Friday, 20 February 2015

The Friday Cocktail


This week's cocktail comes courtesy of an old favourite of mine, Pinkster Gin. Its pale pink colour makes it a perfect contender for a beautifully, blush, Dry Martini, but if you like something a little more quaffable, this should fit the bill.

Miss Pink

2oz Pinkster Gin
1oz Dolin Chambery Vermouth Dry
1/2oz Ruby Port
1/2oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4oz simple syrup
Twist of lemon zest to garnish

Using a small, sharp knife, pare a strip of zest from the lemon and set aside.
Add all of the ingredients apart from the zest, to a cocktail shaker, with a large handful of ice.
With the lid firmly attached, shake hard for about 20-30 secs and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Twist the strip of zest over the drink, releasing the all the lovely lemony oils and drop into the glass.

For more fabulous Pinkster cocktails, click here. (The Big Pink is a particular favourite)


Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Shrove Tuesday


This year, Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake Day has fallen just a few days after Valentine's, so before the roses have even lost their bloom, there's another opportunity for celebration. According to the Christian calendar, it's the feast that precedes a period of restraint (Lent), in the run up to Easter, but it's roots stretch back beyond the dawn of Christianity to pagan times. As a pagan festival, the round pancake was thought to represent the sun, signifying the coming of spring and as a Christian celebration, it was a way to use up rich foods, such as eggs, milk and sugar, before Lent when a simple, plain diet was expected (hair shirt optional).

Religious beliefs aside (live and let live, I say), there's not a great deal of restraint goes on our household, although, perhaps it does make sense to show a little moderation in the gap betwixt Pancake Day and Chocolate Egg Day lest one should find one's trousers have inexplicably begun to garrotte one's nether regions...

Each year, my delightful children insist that I make pancakes and each year, they eat one and then we are left with a lot of pancake mixture that lurks in the fridge for a while I try and fail to convince them that savoury pancakes for dinner are a good idea. As a result, I am left feeling somewhat ambivalent about the whole business of pancake making, but I think I may have the answer to my woes...the pancake inspired cocktail! When the little blighters pooh-pooh my culinary efforts, I shall simply mix one of these and tip the rest of the pancake mixture in the bin.

This cocktail is quite simply, amazing, if I do say so myself and has been achieved without the use of gin (very unusual for me). It does involve making toffee vodka, but that is so ridiculously quick and simple, it really shouldn't put you off - click here for the toffee vodka recipe.

As the name suggests, it is inspired by the French dessert, Crêpe Suzette, consisting of a thin pancake, topped with a sauce of caramelised sugar and butter and orange juice and finished with orange curaçao liqueur. It's a delicious combination and it's metamorphosis into cocktail form is no less of a gastronomic success.

Coupe Suzette

2oz toffee vodka
1/4oz triple sec
1 and 1/2oz freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
lemon and granulated white sugar to rim the glass

Begin by rimming the edge of a chilled cocktail glass with sugar - pour a little sugar onto a small plate and moisten the rim of the glass by gently passing the cut lemon over it - do not allow it to drip down the sides, if possible. Roll the moistened edge of the glass through the sugar on the plate and see how the crystals adhere.
Next, add the remaining ingredients to a shaker with a handful of ice and firmly attach the lid before shaking hard. Always keep on hand over the top whilst shaking to avoid any sudden spillages.
When the outside of the shaker develops a frosty bloom, strain the mixture carefully into the glass, avoiding any splashes on the rim that might dislodge the sugar crystals.

Toffee Vodka

 Apothecary Bottle by Toasted Glass

A lot of flavoured vodkas require patience and effort to get the desired result, but this one is so ridiculously simple, there really is no need to buy it ready made. All you need is some vodka (it needn't be the most expensive bottle on the shelf) and some Werthers Original butter candies - I'm sure other brands are available, but I haven't heard of them and these are sold, pretty much everywhere.

Ingredients

35cl vodka
10 butter candy sweets

Method

Unwrap the sweets and place in a microwaveable bowl with just enough water to cover the candy.
Heat in the microwave on full power for about 4 minutes or until the sweets have fully melted - at this stage the mixture should have reduced in volume and be bubbling like molten lava.
Carefully remove the bowl from the microwave, bearing in mind that it may well be hot, so please protect your hands.
Ensure that the vodka is at room temperature - if you pour chilled vodka into the mixture, the candy will harden immediately.
Add the vodka to the toffee and stir to mix - you may find that a little of the toffee does harden and adhere to the spoon, but it should be a very minimal amount.
Once the mixture is fully dissolved, allow to cool and store in an airtight bottle or container where it should be good to drink for several weeks, if not longer.
If you are partial to drinking chilled, vodka shots then store in the fridge and give it a shake before serving as the mixture may separate over time.

Toffee vodka is an integral part of the Coupe Suzette cocktail that I created in celebration of Pancake Day - click here for recipe.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Valentine's Tipple


Whether or not you are an advocate of Valentine's Day (owing to a distinct lack of interest from Mr TG, I have learned not to be...), this cocktail will make you feel all warm inside. The fizz and the fruit keep it light and fun while the Campari adds a subtle bite; a recipe for a perfect night...

I've used Chase Elegant gin because its botanicals won't overwhelm the flavour and unusually, it is distilled from apples, making it a perfect partner for fruity cocktails. Chase Elderflower liqueur adds a sweet, floral hint that pairs beautifully with all forms of fizz and is definitely one to add to your drinks' cabinet. If you search this blog, you'll find I've used it on many an occasion and have had to replace the bottle more times than I care to admit.

So, even if you're feeling a little 'bah humbug' about the whole occasion, I can still recommend this cocktail. Enjoy with friends, or perhaps watching Brief Encounter with just the dog for company - either way, it's a coupe full of love to enjoy this weekend.

Scarlet Woman

1oz Chase Elegant Gin
1/2oz Chase Elderflower Liqueur
10ml Campari
3oz Brut Cava
5 raspberries

Pulp the raspberries by pushing them through a sieve, collecting the juice in the bottom of your shaker and discarding the pips.
Add the gin and elderflower with a handful of ice, pop on the lid and shake until the outside of the shaker frosts over.
Open the shaker, add the Cava and then strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Something For The Weekend...


After a long hiatus (more than 4 months), I could contain my inner bartender no longer and felt compelled to take up my cocktail shaker and mix up a little something for the weekend...

Of course, I can't claim to have endured a period of abstinence over the last few months, but the lead up to Christmas proved to the busiest yet for Toasted Glass and there was scant time for cocktails, never mind photographing them or writing about them. The festive period is now over and although things are a little calmer, it would be unrealistic to think that I could resume the blog as before, but I hope to entice you with the occasional cocktail, just to get the weekend off to a good start.

During my blogging sabbatical, I developed a love of martinis, not least because they are simple to mix, requiring only a couple of ingredients (of the highest quality of course). This cocktail takes the basic martini ingredients of gin and vermouth and adds a little a little ginger, basil and lime to give it a distinctive Thai flavour. Faintly reminiscent of a Jo Malone scented candle (in a good way), this is fresh and zesty with a spicy warmth that will remind you of warmer climes whilst melting away the winter chill.

Siam Gin Cocktail

1oz Gin (I used No.3 London Dry Gin)
1oz Dolin Chambery Vermouth Dry
1oz Dolin Chambery Vermouth Blanc
1/2oz Ginger Liqueur (I used Catron Ginger )
10ml freshly squeezed lime juice
2 basil leaves (thai basil if you can get it)
sprig of basil to garnish

In the bottom of a shaker, gently muddle (squish) the basil with the gin.
Add a handful of ice cubes along with the remaining ingredients (bar the garnish) and pop on the lid.
Holding it tightly shut, shake vigorously until the outside of the shaker develops a frosty bloom and double strain the drink into a chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish with fresh sprig of basil (to release the aroma, gently slap the herb between your palms, before popping it in the glass)



Thursday, 18 September 2014

Ferdinand's Saar Dry Gin


A trip to my favourite, London, specialist drinks' supplier, is sadly, all too rare an occasion these days. However, it was with a sense of mild jubilation that Mr TG and I escorted our little princes back to school after seemingly, endless, summer holidays and having dabbed the tears from our eyes, quickly recovered when we realised that after seven, long weeks, we were free to do whatever we wanted; at least until 3.30pm. Hurrah!

We boarded the train to London and made a whistle stop tour of Borough Market, popping in to Neals Yard to purchase a frankly, huge amount of stinky cheese. Then, clutching our fragrant parcel of whiffy Stilton, headed over to Leadenhall Market where the lovely Diosa from Amathus Drinks had some new gins for us to try.

It was hard to leave with just one, as both brands we sampled were delicious in very different ways, but in the end I promised myself I would save one for another trip and based my final decision on looks - terribly shallow, I know, but I'm sure you'll agree that it certainly is a bonny bottle. Of course, looks aren't everything, but luckily, there's far more to this gin, than just a pretty face...


Ferdinand's Saar Dry Gin is quite unique; as well as a long list of locally sourced botanicals, including a hefty dose of lavender (always a good thing), quince and lemon thyme, the gin is given a final infusion of Reisling using handpicked grapes from the Zilliken Estate in the Saar region which straddles the borders of France, Germany and Luxemburg.

The gin owes its moniker to Ferdinand Geltz, a Royal Prussian, District Forester of yesteryear, but owes its unique taste to Master Distiller, Andreas Vallendar; the former lends an air of gravitas to the gin, but it is the latter who has really worked the magic; bringing together over thirty botanicals, most of which are picked by hand from the surrounding area, making this a truly artisanal beverage.

On first tasting, I was struck by just how dominant the Resiling infusion was, giving it a distinctly 'winey' flavour, but on second sip, the lavender took centre stage. The overall impression was floral, very dry and quite unlike any gin I've tasted before - I was hooked.

My immediate thought was that the Reisling infusion made it taste like an incredibly intense Martini and so, that seemed like a jolly good place to start.

Ferdinand's Martini

2oz Ferdinand's Saar Dry Gin
1oz Dolin dry vermouth

Whether you shake or stir, is a matter of personal taste, but in this instance, in order to preserve as much of the gin flavour as possible, I decided to stir.

Add the gin and vermouth to the bottom of a shaker, with a handful of ice and stir approximately 20 times.

Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.


The classic Gin and Tonic is my go to drink and is a great way to enjoy a good gin, providing you don't drown it in bad tonic. Fever Tree is one of the best and the naturally light version uses less sugar, without substituting it for artificial sweeteners.

Ferdinand's Gin and Tonic

2oz Ferdinand's Saar Dry Gin
Fever Tree naturally light tonic
wedge of lime

I'm sure I don't have to tell you how to make a gin and tonic, but just incase...

Add the gin to a chilled glass, half filled with ice and top up with a little tonic. Don't add too much as you can always add more if it's not to your taste, but you can't take it away if you add too much.

Add a wedge of lime - the acidity of lime actually makes a gin and tonic taste sweeter...


The Negroni is one of my favourite, simple, gin cocktails. It combines Campari with a sweet vermouth, both of which blend with Gin to create an intensely bittersweet, herbal drink, whose flavour is subtly altered by whichever gin you use. It's a great drink and works well with Ferdinand's Saar Dry Gin, although the Campari does tend to overpower the mix, somewhat.

Ferdinand's Negroni

1oz Ferdinand's Saar Dry Gin
1oz Martini Rosso
1oz Campari

Add all of the ingredients to a chilled glass and stir with a swizzle stick, to mix.


I was surprised to discover how much I enjoyed the Ferdinand's Martini, as I am not really a Martini drinker - I tend to prefer cocktails that slip down a little more easily, generally aided by something sweet and sour - but I think I may just have found the best Martini gin, ever. As a result, I am inclined to save it solely for this purpose, although I might be tempted to try a few cocktails of my own at a later date, so watch this space.

To the best of my knowledge, Amathus Drinks are the sole importers for Ferdinand's Dry Saar Gin so if you fancy giving it a try (and I highly recommend that you do), you can order it online or pop in to one of their London outlets (full details are on the website) where you may just find you leave with far more than you intended....




Friday, 15 August 2014

Summer Pastels


Obviously, the number one priority when choosing your cocktail should be taste, but there's a lot to be said for looks as well, particularly if you are creating a cocktail for an event such as a wedding where the colour scheme is all important. Colour plays a large role in my business of creating Bespoke Cocktails as often, I am making a drink to represent a brand or a special occasion. So this week, for no other reason than I think they are as pretty as they are delicious, I've put together some martini-style drinks in pastel shades that might just be the perfect match for you.

The Just Peachy cocktail is fragrant with peach, hints of raspberry and spicy undertones. It's sweet enough to to slip down all too easily, but if you like your liquor hard, you can always double up on the gin. Remember, with a martini-style drink, there's no non-alcoholic element to water it down so the dilution comes, solely from shaking it over ice. Likewise, the drink is always best, enjoyed cold, hence the need for a stemmed glass to drink it from - this will prevent the heat of your hand, warming the contents of the glass and keep it icy cold from start to finish.

Just Peachy

1 oz Whitely Neil Gin
1 oz extra dry vermouth
1 oz martini rosato
1/2 oz Cartron Crème de Pêche de Vigne

Add everything to a shaker with ice and shake hard for about 20 secs.
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass


The Elderflower and Violet Cocktail is a floral treat with just enough sharp lemon to cut through the sweetness. The pale violet colour is a joy to behold and the flavour is a must for those who like their cocktails flowery.

Elderflower and Violet Cocktail

2 oz dry vermouth
dash of lemon juice

Add everything to a shaker with ice and shake hard for about 20 secs.
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass


The Flamooga is a Bespoke Cocktail I created for a customer recently that I hope they won't mind me sharing. It's a delicate shade of flamingo pink and a sophisticated blend of Gin Mare, Chase Elderflower Liqueur, a dash of Campari and ruby grapefruit. The herbal botanicals of Gin Mare (rosemary, thyme, basil and olive) and the citrus zing of ruby grapefruit are balanced with a little bittersweet from the Campari and fragrant floral of elderflower - something to reach all the tastebuds. It's not too sweet and works really well, shaken and served straight up, as shown here, or topped up with a little champagne and served in a champagne glass.

Flamooga

1 1/2 oz Gin Mare
tsp Campari
2 oz freshly squeezed ruby grapefruit 

Add everything to a shaker with ice and shake hard for about 20 secs.
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.