All posts filed under: Cocktails of the Week

Cocktail of the week no.13: the French 75

I have a birthday looming menacingly on the horizon, and I’d been waiting for this occasion to make a rather celebratory cocktail, the French 75. Not so much a cocktail for sipping on the couch on a weekday evening while watching Murder She Wrote (my normal MO), this champagne and gin concoction called for a slightly more special occasion. (Although now that I’ve realised how great they are, they might be making an appearance on sofa nights anyway.) This drink seems to have been popularised by Harry McElhone at his New York Bar in Paris in the 1920s, and apparently owes its name to a particularly effective 75mm artillery gun used by the French in World War I. Drinking a couple of these had a similar effect to getting shelled by one of the above, apparently (thank you Gin Foundry!). It really took off in the 40s after being ordered in Casablanca. It’s definitely worthy of its name, with a deceptively light, fruity taste but a kick like the hind leg of a horse (something I …

Cocktail of the week no.12: the Cosmopolitan

Yes, I know. But it’s really a great cocktail! I’m sure Sex and the City ruined this as a serious cocktail (or is it the fact that it’s pink and has vodka as the base spirit?), but I like Sex and the City, I’m not averse to pink drinks, and frankly, I quite enjoy combining the two. (Cosmo + bathtub + SITC on iPad = excellent Saturday night. Too much information?). A good Cosmo is just pale pink with a hint of cranberry juice – the fresh lime should really be dominant. It’s a pretty strong drink, nowhere near as sweet and delicate as it looks. The cranberry juice just sweetens it up enough to be palatable, and you really need a smooth vodka for this one. Ingredients: 1 1/2 oz vodka 1/2 oz Cointreau 1/2 oz cranberry juice 1/2 oz fresh lime juice Shake all ingredients over ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a twist of lemon or orange.

Cocktail of the week no.11: the Sidecar

Winter is finally on its way out in London, or at least it’s now alternating between bone-chilling cold and warm sunshine. I think the season of cognac and whisky cocktails is on the wane, and I’m looking forward to Negronis and daiquiris and all manner of summery drinks. Maybe I’m a bit too strict with my seasons here, but I can’t help associating those spirits with hunkering down and warming up. I’m so looking forward to the point where I’ll want to cool down instead. But before spring really hits, here’s a lovely Sidecar to celebrate the last of winter citrus and the fiery burn of brandy. I love this cocktail – it’s the perfect smoothing out of two intense flavours together, the Cointreau forming a bridge between them. Such a lovely way to say goodbye to the cold weather – something I sincerely hope I’m about to do! Ingredients: 2 oz cognac 1 oz Cointreau 1 oz lemon juice Optionally, rub a wedge of lemon around the rim of your cocktail glass and press …

Cocktail of the week no.10: the Last Word

I’ve been dying to make this cocktail for ages, having had a great riff on it recently in a bar. It’s such a surprising mixture of flavours and a brilliant example of a drink that has had a real renaissance lately. It sounds like the oddest mixture of ingredients – gin, maraschino liqueur, green Chartreuse, and lime juice in equal parts, but it somehow works fantastically well.  This is a cocktail which was only recently rediscovered (in 2005!) after long being out of favour.I don’t know how it fell out of favour in the first place, because it’s absolutely gorgeous. Somehow all these very powerful ingredients all manage to bring something out of each other that you wouldn’t get from each one alone. The strong, floral maraschino combines with the herby Chartreuse and the lime juice to make a flavour that suggests a powdery, perfumed apple. It’s such a weird combination of fresh, zippy flavours with flowery aromatics. I only bought a miniature Chartreuse for this, because I wasn’t sure how much I’d use it, …

Cocktail of the week no. 9: the Sazerac

It’s back to the classics this week, with an old standard from New Orleans. The Sazerac has been around since the mid-19th century, and originated as a cognac drink. Not too long after, the spirit changed to whisky when cognac became difficult to obtain after the outbreak of phylloxera, a vine-eating parasite, swept through France’s vineyards. As with many of these classic cocktails, there’s quite a bit of debate about how exactly to make it: should you add Angostura bitters along with the Peychaud’s? Should you use absinthe, or Herbsaint, or Pernod? Should you leave the absinthe in the glass, or tip it out? Is it ever acceptable to drop the lemon peel in the drink? As usual, since I’m just learning, I’ve stuck to the most traditional version I can find: no Angostura, yes absinthe, lemon peel firmly outside the drink. Something about the combination of rye, medicinal Peychaud’s and strong absinthe sounds pretty odd on paper, but the finished product is delightful. Absinthe so easily overpowers other spirits, but here the rinse on the …

Cocktail of the week no.7: the Manhattan

For this week’s cocktail, I’m going for a real classic – the Manhattan. It’s a super simple cocktail along the lines of a Martini – mainly just spirit and vermouth. Here it’s whisky (preferably rye) and sweet vermouth, with some Angostura bitters thrown in. There’s no great certainty about where or when the Manhattan originated, but it seems safe to say that it was in New York in the latter half of the 19th century. I’m amazed at the amount of variation possible with a Manhattan – make it with all sweet vermouth, or half sweet and half dry vermouth (a Perfect Manhattan), make a brandy Manhattan, a Cuban Manhattan (with dark rum), a Tijuana Manhattan (with tequila), a Rob Roy (with Scotch instead of rye). I made mine with a ratio of 2:1 whiskey to vermouth, but the recipe in The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks suggests a 5:1 ratio (yikes). For some variations right here on WordPress, Cocktail Monologue has begun a series of really interesting-looking ‘Manhattan Mondays.’ I’ve stuck to my beloved Serious Eats for the recipe, …

Cocktail of the week no.6 : the Boulevardier

My bottle of Campari has been languishing in the kitchen, waiting for warm weather when I feel like it’s time for a Negroni. I think I might have to do a series of Negroni variations – Sbagliato, Americano, a Cheeky Negroni, a Jasmine – but those all seem like spring/summer drinks. So while we wait for the weather to change, here’s a drink that’s often described as a cold-weather Negroni: Campari and sweet vermouth, but with bourbon replacing the gin. The bitterness is still there, but the overall effect is distinctly less crisp. The bourbon adds a sweetness and a honeyed warmth which is just right for the late winter chill. The  combination of Campari and sweet vermouth is such a complex taste, herbal and sophisticated. This article from T, the New York Times magazine, has some great suggestions for tweaks you can make to the cocktail (although they do involve some rather obscure ingredients, unsurprisingly). The Boulevardier was first made by Harry McElhone in Paris in 1927 for his fellow American expat, Erskine Gwynne. Gwynne edited a …

Cocktail of the week no.4: Whiskey Sour

Aaand… another sour cocktail – this time I had lemons to use up. I love the combination of smoky, sweet bourbon and crisp, tart lemons – somehow it all blends together perfectly. It seems like the perfect thing to knock back before dinner. 2 0z bourbon 1 oz fresh lemon juice 0.5 oz simple syrup Dash of egg white (optional, I prefer it without) Shake with ice and then strain into a glass with more ice. Garnish with lemon rind and a maraschino cherry.

Cocktail of the week no.3: the Margarita

Again with the limes… These freshly made margaritas are so clean and bright – like a little blast of summer in January. We’re tempted to make these every time we make fajitas, which is OFTEN. 2 oz blanco tequila 1 oz Cointreau 1 oz fresh lime juice Shake the ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass (one day I’m getting proper margarita glasses, I feel it will be worth it). If you like a salty rim, run a lime wedge round the edge of the glass and dip it in salt. Garnish with a lime wheel.