Strawberry Fields

Photo courtesey of Wholesale of void, some rights reserved

My first garden party of the summer was in aid of a good friend’s thirtieth birthday party and had a ’round the world’ theme (i went as Willy Fogg by the way and came second in the fancy dress contest – thanks Mr & Mrs Cooke!).

I was asked if I could provide one or two drinks for the occasion that could be easily scaled up and served to a group of around forty people. Happy to oblige I combined a classic Barbadian rhyme* and some typically English ingredients to create a summer punch which was duly christened ‘Strawberry Fields’.

I made this in litre-jug sized batches, but the proportions below will work just as well glass by glass:

  1. Muddle a few leaves of mint and one strawberry (per serving) in the bottom of a mixing glass.
  2. Add four parts cold Earl Grey tea, three parts gin, two parts strawberry syrup and one part freshly squeezed lime juice.
  3. Add ice and stir well.
  4. Strain into a highball glass and garnish with a strawberry.
* The rhyme in case you were wondering is the old Bajan basis for a traditional rum punch “one of sour, two of sweet, three of strong, four of weak”.  For the rum punch it refers to lime juice, sugar, rum and water in that order (served with a dash or two of Angostura bitters and nutmeg, which don’t make the rhyme) but can easily be transposed to a whole range of other ingredients.

Earl Grey Daiquiri

Photo courtesy of StuartWebster, some rights reserved

The Daiquiri is a sub-category of the sours group of cocktails, and is constructed from the simple combination of rum, lime juice (or lemon, once upon a time) and sugar.

Invented in Santiago, Cuba; the Daiquiri owes much of its reputation to Ernest Hemingway.  Upon moving to Cuba in 1932 to escape the horrors of Prohibition, Hemingway fell in love with Daiquiri Number Three as served in Constantino Ribalaigua’s El Floridita, the bar now known as the self-appointed ‘cradle of the Daiquiri’.

However, Hemingway’s favourite version was far removed from the traditional white rum, lemon and sugar concoction that was first served back in the 1890s. For a start, Hemingway was diabetic and therefore wary of drinks made with added sugar. Secondly, the addition of grapefruit juice will appeal only to those who prefer a super sour flavour profile. In my mind grapefruit juice is solely reminiscent of those bleary-eyed mornings in a continental hotel where you end up sucking your cheeks in after opting for the wrong jug at the breakfast buffet.

However, Hemingway’s endorsement and the mass exodus of wealthy Americans to Cuba during the dark days following the Volstead Act were enough to create a buzz around the concept of the Daiquiri.  Following on from the rich tradition of El Floridita #1 through #3, we now live in a world where Daiquiri possibilities are so endless that “drive-through Daiquiri joints are ubiquitous” in Louisiana.

The Daiquiri has proved to be a versatile canvas for the cocktail boomers of recent years. But while Difford’s #9 contains just over one hundred Daiquiri variants from Acapulco, Ace of Clubs and Aged Honey through to the Vanilla, Very Rusty and Whoop It Up varieties, the Savoy Cocktail Book contains just the one and I think it’s fair to say that a number of the current crop were born in the dark days of sparklers, blue curaçao and umbrellas (see the frozen puréed fruit varieties in particular).

At its heart, the Daiquiri is best made as follows:

  1. Add a large measure of white rum, the juice of half a lime and a barspoon of simple syrup to a shaker of ice.
  2. Shake well and strain into a Martini glass
  3. Garnish with a wedge of lime.

Of course some flavoured Daiquiris can be acceptable and even quite pleasant. Consider using aged rum for a richer taste, or branch out to the other end of the spectrum and make a Hemingway Daiquiri to punish your taste buds:

  1. Add an extra large measure of rum, one measure each of pink grapefruit juice, maraschino and fresh lime juice, and an optional half a measure of simple syrup, to a shaker of ice.
  2. Shake well and strain into a Martini glass.
  3. Garnish with a wedge of lime

However, I was making Earl Grey syrup the other weekend, and couldn’t resist the opportunity to experiment.

The Earl Grey Daiquiri, therefore:

  1. Add a large measure of rum, four bar spoons of Earl Grey Syrup and the juice of half a lime to a shaker of ice.
  2. Shake well.
  3. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with a wedge of lime (perched on the edge of the glass).

Much better.

Highland Margarita

Photo courtesy of Jeanette E. Spaghetti, some rights reserved.

As I left work today I was convinced it was Wednesday (I blame the recent spate of bank holidays) and as such was excited to come home and write up this week’s #MidweekManhattan. Unfortunately it is in fact only Tuesday, so you will all just have to come back again tomorrow to find out what whiskey/vermouth delight I have in store for you this week.

I did, however, start thinking about an emergency T-theme for Tuesday (it’s been a long week already). The obvious choice was tequila, but I don’t have any in the flat. I then considered #TuesdayToddies but even with the recent inclement weather that should probably wait til the autumn.

So after a bit of to-ing and fro-ing (and some help from @princessofVP) I settled on the first post in the (probably not at all regular) #TuesdayTequila series!

Without any tequila.

That’s right. It’s called ‘artistic licence’.

Everyone knows the Margarita as the pre-eminent tequila cocktail and staple of the ‘sours’ stable. A classic drink, and one of the few that has spawned its own unique glassware, the Margarita dates back to the 1930s, and is a Mexican variation of the earlier American classic, the Daisy (which uses brandy in place of tequila). Coincidentally (or decisively depending on your view of Margarita-lore) the Spanish for daisy is margarita. The traditional Margarita starts with a salted glass:

  1. Frost the glass by rubbing a lime wedge round the outside of the rim.
  2. Dip the glass in a saucer of coarse salt (try and avoid getting any on the inside of the glass).
  3. Add a large measure of tequila and a measure of each of triple sec and lime juice and a barspoon of agave nectar to a shaker of ice.
  4. Shake well and strain into the frosted glass.
  5. Garnish with a lime wheel.

Of course a Margarita can be frozen, flavoured or served up with a salt foam float, but not being a massive Tequila fan – I blame too many years working in an Irish bar dealing out shots of the cheap stuff – and living in Scotland, I prefer a whisky-based drink, and for that I turn to the Highland Margarita.

First salt your glass as above (it wouldn’t be a Margarita without it):

Then mix your drink:

  1. Add a large measure of Scotch whisky*, a measure of triple sec and a measure of lemon juice to a shaker.
  2. Add ice until the shaker is 2/3 full and then shake well.
  3. Strain into the chilled and salted (margarita) glass.
  4. Garnish with a wedge of lemon.
If you’re feeling adventurous a barspoon of ginger liqueur is a nice addition, either added to the mix before you shake, or layered in after the pour.

* This being a Highland Margarita, a Highland single malt would be apposite (I use Oban as a matter of course), but this drink will work just as well with whichever type of whisky (or even whiskey) you prefer.