Archive for the ‘Liqueurs’ Category

With it being national Margarita Day, usually it would be normal for a few blogs to be posted on the more popular drink sites on the Internet. Recipes and twists abound, maybe with a few photos, and maybe even an anecdote or two about people’s favourite story about how the drink actually came about would all be commonplace.

Unfortunately at A Pint of Green Chartreuse, however, such a notion could not be further from the truth.

While it’s important to acknowledge the popularity of the Margarita – not to do so would be foolish – it’s just one of those drinks that if I tried to care for it less than I do, it would start to verge on ‘hatred’ territory, which I wouldn’t actually mind admitting to.

It’s not even the people who order them; I’ve served all sorts of folk who have ordered them, and they’re pretty easy to knock up together on a busy Saturday night (bar the salt rim, which for me, is one of the most unfathomable parts of a drink I will ever come across). Even Margarita twists are OK; I mean, hell, I’ll drink a Tommy’s Margarita any day of the week, though that’s assuming that someone else is paying.

Tequila as a spirit as awesome, but on it’s own, as a shooter or in a mixed drink, and I’m all about cocktail that are fresh and clean, usually because they’re the best way to introduce people to cocktails, especially those with a sensitive palate. Nonetheless, that mixture of triple sec, tequila and citrus is something my brain fails to recognise as genius

So does that mean that other cocktails with the same DNA are also liquid contraptions that I despise? Afraid so.

The Sidecar is, in my opinion only, a generally crap cocktail, while a White Lady, as close as the drink is to my heart, is maybe just a little overrated, and one of the hardest drinks to balance I’ve ever come across (and there’s only four ingredients if you include the egg white). If anything, the White Lady is the best out a bad bunch, which is by no means a good thing, although my favourite recipe for the drink comes from Jim Meehan’s PDT cocktail book (similarly, his version of the Margarita uses the same ideology when preparing the drink for the modern pallet).

But White Lady’s aside, and in the good form and dry humour of a disgruntled Englishman, I’m going to give you a recipe on how I think they should be made, assuming you want to waste your time in the first place in trying to assemble them for either yourself, your guests or your friends.

Margarita (Recipe taken from Jim Meehan’s PDT Cocktail Book, 2012)

  • 50ml White Tequila
  • 20ml Tripe Sec
  • 20ml Lime Juice
  • 7.5ml Agave Syrup

Add all ingredients to cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake, and double strain into a cocktail/margarita glass – of that you’re that much of a ponce – with a salted rim. Drink apathetically.

It’s at this point that I would usually sign off and tell you to enjoy your Margaritas on this awesome national Margarita Day. But in this case, I’ll just simply sign off.

Slante.

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As news of the passing of Neil Armstrong spread throughout the internet, tributes flooded in for family and friends as those who learned of his death expressed their sadness at losing such an iconic figure of the 20th Century.

His status as a modern American hero who will leave a legacy not just in aviation and aerospace engineering, but in modern world history, especially in modern American folklore.

Armstrong’s exploits led him to become ‘a reluctant American hero’ according to a statement released by his family, a reminder that he did little to hog the limelight after his moonwalking exploits. He continued to work in aeronautics and aviation, as well as lecturing at the University of Cincinnati as a professor of aerospace engineering. American President Barack Obama described him as one of America’s greatest hero’s

So famous were the exploits of Amstrong, his colleague Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin and pilot Michael Collins, that the trend of creating a drink for special occasions, coupled with an appropriate name, was carried on with tradition at The American Bar at The Savoy.

Joe Gilmore, who was headbartender at the time, created the ‘Moonwalk’, a drink that closely resembles the classic champagne cocktail, though with a bigger flavour profile.

It was the first drink that passed the lips of the crew once they returned to earth, with Neil Armstrong sending a personal letter of thanks to Gilmore for the drink.

With this in mind, this blog, and the Moonwalk, is dedicated to Niel Armstrong.

From The Savoy Cocktail Book

Moonwalk (Adapted from Joe Gilmore, 1954, The American Bar, London)

  • 30ml Grand Marnier
  • 3 dashes Grapefruit bitters
  • 2 dashes orange flower water
  • 1 Sugar cube
  • Champagne
Add the first three ingredients to a mixing glass. Add ice and stir, then strain into a champagne flute with a sugar cube and top with champagne. Express the oils of an orange peel into the surface of the drink, drop in an serve.

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Brrrrrrap!

After receiving old friend Megs Miller into the bosom of the Edinburgh bartending scene, and the inevitable catch-ups and late night boozing sessions, it turns out that not only is it Halloween here in the UK, there’s less than two hours left of the day until midnight, and the 1st of November, thus rendering a Halloween and a drink-related post almost obsolete. But then again, posting a drink-related post as the seconds creep towards midnight doesn’t make up for the fact that by the time this piece is read, readers will either be hungover (if you’re in Australia), about to go out partying (UK), about to come home from ‘Trick or Treating (kids in the UK – who shouldn’t be reading this), or about to getting ready for a shift at work, if not at work already (UK/US).

Procrastinating and justifying aside, a post and a drink needs to be articulated, and articulated well. With the 2nd annual Chartreuse heat about to go ahead next month, the deadline for drink submissions is less than an hour away.

The inspiration behind the drink lies mainly with the Purgatory, a rye-based drink created in 2008 that uses both Green Chartreuse and Benedictine to smooth out the rye. Whilst being a tiny bit unusual – mainly because no bitters are used – the best thing about this devilish cocktail comes from the fact that the complexity and length is added to the drink  in the form of two French, herbal, monk-related liquors (Gary Regan talks about the drink here).

Purgatory (Adapted from a recipe by Ted Kilgore, Monarch Restaurant in Maplewood, 2008)

  • 50ml Rye whisky
  • 12.5ml Green Chartreuse
  • 12.5ml Benedictine

Add all ingredients to a mixing glass. Stir lovingly (or hatefully) with ice, assuring proper dilution(!). Strain into a chilled cocktail glass, garnish with a lemon twist and serve.

With this in mind, and basing a drink around the rule of using at least 25ml of Green Chartreuse, a drink was devised that followed suit of the original Purgatory, but with an obvious twist; living in Scotland and being a fan of scotch, a smokey single malt came into play as opposed to rye. Out with the Benedictine and in came Bitter Truthe Elixir, a distant relative of the Italian Amaro, with two drops of Orange Blossom water for some light floral notes. The ingredients were toned down to equal measures, more so to support each other on equal terms as opposed to fight for supremacy based on sheer volume.

The name is taken directly from the film of the same name, with a direct reference of the literal and spiritual journey the monks have made throughout the last nine centuries, a story and history that includes governmental persecution and underestimation, misunderstandings and exile, and distillery destruction and forgery.

And so with that, ladies and gentleman, here we go…

Road to Perdition

  • 30ml Cask-rested Green Charetreuse
  • 30ml Islay Single Malt Scotch
  • 30ml Bitter Truth Elixir
  • 2 drops of Orange Blossom/Flower water

Add all ingredients to a mixing glass in a dark and morose manner. Add ice, stir devilishly and strain the dark, smoked, herbaceous liquid into a chillingly cold glass with one drop of orange water in the base of the glass. Add the second of drop onto the surface of the drink, and torture out the oils of a lemon peel be squeezing and twisting without mercy. Serve to the poor soul in front of you.

NB – Go for Lagavulin or Caol Ila. Something with both smoke and body is important here, mainly to stand up to boldness of the other flavours. And don’t be afraid to stir for a while if you have the right ice; the texture of this drink could be a problem due to under dilution. As for the cask-aged Green Chartreuse, this is the by-product of a project that is looking to reproduce the Purgatory into a single liquid, using casks that have been seasons with Green Chartreuse and Benedictine. More information of this will follow in the coming months…

Tom Hanks having a post-Green Chartreuse night-before breakfast.

Happy Halloween folks.

PS – For other reasons on why I haven’t posted on here in a while, go here and here to read some articles I’ve wrote for old friend (though not just in terms of age – sorry) Shay Leighton.

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After taking a four-week hiatus of writing and blogging, it was nice to post something for February the other day. However, after being relatively self-indulgent with having sporadic access to a rotovap and looking at what could be drunk and written about over the next few months, it turns out that George Washington’s birthday slipped by without even a blink (apart from the national holiday they have in the US, that is).

Born exactly 279 years ago on this date, Washington turned out to be one of the most important figures in terms of the shaping of the Unites States of America.

However, even though his qualities of leadership, tenacity and resilience helped from a government cabinet which is still used in it’s current form today, along with loads of other important stuff which I don’t know much about, the singular most important thing in the history of the entire world is that he had a whisky distillery at his home in Mount Vernon where he distilled rye whisky.

George Washington. Liked distilling rye. A lot.

However, even though this is ultra cool and gives me an excuse to come up with at least one cocktail that has rye it, it’s currently 2:41 in the am, and I have no apparatus with which to construct a drink right now.

To make up for such a lack of awareness of US heritage and culture, I’ll be dedicating this next week to a couple of drinks focusing on rye whisky. This next week, however, may or may not be longer than seven days, and may stretch into May, depending on how ‘tight my shit is’ over the next few months.

For now, I’m going to take the easy way out, give a recipe for an El Presidente – the tenuous link here being the word ‘president’ – and get back to you guys within the next couple of days with a more modern drink.

The drink itself dates back to the dark days of prohibition, although it seems to have stemmed from American bartender Eddie Woelke, who moved overseas during the midst of the ‘Great Experiment’ after tending bar in Philadelphia, New York and Paris, amongst other cities. He set up Havana in the late 1920s, and made this drink for then-president Gerardo Micado.

El Presidente

  • 50ml Aged rum
  • 20ml Sweet Vermouth
  • 10ml Orange Curacao
  • 1 Barspoon of Grenadine
  • 1 Dash of orange bitters (optional)

Add all ingredients to a mixing glass and stir. Strain into a cocktail glass and express the oils of an orange peel over the surface of the drink and drop into the drink.

With the rum, a good latin rum such as Havana Blanco, their three year-old or Bacardi Superior would be a fine choice, although any none-crap rum will do. As for the curacao, Grand Marnier isn’t bad, although a decent triple sec will render the drink a little dryer, which is by no means a bad thing.

The great thing about the drink, apart from the fact that what looks a simple drink is actually a cocktail of decent complexity, is that it has a mature and ‘grown-up’ taste. Stiff and strong, dry, yet still sweet with a long fruity and orange finish. Further more, in a way that a Negroni or a Manhattan can be adjusted to become heavier and richer or lighter and easier depending on the base spirit and vermouth used (extend this to bitters on the subject of the Manhattan), the El President falls into this creative objectivity too, especially when we talk about the Rum (why not use white rum?), the vermouth (sweet, dry, or a bit of both), the triple sec/curacao debate, and even the bitters if you so wish to include them.

Happy birthday and happy drinking, Washy.

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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…

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After a rather uncomfortable seven-hour journey with a large bag of breakables and expensive glassware, the heavily tattooed bartender returned from London in the most triumphant manner, coming first in the Luxardo Sambuca National Finals and with a small amount of press coverage, and an upcoming article in the Christmas issue if Imbibe magazine*.

The finals, which were held at the King’s Cross Social Club in London, brought winners from each of the 14 regional heats that took place across the UK between July and September. The competition itself went off without a hitch, despite the Liverpool nominee not being able to turn up (OK, make that 13).

The scope of drinks – which ranged from a brewed tea with cappuccino style foam, through to drinks that included cherries, cucumbers, juniper berries and over proof rum, in accordance with the products across the Luxardo sambuca range – showcased both the fun side of bartending and cocktail service, especially in conjunction with the sambuca reputation as a party drink, and the more professional and serious bartenders that were attracted to the challenge of making a drink with such an individual base spirit.

Matteo Luxardo, the current chieftain and part of the sixth generation of Luxardo, was on hand to judge – along with journalists from The London Word and drink magazine Imbibe – and presented the top three with a photography-friendly cheque, Luxardo-branded cocktail shakers and hearty Italian hugs.

The top three drinks are listed below.

Photography by Gemma Mount

 

Corretto Sulla Roccia (1st Place – Tom Walker, Popolo, Newcastle)

  • 45ml Sambuca Dei Cesari
  • 12.5ml Ristretto
  • 10ml Toussiant
  • 2 dashes of Lemon Bitters
  • 1 barspoon of home made orgeat syrup

Add all ingredients to a mixing glass. Stir and strain over a spherical ball of ice in a rocks glass. Serve with a lemon twist and a side of lemon and almond biscotti.

Photography by Gemma Mount

 

Party at the Zara Boat Fair (2nd Place – Shiv Lal, Fat Cat, Leicester)

  • 25ml Spiced Apple Luxardo
  • 12.5ml Butterscotch Schnapps
  • 10ml Lemon Juice
  • 37.5 ml Apple Puree

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Add ice, shake and strain into hallowed  out toffee apple.

Photography by Gemma Mount

 

666 (3rd place – Gareth Evans, Brass Monkey, Nottingham)

  • 25ml Luxardo Black
  • 25ml Pineapple Juice
  • 20ml Egg White
  • 15ml Lemon Juice
  • 15ml White Crème de Cacao
  • 10ml Chambord

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Add ice, shake hard and double strain into a coupette.

The drink was inspired by the Corretto, a shot of espresso that is usually topped up with grappa or amaro, although it’s not uncommon for black or white sambuca to be added instead. The term, which is also known as Cafe Corretto, translates as ‘coffee correction’. The main twist on the drink comes in the form of the libation being served over a singular ball of ice in a rocks glass, the spherical ice being made possible after receiving an ice sphere molder given by a Suntory rep earlier this year during a training session in Brisbane. The heavily tattooed bartender realises this is (sort of) cheating and side-stepping the art of Japanese ice carving, and aims to correct this in the new year by buying a Japanese ice pick with his winnings, so he can practise the skill of making beautiful balls of ice.

Overall, there were only a few points between the top three, showing just how well the drinks were executed and how much effort had gone into the research and preparation. Congratulations to both Gareth and Shiv for coming third and second respectively.

*Links and photography will be added soon…

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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…

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