Monday, 29 November 2010

Falmouth Beer Festival




Princess Pavilion
Melvill Road
Falmouth
Cornwall

What serendipity that the organisers of the Falmouth Beer Festival, back in October, should decide to hold their annual gathering on the same weekend I was visiting my parents in Cornwall! Now, enough joking around, here are the beers*:

Pennycomequick (4.5%) (on the pump pictured top): A Cornish stout of distinction from Skinners, smooth and malty.

Cornish Blonde (5%): Another suppable Skinners beer - wheat one this time - from the redoubtable Truro-based brewery.

Spingo Special (6.5%): From the Blue Anchor Brewery in Helston, Cornwall. Unforgettable blue cheese aroma with an intense, complex malty bittersweetness on the palate.
Choice fact: This beer was brewed for the first time to celebrate the marriage of Prince Charles and Diana. Special indeed.


Grandma's Weapons Grade Ginger Beer (5.5%) (above): From Wheal Maiden Brewery in Cornwall. Almost flat, cloudy in appearance. Supplies a fiery gingery kick, with a slightly syrupy sweetness on the finish.

Leveller (4.8%): From the Springhead brewery in Nottinghamshire. This one was dark and smoky with a toffee finish.

Rock Own (4.4%): Balanced and biscuity. Thanks, Sharp's.

Sam's Sweet Cider (6%): My token cider came from Devon's Winkleigh - a faint fizz, very appley and nicely sweet but not a great deal going on.

* Due to my less than intact tasting notes I've included a mix of programme notes and my own observations. The point is, I liked them.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Callooh Callay



65 Rivington Street
London
EC2A 3AY


It was the start of London Cocktail Week (I know, I'm a bit behind with my posts), so I met up with the London Cocktail Society in a London cocktail bar to drink London cocktails.

The Society - a recently established circle of imbibers, who meet at a different bar each month - had secured the use of Callooh Callay's secluded and sumptuous Jubjub Bar. There, top mixologist Sean Ware offered up an array of delightful drinks on a London theme, including the following:

The Ale of Two Cities (pictured above)
42 Below Feijoa, Punt E Mes, nettle cordial, malt syrup, Granny Smith apple juice and bitters.
- A brilliantly cheeky cocktailian representation of a classic British drink. I had to stop myself gulping it down like a pint of Pride. Feijoa, btw, was described to us as tasting of agave, pineapple and a subtle TCP essence. So now you know.

Hot Gin Punch

A twist on a Victorian winter warmer, party starter punch, combining the curious flavours of Hendrick's Gin, Madeira Wine, winter spices, pineapple, citrus and honey.
- It used to be safer to drink punch than water, we were told. Safety first.

The Avenue (left)
Four Roses small batch bourbon, Laird's Apple Jack, passionfruit nectar, orange flower water and syrup.
- Popular around the Art Nouveau era. Tasted great.

Clayton's Special Cocktail
Clayton's Kola Tonic, Bacardi Superior rum, citrus syrup.
- First seen in print in the Savoy Cocktail Book in the 1930s. Clayton's Kola Tonic, described as Coke for grown-ups, used to be made in Battersea, apparently. These days they make it in Barbados.

I may have to go back to this Shoreditch bar to check out its standard drinks menu. Cheers.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Whisky Squad #8



Belatedly, or perhaps just in time (to whet the Squad's appetite for next week's meeting), I bring a brief account of Whisky Squad 8: Movember.

Movember is the month when men grow moustaches in aid of men's health (and against prostate cancer). Whisky4Movember, part of the Movember family, was set up to unite mo-growers and whisky lovers for the good of humanity. Not content with just drinking the stuff, Darren and others at Master of Malt went giant leaps further and organised some special bottlings to celebrate - and raise funds for - the cause.

Here are those we tried - including a couple of bonus bottles thrown in for good measures...


Whisky4Movember - Mo’land
(pictured top)
Blended lowland Scotch malt whisky. 40% abv. 10-year-old.
Smooth, biscuity, Manuka honey flavour with a woody aftertaste.

Whisky4Movember - M’Orkney (right)
One of last year's Movember bottlings. Spooned Orcadian malt whisky. 40% abv. 11-year-old. Sherry cask. (See the end of this post for an explanation of a spooned malt).
Aroma of oak, vanilla and fruit. Sweetish taste but with dryness. Tangy. ID'd as Highland Parkish.

Whisky4Movember - Smo’key
Blended Islay Scotch malt whisky. 40% abv.

Peaty Ardbeggian nose. Oily, citrusy taste. Could do with a little more oomph, perhaps.

Each of the Movember bottlings cost £34.95, with £8 from the sale of each bottle going to fight prostate cancer. Buy them here now.

In addition to the W4M bottlings, Squaddies were treated to some helpings of the following whiskies:

Dalmore 15yo
Highland single malt Scotch whisky. 40% abv.
Aroma of fudge and chocolate. Taste of oranges, cherries, sherry-richness, a little sweet. The (added) rich caramel colouring does influence one's perceptions.

Smokehead 18 Year Old Extra Black (left)
Islay single malt Scotch whisky, 46%.
Ardbeg without the Ardbeg name, someone noted. The Extra Black is older than the standard 10. Goes for £84, this one.
Nose of mild peat, nutty like pistachio. Taste of BBQ, with a sweet peaty tang.

Apologies to Billy for 'borrowing' his photos (our shadowy whisky attic was a little dark for my camera). Read his post here.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Tequila Sunrise



Despite my best efforts, tequila is still lacking when it comes to cocktails. The Margarita is king (queen?) and always will be, but the Sunrise is probably the best known alternative.

It's served with an attractive rainbowish (or perhaps sunrisey) thing going on, with the heavier grenadine sunk at the bottom (pictured top), bleeding into the orange.

It's also pretty much the only alcoholic drink with orange juice I like (fine, apart from this one), since juice should properly be a thing of goodness for breakfast rather than a vehicle for revelry, IMO.

If you can get hold of some fresh oranges to squeeze, so much the better. And if you like your drinks sweeter, up the grenadine. It's probably a good idea to serve with a straw to imbibers can mix the orange and grenadine to even out the sweetness as they go.

As for the tequila, you might as well go for a blanco. This one does the job just fine.

T
equila Sunrise

60ml (2oz) Tequila
120ml (4oz) Orange juice
7.5ml (0.25oz) Grenadine
Slice of orange or wedge of lime to garnish (if you like)

Fill a highball glass with ice, add tequila and orange juice and stir until mixed. Carefully pour the grenadine down one side of the glass so it sinks to the bottom.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Ale Assemblage



Ales I have been imbibin'...

Smoked Porter
(5.4%). Cask.
A one-off collaboration between Dark Star, Sussex's finest, and Colorado brewer Odell, which recently entertained me with a Malteser-like wheat beer. Imbibed at the Cask in Pimlico, this was "a deep red porter with a hint of smoked malt"; really tasty, some coffee flavours, a bit of smoke and plenty of malt, with a slightly sweet finish.

Agave Wheat (4.2%). Bottle.
A real interesting one, this one, from the Breckenridge Brewery in (where else?) Colorado - a wheat ale brewed with agave nectar, from which tequila is made. It pours a dark gold colour, with plenty of bubbles, and has that clean, wheaty aroma. It tastes of cereal, with a honeyed, almost caramel sweetness, while remaining smooth, light(ish) and refreshing.


Nightlight Mild
(5.7%). Bottle.

A brilliant bottle-conditioned dessert beer from Elmtree Beers, in Norfolk: black as the night, fractionally on the sweet side with a balancing liquorice thing going on. I've always been a little mystified by the various categories of ales, but I gather mild - which once denoted a beer's unaged character - now suggests a malty rather than hoppy personality. "Suitable for vegans and vegetarians", this one, and 500ml long.

Sneck Lifter (5.1%). Cask.
A beer I'd never heard of, nor seen, prior to taking a punt on it in a Birmingham pub. Glad I did - this dark beer, from Jennings Brewery in Cumbria, was packed with flavour, like a creamy pint of coffee.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Aloe Vera



Continuing my foray into odd soft beverages (see here, here and here), I'd like you to meet Aloe Vera. Aloe, lest you don't know, is a fleshy water-storing plant known as a succulent, and a member of the lily family. As a drink, it's supposed to be great for the skin, and digestion, and it's big in parts of Asia and South America. The bottle above, branded Aloe Vera King, was manufactured by OKF Corp, imported by Korea Foods Co, and bought at a branch of top sushi shack Wasabi. It poured almost clear, with bits of jelly-like fruit pulp floating about in it. The aroma was brilliantly weird - perfumed, fruity, and, er, shampoo-ish. The taste reminded me of lychee, pear and cucumber - slightly sweet, but not sugary, and very quenching.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

WS#7: Berry Bros & Rudd



Berry Bros & Rudd is the oldest family-owned wine and spirit merchant in the world, having operated a shop in London's St James's Street since 1698 (bet the rent's gone up a little since then). Usefully, the premises includes around two acres of cellar space, enough to hold 30,000 bottles - with another 6.5m bottles (don't count 'em) stored in an out-of-town warehouse. While wine might be the money spinner, BB&R is evidently quite serious about its whisky, and as well as selling the usual array of big-name spirits, it also offers an acclaimed series of "Own Selection" bottlings too.

Whisky Squad's (very) rough guide to BB&R's bottling process:
 [1] Buy a cask from a distillery, often without having tasted its contents first.
[2] Age the whisky, tasting every few years until it is "ready" (an elusive state of near-perfection that can take decades to reach).
[3] Bottle the cask naturally (no chill filtering - just a sieve to catch the splinters).
[4] A cask-strength bottling generally provides a crop of no more than 600 bottles (making them quite special in their rarity alone).
[5] Sell for between £30 and £165 a bottle.

For Whisky Squad #7, we were joined by BB&R's spirits expert Rob Whitehead, who introduced us to a few special samples of the company's own bottlings.

Tasted blind with the help of Rob's whisky socks
BB&R Aberlour
14yo (distilled 1994, bottled 2008), 46% abv. £35.20.
An almost colourless "breakfast malt", good for beginners.
Nose: Apple, sweet fruit.
Taste: Sherbert fizz, with mint, nutty biscuits and honey; nice'n'smooth.

BB&R Bunnahabhain
12yo (distilled 1997, bottled 2009), 55.3%. £46.85.
Again, barely no colour, but plenty going on.
Nose: Peat with medicinal notes.
Taste: Briney smoke, acetone, dry with a beautifully long finish.
In a blind tasting, this tricked us all, since the usually barely-peated Bunna was so heavily peated here (part of the stuff they make for Islay's Black Bottle blend) there was little chance of any of us guessing its identity. That said, once its provenance was revealed, my next sip did suggest a distinctly Bunnahabhainish quality, in common with the 18-year-old we Squadded a few months back at WS#4. This one was well received.

BB&R Glen Mhor
26yo (distilled 1982, bottled 2009), 46%. £71.50.
From a "silent still" - a closed distillery - in the Highlands. Glen Mhor shut down in 1983 and is now, somewhat tragically, a Co-Op supermarket.
Nose: Apples (again), peach, vanilla.
Taste: A tiny measure of peat, creamy, oily mouthfeel, dry, fruity, spicy.
This lovely whisky was aged in a sherry cask. Whatever the cask imparts into the spirit, we learned, comes from the wood (a particular type of European oak, Quercus Roburin this case) - and not its previous contents. Any traces of actual sherry would have had only a minimal effect on its flavour.

BB&R Invergordon
39yo (distilled 1971, bottled 2009), 47%. £95. More here.
A single grain whisky of dark-reddish intensity, made with unmalted barley.
Nose: Cherries, cola bottles, milk chocolate, coconut.
Taste: Dry, oaky, sweet vanilla. Like a savoury, more refined bourbon.
Interestingly, since grain whisky is distilled at 95% abv, it has basically no character as a new make spirit, which means where flavour is concerned the wood is everything. This one was aged in a fresh bourbon barrel (used to hold bourbon just the once, before being emptied and shipped over from Kentucky) and was heavenly. While plenty of Squaddies were taken by the Bunna, this one was my favourite of the evening. Doing a bit of research later, I realised I've tried it before, at the Whisky Lounge in Brighton earlier this year. Alas, at £100, it's a little out of my budget - maybe I'll wait for the Boxing Day sales.

BB&R St Magdalene
26yo (distilled 1982, bottled 2008), from another silent still (this one closed in 1983, and is now an apartment complex). Triple distilled, as lowland malts are wont to be, and aged in an old, fourth-fill sherry butt (meaning this is the fourth lot of whisky it's held since its sherry days were done).
Nose: Vanilla.
Taste: Dry, wood, chalky, fizz, cucumber, grass.

Special thanks to Rob from BB&R for leading an engaging and informative session. I have a feeling we'll be dragging him back to The Gunmakers for another before too long.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Blood & Sand



I don't generally go for sweet cocktails, but just occasionally they're so well constructed that the sweetness seems appropriate. Even more occasionally, they involve Scotch whisky too - fetch me my cocktail shaker!

The Blood & Sand, which I tasted for the first time at The Player a few months back, was created for the premiere of the 1922 movie of the same name - a bullfighter-romance starring Rudolf Valentino. That's the story, now the recipe.

Blood & Sand

22.5ml (0.75oz) Scotch whisky
22.5ml (0.75oz) orange juice
22.5ml (0.75oz) sweet vermouth
22.5ml (0.75oz) cherry brandy liqueur

 
Pour ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake well. Double strain into a chilled martini glass.

For the Scotch, I picked Bailie Nicol Jarvie, a fine blend and perfect for cocktails, while for the cherry brandy-based liqueur I used De Kuyper (24% abv), although I keep reading that the slightly dearer Cherry Heering is best. I've also heard it suggested, repeatedly, that modern tastes might prefer less of the sweet stuff, with an ounce each of the whisky and orange and 3/4 ounces each of vermouth and cherry. I tried this and, sure, it's slightly Scotchier, and maybe more refined. But I still like the original - sublimely sweet and quite moreish.

Buy Bailie Nicol Jarvie from The Drink Shop here. Don't forget the sweet vermouth and the cherry brandy. I'll leave you to figure out the oranges.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Saketini



I like sake
, but some recipes for sake-based martinis appear to be designed for those who are indifferent to the life-enriching rice drink. It's delicate, you see, and you can't tell me that drowning a teaspoon of the stuff in a giant slug of gin, as proposed here, is going to do it justice. Forget about using sake as you would dry vermouth in a trad martini - give it the starring role.

Saketini


60ml (2oz) sake
30ml (1oz) gin


Pour ingredients into a mixing glass with ice and stir well. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with a cucumber slice.

I used Hendrick's for my gin and Sawanotsuru (from Waitrose) for my sake. So
me have suggested using vodka instead of gin. Don't.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Belgian Beers



Belgo Centraal
50 Earlham Street
Covent Garden
London WC2H 9LJ

If you thought Oktoberfest was a German thing, disabuse yourself - the Belgians are in on it too. At a special fest tasting at Belgo, London's most reliable purveyors of moules frites, I discovered that pairing beers with food actually works - improving both. While Belgian beer in particular can be a little demanding as a session drink, it makes a fine alternative to wine with dinner.

Food highlights here. Drink highlights here:


Belgo White/Witbier
, 5% (pictured top)

Paired with: Moules Marinière (steamed mussels)
Said to be based on a 500-year-old recipe for a traditional Belgian wheat beer, Belgo's house white is made with raw wheat and seasoned with coriander and dried Curacao oranges. Produced by the people who bring other people (but not me) Hoegaarden.
A light, wheaty beer with a slightly malty finish. A little bland - but good with seafood.

De Koninck Blonde
, 6%
Paired with: Champagne, duck and truffle terrine
Another light-wheat beer, slightly sweet, with a fruity tang. Doesn't taste like a 6% beer, even though it is one.

Witcap Stimulo
, 6%
Paired with: Beef Carbonnade (braised beef cooked in beer)
Fruity, malty, wheaty.

Bruges Zot Blonde
, 6%
Paired with: Moules Portugaises (mussels & roast chorizo in a tomato sauce)
One of my favourites, a lovely balance of wheat and fruit, quite full-bodied with a longer finish.

Floris Apple
, 3.6%
Paired with: Poached Pear
Completely different.
A light, crisp, fruity beer, not too sweet, with a Granny Smith aroma.

Westmalle Dubbel, 7% (left)
Paired with: Belgian Chocolate Pudding
From one of Belgium's six Trappist breweries, whose beer - to be authentically Trappist - must be made within a monastry's walls, overseen by a genuine monk.
Darker, like cola, in mouthfeel. An aroma of banana with a mild liquorice taste.

Mort Subite Gueuze
, 4.5%
Paired with: Belgian Waffle
A lambic beer, meaning a blend of newly brewed and aged (2-3 years) beer.
A little sour - the closest one to a cider. Not my cup of tea.

Tripel Karmeliet, 8.4%
A bonus beer towards the end of the evening.
Caramel sweetness with a long finish. Nice.

GET IT
: Out of respect to Oktoberfest, Belgo's five London locations are offering a special meal deal every Wednesday in Oktober - t
hree courses paired with three of the above beers for £33, in a pilgrimage-cum-masterclass hosted by one of the mini-chain's venerable Beer Masters.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Gaymers Pear Cider



Never mind that Gaymers Pear Cider probably doesn't meet the strict and well-complicated criteria to qualify as a genuine perry. If you're looking for something refreshing as an aperitif to an ale session, say, or after a 2k run, you could do worse than order one of these. The above pint, served from the tap and consumed thirstily from a balcony overlooking the Thames, was peary, and not overly sweet nor tart. Nice one, Somerset.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Coconut Water



Bit of a weird one this, but I've been getting cravings recently for coconut water. It's the clear liquid that comes from young coconuts (as opposed to the richer milk found in mature fruit) and is apparently very good for you - fat-free, low in calories and rich in potassium and electrolytes. In fact, it's so damn healthy it's used as an intravenous hydration fluid in some developing countries where medical saline is unavailable (it's true - Wikipedia says so). Drank chilled, like the glass above, it refreshed parts I hitherto were not sure existed.

The can pictured top was bought in the US, but the other day I was delighted to discover you can get cartons of the stuff in the UK too. Vita Coco - 100% pure coconut water - is said to contain 20 times the amount of potassium found in sports drinks, which is why its described as a "super-hydrator". Believe me, you don't need to commit sport to benefit from its rejuvenating properties.

BUY IT? Vita Coco is available from Waitrose, Holland & Barrett and Whole Foods.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Languedoc-Roussillon Wine


I can't say I know much anything about French wine. Having read a little, I understand that lots of it is really expensive, and that some of it is the best in the world. But generally I'd avoid it simply because I don't have a clue. At a tasting of wines from the Languedoc-Roussillon region, as part of the Sud de France Festival, I tried to educate myself through the medium of drinking. The region, on the south coast, is the oldest wine-producing area in the country, consisting of about 20 geographically defined appellations and - get this - producing more than 40% of France's wine. It's also considered to be the country's bargain basement when it comes to fermented grapes, which has to be good news for the general drinker.

At the tasting, we tried a good few, reinforced by plenty of French tapas, if there is such a thing. It became apparent early on that the region is so massive, and varied, it's hard to describe a "typical" Languedoc-Roussillon. By my reckoning, there was a tendency towards dryness in both the whites and reds, not something I necessarily go for. But every now and then I stumbled across a great'un, where the tannins accepted a supporting role. Here are my top little picks:


Whites


Laurent Miguel Vérité
 2008, 13.5%
Made with Viognier grapes, available from Waitrose.
The oakiest white wine ever! Dry, rich, aromatic and substantial. 

Domaine Guillaume Cabrol Picpoul de Pinet Prestige 2009

Another white, this one made from Picpoul grapes.
Green fruits, citrus, melon and freshly cut grass. A top picnic wine!

Leon Barral Blanc Biodynamic 2008, 13%
Biodynamic wine is organic plus, produced according to a number of spiritual principles, with reference to lunar and cosmic rhythms, etc. (read more here).
Cloudy, yellow colour. Full bodied, sweet - a good breakfast wine, someone noted.



Reds

Silene Grande Cuvée 2004

80% Syrah, 20% Grenache, aged for 22 months in French new oak barrels.
This red was my overall favourite of the whole evening. Vanilla-oak flavours, reasonably rich with a touch of chocolate, and a slight dryness ending silkily.

Trois Orris Sirissime 2008
, 14.5%
A nicely balanced wine made with 100% Syrah grapes.
Rich and fruity red, with a decent velvety finish.

Dessert

Treloar Muscat de Rivesaltes
2006, 15.5%
A white dessert wine made with Muscat grapes by an English-run family winery. An inscription on the bottle asks imbibers to drink "as an aperitif and with cakes, pudding, cheeses and chocolates". OK, will do.
Clean, green fruit, sweet, but not thick or syrupy, with a little acidity providing balance.

Lots still to learn - but thankfully this sort of learning doesn't feel like work in the slightest. Merci Biens, Les Français!

MORE! The Sud de France Festival runs in London until September 30. Check out the events schedule here.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Clover Club



The Clover Club is a pink drink of distinction hailing from pre-prohibition times. There is something delightful about its gin/citrus/foam combination - don't ask me what. This recipe is borrowed from Dale DeGroff's beautiful booze bible The Essential Cocktail.

Clover Club


45ml (1.5oz) gin

22.5ml (0.75oz) lemon juice
22.5ml (0.75oz) simple syrup
1/2 teaspoon Grenadine
White of 1/2 small egg

Add ingredients to a cocktail shaker - without ice - and shake well to lightly whip the egg white. Add ice and shake some more, before straining into a martini or champagne coupe glass.

It's not even that hard to make, once you've dealt with the egg white (which, by the way, definitely benefits from a bit of dry shaking before the addition of ice). Careful you don't overdo the Grenadine, that pink pomegranate syrup, which is better in touches.

MORE: For a Clover Leaf, simply garnish the thing with a sprig of fresh mint.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Ale Album



What beers have I been liking recently, you ask?

Blandford Fly, Badger/Hall & Woodhouse (5.2%) Bottled.
For fans of ginger beer and beer comes this superb cross between the two. Imbibers are advised to server chilled, which I failed to do here, at a picnic on Whitstable beach. But what it lacked in coldness it made up for in all-round tastiness. Very refreshing, and surprisingly strong in booze terms.

Black Pearl
, Gadds (6.2%). Cask.
Staying with Whitstable, which I visited for the Oyster Festival (check out my whisky oysters here), I stumbled across a makeshift bar shifting Gadds' Black Pearl oyster stout (pictured below) for £3 a pint. It didn't taste of oyster, fortunately, more like chocolate and tobacco. It was sweet, and thick, with a coffee kick in there too. Lovely.


Weasel, The Florence (4.5%). Cask.
Having raved about Dam Tasty Beaver Beer, produced by the microbrewery at The Florence pub, in Herne Hill, I went back to find another of their beers on the pumps. Weasel was a light orange/gold colour, with a fruity, citrus aroma (was that banana, too?!) and an unexpectedly sharp-dry hoppy flavour, with a bittersweet finish. Worth a drop - but my loyalties remain with the Beaver.

Camden Hells LagerCamden Town Brewery (4.8%). Cask.
Found on tap at trendy new Islington gastro Wenlock & Essex, and described elsewhere as a "cold fermented and properly matured traditional German unpasteurised lager". I recall a yellowish beer with floral aromas, not much fizz and a lovely nutty finish. The brewery used to be attached to the Horseshoe pub in Hampstead but recently moved to more ambitious premises (in Camden).

Chocolate Nutter, The Why Not Brewery (5.5%). Bottle.
A bottle conditioned ale made from bitter and dark chocolate malts. Purchased mainly because of its beguiling name, but enjoyed nevertheless, alongside a wholesome bowl of chili.

Proper Job, St Austell Brewery (5.5%). Bottle.
A "powerfully hopped" India Pale Ale, bitter in a grapefruit way, but refreshing too.

Stout Hearted, Yeovil Ales (4.3%) Cask.
Tasted at the 11th annual Sturminster Newton Cheese Festival (don't miss the 12th next September!), which happily featured an ale tent too, this stout was great - heavyish but smooth. Top cheese tips: Try Cornish Blue, Exmoor Blue and Sturminster Coastal Cheddar.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Cubre



It's been a good few months since I last joined in the online cocktail soirée that is Mixology Monday. This month's brief - set by Doug at the The Pegu Blog - was to design a drink with lime.

Fortunately, I'd just restocked my citrus supply, and an entire bowl of the luscious green things were staring up at me, begging to be squeezed. I love a well-limed Cuba Libre (rum, cola, lime juice) and settled on reinterpreting this classic long drink.

Having recently visited the almighty Purl cocktail bar in west London, and marvelled at its use of "cola reduction" in one of its beverages, I decided to get all chemistryish myself and boil down a small can of Pepsi to extract its essence. Shaken with lime juice and a good slug of rum, the resulting cocktail tasted like a Cuba Libre, only stronger and (crucially) more limed.


Cubre


60ml (2oz) light rum

30ml (1oz) cola reduction*
15ml (0.5oz) fresh lime juice
Lime peel

Pour ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake with determination. Strain into a martini glass and add a lengthy twist of lime peel.

*To make cola reduction pour a can of cola into a pot and heat on the stove. Boil until about two-thirds of its volume has evaporated, leaving a cola syrup.


This is a seriously fun drink: a refined, more sophisticated version of the original, which tastes quite lovely, and limey. If you like Cuba Libres give it a try.

UPDATE: Check out Doug's full MxMo round-up, featuring a lifetime's supply of lime-based cocktail recipes from across the blogosphere, right here.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Peaches and Cream



It's not often I feel the urge to drink peaches and cream. But when I do, I can follow the following recipe (and so can you):

Peaches and Cream

50ml (1.6oz) Archers peach schnapps
20ml (0.6oz) double cream
80ml (2.6oz) soda water

Shake schnapps and cream in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into a high-ball glass with fresh ice, top with soda water and stir some more.

Move over, Girly Drink, you've been out-girled.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Trailer Happiness



177 Portobello Road
London
W11 2DY

I'd been curious to visit this Notting Hill establishment ever since the Rum Dood named it "best tiki bar" - in the world, supposedly. We entered, as is our wont, just as it was opening on a Saturday night, and ordered drinks. The Colada Nueva (pictured top) was a "house secret blend of fine rums & other delicious elixirs blended with pineapple, passion fruit, mango and coconut". It was served ice cold, but not so cold as to cause brain freeze, and the rums were clearly present without overpowering things. I went for a Blood & Sand (below right), which I know was cheating, since it's not a tiki drink, but I wasn't in the mood for fruit and rum, and I'd tried and enjoyed it once before at Trailer's slightly upscale relation The Player. This one (Compass Box Asyla whisky, sweet vermouth, Cherry Heering and orange juice) tasted a tad under-whiskied, or over-cherried, but it was fine.

Arriving as we did when it was still very light outside, and the barstaff were getting things ready for the evening ahead, it was probably our fault that the place lacked a certain atmosphere. I can't really fault the drinks list, either, when we barely scratched its surface. So I'd come back - at a more appropriate time - if I found myself in Notting Hill with a group of friends on a mission to carouse. And given that one of the finest cocktail bars in London is just down the road, this might happen sooner than strictly necessary.