Saturday, 28 September 2013

Just Peachy...

This week's post has been brought to you, courtesy of Lockets, Olbas Oil and Kleenex Balsam Tissues, without which, none of this would have been possible. I am currently in the midst of Lady Flu and viewing the world as though I had a vaseline smeared fish bowl on my head - none of which is conducive to good mixology, taste being an integral part of the process. Luckily however, the week began in less snot-centric circumstances and I was able to create a few peachy numbers before the flu fairy descended upon me, sprinkling me with her germ-laden, fairy dust. 

Why peaches, I hear you ask? Well, the truth is that Mr TG returned from a hard day's foraging in the supermarket, laden with multiple punnets of white peaches which had been reduced in price. They were a tad on the hard side, so we left them to ripen in the bowl, but after two days of waiting patiently, they were still looking more useful as cricket balls, than a fruity treat. Not wishing to admit defeat, I decided to turn them into peach purée - worst case, we'd drinking Bellinis all week...

So, should you find yourself in similarly saddled with a bowl of hard peaches, this is what to do to make them into peach nectar.

Peach Nectar

Firstly, score the skin of the peaches with a sharp knife, to make several crosses over the surface - this will allow the skin to loosen when you blanche them.
Place the peaches in a pan of water so that they are covered and bring quickly to the boil - if the peaches are really hard, allow to boil for minute or two.
Remove from heat and run immediately under the cold tap - this should loosen the peach skin and make it easy to peel off.
Cut the peaches in half and remove the stones.
If the peaches are still very hard, place all the cut pieces into a saucepan with just enough water to cover the bottom and simmer for a few minutes until soft, ensuring the pan doesn't boil dry.
Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Push through a sieve with the back of a spoon and store in an airtight container. 
Add a little water and or sugar, if necessary.

As this peach nectar has no preservatives, you should aim to guzzle it within a day or two, which means lots of cocktailing opportunities, or you could just drink it as juice, but where's the fun in that?

This first cocktail brought a touch of summer sun to an autumnal evening. It plays the sweetness of peach against the tang of grapefruit and tops it off with a touch of fiery ginger beer. The combination of sweet and spicy Añejo 7 Años Havana Club, dark rum with the citrus notes of Clement Rhum Blanc Agricole give the drink lots of flavour layers in the tradition of a Tiki style cocktail.

Peach Tiki


1oz peach nectar
1oz freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice
A little ginger beer to top up
Strip of pink grapefruit zest to garnish

Using a sharp paring knife, cut a strip of zest from the peel of the grapefruit and set to one side.
Add everything, but the ginger beer to a cocktail shaker and shake hard for about 20 secs.
Strain into a large tumbler or highball filled with crushed ice and top up with a little ginger beer.

As well as being a gorgeous shade of blush, this next cocktail is a delicate blend of gin and juice, enhanced with the herbal notes of fresh basil. I used Williams Chase Extra Dry GB Gin because it has strong spicy notes of cinnamon and nutmeg that compliment the peach nectar and plenty of juniper and citrus to blend with the pink grapefruit. There are a lot of different flavours going on in one glass, but the result is a delicately perfumed and refreshing  drink.

Basil Blush


2oz Williams Chase Extra Dry GB Gin
4-6 fresh basil leaves
1oz peach nectar
1oz freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice
1/2oz simple syrup
Dash of sparkling water
Sprig of basil to garnish

Add the syrup and basil leaves to a cocktail shaker and muddle gently (squish) to release the essential oils - don't overdo the muddling or the flavour will be vegetal rather deliciously herbal.
Add the rest of the ingredients to the shaker with a handful of ice and shake to mix.
Strain the shaker contents into a chilled tumbler, filled with ice and top with a dash of sparkling water.
Garnish with a small sprig of basil - gently slap the sprig between your palms to release the basil aroma.

Now I realise that tequila isn't everybody's spirit of choice, but I have grown to love the smokey, earthy flavour of a tequila resposado and find it combines really well with elderflower and rosemary syrup as in the Tufnell cocktail from my Ashes post. Here, I've used these flavours again, but combined them with peach nectar and topped up with a spot of bubbly to add some sparkle and dilute the concentration in the absence of ice.

Sweet Rosemary


1oz tequila resposado
1/2 oz Chase Elderflower Liqueur
1/2 oz rosemary syrup (click here for recipe)
1oz peach nectar
1/2 oz lemon juice
Cava or your fizz of choice to top up
Strip of lemon zest to garnish

Before cutting the lemon to squeeze it, take a sharp paring knife and cut a strip of zest from the peel.
Add the rest of the ingredients, apart from the Cava, to a shaker and shake hard.
Strain into a chilled martini glass or coupette and carefully add some fizz, ensuring you pour slowly to avoid it fizzing over. Allow to settle and gently stir to mix.

And so we come to the end of the week, when the lurgey caught up with me and I was rendered temporarily off the cocktail radar. I was sorely tempted to treat myself with Penicillin cocktails, but upon reflection, decided that, although undeniably delicious, the health benefits were debatable. Instead, I made a warming, fruity punch, using the rest of the peach nectar, lemon and honey-ginger syrup. I can testify to it's soothing and warming qualities and should you wish to pop a tot of rum in there too, I imagine you'll be perky again in no time!

Rum Tea Remedy


2oz water
2oz peach nectar
1oz lemon

Add everything to a saucepan and heat very gently for about 5 mins, never allowing it to boil.
Pour into a suitably heat resistant receptacle, cup hands around it and curl up in a comfy chair, preferably with a warm, snuggly blanket...achoo

Friday, 20 September 2013

Nature's Harvest (in a glass)

Only a few, short weeks ago, it felt as though Summer might last forever, but of course, the seasons march on a pace and here we are, pulling on sweaters and wondering when it will be acceptable to crank up the central heating. Thankfully though, there's more to Autumn than just shorter days and chilly mornings. This is harvest time for a plethora of fruits, vegetables and grains, many of which will make an appearance on our plates and some of which should definitely be charging our glasses. British apples, pears, blackberries and plums are all at their best right now and if you are lucky enough to grow your own, you're probably wondering what to do them all, so when you've had your fill of fruit crumble, might I suggest that you turn your culinary skills to the drinks cabinet. After all, a warming tipple is a welcome pleasure as the nights draw in and the temperature drops. But don't worry if you don't have a garden full of fruit trees, the supermarket has plenty of British produce in store right now that will taste better than ever.

For this first cocktail, I actually made some pear nectar, which may sound a little over the top, but was surprisingly, very simple to do and a fabulous way to use up a surfeit of pears. Mine, I hasten to add, were from the supermarket and had inconveniently all decided to ripen at once, simultaneously turning from molar challengingly hard, to squish, within a day. As I couldn't convince my children that they really wanted to eat a bowlful of pears in a sitting, I decided to make them into juice.

Pear Nectar (makes about a pint)

3 large pears
150 ml of water

Chop the pears into quarters - no need to peel or core - and add to a pan with the water.
Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for a few minutes.
Allow to cool and place a sieve over a large bowl.
Mash the pear through the sieve and hey presto...pear juice!

As there are no preservatives, I suggest you use the juice within a day or so, but if you do want to store it for longer, you must keep it refrigerated in an airtight, sterilised container. This is very important as juices can become volatile if not kept in a sterile environment. However, it's so delicious, I can't imagine it will last too long.

Now, of course, you can buy pear nectar from some health food outlets or even make it by whizzing up unsweetened tinned pears, so don't feel you have to go all 'Nigella' in the kitchen. Using fresh produce is always a nice touch, but this cocktail is going to taste delicious, whichever way you prepare it. What really gives it that Autumnal, spiced flavour, is the delicious cinnamon, vanilla and clove syrup and luckily, you can buy it, ready made in a bottle  ( Clément Sirop de Canne available from ). Alternatively, you can make your own:

Vanilla, Cinnamon and Clove Syrup

Add a vanilla pod, cinnamon stick and a couple of whole cloves to a pan with one cup of water.
Bring to the boil, reduce heat and add two cups of sugar.
Simmer for 5 mins and allow to cool.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Phew, so you've got your pear nectar, you've got your syrup, let's make some cocktails already!

Spiced Pear Martini


2 oz vodka (I used Sipsmith Barley Vodka)
2 oz pear nectar
1/2 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 - 1 oz Vanilla, Cinnamon and Clove Syrup (1/2 oz is enough for me, but if you like it sweet, add a little more)
Cinnamon stick and a strip of orange zest to garnish

Using a paring  knife, cut a strip of zest from and orange - try to leave the pith behind if possible.
Add the vodka, pear nectar and syrup to a cocktail shaker with a handful of ice cubes.
Shake hard for about 20 secs and strain the contents into a chilled martini glass.
Twist the orange zest over the top of the drink to release the essential oils and use as garnish along with the cinnamon stick.

Next up is a cocktail that will definitely warm  you up after a chilly day. It combines lots of warming ginger with the earthy spiciness of tequila and the fresh flavour of blackberries. If you can pick your own, so much the better, just give them a little wash before you start.

Tequila, Ginger Bramble


2 oz Tequila Resposado (gold in colour)
1-2 cm root ginger, peeled and finely grated
3-4 fresh blackberries
1/2 oz lemon juice
3/4 oz agave nectar or sugar syrup
Sparkling water to top up
Blackberry to garnish

Add the ginger and blackberries to a cocktail shaker and muddle (squish).
Add the tequila, lemon and syrup with a handful of ice and shake hard.
Strain the contents into a chilled tumbler or hi ball, filled with ice and top up with a little sparkling water.
Stir gently to combine and garnish with a fresh blackberry.

Finally, Autumn hasn't really started before you have your first Mulled Cider and Britain has no shortage of fine ciders to choose from. With the apples, literally falling out of the trees, there is no better time to celebrate that most British of drinks and warm your very cockles, to boot.

I could probably write a whole book, just of Mulled Cider recipes and indeed, I may, but for now, let's settle on just one that will see you through the next cold snap and into the Festive Season. The quantities here will make two generous cups, but if you are entertaining guests in the near future, scale up and give them a warming treat.

Jolly Sailor's Mulled Cider

500 ml dry cider
50 ml dark rum
Peeled zest of 1/2 an orange
1/2 an apple, cut into 4 wedges
1/2 cinnamon stick
1/2 vanilla pod
4 cloves

Put all of the ingredients in to a heavy bottomed saucepan and heat gently - do not allow to boil.
Simmer very gently for about 20 mins and pour into cups with the apple wedges - try to leave the zest etc, behind, as the cups get a little crowded, but be sure to eat the apple at the end - it's delicious!

Thursday, 12 September 2013


Last week, my lovely neighbours returned from their family holiday in Menorca and knowing, as they do, my deep appreciation of gin, there were kind enough to bring me back a bottle of the Balearic classic, Gin Xoriguer which is produced in Menorca's capital, Mahon. Now, I am no stranger to Gin Xoriguer, having spent several, rather fabulous summer holidays in Menorca and have drunk many a Pomada under the setting sun, so I was keen to find out if the national drink of Menorca tastes as good, in the absence of the Balearic atmosphere.

Every bar and restaurant in Menorca will serve it's version of a Pomada and you can also buy bottles of it, ready made, although, past experience has taught me that this is best avoided. However, a Pomada, like most cocktails, is open to interpretation and varies wildly, from being prepared with fresh lemons to  basically gin and Fanta Lemon. To be honest, Gin and Fanta Lemon is pretty delicious, but that doesn't make much of a cocktail post, so I decided to make it from scratch and I can highly recommend you try it too. It's fairly simple, very refreshing and dangerously drinkable.


2oz Gin Xoriguer
1oz lemon juice
3/4oz sugar syrup
Sparkling water
Twist of lemon zest

Before cutting the lemon to squeeze it, cut a long strip of zest from the peel, ensuring you leave the pith behind 
Add the gin, lemon and sugar syrup to a hi ball glass and fill with ice
Stir to mix and top up with sparkling water
Stir one more time and garnish with the lemon zest by twisting it over the drink to release the citrus aroma

Delicious as the Pomada is, I wanted to see if Gin Xoriguer was more than a one trick pony and so I put it to the test, trying out some classic gin cocktails on the aforementioned, lovely neighbours and Mr TG, none of whom, really share my fervour for the juniper elixir.

This first drink was probably the favourite of our guest's. It is a modern classic, created by London barman, Dick Bradsell and has become a firm fixture on cocktail menus across the country.


2oz Gin
1/2 oz Creme de Cassis
1oz lemon juice
1/2 oz sugar syrup
Lemon wedge to garnish

Add the gin, lemon juice and sugar syrup to a rocks glass
Fill with crushed ice and stir to mix
Pour over the Creme de Cassis
Garnish with a lemon wedge

The Bramble proved to be predictably popular with our guests and indeed, was most enjoyable, but this next cocktail was probably my personal favourite of the night. It's got gin, it's got champagne...enough said.

French 75

2oz Gin
1oz lemon juice
1/2oz sugar syrup
Twist of lemon zest

Before cutting the lemon to squeeze it, cut a long strip of zest from the peel, ensuring you leave the pith behind 
Add the gin, lemon juice and sugar syrup to shaker, with ice
Shake and strain into a chilled champagne glass 
Top with champagne and garnish with the twist of lemon zest

The French 75 was such a hit that perhaps any drink would pale by comparison, but I have to say I was a little disappointed with this. It didn't seem to have quite the flavour of the others and in fact, one of our guests did compare it to washing up liquid. That  is a little unfair I think, but certainly, it was lacking. The problem turned out to be, in the syrup. The original recipe calls for a raspberry syrup, but generally, grenadine is used in it's place. I thought to use Creme de Framboises, rather than grenadine and discovered that it doesn't quite have the sweetness required. I did make the drink again, using grenadine, as directed, and it was a far more enjoyable experience.

Clover Club

1 1/2oz Gin
3/4oz lemon juice
1/2oz Grenadine
1 egg white
Raspberry to garnish

Add all of the ingredients to a shaker, without ice and 'dry' shake
Add ice and shake one more time
Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with a raspberry

The White Lady is another cocktail that uses egg white to give it a creamier consistency, without the dairy taste. It is simultaneously sharp and sweet, like a melted lemon sorbet (with gin) and rather fabulous.

White Lady

2oz Gin
1oz triple sec
1oz lemon juice
1 egg white
Lemon wheel to garnish

Add all of the ingredients to a shaker, without ice and 'dry' shake
Add ice and shake one more time
Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with a wheel of lemon

This last cocktail is one I may well take to ordering when out and about. The Cointreau gives it some sweetness, but not so much as to make you want to drink it like pop and the bitters add a spicy dimension that gives it some depth. It's definitely one to try.

Pegu Club

2oz Gin
1/2oz cointreau
3/4oz lime juice
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Before cutting the lime to squeeze it, cut a long strip of zest from the peel, ensuring you leave the pith behind
Add everything to a shaker with ice and shake hard
Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with a strip of lime zest

Friday, 6 September 2013

Celebration Cocktails!

In the Toasted Glass household, cocktails aren't just for special occasions - they are more, a way of life -  but I am aware, that for many, cocktails are saved for celebrations or nights on the town. However, I am of the opinion that half the fun of having a drink, is in the making of it. A little pomp and ceremony lends an air of gravitas to the situation and elevates it from merely drinking, to a more exciting and creative process, rendering me, an artist, as oppose to just a piss artist. Anyway, the only problem with this attitude, is that when there really is something to celebrate, how do you go the extra mile? What can you possibly drink that is more fantabulous than your everyday cocktail consumption?

This was the spiritous conundrum that Mr TG and I were faced with this week as we had much to be thankful for, not least of all, the timely return of the younger TGs to school. Most of all, however, we wanted to toast the launch of Toasted Glass online. Of course, Toasted Glass has been selling online through Etsy and Folksy for close to a year now, but there's nothing quite like having your very own website. Much like buying your first home, it is fraught with difficulties, but the joy of putting all your own things in there, exactly where you want them to go, is something quite special. The whole process has been, very much, a joint effort and not something I could have done without the wonderful Mr TG. I am very proud of our labours and hope you will visit us in our new home at There is also a link on the homepage, direct to this blog, so you can shop for glassware and then see it action, here.

So, you can see my quandary - lots to celebrate and the need for some extra special cocktails to help us along. My instincts led me inexorably, to champagne. I am very partial to a glass of bubbly and even more so, to a champagne cocktail, as previous posts will support (see list at the end of this post), so to ring the changes, I went for some pink bubbles. There are many bubbly rosés to choose from - big champagne houses like Veuve Cliquot and Moet produce pink fizz as well as far more pocket friendly cavas rosados from Freixenet and all the big supermarkets. It really is just a matter of preference and budget as to which you choose, but just make sure it is a brut fizz as the cocktails all have some form of sweetness to them that would soon become sickly if mixed with a sweeter wine.

First of all, I rustled up a variation on a Kir Royale, the classic champagne cocktail of Creme de Cassis and champagne. I threw into the mix, an ounce of Chase Bramley Apple Vodka, which has a slight sweetness of it's own, but a very natural apple flavour, from the apples grown in their orchards at Rosamaund Farm in Hereford. Having made a pilgrimage to the farm and distillery this summer (you can read about it by clicking here), I can assure you that the apple flavour is 100% natural. Chase often make products in small batch numbers, so if it is not available, you could try either Smirnoff or Absolut, who are both making naturally flavoured apple vodkas. I haven't tried either, as yet, but the Absolut Orient Apple contains a hint of ginger too, which sounds quite interesting, although perhaps not for this particular drink.

Apple Kir Royale

1 oz Chase Bramley Apple Vodka
1/2 oz creme de cassis
Pink fizz to top up
Strawberry to garnish

Add the vodka and cassis to a shaker, with a little ice and shake briefly, just to cool the spirits down.
Strain into a chilled champagne glass and top with ice cold pink fizz
Garnish with a fresh strawberry

Next up, was a cheeky little gin number. There is not much in life that can't be improved with a drop of gin, says I, and this is no exception. The combination of Williams Chase GB Extra Dry Gin which has a lot of juniper and spice, with floral, citrus zest of passion fruit, makes for a flavourful and fresh cocktail with plenty going on to entertain your taste buds.

Gin Passion

1 oz Williams GB Gin
1/2 Giffards Passion Fruit Syrup
1/2 fresh, purple passion fruit
Slice of white flesh peach to garnish

Scoop the pulp from the halved passion fruit and add to the shaker with the syrup, gin and ice.
Shake hard and strain into a chilled champagne flute.
Top with pink fizz and garnish with a slice of white peach.

This final cocktail was my favourite of all. The combination of bitter, sweet and fresh orange with a dash of fizz to pep it all up, is just delicious. I keep coming back to variations on this theme, with or without fizz and have not found it lacking.

Lady Marmalade

1 oz Chase Marmalade Vodka
1/2 oz triple sec
1/3 oz Campari
1 oz freshly squeezed orange juice
Pink fizz to top up
Twist of orange zest to garnish

Before you cut the orange to squeeze it, take a sharp knife and cut a strip of zest to use as garnish.
Add all of the spirits  and the freshly squeezed orange juice to a shaker with ice.
Shake hard and strain in to a chilled champagne flute
Top up carefully with pink fizz - the combination of fresh orange and fizz can be quite volatile.
 Twist the strip of zest into a spiral, over the top of the drink, releasing the lovely aroma and garnish.

For more fabulous champagne cocktails, take a wander through some vintage posts on this blog.

Champagne Cocktails

Skinny Cocktails (look for the Pink Grapefruit and Basil Champagne Cocktail)

Wimbledon Cocktails

Easter Cocktails (look for the La Fleur de Paradis)

Mother's Day Cocktails (look for the Elderflower Fizz)