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.

November is Tequila Month

I was drinking the tequila with the lemon and salt.

Some people call it training wheels, some call it a waste of good tequila, I’m going out on a limb to say most people experience tequila for the first time with a couple of aids; lemon, salt and perhaps a little bit of a death wish.

It remains the fastest way to strip your taste buds and render taste as much absent as useless altogether. I have heard many tales of its non-Mexican origins, and it certainly seems to fit amongst such tastebud slamming 80’s creations as the kamikaze.

It was with more than a little surprise I read David Embury’s couple of paragraphs talking of a Mexican friend heading up across the border during Prohibition with a bottle, concealed presumably. He performs the Mexican Itch, a lick of salt, a squeeze of lemon on the tongue and a wash of tequila to follow it down.

Is this much derided ritual a hangover from the cheaply distilled and foul smelling mixtos? While I sit here sipping on an extra anejo, a ritual to eliminate the flavour seems very out of place. Embury obviously felt differently, and outlined his views in a very clear manner.

I’d like to think if he was here and now, in this renaissance of the distilled spirit we are entering, he’d be willing to at least hit a few bottles and maybe reconsider.

I’ll let you know if I find out something else.

photo credit to marmak on flickr

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?

The Glorious Recipe


Part Two in a Four Part Series called The Glorious Recipe.

arm131citrus-fruit-postersThere are many ways to add a sour note to a cocktail. Simply find any of the fruits in the diagram above and  squeeze their juices fresh. Lemon drink just isn’t the same stuff. Really.

The citrusy brilliance will pick up the drink and make it sing.

A quick note on sour mix. It’s rubbish. Don’t fucking bother.

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Gins & Tonic


I am sure that some people will try and tell me that this is not a cocktail. Some may even question the pluralisation of Gin, but i’ve been told its Gins & Tonic by far too many barmen to consider writing it any differently.

The definition of a cocktail I like best is a fine spirit, slightly improved. The Gin & Tonic truly embodies this fine ideal. It is also one of the easiest cocktails in the world to make. Add any quantity of Gin to an iced glass top with tonic and lightly flavor with citrus. tall glasses on a long day, short ones in more serious company.

The choice of Gin again is up to personal preference. Bombay Sapphire is my Dad’s standby, Gordon’s makes a fine G&T, Beefeater too. My own personal favorite is the Tanqueray and Tonic, particularly when its made with the very special and very preeemium Tanqueray No. Ten. Legend has it this Gin is made from the only still at the Tanqueray distillery to escape Hitlers bombers during the blitz. It is a well crafted and very smooth example of the category, and one that works with almost any type of citrus you can lay your hands on. 

Most drinkers will be familiar with swapping lemon for lime, and on occasion orange or grapefruit. I would encourage you to try a decent measure (say squeeze two or three segments into the drink) of Tangelo, Blood Orange, Pomelo, Yuzu frankly, if its citrus it will change the profile of the drink, swap between a few during the course of the night.

My father used to ask for two fingers of Gin, in a glass with no ice, topped with cold tonic. It remains a great drink, so long as you whip through them before they warm up.

Here’s how I like it: at least 60 mls Gin, poured into an ice filled glass. Three segments of whatever citrus is at hand and between 90 and 150 mls of tonic to fill the glass. Savour the taste of the spirit, the cold of the ice, the sour of the citrus and the tangy effervesence that comes with the addition of tonic.

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French 75

picture picture picture picture

Over the weekend I entertained some friends with French 75’s, some slow cooked Italian and a tortuous game of scrabble.

The French 75 is named for the small but powerful artillery piece the French were so enamored with firing at the Germans. 

Recipies vary, but all contain Gin, lemon juice and sugar, topped with Champange. My personal favourite incorporates absinthe, just a few drops in the bottom of the flute, before the rest of proceedings are kicked off.

Mix 3 parts* Gin, I used Beefeater, to 1 part lemon** juice over ice with a small measure of sugar or gomme***, shake briskly over ice and fill flutes about a 1/3 full with this mixture. top with Champagne and garnish with a large twist of lemon peel.

Harry Craddock probably said it best, ‘Hits with remarkable precision.’ 

* say 120mls for four cocktails, ** say 30mls, or almost the juice of an entire lemon (depending on how large the lemon is, of course), you might want to add a touch more sugar if you’re using bone dry Aussie bubbles instead of the French stuff.

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