Check out this Smirnoff Gold recipe based on the classic French “Golden 75”. The recipe consists of Smirnoff Gold collectors edition, Dom Benedictine, sugar syrup and sparkling white wine. Garnished with the zest of a fresh flamed orange. Served up in a champagne flute glass.
The Skinny Portorican
Firstly let’s take a step back and have a chat about an absolute tasty classic; the Cuba Libre. This simple combination consisting of a quality rum, the juice of fresh limes topped up with the local cola. Served tall with lots of ice. I find myself a big fan of this cocktail, especially when it’s mixed up with a decent dark rum. I have found that this drinks popularity is in relation to the location it is made. Like when I was working in the Caribbean this drink used to fly over the bar, but now in South Africa it not as common. But one thing I have learnt is that the fresh lime juice is essential in the final flavour of this world known recipe. If you don’t have good quality fresh limes, don’t waste your time!
So this now brings me to the “Skinny Portorican”, a name we came up with whilst working abroad with the amount of people that order a Cuba Libre but with Sugar free cola! The whole concept of “watching your wait” or being healthy has changed many classic recipes into commercial propositions! This being said, why not change with the movement! So we named the recipe of Rum, fresh limes and sugar-free or light cola to the “Skinny Portorican”! And for me as a diabetic mixologist this is right up my alley! I could honestly say that if you have some really great Brazilian limes, the flavour is almost identical.
So when I’m out and about and not in the mood for my usual scotch, I will suck back on a couple Skinny Portoricans just to get that incredible flavour that was discovered so many years ago. Recently I tried a skinny Portorican at Bramble Bar in Edinburgh, where I had it with El Dorado 15yr. Very rich rum but incredible flavours. I also had it in a short glass just so I got the best from the 15yrs!
So, the next time you watching your weight or trying to be healthier or even just a diabetic, order yourself the Skinny Portorican, you’ll never look back!
The Vesper Martini, a cocktail synonymous with James Bond, is originally made with gin, vodka and Lillet. Here’s a Reserve Vesper recipe using Lillet Blanc, Tanqueray No. Ten and Kettle One Vodka.
From the best mixologists in the world, the Don Julio Luxury Drop™ combines the highest quality ingredients with a social ritual, served in a refined shot glass. This is my idea of World Class bartending and of course everyone has their own ideas but if I were to create a luxury drop, I would do it as follows;
- 45ml Don Julio Reposado
- 10ml Espresso Syrup (Home made)
- 1 tbsp of coffee creamer
- 5ml After Shock Liqueur
Combine all ingredients in a gold plated 3 piece shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Pour into sexy shot glasses and serve with the ritual of a “high 5”!
The Chicago Honey Chai’tini
One of my newest recipes that I have put together contains an American based Bourbon called Slate. This blended bourbon, which is distilled in Chicago, is now a very rare bottle of spirit, as it no longer is distributed in South Africa. I managed to saver this bottle for the past 3 years and have finally decided to put it to good use.
This whiskey has a very smooth texture with rich hints of vanilla, honeycomb and roasted cafe latte, 3 flavours I wanted to complement a brew of organic chai tea.
The recipe is as follows;
- 50ml Slate Bourbon
- 12.5ml Sweet Vermouth
- Tbsp Honey
- 25ml Lemon juice
- Grated orange zest
- 50ml Chai tea (serve from tea pot brew containing 2 tea bags)
Shake and fine strain all ingredients. Serve chilled in a martini glass with a Orange zest and a sprinkle of coffee granuals.
The Vermouth Category
Vermouth is, for the record, an aromatized and fortified grape wine that must contain the wormwood ingredient. Vermouth is often classified as an aperitif or a digestif as it aids in the process of appetite stimulation as well as digestion. Normally Aperitif vermouth is consumed before a meal and a digestif is consumed much later once the meal is finished. The word “aperitif” is a French word derived from the Latin verb ‘aperire’, which means “to open”.
Optional Botanicals that would go into the production of some vermouths
- Savoury herbs - oregano, thyme, bay leaf, maraschino cherries, ginger, juniper
- Dry spices - cinnamon, cloves, anise, black pepper, cardamom, coriander, marjoram
- Citrus peels – oranges, lemons, grapefruit, banana peels
1. Martini & Rossi
Originated in Torino, Italy, 1863, but relocated shortly thereafter to nearby Pessione, Martini & Rossi was agile and adept at distribution and export from the start. The firm achieved success in the U.S. market early on, just as vermouth was catching on there in the later 19th Century, and they remain the market leader. Martini & Rossi is one of the world’s great liquor brands, recently promoted in most markets simply as “Martini”. Check label for current production; contents may vary significantly in different markets which is a cause for concern. Variances are;
- Extra Dry
- Rosato (red & white wine base)
2. Cinzano (Founded by Giovanni and Carlo Cinzano in 1757)
Brand of successful liqueur manufacturer from Pecetto that can trace its history to 1757. An early producer of vermouth based on Carpano’s model. Now one of the world’s most recognizable spirits brands. Variances are;
- Extra Dry
In Torino, 1786, Antonio Benedetto Carpano invented the commercial model for what we know today as red vermouth, possibly even coining the term “vermuth.” The Carpano brand was formalized some years later by Carpano’s nephew. The red vermouths of subsequent producers, such as Cinzano and Gancia, were their own riffs on what Carpano first successfully marketed. Today, production is in Milano, Italy. Variances are;
- Punt e Mes (“Point-and-a-half”)
- Antica Formula
- Carpano Classico
- Carpano Bianco
Punt e Mes dates to around 1867 and is simultaneously amongst the bitterest and sweetest of vermouths. Punt e Mes is a rare example of a “vermouth amaro,” or “vermouth con bitter,” a style of vermouth with extra bitters added. Adulterating Vermouth di Torino with bitters or vanilla flavoring—almost like a cockail—when drinking it is an Turinese custom almost as old as vermouth itself; this style has bitters built-in. Although it is not typically described or marketed as such, Punt e Mes can be thought of as a bottled vermouth cocktail. Punt e Mes is Carpano’s top-selling vermouth.
Antica Formula is a highly-regarded product first introduced in the 1990s. Antica Formula is an example of the “vermouth alla vaniglia” style: a red vermouth with added vanilla flavoring and sugar to balance. Note: Antica Formula is based on an old recipe, but it is not Carpano’s original vermouth recipe.
Carpano Classico is the contemporary expression of the product that was Carpano’s original commercial vermouth. Its similarity to that original product remains an open question. Availability is limited. Anecdotal reports are that it is, at the least, a good red vermouth.
4. Dolin Vermouth de Chambéry
Made to the same set of recipes since 1821, Dolin Vermouth de Chambéry has long been the benchmark for fine French Vermouth. Made with fine wines of the region and botanicals found in the Alpine meadows above Chambéry, together they impart a fresh and elegant nose, with a subtle and complex palate. Ideal as an aperitif or in cocktails. In the late 19th century, Dolin Vermouth de Chambéry won medals in Paris, London, St. Louis and Philadelphia and in 1932 earned Chambéry France’s only Appellation d’ Origine for Vermouth. Product of France.Variances are;
5. Cocchi Vermouth di Torino
For its 120th anniversary, the House of Cocchi has resumed production of its original recipe Vermouth di Torino, first offered in 1891. The flavor profile is unmistakably of Cocchi, with rich and vibrant notes of cocoa, citrus, rhubarb and a balanced bitter undertone. Delicious on its own, and ideal for use in numerous classic mixed drinks. A true Vermouth di Torino, it uses Moscato of the family estate as the wine base and is produced in the historic Asti region outside of Torino. Vermouth di Torino stands apart as one of only two protected geographical indications of origin for vermouth. Product of Italy.Variances are;
- Vermouth di Torino (rosso)
Produced in Canelli, Italy. Variances are;
Produced in Cocconato, Italy. Variances are;
- Vermouth Classico
Not a lot of information is readily available about this vermouth, which appeared in select markets in the USA in recent years. It appears to be made by a Piedmont winery moderately well known for their Barolo and related wines. It also appears to be exceptionally good.
8. Noilly Prat
Produced in Marseillan, France, near Montpelier. Last representative of the Marseilles style of vermouth. In addition to the regional ingredients on which it is based, barrel aging plays a definitive role in these products. Variances are;
- Original French Dry
Noilly Prat Ambre is a nascent hybrid product available primarily at the factory tourist center. Indications are that the company is beginning to roll this product out to a larger market, first in Europe.
After World War II, Noilly Prat began exporting a lighter formulation of their dry vermouth to the USA intended to cater to American tastes, especially Martini cocktail drinkers. This product was arguably an imitation of the Chambéry dry style. Fifty years later, in 2008, Noilly Prat discontinued the special U.S. formulation and phased in the European formula in updated packaging, resulting in a fair amount of confusion and angst amongst Americans devoted to a very particular Martini habit. While the European formula has its own redeeming characteristics, the jury is out whether Noilly Prat’s association with the Martini cocktail will survive.
From its origins with the French Foreign Legion to the legions of modern mixologists still using it today, Dubonnet Rouge Aperitif Wine has been a staple on the cocktail landscape since its introduction in 1846. Created by Parisian chemist / wine merchant Joseph Dubonnet as a means to make quinine more palatable for the soldiers battling malaria in North Africa, Dubonnet’s mix of fortified wine, a proprietary blend of herbs, spices and peels, and the medicinal quinine is a recipe that has earned it legendary status in the world of sophisticated drinks.
Lillet is a brand of French aperitif wine. It is a blend of 85% Bordeaux wines (Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle for the Blanc; Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon for the Rouge) and 15% macerated liqueurs, mostly citrus liqueurs from the peels of sweet oranges from Spain and Morocco and the peels of bitter green oranges from Haiti. Lillet belongs in a family of aperitif known as tonic wines because of the addition of a liqueur of Chinchona bark from Peru which contains quinine. Lillet is matured in oak casks and available in red and white versions. While it has been produced since the late 19th century, the current formulation dates from 1986. The formulation was changed only to lower the sugar content; the level of quinine has remained roughly the same.
During the year of 2010 I spent 10 months travelling around the Caribbean working in a bar on a Luxury Yacht named Seadream. Every week we would anchor on the shore side of Jost Van Dyke Island and host a Beach party for all the guests on Board. We would put all the tools, drinks, food, decor and eventually the guests on a couple of rubber dingys and shoot them over to the beautiful white sands of White Bay. This is the flair show that I used to put on for them!
The Painkiller Cocktail
The Painkiller is a Caribbean classic with a rum based tropical flavour that only those who have been to the US Virgin Islands would understand. The original recipe was created by a local that worked at the Soggy Dollar bar on Jost Van Dyke Island where he would accommodate tourists’ that would arrive by boat with no way of getting to the shore side without drenching their hundred dollar bills! The bartender, who wears a black t-shirt that reads, “Don’t judge a man by the size of his dingy” gladly accepts these wet dollar bills and mixes up a few hundred of these concoctions every day. There is a drinking game there that allows one to swing a loop on the end of a string to try and catch it on a nail that has been hammered into one of the local palm trees, definitely a must for those who enjoy making a party out of nothing!
The original recipe is served in a plastic cup branded “Soggy Dollar Bar” and is made as follows;
- 50ml Myers’s Dark Rum
- 100ml Pineapple Juice
- 50ml Coco Lopez (Sweetened Coconut Cream)
- 100ml fresh orange Juice
- Garnished with fresh nutmeg
All ingredients are added together with ice in the plastic cup. The ingredients are then transferred into a Boston shaker and then back into the plastic cup. The nutmeg is then grated over the drink as a garnish and a tall thin wooden stick is inserted for future stirring. Enjoy!
Let’s start with an absolute classic, the Negroni. With Equal parts of Tanqueray No.Ten Gin, Campari and Sweet Vermouth stirred together and then garnished with a generous sized orange zest, this bitter mixture is guaranteed to leave your palate screaming for more.
While the drink’s origins are unknown, the most widely reported account is that it was invented in Florence, Italy in 1919, at Caffè Casoni, now called Caffè Cavalli. Count Camillo Negroni invented it by asking the bartender, Fosco Scarselli, to strengthen his favourite cocktail, the Americano, by adding gin rather than the normal soda water. The bartender also added an orange garnish rather than the typical lemon garnish of the Americano to signify that it was a different drink. After the success of the cocktail, the Negroni Family founded Negroni Distillery in Treviso, Italy, and produced a ready-made version of the drink, sold as Antico Negroni 1919. One of the earliest reports of the drink came from Orson Welles in correspondence with the Coshocton Tribune while working in Rome on Cagliostro in 1947, where he described a new drink called the Negroni, “The bitters are excellent for your liver, the gin is bad for you. They balance each other!!”