citrus notes come alive when a squeeze is added to your gin and tonic. In a martini it can get lost a little in the vermouth, but I’m hanging out for a homegrown Australian version with Four Pillars and the Regal Rouge. It is good in a negroni, settling down into a unique, if slightly floral take on the drink.


It’s an elegantly designed package, with foiling on the label and and individual batch numbering beneath the foil closure and cork. The copper foiling is a well planned allusion and story starter for the center of the brands universe, a gorgeous Carl still named Wilma. Copper is a key brand element again in the extremely covetable cocktail shakers the team have produced for launch.


With only 420 bottles in each release, this is unashamedly small batch and craft in every imaginable way. There are plans afoot too for a barrel aged Old Tom, calling on the local vineyards for some ancient aging stock, whispers of a fresh take on Sloe and a series of seasonal releases based on local botanicals, like the unbelievably delicious native finger lime. Plenty then to get excited and keep an eye out for.

You should buy a bottle to enjoy over the Christmas period, it’s a local passionate project that will be the perfect foil for long, lazy afternoons watching the Australians school the English on something they took to the world. Something of a metaphor for the ambition of this gin.

Look for this on the back bars of anyplace small, or at Camperdown Cellars Parramatta rd, Elizabeth Bay Cellars, Salt meats Cheese in Sydney. Trade distribution again through the team at Vanguard. RRP in the high sixties.


The New Blue

1421596_495936597171695_610339872_nCheck out the new West Winds bottlle! Gorgeous colour and the thicker base takes it a step away from the first edition wine bottle, while retaining that connection to the Margaret River wine region it calls home.

Like the cheeky treatment in this poster too. Possibly the most relevant Bombay has been in some time.

What do you think?




Jason Williams Beefeater 24Old news now, but finally found a half decent shot of local lad done good, Jason Williams.

You can try the drink, Werewolves of London, that has won him global acclaim at The Rook here in Sydney.

He’s won a trip to Japan next year, to learn about tea, which gives the Beefeater 24 its unique flavour and a product mention in this post.

You’d think he’d look happier about it, maybe those rumours about Gin making you depressed are true.



On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me….

Premium-Ginvent-XLarge Premium-Whisky-Advent-XLarge

Check out this for a fantastic Christmas gift idea.

24 little bottles of joy to celebrate your way through to Christmas, or hold back and drink yourself agog in an avalanche of Christmas cheer.

As for what is in the box, the premium whisky is not defined but given what they have available you should expect it to be quite the bundle of joy.

The standard whisky is choc full of non standard whiskies;  Yamazaki 12 Year Old, Grants 25 Year Old, Evan Williams Single Barrel, Mackmyra Brukswhisky, Bowmore 15 Year Old, Scapa 16 Year Old, Glencadam 21 Year Old, Blue Hanger 9th Release, Tomintoul 14 Year Old, Dalmore 18 Year Old, Auchentoshan Three Wood, Chivas Regal 18 Year Old, Yellow Spot 12 Year Old, Talisker Port Ruighe, Nikka Whisky From The Barrel, Balcones Texas Single Malt, Glen Garioch 12 Year Old, Johnnie Walker Platinum, Balvenie 17 Year Old Doublewood, Smooth Ambler 7 Year Old Bourbon, Glenfiddich 15 Year Old Distillery Edition, Balvenie Carribean Cask, The Glenlivet Nadurra and Glenfarclas 40 Year Old.

The craft gin packs in many you won’t have tried on these Australain shores; Masons Dry Yorkshire Gin, Smooth Ambler Greenbrier Gin, Saffron Gin, Herno Gin, Greenhook Ginsmiths Dry Gin, Two Birds London Dry Gin, Professor Cornelius Ampleforth’s Cask-Aged Gin Navy-Strength, Dr. J’s Dry Cambridgeshire Gin, City of London Dry Gin, Bathtub Gin, Langtons No.1 Gin, Cream Gin, Blackdown Sussex Dry Gin, Tarquin’s Handcrafted Cornish Gin, St. George Dry Rye Gin, Cold River Gin, Monkey 47 Dry Gin, FEW American Gin, Geranium London Dry Gin, Dorothy Parker – American Gin, Death’s Door Gin, Filliers Dry Gin 28, Sipsmith London Dry Gin and Breuckelen Glorious Gin

The standard gin box should ensure your mother’s ruin; Colonel Fox’s London Dry Gin, Tanqueray No. Ten, Sloane’s Dry Gin, Gin Mare, Perry’s Tot – Navy Strength Gin, Sacred Gin, Hendrick’s Gin, St. George Terroir Gin, Langley’s No.8 Distilled London Gin, Origin – Arezzo, Italy, Whitley Neill Handcrafted Dry Gin, Boxer Gin, Martin Miller’s, Citadelle Gin, Pinkster Gin, Hayman’s Old Tom Gin, Darnley’s View Gin, No.3 Gin, Warner Edwards Harrington Dry Gin, Junipero Gin, Dodd’s Gin (The London Distillery Company), Spirit of Hven Organic Gin, Zuidam Dutch Courage, Professor Cornelius Ampleforth’s Old Tom Gin,

Buy one for yourself at Masters of Malt. The premium whisky will set you back $421, the craft gin $185, the standard whisky $253 and the standard gin $168


Hoxton Gin

Sometimes it seems like there is a new vodka launched every other day, especially if you read the industry news on a regular basis. There was, however, a story that jumped out at me early this morning detailing the launch of Hoxton Gin by the son of the Maestro himself, Gerry Calabrese.

Gerry has tried to bottle the essence of the artfully quirky suburb of Hoxton. While essence dé Pete Dougherty doesn’t exactly illicit a sharp palate response in my mind, the selection of six botanicals; coconut, grapefruit, ginger, tarragon, juniper and iris certainly sounds intriguing, if just a little bit wrong.

EU regulations declare products labelled gin must carry a predominant flavour of juniper, and this ‘tropical’ product has already courted controversy as to whether or not it should even be labelled as such. The bottle does clearly carry a warning to prospective drinkers.

The signature serve is probably going to raise a few eyebrows as well. Served naked from an ice cold bottle into an ice cold glass, with a simple twist of lemon. An interestingly simple choice from a brand defining itself as a product

Calabrese said in an interview with Drinks Business yesterday that he has already secured over 40 listings in UK bars and aims to reach the 100 mark over the next couple of months, while he has also secured listings with the likes of Coe Vintners and The Whisky Exchange.

“We will also be rolling out in Italy, the US, Russia and Spain,” Calabrese said.

“I just wanted to put a totally new twist on a drink that had lost its appeal to a lot of younger drinkers,” he added. “I just woke up one day with coconut and graprefuit in my head and took it from there.

“It’s been a long process, but I believe we’ve come up with something totally unique and exciting – the first time we’ve been able to say that about gin for a long time.”

Hopefully we see some bottles of this in Australia sometime soon.


Tastes like Summer

I, like many people fond of making a drink, spent much of my summer holiday making up refreshing beverages to speed and soften those long lackadaisical hours.

One of the standouts was this punch, a icy and refreshing mix of Earl Grey infused gin, oleo saccharine, citrus and cheap, citrusy, potable bubbles that Australia does so well. Finish things off with a tray of well iced glasses, sitting on a folded teatowel and garnished with abundant local herbs and I reckon you’re onto a winner.

Antipodean Afternoon Tea‡

750mls Cheap Australian Methode (I used Wolf Blass Eaglehawk) 500mls Earl Grey Infused South Gin, 300mls Oleo Saccharine syrup, and 150mls freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Combine Gin, syrup and lemon juice over ice in the largest jug you have. You can pop the bubbles and add it at the table for a kitsch treat (or get out your sabre, should you be so inclined to the dramatic) stir and serve, leaving the jug out of the sun, as to not unnecessarily speed dilution.

Earl Grey Infused Gin:

I like South Gin, because it is quite lightly floral and goes very well with the Earl Grey Tea. It may however be very difficult to find as production seems to be being scaled back, although at NZ$28 in duty free, it is now quite the bargain. I generally place the bottle in a warm water filled sink for twenty minutes to bring the temperature up a little, then add the gin to four earl grey teabags, stirring occasionally for around ten minutes. After too long it turns very bitter, so maybe taste as you go along. Remove the teabags and pour it back into the bottle, any excess can be used later as it will not go off.

Oleo Saccharine Syrup:

Measure out 500gs of sugar into a bowl. Peel five or six lemons (keep the lemons to juice for the punch,) and give the peel a rough chop. combine he peel and sugar, cover and leave someplace warm, outside in the sun works well. Leave for a few hours, until the sugar is permeated with lemon oils. Add 250 mls warm water and stir until fully dissolved, strain out the peel and bottle, it will keep in a fridge for a few weeks and works well in most drinks that call for sugar and citrus, adding a depth of flavour you won’t get from the juice alone.

‡ May be consumed for Morning Tea or Lunch, should the need arise.

Legends of Bartending, Spirit

Global Product Exclusive: Tradewinds Gin

Gin fans, there’s a new kid in town. Actually, two new kids. They’re brothers and they kick ass.

The one in the clear bottle, he’s the little brother. A refreshing spirit, capped at 40%abv and lovingly washed in the waters of the Margaret River before being shipped out for your enjoyment. He carries a strong punch of citrus, shines in a Gin and Tonic, or in a Martini made with Lillet. Test him in an Aviation, hide a little Creme de Cacao behind him in a 20th Century, Lime him up in a Rickey or a Gimlet. This is a gin that can stand up against anything in the world and it’s being made right here in Australia, by Jason Chan and his band of merry men.

The dude in green, he’s the big brother. Slipped into the bottle at 100 proof (50%abv,) if you’re not careful he’ll knock your fucking block off. The higher percentage give’s “The Cutlass” a great punch at a first sip, what follows is again citurs forward, but with a curious difference. The addition of Australian natives wattle, lemon myrtle and the bush tomato craft a finish that is highly unusual and extremely tasty. Test it out in a Pink Gin, a martini with Noilly Prat, luxuriate over your morning rituals with The Cutlass in your Red Snapper, partner it with pretty much any savoury herb, think Basil, Rosemary or Lemon Thyme. Funk it up a little with any of the savoury teas, Lapsang Soochong goes great guns. This is a singular product that will be talked about and sought after all around the world. There’s also a signature cocktail, that I’ll be whipping up over the weekend.

Yes, those are wine bottles that it comes in, and their are no plans to change that. “The history of Margaret River is the production of really fine wines, we wanted to give a nod to that provenance as we start a new legend or premium spirit production” Chan explains. “We will be etching the bottles as production ramps up”

Distribution is being sorted out right now, it sounds as though Neil Perry is keen to add it to his Beetroot Snapper, Golden Monkey too will be an early Melbourne stockist and Flinders will be one of the first cabs off the rank for you Sydneysiders keen to get a taste too. One of Chan’s partners has connections to an online channel too, so those inside and out of Australia will be able to source a bottle, hopefully without too much trouble.

The Greenhouse, the upcoming pop up concept collaboration between Chan and Dutch born architect Joost Bakker will also be serving up Tradewinds, so get down and check it out when it opens in a couple of weeks time. They’ll be making the tonic water on site, so expect the best G&T’s this side of the Royal Geographic Society.

This is the start of a journey for Chan and his Margaret River Distillery, I hear murmurs of vodka and hopefully much more. The product is awesome, so it’s got to be a space to watch with interest.

Cocktail, Spirit

The third drink of Christmas: Gin

I’m going to go out on a limb and say Gin gets a bad wrap. Seen by many as a depressant, Gin has languished in a heady iniquity since the Industrial Revolution. At the time, Gin was a drink of the poor, consumed by young and old to numb the senses from the horrors of pollution and poverty. The wealthy and the powerful sipped of malt whisky, further condemning the English spirit through regulated taxation.

Despite these obstacles, Gin has maintained a presence in many historical high notes. The most famous dispensing machine, Old Tom, was located in the same lane whence started the Greate Olde Fyre of Londyn. A coincidence? I think not.

On a more personal note, Gin is Christmas to me, from the tickle of delight on my Nana’s face as she enjoyed a prune that had been soaked in gin, or as the fuel for the Grandad to get through the feast day, the juniperous distillate has been ever present.


One of my neighbours growing up started the day with a 8 ounce glass of neat Gin that he distilled in his back shed. I’m guessing that is a little sharp for many these days, so let’s kick things off with a Corpse Reviver Number Two. Equal measures of Gin (I like Beefeater in this drink, but make your own call,) Lillet Blanc (no substitutions here, Cinzano Blanco just won’t do,) freshly squeezed lemon juice and Cointreau (or Triple Sec in a pinch.) Combine the ingredients in a shaker over ice, shake and strain into a coupe that has been rinsed with absinthe. Repeat until you are revived.

The Breakfast Martini is also worth a lash, add a couple of teaspoons of Marmalade to 60mls of Gin, ice, shake and strain up. I like Rose’s Lime Marmalade for this one, but if you have soem made by a relative that is probably much more appropriate at Christmas.

The Earl Grey Martini too, deserves a mention. It does require a little extra effort. Infuse a bottle of gin with 4 tea bags of Earl Grey tea. Try running the bottle under the hot tap first to warm the Gin and speed the process. You need to go by taste here, too long and the Gin will turn and begin to taste chalky, too little and it just won’t be right. The SOUTH Gin by 42Below works amazingly in this role, and at 27 bucks in duty free it is an economical choice too. 60mls of the infused Gin, 20 mls fresh lemon juice and 15-20mls simple syrup will have a supremely tasty drink on deck.


Gins & Tonic are made for a kiwi summer. 60mls of your favourite Gin, three squeezes of fresh, local citrus in a well iced short glass and between 90-150mls of tonic, Qunia Fina if you’re lucky like me.

Tom Collins for those wanting something a touch sweeter and a lot longer. a decent slug of gin, a shot of lemon and a slug of simple syrup or oleo-saccharin, in one of those tall glasses called a Collins glass after this drink. Top with soda and garnish with wedges of lemon.

I’d also recommend the Negroni (really at any time of day,) The Gin & It for a more refined drink,


The 20th Century Cocktail, The Last Word, The Dry Martini, The Monkey Gland. There are simply too many to choose from. Buy a cocktail book and go nuts.

Cocktail, Wine

The first drink of Christmas: Champagne

“Three be the things I shall never attain: Envy, content and sufficient champagne”

Dorothy Parker

Like no other product, Champagne epitomises a collective celebration. Weddings, success and life’s little highlights, the bubbly amalgamation of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier is seen by many as the perfect accompaniment to good old times. What happens however, if you’re lucky enough to have a glut? There are certainly many out there who would believe that there is no such thing.

Regardless, here are a few options to get you underway. These will work just as well, and in some cases greatly improve the product if you’ve got Methode Traditionelle or something else that bubbles.


Perhaps the greatest aspect of the now quasi-religious holiday is that drinking becomes socially acceptable or even expected before the traditional 11 o’clock start point. Hitting the heavier stuff might not be such a grand idea, especially if you’re entertaining an older crew. Cut back the booze with some fruity goodness and get the day started right.

Mimosas & Bellinis

Mimosas mix bubbles and juice together. At the most traditional, use orange juice. I’m always astonished by the number of people who will mix a fifty dollar bottle of bubbles with a two dollar tetrapak of OJ. Show your guests a little bit of love and squeeze the juice fresh. The results will be better than you’ve ever imagined.

1/2 glass Fresh OJ, top with Champagne. For something a little brighter combine 10mls Grand Marnier with 20mls Fresh OJ.

Bellinis call for a puree of fruit. The Italian who came up with the drink used fresh white peaches, if you’d like to do the same, be aware that if you try and make the puree ahead of time it will oxidise and turn a funky brown colour. You could try adding an anti-oxidising agent, like lemon juice, but you’re best just to do it the laborious old fashioned way, to order as they are needed.

1/3 glass White Peach puree, top with Champagne

With both of these, there is huge room for experimentation, use whatever local, ripe, amazing fruit you can get your hands on. The Tokyo Strawberry Bellini is worth a crack too.


Personally, i think lunch is the absolute perfect time for a sparkling glass. But if you must have something that’s been adulterated, let me suggest the Imperial Mojito, The French 75 or perhaps a delicious punch.

The Sparkling Ginger Daisy & The East Hollywood Sparkling Sangria over at Sloshed! also are going to be making it on my Christmas drinks list.


While the classic Champagne cocktail is a great way to start any night, I’d also recommend changing the Gin for Cognac in your French 75. Alternatively, try this:

Ritz Cocktail

22.5mls ounce Cognac (Hennessy), 15mls Cointreau, 15mls Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur, 15mls  Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice,  Champagne (approximately 90mls) stir all but the Champagne over ice, strain up and top with champagne.   Garnish with a flamed orange peel




Get into a Vesper

Most people in this world think it proper to take Gin when you are having a Martini. I am one of them.

There are a few misguided souls who seems to think that chilled vodka, placed within a reasonable vicinity of an unopened vermouth bottle also constitutes a Martini. They are, undoubtedly, wrong.

However, there is one drink that bridges the sides in this sometimes ugly argument. It was created by a hero of men, a seducer of women, a killer true and orphaned servant of her Royal Majesty. I’m talking of course, of James Bond.

There’s always something special about a drink inspired by a lady, and the Vesper is certainly one of them. Plenty has been written about the history of the drink, the fact it is mentioned in the first Bond novel to be published, the fact the original recipe called for Kina Lillet, a now extinct product featuring the bitter quinona bark, famously used to flavour tonic water throughout the Empire.

One thing that you don’t read everywhere is why Bond actually ordered it. Fleming was foreshadowing the doubt in Bond’s mind over the loyalty of Vesper Lynd. While those of you who have only seen the movie won’t know it, Bond was actually out there fighting СМЕРШ. A Soviet controlled spy ring, tasked with the spread of communism and the elimination of western spies. By calling a mostly English Gin drink tainted with a lick of Russian vodka a Vesper, it is the subtle plant of doubt that will unfold in the next few chapters of the book. Vesper is a double agent.

The Vesper.

60mls Gordons Gin, 20mls Stolichnaya V0dka, 10 mls Lillet Blanc. Combine all ingredients over ice and shake until it is very cold. Strain up and inhale… Looks and tastes mighty tasty. Garnished always with a thick peel of lemon.

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”


The 20th Century Cocktail

I do love a drink that comes with a story. After being rebuffed in her request for a Last Word last week, my girlfriend was instead offered up the 20th Century Cocktail as an alternative.

This drink first appeared in print 1937, in the Cafe Royal Bar Book. Many of my online colleagues link the drink to the Art Deco beauty of Henry Dreyfus and his NYC Hudson train casings, While the drink was named for the train that ran between NYC and Chicago, Dreyfus’s design didn’t roll the rails until 1938, so maybe it was the drink that inspired the design.

The 20th Century Limited was the height of luxury, the train was refined in every way, with plush crimson carpets cushioning the travelers feet as they alighted at either end of the journey, men were given carnations, women flowers and perfume, the overall experience coining the phrase “the red carpet treatment” and starting a tradition that lives on today.

The drink is the equal of its story, lemon, herb and the strength of Gin, hiding a luxurious chocolate finish. Stunning.

The 20th Century Cocktail.

45mls Gin, 20mls Lillet Blanc, 15mls Creme de Cacao, 20mls freshly squeezed Lemon juice.

Shake and strain up, garnish with a twist of lemon.

Cocktail, MixMarch

MixMarch #31: The Last Word

Wow, March has sure flown by. A trip to New Zealand, some of the finest drinks I’ve laid lips on, the delivery of, if not a library of cocktail books, at least a start. Embury, Thomas, Wondrich, Calabrese, DeGroff & Ted Haigh all arrived to learn me some good mixing. Jerry Thomas even friended me on facebook! Not bad for a man who’s been dead 125 years.

I’ve managed well more than a post a day for the month of March, picked up some new readers and even a few who make a comment or two. It’s time for me now to get back out into the bars of Sydney (plus a little jaunt to Melbourne at the end of April)

I was trying to think of an appropriate cocktail with which to conclude MixMarch, and one stood out above all others. The Last Word is another of those fine cocktails to balance perfectly at equal measures, and this Carthustian elixir delivers a chewy, full and ultimately delightful finish.

The Last Word.

20mls each of Green Chartreuse, Gin, Maraschino liqueur & freshly squeezed lime juice. Shake over ice and strain up. The last word requires no garnish, simply a quiet reflection on a day well spent and a drink well deserved.

Cocktail, Melbourne, MixMarch

MixMarch #30: The 1951 Martini

One of the joys of Cocktail World Cup in Queenstown was listening to Vernon Chalker, Australia’s Most Infulential Person in the Bar Industry, wax lyrical about his first and favourite love, the Martini.

It is the simplest of drinks often butchered. A martini should have two ingredients, three at a push, with a garnish that compliments the drink. Lightning in a bottle, perfection in a glass, simplicity personified. A Dry Martini, well made, does not need anything else.


What if you add something else? A small change, a tweak, a nuance? something that adds layers and mystique?

This Martini won a Martini competition in 1951. It is excellent. There truly are no other words.

The 1951 Martini

Take an extremely cold martini glass and aromatise it with Cointreau. This can be done by pouring a little in the glass, swooshing it round and expelling any excess. You could also use one of those little spray bottles too. The object is to coat the glass with a film of the Orange liqueur.

In an iced tin, stir a healthy splash of vermouth to coat the cubes and dissolve any cheeky shards of ices, discard the liquid, retaining the ice. Pour in between 60 and 90 mls of Gin, I like Tanqueray, but decide for yourself. The amount of gin should reflect your thirst and the size of your vessel. Strain into the aromatised glass and adorn with an anchovy stuffed olive.

The oily film of liqueur, the funky anchovy in the olive, the dryness of the martini. Damn this drink works.

Cocktail, MixMarch

MixMarch #19: The Bronx

David demands drinks definitively dry. The Bronx delivers, and how.

My second delve into The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks landed me in New York. Everyone knows the Manhattan, not so many have an intimate knowledge of the Bronx. This Gin strong, dry cocktail with a hint of herb each way from the pair of vermouths really impressed me. It was, like a lot of the drinks Embury favours, bone dry on the first sip, but the second sip was bliss. This one is a new fast favourite.

From a more historical perspective, The Bronx was number 3 on a list of the top ten most popular cocktails in 1934. Oh! how far the mighty have fallen…

The Bronx Cocktail.

7.5mls Sweet Vermouth (Martini Rosso), 7.5mls Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat), 7.5mls Freshly squeezed orange juice, 45mls Yellow Gin (Tanqueray 10) combine all ingredients over ice, shake and serve up, with a twist of orange peel.

I am sure someone will call me on the fact the Tanqueray is not Yellow Gin. I concur, Yellow Gin is very hard to come by, being London Dry Gin aged in oak casks. It would be more proper to use Oude Genever perhaps, but I am all tapped out after my recent escapades in the Land of Dutch Gin. I would also be interested in a known source of Yellow Gin, should one become available…

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…

Cocktail, MixMarch

MixMarch #9: The White Lady

This cocktail was definitely invented by Harry, this is however, quite a bit of debate over which Harry. Harry at Ciro’s Bar printed a recipe for the White Lady in 1919, and while this is the first mention of the drink in print, the recipe calls for the use of Creme de Menthe instead of Gin, resulting in a very different drink.

Harry Craddock, bartender of The Savoy, committed his version to print in the 1930 edition of The Savoy Cocktail Book. His calls for 1/2 Gin, 1/4 Cointreau, 1/4 fresh lemon juice. He apparnetly had a lot of success plying comedians Laurel and Hardy with the drink. Harry from Paris later said he started using Gin in 1929, but there’s no written proof.

It’s the gin one I’m talking about, and the recipe I’ve used is a bit of a  mix of the Savoy and Embury’s version.

The White Lady.

42mls Gin (I’ve used Beefeater), 15mls cointreau, 15mls lemon juice, 2tsp egg white. Shaken hard over ice and strained up. garnished with a twist of lemon. Serve on a moonlight night. delicious.

Another reason I’m a big fan of this drink is the connection string it has to popular culture. Many of you will have heard on the 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon, this drink is connected to someone way more famous.

I wonder if anyone can tell me what the connection is to this man?

Cocktail, MixMarch

MixMarch #6: The Jabberwocky Cocktail

My sneaky little taste of the Hendricks cordial got my mind whirring. Here is an infusion of the notoriously hard to find cinchona bark, with the addition of bitter orange and floral notes. Could this not, indeed, be used as and addition to Lillet Blanc to approximate the long extinct Kina Lillet? I will have to try this out next time i’m with Marty and his wondrous bottle in Melbourne.

Given the source of said bottle being the twisted mindspace of Lewis Carrol I thought it only proper to bring to light an inspired drink from the Savoy Cocktail Book, the Jabberwocky.

The Jabberwocky

30mls Dry Gin, 30mls Dry Sherry, 25mls Lillet Blanc, 5mls Hendricks Tonic Cordial. Stir over ice with a runcible spoon and serve up. Garnished with lemon peel, preferably cut with a Vorplal Sword.

Just in case that all seems a little obtuse, i suggest reading this:

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! and through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
He chortled in his joy.

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

by Lewis Carroll

Cocktail, MixMarch

MixMarch #3: Gin & It

Here’s a drink recipe I stumbled onto last night and just had to try.

I have written at some length of my love for the Negroni, and indeed all gin based cocktails; I even touched on the Negroni’s predecessor and its place as a literary libation of everyone’s favourite secret agent.

For some reason the obvious had escaped me, Gin & It. The simple dance of Gin and Italian Vermouth. A non bitter Negroni, or perhaps just a herby gin. yuss.

Invented sometime last century, the Gin & It shakes apart a modern miscarriage whereby vermouth is something to be wafted from the other side of the room or diluted in ratios ranging from 1:12 to 1:50. This drink calls for equal measures, or perhaps as far as Embury takes it in 1948, 3:1 in favour of Gin.

I agree with Embury, and in the interceeding 62 years, distillery has come a long way. Gin is a far milder mistress and won’t make you blind or generally any more depressed. It deserves the bigger role. Picking up a gold statuette for Best Actress in a supporting role, however, is Sweet Italian Vermouth. Her dark looks and the deep, herby flavours even the briefest kiss lets linger. Well, delicious, more words only cloud the issue.

The Gin & It

60mls Tanqueray Gin, 20mls Italian Vermouth. Stirred, over ice. Strained up and adorned by the simplest of garnishes, the peel of lemon.

Rush home and try three now.


Quoth the Raven , Nevermore – Beefeater Crown Jewel Gin Discontinued

Put this in any liquid thing you will
    And drink it off, and if you had the strength
    Of twenty men, it would dispatch you straight.
ACT V. Scene I. Romeo & Juliet

Some love affairs are doomed right from the start. I feel like I’ve found rock genius just before she dies of an overdose.

Beefeater came to market with Crown Jewel back in 1993 when premium hadn’t been eclipsed by super and uber as the top rungs of the spirit ladder.

In an epic purple bottle with the legend of the Tower ravens ion the reverse. The legend states that the ravens must be found at the Tower, else the Tower and the Monarchy shall fall. The Ravens have all been killed at least once, during the Blitz when Germany bombed London. They were repopulated, and continue to be, hanging out next to the Bloody Tower in the care of a Beefeater with the fantastic title, the Raven Master.

I digress however, the Gin itself is an epic flavour hit. Full of Juniper and none of the softness that seems to be in favour with 24 and Oxley with their grapefruity tastes. bottled at 50%ABV it makes a great and quite lethal martini.

The Gin has recently been discontinued, but can be found at the astonishingly cheap price of $34 for a liter at the Wellington Airport in New Zealand, almost worth risking death in landing there.

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.


Oxley Gin

Oxley Gin bottleTwo real treats arrived for me off the plane from England. First, my good friend Marty, back from a couple of years as Brand Ambassador and general rapscallion for 42 Below over in England. The second treat was the hip flask of Oxley Gin Martin had slipped into his luggage.

I had first heard bout Oxley over at the Dizzy Fizz, and a few times on Twitter. Marty managed to fill in a few more juicy details.

Oxley has been developed by Bacardi, in response to an acknowledgement that the traditional style, premium Gin segment is growing very quickly and that the stalwart of their portfolio, Bombay Sapphire, doesn’t really deliver a good enough juniper hit amongst its 12 beautiful, if a little floral, botanicals.  Bombay uses the Carter Head still, reckoned by many to be the pinnacle of distillation.

Oxley is a big step away from the Carter Head still. Bacardi have patented a new type of still, to produce the spirit at sub zero temperatures. At sea level, the world over, alcohol is known to boil away at 78.3 degrees Celsius and water at 100. It is precisely this gap that makes the wonderful process of distillation possible. What some smart bastard at Bacardi must have noticed is that boiling points drop at higher altitude. Boiling a pot of water on Everest will only be tepid, as opposed to piping hot. Getting stuff to boil at sub zero temperature requires considerably more effort, there being no mountains higher than Everest and running a still in an unpressurized plane being frightfully expensive.

Now, according to the marketing spiel, the process is a closely guarded secret, distillation occurs at -5, then at -100 the vapour is cooled back into pure, lovely Gin. It does sound  very fancy and hard to work out. However, it’s really not. Those standard temperatures for boiling are at 760 mm Hg, which is an expression of pressure, as measured by mercury in a vacuum, or barometer, as it has come to be known. What Bacardi have done is to create a still whose pressure can be cranked down to a mere 12.6mm Hg approximately 1/350 of the normal pressure on earth. Which pretty much means they create an environment pretty close to the atmospheric pressure on the Moon. (actually about ten times the Moon’s pressure, but it’s a factor of ten we can’t really measure). Water would boil around 11 degrees at that pressure.

The point of all this physics (for any of you who are still reading) is that in normal distallation, the heat quite literally cooks the botanicals, degrading them and bringing out odd tastes, the freezy method means the 14 botanicals that Oxley includes stay snap frozen fresh. The result is a Gin that is very smooth, with good juniper and a nice balance of grapefruits. A little less spicy than the Beefeater 24, but very much its own thing as well.

The leather strapping, the tin bucket, the four day a week production schedule, the 240 bottle batches, the individual numbers all point toward a pretty special product. The 60 pound price tag will be seen by many (including me) as taking the piss, in the same way Absolut’s  Level did with vodka.

All that said, I can’t wait to try it in a martini.

At home, Cocktail

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.”

At home, Cocktail

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.

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.

Cocktail, Spirit, Sydney

Moore’s Vintage Dry Gin

GIN-700mlOne of the real gems that I found at the Bar Show was Moore’s Vintage Dry Gin, produced only an hour’s drive (on a good day without traffic) outside of Sydney at the St. Fiacre Distillery on the beautiful central coast.

Handcrafted by self proclaimed wizard of the still, Philip Moore, this Vintage Dry Gin is the product of a sevenfold blend of vapour infused distallates. These are produced in a Carter Head still.

Now you may have noticed a level of explanation that I don’t usually go to, and there is a very good reason for that. There are only reckoned to be five operational Carter Head stills on this green earth and guess who has used one to produce a delightful, delicate Gin that has taken the world by storm? who else but Hendricks, of course. They too blend a number of infused distillates together to create their masterpiece.

Where Hendricks could be taken as a Scottish thumbing of noses at the bastions of English Gin conventions, Moore’s is an unashamedly Australian affair. A strong and pleasantly oily citrus base of grapefruits, Tahitian limes and wild limes from Queensland forms the base flavour and takes it towards Tanqueray Ten or Beefeater 24 territory. Setting this Gin firmly on its own in the marketplace is the addition of four Australian botanicals. Cinnamon Myrtle, Coriander seeds, Illawarra Plum and Macadamia nut give a very different finish, smooth, subtle and pleasurably different.

The branding is a bit crap, it certainly doesn’t do the product inside the bottle justice and with my marketing hat on it’s going to be tough for the brand to have the sort of success that Hendricks has, with the way its speaking now.

However, you should still find yourself a bottle, because (1) its great to have a local product that has been made this well and tastes this good, (2) you can be the cool kid introducing something before everyone knows about it, (3) It will be amazing in a long G&T or Collins this Sydney summer and (4) you can’t buy this in America (and with FDA approval of non-US native botanicals being what it is, you maybe never will be)

Philip Moore also produces a range of Australian liqueurs (38.00), which are on sale alongside the Gin (49.95) on the St. Fiacre Distillery web store if you can’t find it in a local store, or make the trip up the coast.

There’s a reason I mention the liqueurs. I’d like to update a David Wondrich cocktail to make something a little more local.

The Central Coast Classic.

60 mls Moore’s Vintage Dry Gin, 10 mls Native Plant Spirits Mandarin Liqueur, a couple of dashes of Fee’s Rhubarb Bitters. Give that a good stir over ice in a tin, and strain it over a couple of big ice cubes in an old fashioned glass and I have been garnishing pretty much everything with the peel of those amazing blood oranges that are in season right now.



Barcelona Gin


I believe the first cocktail I ever made was a Gin & Tonic. My father taught me how to pour two fingers of Gin into a glass, top it with cold tonic and add a slice of lemon. While I now ice the glass, Dad’s two finger instruction has proved a winner, growing with me as my hand size and tolerance increased.

My early exposure has meant that no matter how much I’ve learnt, or which spirit I have developed a lusty affair for, Gin remains the ‘proper’ drink, be it in a Monkey Gland, Martini or bubbling fresh with tonic and squeeze. I’m always interested in new entrants, and I must admit the new Port of Barcelona has whet my appetite for the juniper gods once more.

Now, I haven’t been lucky enough to receive a bottle like Rick at Martini Groove, but there were a couple of things that piqued my interest when I read through the scuttlebutt online.

First, it seems like good value, $30 for a triple distilled, 13 botanical Gin. Quality that won’t bruise the wallet.

Secondly, it flies in the face of convention, many of the new Gins that have been released in the last few years have focussed on being ‘cocktailing’ spirits. Attempting to become an open book for bartenders to play with has seen the juniper content dialed down (juniper gives Gin it’s Ginnyness) and light tasting spirits that are really Gin masquerading as vodka become the norm. Port of Barcelona sounds as though they have gone for a full flavored, but balanced approach, with juniper, citrus, vanilla and star anise featuring in a big buttery Gin.

Can’t wait to see if it lives up to the billing.


The Old Fashioned

Picture 4

On May 13, 1806, The Balance and Colombia Repository printed the first known definition of the word “cocktail”

`Cocktail, then, is a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water and bitters it is vulgarly called a bittered sling`

This somewhat unsavoury sounding mix is what we today call the Old Fashioned. 

Like almost all things alcohol related, there are disputes as to who coined the name instead of it just remaining ‘Cocktail,’ the members of the Pendennis Club claimed for some time in their blustery Colonel Sanders way that the name belonged to a Bourbon Cocktail made in the club. David Wondrich, who looks not dissimilar to a member of the Pendennis Club, discounted this theory by uncovering a wealth of examples of the use of the word prior to the Club’s foundation in 1880.

But I digress.

The Old Fashioned Cocktail

Take a sugar cube* and douse it in three or four belts from a bottle of Angostura Bitters, slide this into the bottom of an Old Fashioned glass. I use at least 60 of good quality Bourbon in my version, Maker’s Mark would be a fine choice. Add a little of the Bourbon, with a couple of pieces of ice and start stirring. Keep adding a little more Bourbon, a little more ice and perhaps around 15 mls water. 

The result is an amazingly balanced, rich and seductive elixir. 

*I prefer to use a cube of sugar as the time it takes to get it to dissolve is around the same time it take to mellow this drink to a superior level.


This cocktail is amazingly adaptable, you can change out the spirit for a Rye Whiskey, Brandy, Cognac or Rum.

At Toko on Crown St they do a Old Fashioned with Junipero Gin and there is a fashionable trend for Tequila Old Fashioneds around the world right now.

Once you’ve tried a variety of spirits, perhaps making a move on to changing out the bitters. Peychaud’s, Fee Brothers Peach or Orange Bitters, even Aperol or Campari. I’ll post an article later in the week about the process of homemaking bitters as well, to really change things up.

This really is a drink for the ages, we’ll be putting this up against the Trans-Galactic GargleBlaster when we make it to the restaurant at the end of time.

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