Sunday, 20 July 2014

Rose and Cardamom

Fun With Marshmallows (Part 2)


After the success of cocktail making with Earl Grey marshmallows, those lovely people at Eat Toast Dunk Me were kind enough to send me another, intriguing flavour to try. This time it was a box full of middle eastern promise - delicious Rose and Cardamom. All the flavour of turkish delight but without the stickiness and light as air.

Having explored the potential of infusing alcohol with this superior confectionary in my last post, Fun With Marshmallows, I decided that this time, I would take my inspiration from the delicately exotic and fragrant flavours and mix up some rose and cardamom cocktails. The marshmallows make a fun accompaniment and can really enhance the aroma when used as a garnish or just have them as an indulgent snack, alongside.

This first cocktail takes the classic Gin Rickey (gin, soda and lime) and turns it into a fragrant summer cooler, perfect for balmy nights and hot, sunny afternoons.

Rose and Cardamom Gin Rickey

2 oz Martin Miller Gin
1 oz freshly squeezed lime juice (about 1 lime)
1/2 oz simple syrup
2 cardamom pods
tbsp rosewater

Muddle (squish) the cardamom pods with gin, lime, simple syrup and rosewater in the bottom of a heavy bottomed glass.
Add plenty of ice, top up with soda and stir to mix.
Serve with a rosewater and cardamom marshmallow.


This next cocktail is adapted from one that I found whilst trawling the virtual bars of the internet. I couldn't attest to its origins but whoever thought it up - well done - it's jolly nice. I have used rosewater and simple syrup rather than rose syrup as it's unnecessary to invest in or make your own when the composite parts are those two ingredients anyway. The ruby grapefruit gives a wonderful pale pink tinge and the Peychauds bitters add a depth that is hard to explain, but try one with and one without and you'll see for yourself...

Cardamom Rose Cocktail

1 oz freshly squeezed ruby grapefruit juice
1 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 oz simple syrup
1 tbsp rosewater
2 dashes Peychauds bitters
1 cardamom pod

In the bottom of a shaker, muddle (squish) the cardamom pod with the gin.
Add all of the other ingredients with a handful of ice and shake hard for about 10 seconds.
Strain into a chilled glass with ice.
Serve with a couple of cubes of Eat Toast Dunk Me rose and cardamom marshmallow.


Last but not least is a cocktail in the 'martini' style, featuring Hendricks Gin and Martini Rosato, a rosé vermouth that is sweeter than it's dry counterpart, with flavours of raspberry, lemon, cinnamon and cloves.

Rose Cardamom Martini

2 tsp simple syrup
1tsp lemon juice
2 tsp rosewater
1 cardamom pod

In the bottom of a shaker, muddle the gin and cardamom.
Add the remaining ingredients and shake hard until the outside of the shaker becomes frosty.
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Pop in a rose and cardamom marshmallow.


Thank you to Eat Toast Dunk Me for this week's inspiration and if you'd like to find out other delicious ways to enjoy their marshmallows, then pop along to their website and be inspired by the plethora of delicious and inventive flavours.





Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Fun With Marshmallows


These days, my time for mixing cocktails has become very scarce as I am pretty much a permanent fixture at the studio table, painting glass from dawn 'til dusk. This is good news, of course, as my work as a glass artist is my business as well as my passion, but I do miss being able to devote a lot of time to the business of mixology, which is an art in itself. That isn't to say that I have given up drinking cocktails - not at all, but the planning, the preparation and the photography of creating new cocktails and then blogging about them, is a full time occupation in itself and sadly, I just can't fit it all in...

However, in serendipitous fashion, just as I completed a large batch of orders, I was sent a packet of rather intriguing, Earl Grey Marshmallows by my lovely friend and leader of the Secret Tea Society, Claire Worral. The amusingly named, EAT TOAST DUNK ME natural, gourmet marshmallows are made by Copper and Cane Ltd and are a cut far above your average mallow, using organic ingredients and stocked in both artisan and prestigious establishments, including Selfridges. The Secret Tea Society was testing their tea-dunking capabilities (apparently) and thought I might like to experiment with them in my capacity as the Society's official cocktail expert (or 'in house drunk'), particularly as I absolutely love Earl Grey tea and these superior mallows are made with best organically produced bergamot.


The main challenge in creating a cocktail, involving these, frankly irresistible marshmallows was to not scoff the lot before I'd done anything with them! However, I managed to restrain myself after I had sampled one or two (just to get a measure of them, you understand) and put my metaphorical, thinking cap on. I think if it were a real thinking cap for creating cocktails, it would have to be something rather fabulous, probably involving feathers and possibly beading, but I digress...

My first thought was to dissolve the mallows in alcohol which would imbue it with the delicious flavour of bergamot and sweeten it too. The only hitch is that this is rather time consuming and they will take a day or two to fully dissolve, so my advice would be to make up a small batch of it as it will store well; adding one marshmallow for every 2oz of alcohol, to a clean glass receptacle with a lid and giving it a bit of a swirl, twice a day. I, on the other hand, just popped a marshmallow in a cocktail glass with 2 oz of Hendricks Gin and stared at it, plaintively, willing it to dissolve. Finally, after 48 hours and some very stern looks, the ebullient marshmallow finally succumbed to the gin and I was left with a lightly sweetened and delicately fragranced spirit that combined the flavours of rose and bergamot without one overpowering the other. As a bonus, the natural food colouring in the marshmallow left a faint pink tinge to the drink that was rather pretty and should you decide to make a decent amount of the stuff, I highly recommend making a Gin and Tonic with it, using a superior tonic, such as Fever Tree Naturally Light Tonic Water and adding a strawberry, halved and hulled and a wedge of fresh lime.


If you are feeling a little more adventurous, then this next cocktail will not disappoint. It combines the fragrant flavours of rose and bergamot with strawberry, lime and a little triple sec for a zesty and fresh cocktail, served in the Martini style. I have named it The Secret Martini in honour of the Secret Tea Society and it's unseen but essential addition of the EAT TOAST DUNK ME marshmallow.

The Secret Martini

2oz Hendricks Gin, infused with 1 Earl Grey Marshmallow
2 fresh strawberries, halved and hulled
3/4 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 oz triple sec liqueur

Add all of the ingredients to a shaker and muddle the strawberry until it has partially broken down.
Pop in a handful of ice and shake hard until the outside of the shaker frosts over.
Double strain the contents into a chilled martini glass



Having established that the bergamot in the marshmallows paired well with the Rose infused flavour of Hendricks, I thought it would be equally harmonious when added to Pinkster Gin, adding another dimension to their lightly raspberry infused gin with lavender notes. This time however, I decided to short cut the dissolving process by making an iced tea cocktail and popping the mallow into the tea whilst it was still hot and then allowing it cool - genius! The tea in question was no ordinary blend, but the Kent and Sussex Tea Co. 'Rose Congou', a superior loose leaf black tea mixed with beautiful, scented rose petals and another gift from the Secret Tea Society as part of my annual membership pack. It really is a lovely tea that makes a wonderfully fragrant infusion without any hint of bitterness.

To make this next cocktail, you will need a high quality, loose leaf, rose infused tea - Rose Congou is ideal.
Allow the tea to infuse for between 3-5 minutes and then pour 100ml into a clean receptacle.
Pop in 2 Earl Grey marshmallows and stir until dissolved.
Allow to cool.
Now you are ready to begin...

Love Potion Iced Tea

2oz Pinkster Gin
3.5oz (100ml) Chilled, Rose Congou tea, sweetened with Earl Grey marshmallows (see above)
1/2oz freshly squeezed lemon juice

Add everything to the bottom of a shaker with ice and stir to chill.
Strain into an ice filled glass and add a wheel of freshly cut lemon.



This final cocktail requires a little more patience again, whilst you wait for the marshmallows to break down, but the surprisingly delicious combination of bergamot, tequila, ginger and lime is well worth the wait.

As before, allow the marshmallows to dissolve in the tequila at a ratio of 1 mallow to every ounce of tequila (you will need 2oz for this next drink)

Sugar and Spice

2oz silver tequila infused with 2 Earl Grey marshmallows (as above)
3/4 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
Fever Tree naturally light ginger beer to top up

Pour the mallow infused tequila and lime juice into an ice filled hi ball or large tumbler.
Top up with ginger beer and stir with a swizzle stick.
Garnish with a lemon wheel.


So thrilled was I with the cocktail possibilities, not to mention the out and out deliciousness of this divine confectionary, that I will be trying out their Rosewater and Cardamom mallows next! Stay posted for 'Fun With Marshmallows Part 2'....

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Get Fresh


It's about this time of year that we in Britain consider debunking into the garden to expose pasty limbs and hobbit-like feet to the warmer air. Pinning all our hopes on meteorological clemency, we plan our weekend barbecues and even entertain the idea that salad might constitute actual food. However, more often than not, the weather lets us down and a planned afternoon sur l'herbe becomes a quick Pimms before the familiar plip plip of raindrops moves the whole shebang indoors again. 

All the more reason to get the drinks just right. After all, if you only have time for a drink in the garden, you want to make sure it's absolutely delicious and will go some way to assuage the disappointment of another Great British wash out - and of course, if the weather does hold out, then you'll have time to try all three of these fabulous, fresh and fruity cocktails.

The Jardiniére cocktail, as the name suggests, takes its inspiration from the garden, combining the flavours of strawberry, rose and lavender in a subtly floral, long drink with plenty of fruit and fizz. The recipe calls for Chase Vodka because it is incredibly smooth with a slight sweetness and creamy finish that comes from the traditional and artisanal distillation of the King Edward and Lady Claire potatoes it is produced from. Incidentally, it is also gluten free which will be welcome news to Coeliac sufferers. 

Lavender syrup is available to buy online, but can be made quite simply at home and will last for months in an airtight container. You can use fresh lavender flowers if they are in season or dried, culinary lavender which can be purchased all year round from Lavender World.

Jardiniére

2oz Chase Vodka
4 strawberries
2 dashes of rosewater
Prosecco to top up
Sprig of lavender to garnish

Chop the strawberries into quarters and set four aside.
Add the remaining quarters to the bottom of a shaker and squish to a pulp.
Add the vodka, rosewater and lavender syrup and mix together.
Shake the mixture along with a handful of ice and strain into an ice filled tall glass.
Pop in the remaining pieces of strawberry and top up carefully with Prosecco.
Stir with a swizzle stick to mix and garnish with a sprig of lavender.
Tip - if you gently smack the lavender between your palms before garnishing, it will release it's beautiful, floral scent.


Clementines are characteristically sweeter than their larger cousins, the orange, which makes them perfect for this gin based cocktail. The addition of elderflower liqueur adds a floral element and a touch of thyme gives an extra fragrant layer to the drink, all of which combine to create a very fresh, light flavour. Whitely Neil Gin is a good fit with this drink as the Baobab tree fruit and aromatic cape gooseberries in its distillation, give it plenty of fruity, citrus zest.

Clem and Thyme

2oz Whitely Neil Gin
1/2oz Chase Elderflower Liqueur
2 sweet clementines
Small sprig of fresh thyme
Clementine wheel to garnish

Gently muddle (squish) the thyme along with the gin and elderflower in the bottom of a cocktail shaker.
Squeeze the juice from the clementines and add to the shaker along with a handful of ice.
Shake hard and strain into a tall glass filled with ice and garnish with the citrus wheel.


Creamy cocktails are not usually considered to be particularly fresh and light, but the proliferation of fresh raspberries in this cocktail make it surprisingly refreshing and utterly delicious. The inspiration came from the traditional Scottish dessert of the same name, that like this cocktail, features raspberries, honey, cream and whisky. In addition to whisky, this drink features Absolut Raspberi vodka which is naturally flavoured and stops the whisky overpowering the mix. Like the dessert, the whisky is a subtle undertone, which isn't to say that you shouldn't pick your scotch carefully. In this instance, nothing too peaty or smokey, but a light, honeyed single malt such as Jura Origin is ideal.

Cranachan 

1oz Jura Origin single malt whisky
1oz Absolut Raspberi
2 tsp Tiptree Scottish Heather Honey
8-10 raspberries
1oz single cream

Set aside 3 or 4 raspberries to add whole to the glass.
Press the remaining raspberries through a fine sieve to remove the pips and collect the juice in the bottom of a shaker.
Add the rest of the ingredients with a handful of ice and shake hard to mix.
Strain into a tall glass filled with ice and the remaining raspberries.


In an ideal world, you'll be enjoying these cocktails under the shade of a parasol on a glorious, sunny afternoon as the smell of barbecuing something or other wafts across the garden, but fear not, they taste equally great, huddled round the kitchen table, wrapped in a picnic rug...

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Cinco de Mayo


Never let it be said that Toasted Glass would miss out on a cocktail opportunity and despite having no Latino connections whatsoever and only a rudimentary grasp of Spanish, Mr TG and I decided to embrace with open arms, the alcoholic potential of the Cinco de Mayo celebrations.

That is the beauty of Cinco de Mayo (or 5th of May to those whose Spanish is even more rudimentary than mine own) - although deeply rooted in history and marking the date in 1862 of the remarkable Mexican victory over Napoleon's invading French army at the Battle of Puebla, it has become a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage. Although only observed as an official holiday in the State of Puebla in Mexico, it is celebrated across Mexico and the United States, having grown in popularity over the years as the Latino population expanded. In the 1980's, beer company marketeers spotted an opportunity to make a fast buck and brought the celebration to the masses making it so high profile that in 2005, US Congress lobbied to have the date observed across the American States with appropriate cultural ceremonies - cue the mariachi bands, tortilla chip sombreros and tequila....

Across the world, there are Cinco de Mayo celebrations to be had, particularly in the capitals and major cities, but if you can't make it to one of those, why not get in the spirit of things and knock up a few inspired cocktails at home... Margaritas are always a popular choice, but having fairly exhausted their potential in previous posts (click here for some alternative Margarita recipes), it was time to don the thinking sombrero and come up with something new...



Cinco de Mayo

2oz silver tequila
2oz freshly pressed watermelon juice
2cm round of cucumber peeled and cubed
Sliver of birds eye chilli
Dash of simple syrup
Wedge of fresh lime

To begin, make the fresh watermelon juice by pressing a few cubes through a sieve and collecting the liquid - discard the seeds and pulp.

Add the tequila and cucumber to the bottom of a shaker and gently muddle (squish). The idea is not to liquify the cucumber so don't worry if it stays fairly whole - the flavour will leech out.

Pour in the watermelon juice and add the sliver of chilli and a dash of simple syrup.

Squeeze the wedge of lime into the shaker and discard the pith and peel.

Shake hard with ice until the outside of the shaker has a frosty bloom and strain into a chilled martini glass.


Beergarita

1oz silver tequila
1oz triple sec
1oz freshly squeezed lime juice
Tiny pinch of salt flakes
Mexican beer to top up (we used Corona)

Add the tequila, triple sec, lime juice and salt to a shaker with ice and shake hard.

Strain into a highball with ice and top up with a light Mexican beer such as Sol or Corona and stir gently to mix.


This next drink is an adaptation of a Mojito, using silver tequila in place of rum and with the addition of a little fresh raspberry which not only adds to the flavour but creates a magnificent colour.

Raspberry Tequito

2oz silver tequila
6 raspberries
8-10 mint leaves
1oz freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2oz simple syrup
Sparkling water to top up.

To begin, press the raspberries through a sieve with the back of a spoon, collecting the juice in the bottom of the shaker and discarding the pulp and seeds.

Add the tequila and mint and gently swish to release the essential mint oils - don't overdo it or the flavour becomes 'grassy'.

Add the lime juice and simple syrup with a handful of ice and shake hard for about 20 secs.

Strain (or double strain if you don't want any bits of mint floating) into an ice filled highball glass and top with a little sparking water.

Stir gently to mix.


No Cinco de Mayo celebration would be complete without a nod to the Micheleda, the Mexican beer cocktail that has many variations that range from the simple addition of lime and salt to more complex variations involving chilli, clam juice, tomato and worcester sauce. Never ones to shy away from the complex, this TG Micheleda chucks it all in the mix, (bar the clam juice as Mr TG didn't fancy that much) and despite our reservations, it turned out to be delicious, not too mention relatively innocuous in terms of alcohol.

TG Micheleda

1/2 (33cl) bottle of Corona
1oz tomato juice
1/2oz freshly squeezed lime juice
Pinch of salt flakes
Dash of Worcester Sauce
Sliver of birdseye chilli
Fresh ground black pepper

Add all of the ingredients to a shaker with ice and stir to combine until the outside of the shaker frosts over.

Strain gently into a tumbler and garnish with a lime wheel.


Friday, 18 April 2014

An apple a day...


Apparently the old adage of, 'an apple an day...' is no longer sufficient to keep the doctor away. In fact, if recent press is to be believed, then your 'five a day' needs to be at least seven, and ideally, should be twelve. It's enough to drive anyone to drink, particularly if your idea of fruit and veg includes the slice of lemon in your gin and tonic (that does count, right?) Mr TG and I are tireless in our quest to up our vitamin intake through the medium of cocktails and we calculate that if you drink all of these, you should be at least two portions of fruit closer to your daily goal. The naysayers among you may spot the potential flaws in this plan, but if you actually manage to drink them all, the chances are, you won't care too much...

The inspiration for this week's post came from my friends at Pinkster whose deliciously pink gin recently crossed the ocean, popping up in New York City by the Empire State building (click here to see the picture). Pinkster Gin in the Big Apple immediately suggested a cocktail opportunity and the Big Pink was conceived - a fresh and simple combination of Pinkster Gin, raspberry, fresh mint and cloudy apple juice. 

The Big Pink

4 fresh raspberries
6 mint leaves
Cloudy apple juice
Sprig of mint to garnish

Add the gin, raspberries and mint to the bottom of a tall glass and gently muddle together - the object is not to really squish them together but just to slightly bruise the mint and fruit to release the flavours.
Add a handful of ice and top up with cloudy apple juice.
Stir with a swizzle to mix and garnish with a sprig of mint.


My inspiration for the next cocktail came from a little further down south in the US of A, from the state of Kentucky - home to the world renowned Kentucky Derby where the drink of choice is the Julep. Derby day falls on May the 10th of this year and I always like to mark the occasion with a Julep or two, although this time, I am playing pretty fast and loose with the traditional Julep formula (click here for the traditional Mint Julep and the alternative, Lavender Julep recipes). I like this apple version as it is a little less alcoholic and fruitier than the traditional Mint Julep.

Apple Julep

2oz bourbon (I used my favourite Buffalo Trace)
10 - 15 mint leaves
2oz cloudy apple juice
Sprig of mint to garnish

Muddle the mint and bourbon in the bottom of a Julep tin or tall glass.
Fill with crushed ice and pour over the cloudy apple juice.
Use a swizzle stick to mix the drink thoroughly and garnish with a sprig of mint (gently slapping the mint between your palms beforehand, will release the minty aroma).


This next cocktail combines the sharp, sweet flavour of apples with the fiery kick of ginger. Here we get a double shot of fresh apple flavour from both cloudy apple juice and the exceptional, Chase Sharp Bramley Apple Vodka. This vodka was distilled in a small, limited edition batch and is nigh on impossible to get hold of. However, I live in hope that with enough demand, the clever people at Chase Distillery will decide to create another batch, so please feel free to make enquiries at their website and perhaps we can collectively make it happen...

Chase Apple and Ginger 

2oz Chase Sharp Bramley Apple Vodka
5 mint leaves
1 strawberry (quartered)
1oz cloudy apple juice
2oz Fever Tree Naturally Light Ginger Beer

Gently muddle the mint, strawberry and vodka in the bottom of a glass, taking care not to overly bruise the fruit.
Add a handful of ice, the ginger beer and juice and stir with a swizzle stick to mix the drink.


Finally, we come full circle and back to Pinkster Gin who inspired the post in the first place with their appearance in The Big Apple. This cocktail, The Big Pink Martini isn't a martini in the traditional sense, but is served in the martini style. In place of dry vermouth, we are using Sauvignon Blanc and cloudy apple juice with just a dash of simple syrup to approximate the intensity. The result is much lighter and of course, fruitier...

The Big Pink Martini

1oz Sauvignon Blanc
1oz cloudy apple juice
3 raspberries
Dash of simple syrup

Muddle the raspberries with the gin in the bottom of a shaker.
Add the remaining ingredients with a handful of ice and shake hard to mix.
Double strain the contents into a chilled martini glass.



Sunday, 6 April 2014

Up in Smoke



A recent visit to Asia de Cuba in London for their fusion tea experience with the Secret Tea Society served to remind me how much I enjoy the wonderful, rich, smokey flavour of Lapsang Souchong tea, particularly when it's as fine as the Jing Tea lapsang that is served there. The aroma is quite savoury, like smoked meat or fish, but the taste is incredibly smooth and fresh. The mouth is left feeling smokey yet clean. It's an oddly compelling sensation and one I wanted to explore further.

Smokey cocktails have been popping up in trendy bars, worldwide; some using liquid smoke to not only impart some smokey flavour but to create an incredibly dramatic look and some, using ingredients that have been smoked in advance. Smoked ice cubes have been tantalising the tastebuds of cocktalians, along with smoked lemons, chillis and herbs. All very clever and very interesting, but not necessarily something that can be easily replicated at home.

This is where the smokey flavour of a high quality Lapsang Souchong tea comes in - not only can the cold tea be used as a cocktail ingredient, but it is incredibly easy to make an intensely flavoured syrup from the tea, that can be used to sweeten and enhance your drinks.

Lapsang Souchong Syrup

The trick is to make the tea far stronger than you would normally as you want maximum flavour for a minimal amount of syrup. I used 1 tsp of good quality Lapsang teas to each ounce of liquid and let it steep for no more than 3 minutes to avoid it becoming bitter.

3 tsp Lapsang Souchong leaves
3oz boiled water
6oz caster sugar

Make the tea as directed above, then strain and discard the leaves.
Stir in the sugar while the tea is still very hot and continue to stir until all the sugar has dissolved.
Allow to cool and store in an airtight container in the fridge until needed.

Another, 'must try' ingredient if you want to get the full smoke experience, is Chase Smoked Vodka. It's made from their top notch, smooth and creamy tasting potato vodka and has won numerous awards. From personal experience, I can attest that it makes an amazing Smoked Espresso Martini and Smoked Mary (like a Bloody Mary) which you must try, should you treat yourself to a bottle. This week I decided to pair its clean, smoked flavour with the herbal sweetness of a rosemary syrup, contrasted against the sharp citrus of freshly squeezed lemon in a martini style drink. It's a nice combination even with regular vodka, but the smoke really adds another dimension - a perfect aperitif for those summer barbecues...

Smoked Rosemary Sour

2oz Chase Smoked Vodka
1oz lemon juice
3/4oz rosemary syrup
sprig of rosemary to garnish

Add all the liquid to a shaker with ice and shake hard until the shaker frosts over.
Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish.


This next cocktail uses Lapsang Souchong tea to compliment the many tasting notes of Jura Superstition single malt. It's lightly peated with hints of honey and pine, so has a great deal in common with Jing Tea's Lapsang. To balance out the drink I added a touch of heather honey and some freshly squeezed clementine juice which bring a delicate, fragrant sweetness and just enough citrus to keep it fresh. The final touch was a dash or two of Angostura orange bitters which adds a subtle, but discernible note of aromatic spice.

Bonnie Lassie 

1oz cold lapsang souchong tea
1oz freshly squeezed clementine juice
1 tsp Tiptree Heather Honey
2 dashes Angostura Orange Bitters
Clementine wheel to garnish

Add everything but the garnish to a shaker with ice and shake hard to mix.
Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish.


This next drink uses the quite remarkable Gin Mare which has an incredibly distinctive taste unlike any other gin. Of course there is juniper and citrus, but the rosemary and thyme really stand out, blending with olive to create an unusual and unique spirit that evokes the mediterranean in every sip. In fact, the flavour is so wonderfully overwhelming that the addition of Lapsang Souchong syrup (see above) just added a subtle, smokey aftertaste as though it were being sipped whilst sat around a campfire on the beach.

Smoked Mare

2oz Gin Mare
1oz lemon juice
3/4oz Lapsang Syrup
dash of soda

Add the gin, syrup and lemon to the bottom of a shaker with ice and stir to combine until the outside of the shaker frosts over.
Strain into an ice filled glass, add a dash of soda and stir gently to combine.


Finally, and possibly my favourite of the lot, was this Smokey Bourbon Bramble; sweet, sour, smokey and quaffable - a great one to scale up and serve in pitchers on a sunny afternoon (a girl can dream...)

Smokey Bourbon Bramble

2oz Buffalo Chase Bourbon
3/4oz Creme de Cassis
1oz cold lapsing souchong tea
1/2oz lemon juice
6 fresh blackberries

Press the blackberries through a fine sieve to remove the pips and collect the juice.
Add the juice, along with all the other ingredients to the bottom of a shaker with ice and shake hard.
Strain into an ice filled glass and garnish with a whole blackberry.







Friday, 21 March 2014

Martin Miller Gin


This week, we have been mostly drinking Martin Miller Gin which is always a pleasure. I have written about this marvellous spirit in previous posts - Peacock Cocktails and Taste of London 2013, but felt that after having focused on some excellent gins with a twist, such as Pinkster (raspberry) and Bloom (chamomile), it was time to get back to basics and revisit a spirit with a more traditional list of botanicals. That said, there is plenty to distinguish this gin from the pack, not least of all, the fact that the grain spirit at it's heart, is blended to strength with incredibly pure and soft, Icelandic water. As water constitutes over 50% of the liquid volume, this, frankly crazy sounding idea, starts to make sense. Much like Björk, the Icelandic chanteuse who made London her home, the slightly bonkers Anglo-Icelandic collaboration creates something positively exquisite.


Sadly, the founder, Martin Miller, died at the beginning of this year at the age of 67. His death was a sad loss to all, but his legacy continues and his ethos is upheld by the company he founded in 1997. Martin Miller Gin is already a worldwide brand and will continue to go from strength to strength despite the gin sector becoming an increasingly competitive arena. Martin Miller remains the gin of choice for bartenders across the globe by sticking to it's core values and creating a traditional, but exceptional gin with a strong citrus aroma and flavour that gives way to juniper notes and a clean, soft finish thanks to that pure Icelandic water.

So, what to create with my Martin Miller Gin that I haven't already covered in previous posts? Well, I decided to take my inspiration, in part, from the Savoy Cocktail Book, first published in 1930 and enjoying a bit of a renaissance as tastes shift from elaborate concoctions to the simpler, boozy beverages of yesteryear. Personally, I am partial to a cocktail that reads like a recipe from a Nigella cookbook, but am also beginning to appreciate the simplicity of the Savoy style when a cocktail was undeniably hooch laden rather than disguised as an alcoholic smoothy.

The Frankenjack cocktail was first published in 1927 book, 'Here's How!', a publication from which many recipes were directly taken for use in the illustrious Savoy Cocktail Book, which is where I found it. The unusual monicker comes from an amalgamation of two names, Frank and Jack, who were apparently the proprietors of an infamous New York speakeasy. It takes the classic martini as its foundation, comprising gin and dry vermouth in equal measure, but is made sweet and fruity by the addition of a little apricot brandy and Cointreau orange liqueur. Although the two liqueurs are added in equal quantities, the apricot brandy is definitely the dominant flavour.

Apricot brandy, rather than tickling the tastebuds with a purely fruit flavour, tends to hit the tongue like an apricot sledgehammer. Because the liqueur is made using the whole fruit, the strong flavour of the kernel pervades the brandy. Apricot kernels have an incredibly intense flavour and are at the heart of Amaretto liqueur and amaretti biscotti which gives some idea of the taste. However, the dry vermouth helps to temper the flavour and if you are a fan of Amaretto, then the flavour will probably taste quite subtle to you. For my personal taste, I would prefer the cocktail made with a few dashes of lemon juice to balance the sweetness, but it is pleasant and a fairly effortless crowd pleaser.

The recipe as stated in the Savoy Cocktail book lists the quantities in 'parts' rather than giving precise measures. I have kept to those ratios, but have put suitable amounts to them to make one cocktail.

Frankenjack

1oz Martin Miller Gin
1oz dry vermouth
1/2oz apricot brandy
1/2oz Cointreau

Add all of the ingredients to a shaker with ice and shake hard until the outside frosts over.
Strain into a chilled martini glass and serve.


A further trawl through the hallowed pages of the Savoy Cocktail book unearthed this classic that dates back to at least 1930. The Journalist cocktail which is essentially a Perfect Martini (one with equal parts dry and sweet vermouth), is given a little more depth with addition of a dash of this and that. It's amazing what a difference such small additions can make, but this drink really does have a flavour all of it's own. For anyone who enjoys a classic Martini or Martinez, this will hit the spot. It's unashamedly boozy and will appeal to the hard drinking, hard working hacks it earned its name from as well as traditionalists and hipsters alike.

Journalist

2oz Martin Miller Gin
1oz sweet vermouth
1oz dry vermouth
2 dashes lemon juice
2 dashes curaçao
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Add all of the ingredients to a shaker with ice and shake hard to mix the drink.



Last but not least is a little creation of my own that was inspired by the competition on the Martin Miller website. The brief was to create a Martin Miller Gin cocktail that uses at least one locally sourced ingredient from the region where it is being served and as a denizen of Essex, I chose Tiptree jam and Maldon sea salt - two things my kitchen couldn't be without.

Maldon sea salt is renowned for its exceptional flavour and has particularly close associations as the children are learning how to sail on the estuary at Maldon. I have personally ingested more Maldon sea salt than I care to, by virtue of being an atrocious sailor and now leave it to Mr TG and the boys. However, I am more then happy, however, to use Maldon sea salt in my cooking and have used a pinch or two when making a Puro Margarita. Strange as it may seem, it actually helps to balance sweet and bitter flavours, just as it does in cooking and needn't be reserved just for margaritas.

My other ingredient - Tiptree Little Scarlet strawberry jam, is a conserve with a serious pedigree. Little Scarlet is an old fashioned variety of strawberry that has changed little in 200 years. It is extremely small and intensely flavoured, but needs to be consumed immediately, making it unsuitable for mass production. However, it continues to be grown on Tiptree farms in Essex where it is harvested and immediately made into this flavoursome jam and as if that wasn't enough, it is even the favourite conserve of archetypal suave spy, James Bond. Not only does he drink vodka martinis and vintage champagne, but according to 'From Russia With Love', his daily breakfast consists of a boiled egg and two slices of toast with a choice of marmalade, honey or Little Scarlet strawberry jam - I kid you not...

The most famous cocktail to date that contains a conserve, is the Breakfast Martini by Salvatore Calabrese (The Maestro), which uses marmalade to great effect and is a favourite of Mr TG. Similarly, I went for a martini style drink, partly because it seemed more Bond-esque and mostly because the Martin Miller Gin would be the main event. To prevent the drink from becoming too sweet, like Calabrese, I added lemon juice, but brought in another level of flavour with the addition of  bittersweet Campari. Added to that, a pinch of Maldon sea salt and I had a drink that hit every tastebud and yet blended seamlessly together. Bloody marvellous, if I say so myself...

Little Scarlet

2oz Martin Miller Gin
3/4oz lemon juice
1/2 oz Campari
1 rounded teaspoon Tiptree Little Scarlet
pinch of Maldon sea salt

Add all of the ingredients to a shaker and whisk with a Hawthorn whisk or dry shake (without ice) to ensure the jam is properly mixed (tip - do not use the conserve straight from the fridge as it causes it to set too hard)

Add a handful of ice, shake hard and strain into a chilled martini glass.

The ultimate garnish would be a couple of Little Scarlet strawberries, but as that is practically an impossibility, a tasty variety, sliced and placed on the rim will suffice.