Archive for the ‘Gin’ Category

By the time this blog has been posted and read, most of the news within this will already be a little old, with most of the fun already been had. The heavily tattooed bartender would like to apologise for his late entry – this technically should have been done about a week ago – but as you’ll read on, you’ll understand the stress and lack of time that has kept said bartender from being able to post earlier.

Tuesday night just gone (alright, a couple of days ago for sure) was a night of epic proportions; not only did I scrap my way to the final of a poker game with the irrepressible bitter-master Adam Elmigrab, but Edinburgh’s most decorated bar Bramble celebrated their fourth birthday.

After recently being voted the 25th best bar in the world by Drinks International (last year they were seventh!), the guys celebrated by getting some DJ’s in on the act, making a cracking punch and smashing out some awesome drinks.

But, I hear you ask, why does this matter?

Well, for some mental reason, owners Jason Scott and Mike Aikman have decided to offer me some form of employment at their world-famous bar, and have given me the most humbling opportunity of joining their (now) four-person bar team.

The bar, which is located on the corner of Queen Street and Hannover Street, has not only won numerous awards for their drinks menu and backbar – which focuses primarily on whisky and gin – but have also seem some pretty reputable drink masters tend the bar over the last few years, including the recently-departed Ryan Chetiyawardana of 69 Colebrooke Row, UK Havanna Club brand ambassador Miemi Sanchez and current Bacardi Global Ambassador David Cordoba

It goes without saying that the opportunity the guys have offered me is not only something I couldn’t turn down, but a great chance for me to up my game at one of the most decorated bars in the UK. Flattering, humbling, awesome are just a few adjectives that come to mind in terms of some form of adjectives.

To mark the celebration of the heavily tattooed bartender moving up in the world, I’ve included two recipes from the menu for you to feast your eyes (and taste buds) on.

Bramble

  • 50ml Gin
  • 25ml lemon juice
  • 12.5ml sugar syrup (1:1 ratio)
  • 12.5 ml Crème de Mure

Build all ingredients apart from the Crème de Mure in a sling glass. ‘Lace’ Crème de Mure on top of the drink. Add a blackberry to garnish and serve.

A pretty straight forward drink in terms of both its construction and flavour, the Bramble has survived as a contemporary classic mainly due to its pleasing taste and accessibility in terms of ingredients.

Originally a twist on a gin fix, an old drink from the 19th century that used raspberry syrup and Hollands gin, the drink was devised by Richard ‘Dick’ Bradsell at Fred’s Bar in London in 1983. Cheers!

Cambletown Cocktail

  • 40ml Springbank whiskey
  • 20ml Cherry Heering
  • 10ml Green Chartreuse

Add all ingredients to a mixing glass. Add ice and stir until the right dilution has been achieved. Strain into a cocktail glass and express the oils of a lemon peel over the drink and discard. Serve.

For someone who has been enjoying scotch-based cocktails more and more over the past six months (even to the point where rye and bourbon have taken a back seat), the Cambletown Cocktail may well be one the most well constructed whisky cocktails I have come across in modern day bartending.

Despite consisting of only three ingredients, it ticks all the boxes of what a cocktail should be. Not only is the drink both complex and powerful, the flavours all vie for your attention on the pallet without one overpowering the other. The cherry heering and green chartreuse, despite both being sweet and herbaceous in their own separate ways, combine in an ethereal way to lift the whisky into another dimension. Definitely a drink that is greater than the sum of its parts, and a fabulous winter drink to boot (though probably not one to give to a first time cocktail drinker…).

With this, the heavily tattooed bartender is going to love you and leave you. By the time his next entry hits the net – I’m aiming for within the fortnight here folks – I’ll have moved north of the boarder and settled into my new abode. And to celebrate this, I’m more than likely going to make a drink for the occasion, and continue to switch between third and person narrative as I continue my explorations into winter-based libations.

I would once again like to thank Jason and Mike for their hospitality and offer of employment, and look forward to working with fellow drink masters Pauli, Terri and Niall.

For those of you interested in finding out more about this cool little bar I’ll be tending to, check the links here

See you at the bar, folks…

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

There’s nothing like a good excuse when it comes to talking (or blogging) about drinks and cocktails, and Halloween is no exception.

For Halloween themed drinks, we bartenders can get pretty creative; dark spirits are always a winner, especially as we head into November, mainly because of the cold winter months that engulf the North of England. Similarly, flavours like orange and cinnamon, for example, are great flavours that work well with most dark spirits, and lend a great colour for those drinks that you want to keep gloomy and creepy looking.

Back to original libations, however, and there are more drinks than you think that fall into the Halloween realm, even if we have to use out imaginations…

Gloom Lifter

  • 60ml Irish whisky
  • 20ml lemon juice
  • 20ml sugar syrup (adjust according to taste/sugar-to-water ratio)
  • 10 ml egg white
  • 1 bar spoon of brandy (optional)
  • 1 dash of grenadine (optional)

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Shake hard and double strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry, and express the oils of an orange peel over the surface of the drink. Discard peel and serve.

Pretty much a whiskey sour served straight up, the drink was part of the never ending quest for a hangover cure – much like the Corpse Reviver mentioned below – before breaking away and becoming a drink of its own accord in 1940s New York.

The brandy and grenadine are listed in numerous recipes for this drink, but I don’t think they are needed, as the drink has a brilliant complexity and balance already.

As for the egg white, I always try to use this drink as a starting point for customers who are pessimistic about egg in their drinks. If anything, it’s the egg white that makes the drink.

Gloom Chaser

  • 25ml lemon juice
  • 20ml Grand Marnier
  • 20ml orange curacao
  • 12.5 ml grenadine syrup

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Shake and double strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

This drink, whilst making its debut in Harry Craddock’s The Savoy Cocktail Book, was first brought to my attention by good friend Rory Lim at the end of last year, when I was banging on about how great the Gloom Lifter was.

The Gloom Chaser, as you would imagine, is a tarter drink then its aforementioned cousin, especially with the orange-dominant flavors. Not a bad summer refresher (or Halloween refresher, for that matter).

As for an original creation, the following drink uses an old style of drink-mixing with a new gin released by the Berry Brothers Company, as well as some new cardamom bitters from Bob’s Bitters based in London.

Corpse Reviver 3.3

  • 45ml Gin No.3
  • 15ml Green Chartreuse
  • 15ml lemon juice
  • 15ml Lillet Blanc
  • 10ml egg white
  • 2 drops of Bob’s Cardamom Bitters

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Shake hard and double strain into a cocktail glass. Express the oils of an orange peel over the surface of a drink, rim the glass, and discard. Drop two drops of cardamom bitters onto the surface of the drink. Serve.

Photography by Dee Chaneva

According to David Wonderich’s Imbibe, the Corpse Reviver first came to fruition in 1862, and was part of the never-ending search for the hung over fraternity that were after a little morning refreshment. William Grimes’ Straigh up or on the Rocks, however, is the book that provides a recipe, a pousse café-style drink that consists of yellow chartreuse, maraschino and creme de Noyaux.

Although the drink leans more towards to sour category, especially with the addition of egg white, the drink falls somewhere between the category of summer and autumn drinks, the latter mainly for it’s warming and herbal properties.

Originally entered in the Gin No.3 & Kings Ginger competition held by Inspirits at the end of September, the drink leads with the herbaceous chartreuse and the spicy botanicals of the gin before the Lillet wades in. A sourness persists throughout, accentuated by the egg white, with bitterness from the Lillet and cardamom bitters. This one is for those who like the taste of booze in their cocktail!

At 46% abv, Gin No.3 packs one hell of a punch in any drink where it’s used as a base spirit. Coupled with Green Chartreuse, which comes in at 55% abv, and it’s safe to say that this drink, like the classic Corpse Reviver No.2, would probably unrevive the corpse after a few too many…

Read Full Post »

The Caledonia Bartenders Cup was a competition by those nice chaps at LA Group up in Scotland back in June. The competition was pretty fierce and, even though I failed to come in the top three, I was only a few points off, and came within the top five or six out of the whole competition. I also got myself into their promotional video!

The competition was a two-drink affair, with one entry on Caorunn Gin, a small-batch gin from Scotland, while the anCnoc 12-year-old highland single malt whisky made up my second drink.

Caorunn gin is small-batch Scottish gin, distilled at a working whisky distillery. Even though it falls into the London Dry category, it is exceptionally floral, with an almost earthy sweetness hiding in the dryness of the juniper. The gin has 11 botanicals, five of which are of Celtic origin, including bog myrtle, coul apple blush and dandelion.

AnCnoc 12 year-old, however, is an interesting tipple. It’s pretty smooth, pretty easy to drink, with notes of dried fruit. Maybe a little bit of lemon and honey too. Smoke, however, if present, is only detectable by the most professional and disciplined of pallets.

My two drinks, the gin-based Gaelic Sazerac and the scotch-based Run to the Hills were weighed down with too many home-made ingredients which, according to the judges, over-complicated the drinks. While I stand by the conviction that they offered a great complexity, I have revised the recipes and reprinted them on this blog.

Gaelic Sazerac

  • 60ml gin
  • 10ml home-made honey and cider syrup
  • 2 dashes of Peychauds bitters
  • 2 dash of Adam Elmigrabs  Dandelion & Burdock bitters
  • 5ml yellow chartreuse

Add all ingredients (apart from Chartreuse) to a Boston glass. Add ice and mix ingredients with a bar spoon. Empty into a rocks glass rinsed with yellow Chartreuse. Twist lemon over the drink to express the oils and discard. Serve with a slice of red apple on the side.

Honey and Cider Syrup

  • 500ml flat cider
  • 250 ml honey

Add all ingredients to a pan, heat and stir until honey has completely cooled. Pour mixture into a cordial bottle and cool.

Honey and cider syrup can be easily made at home, and doesn’t take an awful lot of time. Start by reducing the gas from the cider by ‘tossing’ it from one vessel to another. Next, add it to a pan, turn up the heat, add honey until it dissolves, and cool. The amount of honey you decide to use can vary from what types of honey you use; a 2:1 ration in favour of the cider is usually fine (though adjust to suit your own taste buds) While I didn’t add any other flavours or essences to the final solution, one could particular bitters or flavour enhancers, such as orange blossom water or rhubarb bitters. One could even reduce the cider for a more interesting essence. Anyone who does try this and improves upon the flavour by adding extra elements please let me know your findings.

Suffice to say this is a drink that will put hairs on your chest, even for bar tenders. Still, the dilution helps bring out some of the botanicals on the nose, which is led by the honey from the yellow Chartreuse and the cider and apple syrup.

On the palate, it’s complex and heavy, yet cool, with a great floral and fruity sweetness. Maybe not the smartest drink to introduce drinkers to Caorunn gin, but definitely a strong one!

Run to the Hills

  • 60ml Scotch
  • 7.5ml Mawsons Sarsaparilla Cordial (concentrate)
  • 5ml Fraoch heather ale reduction
  • 3 dashes of Bitter Truth Jerry Thomas’ bitters

Add all ingredients to a Boston glass, add ice, and stir with a bar spoon. Double strain into a rocks glass over ice. Release the oils of an orange twist over the drink, add to the drink and serve

This drink, like the gin cocktail listed above, is a simplified version of my original drink. The scotch itself comes through brilliantly, though like above, it really is heavy on the pallet, and not with an awful lot of balance. It’s an interesting alternative to scotch cocktails that employ fortified wine, such as the Rob Roy and its cousin the Bobby Burns, though this maybe a bit too much for a first time scotch drinker.

The ale reduction can be easily prepared by getting rid of the gas from the ale, and adding it to a pan sitting in a larger vessel of hot water. The liquid is then heated to the point of evaporation, leaving a dark-coloured concentrate. To improve the intensity of the flavour, however, one could add further flavour enhancers, like the way I’ve suggest in the Honey & Cider recipe listed above.

Sarsaparilla Cordial, meanwhile, can be bought from most health stores.

Read about the competition here and here.

Read Full Post »