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Great British Cocktails

Great British Cocktails

There has been lot in the papers (and apps) about Great Britain in this last month and it got us thinking; regardless of your political opinion, there is one great thing that we can all agree on – Great British Cocktails!

 

Last month I wrote about Caribbean Cocktails, which tend to be very colourful and sometimes considered a little tacky. Well, this month we are going down a completely different road. We’re celebrating the stiff upper lip, the punchy cocktails and the undeniable elegance in service. Britain is lucky to have access to the world’s ingredients, as well as having our own fantastic products; but this hasn’t always been the case. Great Britain came onto the ‘modern’ cocktail seen quite late for a couple of simple reasons; 1) We don’t naturally grow exotic fruits, 2) We have always had good quality alcohol available and haven’t needed to disguise the taste. Sometimes, us Brits have a tendency to forget that we are a country made up of influences from all over the world; people, ingredients and ideas – but this is to be celebrated and embraced.

 

Bramble

Considering my previous paragraph, it is of no surprise that when we look into the Bramble, a very traditional Scottish cocktail, that one of the best ingredients is French! So, what is a

Dick Bradsell, creator of the Bramble

bramble and what’s it’s story? Well, it was created by a chap called Dick Bradsell; originally from the Isle of Wighte, although working in Fred’s Club, Soho at the time. Dick is a very modest man and simply describes this cocktail as a Gin sour with a bit of Creme de Mure; he’s not wrong but its not quite the glamour this contemporary classic deserves! The Bramble is a finely balanced cocktail, celebrating top quality Gin and creating memories of picking blackberries as a child. So why the name? Simple; the Bramble is a small prickly shrub that grows blackberries on it. So without further ado, please study the recipe below and wow all of your friends at future soirées (another Great British phrase!)

 

Ingredients

Bramble

25ml Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice

12.5ml Sugar Syrup

50ml Hendrick’s Gin

12.5ml Lejay Lagoute Creme de Mure

Cubed and Crushed Ice

 

Method

Fill your Whiskey Glass with Crushed Ice, making a small point (or a volcano as Dick Adsell calls it)

Add Cubed Ice to your Boston Mixing Glass to about 3/4 full

Pour Lemon Juice, Sugar Syrup and Gin into your mixing glass

Pop the Boston Tin on top of the Boston Glass shake vigorously until you hear the ice change texture, remove and discard the Glass

Using your Hawthorne Strainer, pour your ice cold ingredients over the Crushed Ice

Now drizzle the Creme de Mure on top and watch it marble its  way through the drink

Dick says that he garnished with a Raspberry because that’s all he had, however a Blackberry would be a more appropriate garnish.

 

Blood Orange Julep

It would be very easy to move onto another Gin cocktail, as us Brits do love our Gin! However, let’s be more creative than that, lets look at some top quality British ingredients that come

Owner, Josh Pugh

together to create an incredible cocktail for everyone to enjoy – Blood Orange Julep. This is an NJAC creation after we first tried the Wiltshire Liqueur Company’s, Blood Orange Liqueur. Head Mixologist, Josh Pugh, felt compelled to create something truly British and Delicious. The Julep is traditionally made with Bourbon, Sugar and Fresh Mint, so you can see that it wasn’t a straight forward process to create something so light and fruity. It is important to remember that this is still a short drink and should sipped (responsibly).

 

Ingredients

Blood Orange Julep

Bar Spoon Lemon Juice

12.5ml Sugar Syrup

25ml Wiltshire Liqueur Blood Orange

32.5ml Black Cow Vodka

Sprig of Fresh Mint

Cubed and Crushed Ice

 

Method

Fill you (British) Copper Cup with Crushed Ice

Add Cube Ice to your Boston Mixing Glass to about 3/4 full

Pour Lemon Juice, Sugar Syrup, Blood Orange Liqueur and Vodka into your mixing glass

Pop your Boston Tin on top and shake vigorously until you hear the texture of the ice change. Remove and discard the glass

Pour the ice cold ingredients over the crushed and churn the crushed ice with a bar spoon. Keep filling up with crushed ice and churning with a bar spoon until the cup is full.

Garnish with a Mint Sprig and sip with a straw.

 

Happy Cocktail Mixing Great Britain!

Caribbean Cocktails

Caribbean Cocktails

Summer is coming and the 80’s are back!

We have seen a huge increase in demand for 80’s cocktails this year, and we couldn’t be happier. We’re talking Daiquiri, Sex on the Beach, Piña Colada, Mojito even the Blue Hawaii! Some may roll their eyes at the return of the hurricane glass or perhaps fear a resurgence from the sparklers, but others will be excited by the nostalgia of the sunshine cocktails.

 

Regardless of the stigma attached to these drinks, it is our job to listen to demand and alter the ingredients to modern taste, and ensure our high standard. Any cocktail has the potential to be as delicious and discerning as the Martini and Manhattan, but the base of the cocktail must be a solid one. This is exactly what we found when we were asked to create a Piña Colada for a Caribbean-style wedding this summer.

 

Piña Colada

The base of this cocktail is typically Caribbean; citrus juice, rum and a whole lot of ice! Pineapple juice adds the perfect level of sugar to balance the lime juice, and the coconut cream lowers the acidity which is uncomfortably high.

 

Ingredients

Pina Colada

25ml Havana Club Rum 3 Year Old

25ml Havana Club Rum 7 Year Old

50ml Coconut Cream

25ml Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice

50ml Eager Pineapple Juice

Cubed and Crushed Ice

 

Method

Fill your cocktail shaker with ice. Add all non- alcoholic ingredients.

Pour both alcoholic ingredients. Shake vigorously for 20 seconds. Fill your hurricane or wine glass with crushed ice. Strain your drink into the glass.

Garnish elegantly with a simple lime. Enjoy your smooth, creamy, exotic cocktail.

 

Bahama Mama

Now, this next cocktail is really going to get the discerning cocktail connoisseurs up in arms and screaming sacrilege! But as mentioned before, if a cocktail has a good base, we can turn it into something delicious, and the Bahama Mama has exactly that. Yes, you may recognise the name from the all-inclusive cocktail list, yes, it is bright red and yes it is tacky, but trust me, this drink is a must have in the sunshine!

 

Ingredients

Bahama Mama

25ml Appleton Estate Rum V/X

25ml Havana Club Rum 3 Year Old

25ml Koko Kanu Liqueur

3 Dashes Angostura Bitters

50ml Orange Juice

35ml Pineapple Juice

25ml Grenadine Syrup

 

Method

Fill your cocktail shaker with ice. Add Orange Juice and Pineapple Juice. Pour all alcoholic ingredients. Shake vigorously for 20 seconds. Fill a large glass (preferably Hurricane) with crushed ice. Strain your drink into the glass. Drizzle the Grenadine over the drink. Garnish elegantly with a pineapple wedge. Enjoy your sweet and punchy Caribbean classic.

 

Why is Gin So Popular?

Which Gin is Your Favourite?

So, we’re in a bit of a Gin craze right now, if you hadn’t noticed! The drinks industry is the same as all the rest; it has fashions and they go in cycles; what is most interesting about the Gin fashion, is that it goes against a lot of the other current fashions of drinks becoming sweeter. We are currently seeing Champagne be replaced by the lighter and sweeter Prosecco, the infamous, yet dry, Rioja being replaced by the rounded and fruity Malbec and the basic spirit and mixer by the naturally sweeter cocktail. So why is Gin so popular again and which Gins are the ones to watch?

Let’s perhaps start with why Gin is so dry. Well ironically, in the early 1800’s it was sweetened after the distillation process, due to the poor taste from the methods used to make the Gin (a common trend in the alcohol world!). However, once the current distillation process was implemented, it allowed Gins to be ‘cleaner’ and more ‘neutral’ and therefore it didn’t need to be sweetened anymore. So, the distillation process makes the Gin quite dry, but so do the traditional botanicals that are used. Botanicals are essentially flavourings for Gin and the lead botanical for London Dry Gin is Juniper; naturally very dry. Finally, how do 9/10 people drink their Gin? With the extremely dry mixer; tonic water. This of course does not mean that the Gin is dry, but it certainly makes us associate the spirit with a dry profile.

You’ll notice that I mentioned the sweetening of Gin in the 1800’s to be ironic earlier, this is because we are now seeing many gins being flavoured and sweetened again. So perhaps it isn’t that surprising that Gin is coming back into fashion; it is indeed following the trend of all other drinks and becoming sweeter. Of course the term London Dry Gin actually refers to the specific process used to make London Dry Gin and not where the Gin is made. So we are seeing a lot of distillers make just Gin, as oppose to London Dry, which really appeal to the modern taste and have branding to match. Many traditionalist see this as a negative, but of course, the more exposure Gin receives, as a whole, the larger customer base there is to serve.

The reason for my detailed background story is to explain how we can’t simply choose one Gin to be the best, because there are various categories and styles. What I can do is perhaps introduce you to something new and something with exquisite value for money. If you have endeavored to read this far, you will, no doubt, have a vague interest in Gin, so you’ll be aware of the standard Tanqueray, Bombay Sapphire and Hendricks.

I’d like to introduce you to Silent Pool. It is a beautifully displayed Gin in it’s aqua blue bottle, reminding you of those lazy summer days and how they could have been so much better with this in your hand, then there is the elegant gold leaves, embracing the gin, preparing you for the luxury that you’re about to experience. The Gin itself has the traditional initial top notes of London Dry Gin, but a London Dry, this is not; the profile is delicate, yet powerful and citrusy, yet sweet. You will find that this Gin is unlike no other; it doesn’t demand attention and respect, it just quietly requests it after your first sip. Of course a Gin like this comes with a price tag, but we think that a supermarket price of £35 is very modest and a must for the cabinet.

Silent Pool Gin and Tonic

The best serve for a Silent Pool Gin and Tonic, is with plenty of ice, in a traditional Copa Gin Glass, with Fever Tree tonic and a generous slice of Orange Peel. This folks, is how Silent Pool won Gold in the World Spirits 2016.

 

Cocktail Stories

Harvey Wallbanger

A good story is often shared over a nice drink, so it is even better when that story happens to be about a drink!! These are by far our favourite stories, the legends of our favourite drinks that nobody knows if are true or not – although we like to believe them all, we feel this makes the drink even better…

According to legend, a screwdriver got its name from grubby oil rig workers in the Persian Gulf stirring their vodka and orange juice with a screwdriver!! (Yummy!!) Or, maybe the screwdriver was invented during the time alcohol was banned and people made their own very horrid vodka! We know for a fact that during the 1920’s in America, a lot of cocktails were born as bartenders would add various fruit juices to mask the awful taste of the home brew! However we like the theory that the name “screwdriver” was possibly a code name to order an orange juice with a kick when it was illegal!

 

We still think, despite having both a name and some good stories, that the screwdriver is too simple to class as a cocktail (the definition of cocktail is 3 ingredients and a screwdriver only has 2!) so our favorite story is about a surfer called Tom Harvey who used to always order a screwdriver with a shot of Galliano and then get so drunk that he’d walk into the wall on the way out so the bar put a cocktail on the menu made of Vodka, Galliano and orange juice and called it Harvey Wallbanger! There are no records of the surfer in the story and the bartender that put the drink on the menu (Donato “Duke” Antone) is known for creating other simple but classic cocktails such as Rusty Nail (scotch whiskey and Drambuie) and White Russian (vodka, Kahlua and cream) but the story is definitely a conversation point.

We also know for a fact that the infamous Tom Collins never existed, it’s thought that bartenders would create a rumor that Tom Collins had been talking rubbish about a certain bar guest and once that person then angrily went to the bartender to find this rude Tom Collins he’d be made the refreshing gin drink instead, nobody actually knows how this started or where the name came from but it’s actually a very cleaver marketing trick!!

We will occasionally share our favourite cocktail stories, via our bartenders and our blogs, so keep your eyes and ears peeled!

I think I might just supply the drinks myself…

We were at a wedding show earlier this month and a couple came up to us for some advice on how to do their own bar for their wedding, we get this question a lot and the conversation always goes the same way so I thought I’d put it into a blog!

The first question this couple had was; what and how much do I buy? This depends on how you set the bar up, I told them; will you have a bartender or just lay out bottles of beer, cider etc. for people to help themselves? The couple had not thought about this so I advised not to lay bottles out as it normally results in some people drinking loads while others get nothing! They decided on a bartender! They then had to think about hiring one or paying the catering service to serve alcohol. They were expecting up to 100 people so I advised on 2-3 bartenders, for about 5 hours this will cost them about £150-£200 (plus corkage charge if that applies) but still there is no saying everyone will get a drink so the next question was; how much do I buy?!! We normally say people have one drink per hour so this would be about 500 drinks. We always recommend looking at offers at the supermarkets as these are often very good, you can get beers down to about £1 per bottle so you will be looking at £500 for just bottles. The couple wanted to serve spirits and mixers too, so they asked what I suggested; I told them they could buy half the bottles but sometimes you can get sale and return on boxes of beer so you can buy a little extra and return after the wedding (just be careful not to open the boxes unless you need them) and get spirits and mixers.

The third question was what do I buy?!! Well as you can’t predict what people drink you need to get a good variety; I recommend, gin, vodka and rum as a minimum, (dark and spiced rums are also very popular) for mixers and soft you will want Tonic Water, Lemonade, Coca Cola and Soda Water (as a minimum) for 100 people you would probably get about 10 bottles of each spirit at about £15 per bottle that is around £450, you would need about 1.5 litres of mixers per bottle and you would get 40-50 litres (about £50). They then asked about reception drinks, you can ask your caterers to pour your own prosecco but can expect a corkage charge for up to £15 per person and then a minimum of £6 per bottle of prosecco, up to £16 per guest; that’s £1600 for 100 guests! Or hire your bartenders to come early and do the reception.

This discussion brought about the question of where to get the staff from?! This is a tricky one!! You would either need to source the bartenders yourself using people you know that are not invited to the wedding or friends of friends, however it becomes your headache on the day if they then cancel last minute due to illness, family or relationship drama or because their partner surprised them with taking them on a spontaneous romantic holiday (we’ve seen it all and more!!) You can go through an agency but the rates are about £14 per person per hour and often you need to pay the agency a fee to set up an account with them, it is well worth it to not have to worry about who’s serving on your bar on your wedding day!!

At this point in the conversation the groom was very quiet and a little pale, he then started reeling off the numbers I had given him; sooo £3-500 for the bottles, £150-200 for staff, £500 spirits and mixers and £1600 for reception…… £2550-£2800, to do it myself?!! And I need to buy it all myself, get it all there, sort the staff and do everything?!! And that’s just for the basic bar, no fancy drinks like this one?!! (Holding up his delicious elderflower fizz) Yes that is the cost of a DIY basic bar, you can return any unopened bottles of spirit and boxes of beer but you need to take it all back yourself.

And how much would you charge to be there?…. So I answered; well for 100 people we turn up for free to do a cash bar or you tell us what you want to spend and we provide you with tokens to give to your guests (so they all get the same amount of drinks) and then guests can pay by cash or card for whatever drinks they want extra! We worry about what to buy, how much and the staff!! We sit down with you before the day and design a menu of whatever you want and make it available on the day, even design the menus to go with your theme!

The last question was my favorite; are you free on my wedding day?