All posts tagged: rye

Seasonal Cocktails: Blackberry Smashes

I’ve had several episodes over the past month of being reasonably sure the English summer is over, and, in the grand tradition of English weather, it keeps subverting my expectations. A miniature mid-September heatwave has hit us (which will doubtless be over by the time I publish this, or even by the time I finish typing this), and it’s making me want to go back to Lillet and elderflower and sparkling wine. It seems appropriate then to make some seasonal cocktails with another fruit which sits on the border of summer and autumn, the blackberry. Around here, blackberry season stretches from June until November, and I remember always being able to pick the berries growing wild in the hedgerows around this time of year. As they’re a particularly soft and squishy fruit, it’s easy to muddle them and extract tons of flavour from them in cocktails. I’ve stuck to muddling here to make the best use of the fresh fruit, but there are plenty of cocktails out there which use crème de mure, or blackberry …

Getting To Know Amari: Amaro Averna & the Black Manhattan

If you’ve looked at the menu in a cocktail bar in the last decade or so, or indeed looked at any cocktail posts on Instagram – something I spend far too much time doing – you will have noticed a profusion of impenetrable names on the ingredients list like ‘Cynar’, ‘Averna’, ‘Fernet Branca’, ‘Ramazzotti’, which have certainly caused me, in the past, to reach unobtrusively for my phone and Google what the hell they are. All these, along with many others, belong to the group of liqueurs known as ‘amari.’ Amaro in Italian just means ‘bitter’, and many, if not most of these liqueurs are indeed Italian, commonly drunk after dinner as a digestif. They are made by macerating herbs, spices, and roots in a neutral spirit or wine, and adding caramel or sugar syrup to sweeten it. Common flavourings include gentian, cinchona (the same tree used to make quinine), anise, cinnamon, along with many others. The most famous (and currently the most widely used), are the luridly coloured Campari, and its sweeter cousin Aperol. On an amari …

Cocktail of the week no.18: the Ward Eight

For my weekly cocktail today (and I use the word ‘weekly’ in its loosest sense, of course, since I haven’t done one of these in several weeks), I present to you the Ward Eight, a fitting drink for election season. The Ward Eight, essentially a variation on a whiskey sour, is said to have been invented in 1898 at the Locke-Ober restaurant in Boston, to honour an election victory by Martin Lomasney – the boss of the city’s Ward Eight. In all honesty, however, I wasn’t thinking about trivial things like elections when I decided to make this; I had considerably more important things on my mind, like the fact that I’d been meaning to make grenadine for ages and hadn’t yet got around to it. This bright red syrup is used to add a pinky-orange tint and a sweet-tart taste to cocktails like the Tequila Sunrise, Singapore Sling, and Planter’s Punch, as well as shorter drinks like the Pink Lady and this, the Ward Eight. In theory, the red colour in grenadine comes from pomegranates (grenade …

Curry and Cocktails!

The last time I had cocktails with my friend Karmjit, we were at the Four Sisters in Islington (drinking these) and both feeling slightly the worse for wear from separate overindulgences the night before. We ended up, somewhat shamefaced (#sorrynotsorry) at the local McDonalds, and resolved to make up for this unfortunate food/drink pairing with something more respectable. Fortunately, Karmjit is an utterly stellar cook, with her own (enviably expert) blog on Indian cooking, Chilli & Chai. I first tasted her cooking in a dingy shared kitchen at university – I remember gobbling it down as if I hadn’t eaten for weeks (it is possible I was existing on ramen and toast at the time), and she’s only got more amazing over the last decade. For her latest dinner party, Karmjit roped me in to make the cocktails. I decided I’d make one with gin, one with whiskey, and went on a hunt around the internet for inspiration. First stop, the Dishoom cocktail menu, which hooked me straight off with its “Edwina’s Affair” – gin, rose, cardamom, and mint. A seven year …

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, …