Issue No.019 “A bunch of fives”

 

 

A “bunch of fives” is a term used as English slang for a punch in the face , funny then that the word “punch” when used in reference to that communal bowl of ever flowing libatious goodness is borrowed from the Hindi word “panch” which translated means five. The original punch made its way from India to England by way of scalliwag sailors in the seventeenth century and contained five ingredients, fruit, sugar,alcohol,water, tea and or spices. From England it was introduced to other European neighboring countries, the first versions were of the Wassail type made with grape based spirits such as brandy or wine, not until the late 1600′s was the modern punch born when Jamaican rum started to be used. Punch is typically lower in alcohol and should give you a nice slow burning glow, it can also be totally booze free and a good party drink for kiddies though am sure the originators of punch would be horrified to learn of that sickly sweet ,neon blue thing that calls itself “berry punch” and comes in a box or bag and contains not one bit of fruit .

As a kid we were given something called Kompot, a traditional Polish concoction of stewed fruit with sugar that got watered down to make a soft drink, soda was too expensive and rubbish as far as my pops was concerned so we got what he grew up with. The ingredients differ around the world but each one is served in a celebratory fashion from a large bowl that is ladled into cups, wether its the genteel Pimms Cup punch ( yes it too is a punch) served in pretty little glasses or paper cups for the Mexican version “Agua Loca” or crazy water made with Jamaica or horchata , sugar and mezcal or tequila. There are rum punches aplenty as well as Southern spiked tea punches, sangrias and milk punch. The variations on this theme seem endless, am sure that the holiday mulled wine and Glogg of sweden originated as a winter version of the summer punch with warming ingredients instead of cooling, then there’s also egg nog, lets not forget that one.

As to why punch was born in the first place, cocktail historian Dave Wondrich puts its pretty simply, “the greatest social beverage of all time,” he calls punch “more gentle than cocktails”, its preparation “easy and utterly pleasurable.” The punch bowl is communal, ideal for a group or festive gathering, less laborious than individual cocktails, and a hell of a lot more fun. As Dave states in the book’s preface: “most of punch’s stories are of warm fellowship, and conviviality, and high-spirited gatherings afloat on

oceans of witty talk” — not to mention a few “battles and brawls.” Spirits back in the 1600′s were not what they are today, far more unpalatable and served probably at cask strength or over proof , the addition of fruits and sugars plus water were needed to make them easier to drink, a bowl of punch was a way of gathering a bunch of rogues around to discuss and dissect many a subject, and they were expected to stick around until every drop of that bowl was drained which took up a good chunk of time. In the 1800′s with the onset of temperance and the pace of life moving faster, the punch bowl became almost obsolete except for social gatherings, cleaned of its dust to become the center of many a party which is where it still sits at many a modern day shindig.

 

tea punch, tea pot and tea cups

saki punch saki cups

milk punch milk jugs

rhum and raisin punch

hot toddy punch

 

 

Issue No.028 “Tails from the Bookworm” Ode to Autumn

 

Illustration by Mara Piccione

 

eason of mists and mellow fruitfulness,O’ where art thou?

Here stuck in the monotony of constant sunshine ( it gets to you trust me !) I dream of crashing thunderstorms and wild , tempestuous winds, I yearn for the smell of rotting leaves and damp air , of bundling up and bonfires. If I’m lucky I’ll get to wear a scarf for a couple of weeks sometime around December but even then its a flimsy pretender to the throne of big King woolly muffler. I admit to being a sufferer of  seasonal affected disorder, except in reverse, a recent trip to Seattle gave me a quick fix of torrential rain and Autumnal air, but I want more !

So in my nostalgic quest I was  reminded of this  sumptuous poem  by John Keats, the Times writer Rosie Schaap posted it on her FB page and it took me back to a dreary classroom where I read Keats’ Ode back in secondary school , wait, scratch that! We were force fed Keats amongst other fine writer’s works , I say force fed since my English Lit teacher  had no idea how to make learning palatable and exciting  , he was pretty dour , he was  beige and homogenized  in both the way he dressed and the way he spoke , his voice reminded me of the whaa whaa whaa from Charlie Brown so for me it was a chance to sit in the back of the class against the radiator and catch up on some zzzz’s . Thankfully my mop of hair that resembled Cousin It from the Adams Family made it difficult to discern what was going on behind it.  It wasn’t until Art school that I started to appreciate the finer points of classic English poetry and novels when I began my search for inspiration , I studied fashion and was mentored for a moment by Dame Vivienne Westwood who  used a ton of historical detailing for her incredible creations. the writing that accompanied these period details sucked me in, the romance and lusciously constructed sentences wrapped me up in wonder and massive amounts of day dreaming .

In this issue of the Cup I decided to play “lets pretend its Autumn”  my favorite season that makes me homesick for both my elected home NY and the wilds of Derbyshire where I grew up , the land  of Mr.Darcy , of rolling hills, horse chestnut trees full of conkers and those  stormy, wintery nights, as good a reason as any to pick up a book and a wee dram  to warm your cockles. I take my cue for ingredients from Keats’ Ode itself or as close as I can get to them in sunny California.

“Conspiring with him how to load and bless with fruit,  the vines that round the thatch-eves run”

The Cape Gooseberry,  more akin to a tomato than a berry, grows on a vine like plant similar to the tomato, but the  tart/ sweet ratio of flavor veers more toward sweet with touches of savory  flavor too. One of the cooks at Ink restaurant, Nick Russo ,  asked me if I’d tried making a drink with Cape Gooseberries, sure I’d eaten them but never tinkered with them. So I ordered some and the drink below is the result…in essence a cross between a cobbler and a margarita

Love in a Cage

1 1/2 oz silver tequila

1 oz dry oloroso sherry

3/4 oz lemon juice

1/4 oz Suze gentian aperitif

1/2 oz agave syrup

8-10 cape gooseberries halved

a couple of sprigs of lemon thyme

pinch maldon smoked salt

photo by Patrick O’Brien-Smith, still life by The Cup

Muddle the gooseberries and a bit of the thyme with agave and lemon, release the juices but don’t destroy them totally. add the rest of your ingredients and ice to a shaker and shake with 4-5 ice cubes for 20 seconds. Dump into a glass of your choice and garnish with lemon thyme sprig.

 

“And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core; To swell the gourd and plump the hazel shells”

High Five

1  oz aged rum such as ron Zacapa or Matusalem

1/2 oz of Smith & Cross Jamaican overproof rum

1/4 oz absinthe

1/2 oz madeira

1 oz lime juice

1  healthy teaspoon of unsweetened pumpkin puree

1 oz coconut milk

3/4 oz of Chinese 5 spice syrup ( simple syrup that has been steeped with 5 spice powder for a 3-4 hours then strained off)

you can leave the drink at that or  I decided to get fancy and add a coconut foam and Fernet dust for a bit of fun.

photo by Patrick O’Brien-Smith, still life by The Cup

add everything to a shaker ice 4 ice cubes and shake for 25 seconds, strain onto crushed ice and garnish with a straw and something festive like a whole anise seed pod. If you choose to use leaves, make sure they are 1) not toxic and 2) have been washed properly with hot water.

Bonfire of the Vanities

A take on an Old Fashioned but using Maurin quina as the sweet element and chestnut infused rye whiskey

2 oz roasted chestnut infused rye whiskey such as Old overholdt or Rittenhouse ( the chestnuts need to be roasted first or their flavors will not come out) infuse by either sous vide using Polyscience immersion circulator for 1 1/2 hours at 55 degrees C, or  conventionally for 2-3 days in a dark , draft free closet.

3/4 oz Maurin Quina

3 dashes Miracle Mile Cherry bitters

2 dashes Miracle mile Chocolate Chilli bitters ( my ketchup)

2 orange twists ( one for muddling).

2-3 brandied cherries either luxardo brand or homemade using this recipe from Melissa Clark

photo by Patrick O’Brien-Smith, still life by The Cup

In  a chilled old fashioned glass, add 1 cherry, 1 orange peel, your bitters and your Maurin quina, plus a splash of soda water ( it helps all the flavors co-mingle) muddle gently to release the oils and juices from the  fruit. Add your whiskey and a couple of good hunks of ice, stir about five times with a bar spoon.

If you’re feeling  like being a bit more experimental, do the first muddling step in glass. In a small narrow necked carafe or bottle, pipe in a generous amount of cherry wood tobacco smoke using your Polyscience smoking gun  ( if tobacco is not your thing try smoking a cherry vanilla or Rooibos tea instead), seal the bottle with a cork until ready to pour in your whiskey. Add the whiskey to the smoke filled bottle and cork again, swirling the liquid around the bottle. Now add to your muddle mixture in the glass and stir.

garnish with a flamed orange peel and a couple of cherries.

Note: for all you purist Old fashionistas out there, there is a version of an OF made  with cherries but the only state that still serves this “old fashioned ” Old Fashioned seems to be Wisconsin, the cherries add a nice sweet tart element .

 

“And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep, steady thy laden head across a brook; Or by a cider-press with patient look, Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours”.

A Roll in the Hay

Toasting hay in an oven, brings out its earthy and sweet grassy notes, it can then  be used to infuse either a spirit or syrup, or nestle some eggs into the toasted hay, the shells are porous so any scent will permeate and perfume the eggs inside , the whites can then be separated off and used to make a whipped  meringue foam or incorporated into a sour. I used it two ways here, for meringue and infusing Calvados. Again I picked up this toasted hay idea  from Jedi master Voltaggio at Ink. You can buy hay at any feed supply store or sometimes at pet stores. The style of drink is somewhere between a Fizz and a sour.

1 1/2 oz Le Compte 5 year Calvados that has been infused with toasted hay ( I used the sous vide method for rapid infusion , conventional infusing works well too but takes about a day to get full extraction)

1/2 oz Madeira

3/4 oz  honey syrup

3/4 oz lemon juice

1 oz fresh pressed pear juice

3 dashes orange bitters

1  oz of pear or apple cider ( the fermented version )

for the meringue : nestle whole raw eggs in their shells in a bowl of toasted hay for a day or so in the fridge . When ready to use separate whites from yolks and add the whites to a shaker tin with a 1/4 oz of honey syrup and 1 ice cube , shake vigorously to aerate the whites and whip up into stiff peaks, this can then be spooned over the top of the drink. Alternatively whip them in an ISI gun with 1 No2 charger

 

photo by Patrick O’Brien-Smith, still life by The Cup

Add all liquid ingredients except for cider  into your shaker tin with 4 ice cubes and shake for 20 seconds, strain into a vessel of choice and pour in the cider, spoon over the hay meringue and garnish with a pear leaf or herbaceous sprig.

 

And to round this all out a fiery smoky version of a margarita , something to warm you up after trudging through those crisp Autumn leaves.

California campfire

2 oz of del Maguey Vida mezcal

1 1/2 oz of yellow pepper juice

3/4 oz lemon juice

3/4 oz simple syrup

3/4 oz yellow chartreuse

3 dashes Scrappy’s firewater bitters

pinch maldon smoked salt

red pepper garnish

 

photo by Patrick O’Brien-Smith, still life by The Cup

 

Add everything except the salt to your shaker with 4 ice cubes, shake for 20 seconds and strain into an ice filled rocks glass, garnish with a pinch of smoked salt and sliced red pepper.

 

Coming up next….Into the Woods

Issue No. 027 “Tails” from the Bookworm “The Sun Also Rises”

 


“One generation passeth away and another generation cometh, but the earth abideth forever.

The sun also ariseth and the sun goeth down and hasteth to the place where he arose.

The wind goeth toward the south and turneth about unto the north;it whirleth about continually,and the wind returneth again according to its circuits.

All the rivers run into the sea;yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come,thither they return again.”

emingway, the master of deep dark stories, war hero and legend as well as legendary drinker, Hemingway and his generation that endured the First World War and came out the other side darker and disillusioned and yet in some ways emancipated from the morals and traditions that their ancestors held so highly . The quote above from Ecclesiastes discusses our impermanence , the cycle of life-death-life, how everything that is returns to where it came from, it is also where the book gets it’s title from. WWI was the catalyst that made a good portion of the world examine this Zeitgeist, writers, painters, poets all wondering and exploring who are we, where did we come from, where are we going, a major theme in this story of the lost generation in The Sun Also Rises, who wander empty filling their time with partying, drinking, traveling , chasing after what they can’t have and searching for the unknown to make them feel whole again , no-one exemplifies this more than the main protagonist Jake Barnes.

In an alternate universe where the war had never happened, Jake would be considered a total stud, men want to be him and women want to be with him, but Hemingway decided to emasculate this poor chap who’s war scars are not only mental but physical too. After suffering a serious injury he is left impotent ( I think the one thing men fear most ) its almost cruel that papa doled out such a heavy burden on this poor chap, there’s not much else for him to do but to drink and hide himself in a glass of beer, brandy ,absinthe, wine and back to beer again, yes this guy knew how to hold his drink , and sometimes not, in every way but one the true man’s man . The other major theme for Jake’s character is his relationship with Miss emancipation herself Lady Brett Ashley, she nursed him through his war wounds then tears his heart to shreds all through the book , all because she can’t live a life without S.E.X.

So in following Jake through the book I decided to concoct drinks for him through various points in the story, there’s a lot of travel and back and forth, Paris, San Sebastian, Pamplona, Madrid and stop offs in between, Hemingway had a deep affection for Spain, along with fellow journalist Martha Gelhorn he covered the conflict of the Spanish civil war and became an aficionado of bullfighting, the flavors of Spain are my starting points in most of the drinks, from the saffron and fennel in Paella, cherries and chocolate in Basque country , to Jamon and sherry in Jerez.

Hotel Crillon, Paris

Its Five O’clock and I’m waiting for Brett, but she’s not here, I fill my time writing letters, they’re not very good letters but they’re on Crillon stationary so I hope that’ll make them better. At a quarter to six Brett still has not shown up so I head down to the bar to see George the bar-man, he fixes me the popular drink of the day a Jack Rose, I take a sip and give a deep sigh , where could she be?

The classic Jack Rose is made from applejack brandy, grenadine and lemon, simple and tasty enough but what if we tweaked the ingredients and gave it some complexity and Jake Barnes something else to think about other than the heart stomping “Lady” Brett.

Le Jacqueminot

1 1/2 oz Lustau Spanish Brandy de Jerez infused with black peppercorns for a couple of days ( 1/4 cup black peppercorns to 1 750ml bottle brandy)

1 oz Spanish rioja/tempranillo

3/4 oz pomegranite grenadine ( I used Wilks & Wilson)

3/4 oz lime juice

2 dashes peychauds bitters

two drops rosewater

1 drop vanilla

1/2 oz egg white

fresh ground black pepper

strawberry lambic ale for finishing

shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Toss everything but the ground black pepper and lambic ale into your shaking tin with 4 ice cubes, shake for about 20 seconds, and strain into a chilled coupe or martini glass, top with splash of lambic ale and finish with ground black pepper

 

Fishing in Burguete

It was a long walk and the country was very fine, but we were tired when we came down the steep road that led out of the wooded hills and into the valley of the Rio del la Fabrica. The road came out from the shadow of the woods into the hot sun. Ahead was a river valley.Beyond the river was a steep hill.There was a field of buckwheat on the hill. We saw a white house under some trees on the hillside.It was very hot and we stopped under some trees beside a dam that crossed the river. Bill put the pack against one of the trees and we jointed up the rods, put on the reels, tied on leaders and got ready to fish…..this is thirsty work and we hadn’t even begun!

G&T

A classic refreshing drink to partake in when you’re hot and parched is the Gin & Tonic, a drink that the Spanish have come to claim as one of their national drinks, sipped at lunch with boquadillos or at the beginning of a late late dinner. I’ve been playing with flavoring tonic water for a while, my most successful were a red pepper tonic where I used red pepper juice instead of water or my other favorite a pinch of saffron that gives that golden hit of yellow and intense, complex flavor.

One of the quintessential seafood dishes of Spain is Paella, rice flavored with saffron and fennel that is baked in skillets with a selection of seafood, mussels, clams, shrimp, calamari or whatever came fresh from the water that day, peppers and pimenton also imbue this dish with fruity and earthy flavors.

Tie me up, Tie me down

1 1/2 oz Bols genever gin ( maltier than a regular gin)

1/4 oz kubler absinthe

3/4 oz genepy

3/4 oz dolin or martini blanc vermouth

3/4 oz white verjus

for the saffron tonic

if you want to be adventurous you can make your own tonic syrup but you have to be very careful about the amounts of cinchona bark you put into the mixture, too much can make a person quite sick.

if you feel like cheating as I very often do, ( not from laziness more that I’m incredibly impatient) try this hack…

1 liter bottle tonic water

4-5 strands saffron

add saffron strands to tonic water and tighten bottle so you limit the bass that escapes, if you’re luck enough to have a CO2 tank at home and the carbonating apparatus that goes along with it then you don’t have to worry, and good for you! The Saffron infuses fast so don’t worry too much about time on this one

 

shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

 

For the drink

Build your ingredients into a mixing glass, add 5-6 ice cubes and stir for twenty seconds or so. Strain into a chilled collins glass filled with ice cube of choice, top off with the saffron tonic, and garnish with a long fennel frond and if in season some halved pea pods and a pea tendril make this drink really super pretty as well as tasty.

Fiesta of San Fermin, Bullfights and Pamplona…

“I leaned over the wall and tried to see into the cage. It was dark. Someone rapped on the cage with an iron bar. Inside something seemed to explode. the bull, striking into the wood from side to side with his horns, made a great noise. Then I saw a dark muzzle and the shadow of horns, and then, with a clattering on the wood in the hollow box, the bull charged and came out into the corral, skidding with his forefeet in the straw as he stopped, his head up, the great hump of muscle on his neck swollen tight, his body muscles quivering as he looked up at the crowd on the stone walls. The two steers backed away against the wall, their heads sunken, their eyes watching the bull.

“My god isn’t he beautiful?” Brett said

Bloody Mary/Bloody Bull

The Bloody Bull is a drink similar to a Bloody Mary but has the addition of beef stock, the Bloody Mary ( or Bucket of Blood as it was first called)has its origins in early 19th century Paris made in Harry’s Bar ,an American bar that had been shipped over to Paris and reassembled just in time to rehydrate all those thirsty expats who had decamped in the city around the time of Prohibition, also just after the Russian Revolution happened, Paris was flooded with that odorless , clear spirit called Vodka, that the bartender at Harry’s began mixing with tomato juice , salt, pepper and other seasonings. It quickly caught on with the American contingency as a hangover cure and was renamed sometime in the Forties as the Bloody Mary.

Rather than use beef stock to flavor my version I used a ham bone and some bacon fat, that I sealed in a vacuum bag with vodka and allowed gentle heat to do the rest. I’m also quite obsessed right now with making a clear drink that looks like water but packs a punch of flavors so instead of tomato juice I made tomato water, made by hanging pureed tomatoes in muslin over a container where the tomato water drips into, all the flavor of sweet ripe tomatoes without the chunky bits.

Jamon , Jamon

2 oz smoked ham and bacon fat washed vodka

2 oz tomato water

1 oz fino sherry

1 oz white verjus

good 2 pinches of maldon smoked salt

1 pinch ras el hanout

1 pinch pimenton espellete

3 dashes celery bitters

baby radish with leaves to garnish

For the tomato water

blitz 15-20 roma tomatoes in a vitamix, pour liquid tomatoes into a heavy bottomed pan and set on a medium heat until it starts to simmer and the pulp rises to the top of your pot. whilst this is happening line a large chinoise strainer with an even larger coffee filter and place over a pot or large pitcher. Once the tomato liquid has bubbled up, pour it into the chinoise strainer and allow the tomato water to drip through without agitating it. The yield should be about 2 quarts, store ing the fridge it will last a couple of days.

For the Jamon vodka

for those of you without fancy gadgets here’s a hack to achieve similar result to sous vide….

1 liter bottle vodka

1 ham bone ( your local butcher can provide and also chop in half if needed)

1 tablespoon smoked bacon fat ( a good excuse to make BLT’s, save the bacon fat after cooking)

1 large ziplock bag

1 ice cooler ( igloo will do, keeps ice cold but also hot things hot due to its insulation)

a long cooking thermometer

Add your vodka, ham bone and bacon fat to the ziplock bag, zip up the bag until almost closed, leave a small opening where you can squeeze the air in the bag out, if you don’t the bag will not sink the air keeping it afloat and the vodka will not infuse fully) once the air is removed seal the bag fully. To your igloo ice chest add 60 degree celsius hot water, insert thermometer and bag of vodka/ham. Close lid on chest, I’ve gone so far as to place my igloo in a box surrounded by a blanket ( no I did not sing it a lullaby ) The water temp can go down as far as 54 degrees but you will need to top it off with hot water once it starts to dip below 55, so have a kettle of hot water ready to go. Let the bag sit for a couple of hours, then remove and allow contents to cool off before straining out fat and ham bits. Pour vodka into a sealable container , put on lid and store in fridge for 3-4 hours until fat has frozen solid and is easy to scoop off. Strain vodka again then store in airtight container back in the fridge till ready to be used.

 

shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

For the drink

add all ingredients to a mixing glass with 4-5 ice cubes, stir for about twenty seconds , strain into a chilled collins glass filled with ice , garnish with a pickled or non pickled radish and a spindle more of smoked salt and pimenton. You can also garnish with pickled peppers or baby tomatoes, the choice is yours.

 

After Fiesta and back to Bayonne

“It was pleasant to be drinking slowly and to be tasting the wine and to be drinking alone. A bottle of wine was good company. Afterward I had coffee. The waiter recommended a Basque liqueur called Izzarra. he brought in the bottle and poured a liqueur glass full. he said Iazzarra was made of the flowers of the Pyrenees. The veritable flowers of the Pyrenees. It looked like hair oil and smelled like Italian Strega. I told him to take the flowers of the Pyrenees away and bring me a vieux marc. The marc was good. I had a second one after the coffee

Bayonne , a town that straddles the Pyrenees on one side of it Gascogny on the other the Basque region,( oh, no you thought I meant Bayonne NJ famous for its drugs, prostitution and mob influences as well as for producing Shaquille O’Neil) no the original French Bayonne is famous for its chocolate making, wine production and scenic vistas and is slightly more civilized. Vieux marc is a dessert brandy made from grape pomace similar to grappa, a great accompaniment to the classic Basque dessert of cherries, kind of like a cherry soup , officially known as Gerezi beltza arno gorriakin, mmm, yes long isn’t it? Imagine trying to say that after making friends with a bottle of wine and a couple of brandies. This cherry soup served with a dollop of fresh cream to balance out the sweet tartness of the fruit, all you need is chocolate curls and you’d have a liquid Black Forest cake…so I got to thinking

For my cherry soup I kinda sorta made a version of a Ramos Fizz crossed with an egg cream, but with a cherry shrub and Maraschino instead of lemon and orange flower water, and chocolate chili bitters with a dusting of chocolate powder atop, and to give it some base a touch of dry oloroso and topped off with soda.

 

Matador

1 1/2 oz bourbon

1 oz cherry shrub

1 oz dry oloroso sherry

1/2 oz maraschino liqueur

1/2 oz simple syrup

1/2 lemon

1/2 oz cream

1 oz egg white

3 dashes chocolate chilli bitters

1-2 oz soda water

For the cherry shrub

pit about a pound of cherries and let them cold macerate with 1 cup of sugar in the fridge for a couple of days, the juice should be drawn out of the cherries , then add 1 cup of banyuls vinegar, stir and put back into the fridge to allow, fruit, sugar and vinegar to get on first name terms. Leave for further 2 days. When finished strain liquid through a cheesecloth and chinoise strainer, taste, you are looking for a balance between perfect tartness and a little sweet, you can add sugar or vinegar as needed but remember you don’t want to wash out the cherry flavor.

shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Add everything except the cream and cola to your boston shaker with 2-3 ice cubes, whip shake to froth up the egg for about 40-50 seconds. Add cream and gently stir in, pour into a chilled collins glass and top off with coca cola, dust on top a pinch of chocolate powder. Garnish with fresh or homemade maraschino cherries.

 

Madrid, to pick up the pieces of Lady Brett

The Norte station in Madrid is the end if the line. All trains finish there. they don’t go on anywhere. Outside were cabs and taxis and a line of hotel runners.It was like a country town. i took a taxi and we climbed up though the gardens by the empty palace and the unfinished church on the edge of the cliff, and on until we were in the high, hot modern town. the Taxi coasted down to Puerta del Sol and then through the traffic onto the Carrera San Jeronimo. All the shops had their awnings down against the heat. The windows on the sunny side of the street were shuttered. The taxi stopped at the curb. I saw the sign HOTEL MONTANA on the second floor. The taxi driver carried the bags inside and left them by the elevator. I could not make the elevator work so I walked up. On the second floor up was a brass sign: HOTEL MONTANA. I rang and no-one came to the door. i rang again and a maid with a sullen face opened the door.

“Is Lady Ashley here?” I asked, I knew what was waiting, Brett would fall into my arms and I’d make her feel safe but she would never truly love me , it was pretty to think we could have had a damned good time!

To come to Jake’s aid on this hot summer day in Madrid , were I the maid opening the door I would be handing him a cold refreshing glass for his thirst and his woes, this drink below is based on Ajo blanco or what is sometimes called a white gazpachio, that uses grapes , almonds and bread, instead of bread am using manzanilla sherry for a touch of nuttiness and depth , for the almond factor a delightful orgeat from the gents at Wilks & Wilson and then of course crisp , sweet grapes with dry Txakoli as a spritz, its a sort of take on a Rebujito a couple of these and a plate full of pintxos and he’d forget all about that fickle lady he lost his heart to, at least for a moment !

 

Volver

2 1/2 oz good manzanilla sherry, Lustau is my current favorite

1 oz orgeat

1 oz lemon juice

1/2 oz amaretto

6 or so ripe green grapes, plus a small bunch for garnish. If you can get muscat grapes even better

2-3 lemon verbena leaves plus a sprig or two for garnish

1-2 oz Txakoli ( a sparkling dry white wine drank in regions of Spain as early as breakfast, I mean we have champagne brunches so why not eh)?

shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

 

In your trusty Boston shaker muddle lightly grapes and lemon verbena leaves with orgeat and lemon, add the rest of your ingredients plus 5-6 ice cubes. Shake for about 20 seconds then dump into a vessel of your choice. Top off with the sparkling Txakoli , garnish with either a mini bunch of grapes or a few grape halves plus a lemon verbena sprig.

 

Next up….an ode to Autumn

Issue No.026 “Tails” from the Bookworm “Moby Dick”

 

was a dark and stormy night , the wind howled and waves leapt from the ocean muffling the sounds of the sirens as they tried to drag us onto the rocks. I grabbed my blanket closer round me, my stomach grumbling reminded me of my last supper before I left fair Nantucket Isle and how I wished I could be back on those distant shores, aside a fire , drink in hand. From below decks I could hear the clump clump as the Captain’s leg hit the wooden floor, the man was pacin, he was ready for the fight that lay ahead of him, preparing to meet his maker by way of the giant white jaws that lurked deep within the bowels of the sea below…..

I recently happened upon a thought as I lay in my bed reading myself to sleep, (no not of giant white jaws) I thought of so many books containing such rich and vivid stories , journeys of great explorers, tales of love lost and treasure found, so many books, so little time, how can I make time to read them and still get work done? My head is always stuck in a book searching for inspiration, flavor combinations, culinary techniques yet I rarely have the chance to sit and have a quiet moment with a story that sweeps me off my feet into its pages (I’m not a kindle reader), I love ink and paper, the feel , the smell of it is always the invitation to my journey of ravishing a book usually ten chapters at a time. I’ve been suffering from artists block for a few months, trying to find something interesting to write about has been a bit of a headache, I

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love writing and getting my ideas down in black and white so I thought rather than struggle, I’d take some time out over the summer to get back to reading the stack of neglected books that have been hovering in the corner like Boo Radley waiting to be noticed and loved. I realized as I was reading in my half asleep state that the book in my hands held a key to another journey of discovery, the book in question was Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises”, it was peppered with scenes of drinking and eating, parties and mayhem, I can’t say I was armchair traveling since I was lying down , more like futon surfing vicariously through the story and then my lightbulb moment hit, how about exploring Hemingway’s Spain in the book through drink and flavors, the story as my muse. I scribbled the thought down and then swiftly drifted off to the land of bedfordshire.

So its taken me some time to get back to The Cup, my first task was finishing off that first book , the ideas came thick and fast all through it, Saffron gin & tonic, Jamon and sherry bloody mary, amongst a few others. Each month my aim is to complete a book and find flavor inspiration from it , I’m still tweaking those Spanish flavored drinks and they’ll be with you shortly but in the meantime I’ve charted the journey of Captain Ahab as he travels the oceans hell bent on destroying one giant fish, Moby Dick.

Captain’s Log: setting sail and on to battle; Nantucket/Cape Cod

Nantucket, known affectionately as the little grey lady of the seas was the capital of the whaling industry back in Melville’s day, its where the ill-fated Pequod’s journey begins. I imagine cobbled streets , gas lamps and dark, damp, fire lit inns , air thick with pipe smoke and tall tales of the one that got away ( fish that is). The classic Cape Codder cocktail is pretty much vodka and cranberry juice, refreshing and sweet enough to mask the burn of alcohol as it heads to yer belly , its pretty much a blank canvas that could do with a little enhancing. I eat cranberries once a year, Thanksgiving is pretty much it and when I think cranberry I usually associate stuffing (or is it dressing?) as its companion , thyme, sage, maybe some rosemary and isn’t there a little bit of spice usually in that cran jelly, like cloves and maybe orange?

The Little Grey Lady of the Sea

1 1/2 oz sage & thyme infused vodka

3/4 oz allspice dram

1/2 oz ginger syrup

1 oz lemon juice

1 oz Dolin dry vermouth

2 drops vanilla extract

3 dashes orange bitters

6 fresh cranberries

thyme twigs to garnish

beauty shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith, styling by The Cup

Muddle cranberries, thyme syrup and lemon. Add rest of your ingredients and shake with 4-5 ice cubes. Dump into a chilled rocks glass, garnish with whole cranberries and thyme sprig or halo if you want drama

Captain’s log: we spy palm trees and many a small island; Arroz Islands/ The Caribbean

So like any good drink smith the Caribbean conjures up quickly the thought of dark and spicy rum, Tiki drinks and Navy Grog. Navy grog was invented it is said by a British Admiral Edward Vernon,sometime in 1740, Navy strength rum was added to water to dilute it,sometimes mixed with lime and sometimes drank with gunpowder . The watering down of the rum prevented it from igniting the gunpowder aboard ships but it also improved the taste of the rancid water stored aboard ships on long journeys, the lime prevented scurvy and gave rise to the nickname of the British “Limeys”. Beachbum Berry ( bar tender Jeff Berry) invented his own “grog” back in the eighties inspired by the original but adding sweeter flavors taken from the Islands themselves, my own take on it below uses smokey mezcal adding earthiness to balance out all the sweetness.

Kill-Divil’s Grog

1 1/2 oz mezcal

1/2 oz dark rum

1/2 oz pineapple gomme ( I used Liebers, really tasty and rich)

1/2 oz orgeat (Wilks & Wilson do a really nice floral version)

1 oz lime juice

3/4 oz Lustau East India Solera sherry ( dont skimp, find this , its heady and raisiny and full of delicious spicy fruit)

1 oz egg white

3 dashes Miracle Mile chocolate chili bitters

dust of mole powder for garnish ( recipe follows)

 

Mole Powder recipe

1 /2 cup slivered almonds toasted on a dry skillet

1/2 cup black sesame seeds also toasted on a dry skillet

1 cup Dutch Process cocoa powder

1 teaspoon guajillo chilli powder

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground ancho chili powder

1/4 teaspoon ground star anise

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground Vietnamese cinnamon

Let your almonds and sesame seeds cool a bit then blitz them in a food processor pulsing until not quite complete powder. Add the cocoa powder and spices and pulse again just to incorporate everything together. Store in an airtight jar , works well on drinks as well as ice cream.

 

beauty shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith, arranged by The Cup

For the drink:

add everything to your shaker except for garnish plus 1 small ice cube, whip shake for about 10 seconds to wake up the strands of egg white and get them nice and frisky . Add 3-4 more ice cubes and shake for about 20 seconds more. Stain into a chilled vessel of choice and dust over mole powder .

 

Captain’s Log: we round Cape Horn and onto the bitter Atlantic ocean

Situated at the southern most tip of Chile, Cape Horn is the last point of land that a ship will see before heading off into the vast Atlantic, the East Indies and Africa. The National drink of Chile is the grape based Pisco, there is much debate as to where Pisco originated, Chileans and Peruvians claim its invention. Chile also produces some beautiful wines, earthy and peppery. The drink below is inspired by the classic Jack Rose cocktail which uses AppleJack ( a type of apple brandy) and grenadine and the flavors of Chilean grapes.

Pequod Sour

1 1/2 oz Alta Del Carmen Chilean Pisco

1 oz Chilean red wine such as a Syrah

3/4 oz grenadine ( I used Wilks & Wilson)

3/4 oz lime juice

drop of rosewater

drop of vanilla extract

3 dashes peychauds bitters

1 oz egg white

black pepper and strawberry lambic to garnish

beauty shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith, arranged by the Cup

Dry shake all of your ingredients except for pepper and ale in your tin (that is without ice) for 20 seconds, add 4 ice cubes and shake again for a further 20 seconds. Strain into a chilled vessel of your choice , top with a splash of the lambic ale and a couple of turns of fresh black pepper.

 

Captain’s Log:We spy land this fair mornin. We head for The Cape of Good Hope in search of vittles .

After leaving the Americas and sailing east across the Atlantic the next bit of land the doomed Pequod would have hit would be South Africa, and the Cape of Good Hope that stretches out into the ocean like the claw of an eagle readying itself to pick up prey. Part of Cape Town, the Hope just like the Horn in Chile is a marker on most sea farers maps, a milestone of the seas. South Africa and in particular Cape Town is known for its great wines ,its love of Barbecue and smoked meats. For me there’s no better partner to BBQ than beer and whiskey, in particular Bourbon. Bourbon is often added to BBQ sauce to add vanilla and woody spices and beer used as a marinade to tenderize steak. I figured I would use both for this Capetonian inspired Old Fashioned . Here it is hidden in the jungle waiting to pounce on your thirst !

Fedallah’s Old Fashioned

2 oz smoked Bourbon ( I used a smoking gun but you can add a couple of drops of liquid smoke instead, just don’t get heavy handed with it)

3/4 oz lager simple syrup ( reduce a bottle of good lager beer down to half then add equal parts cane sugar for a spin on simple syrup)

3 dashes MIracle Mile Red Eye bitters ( as the name suggests its strong coffee with a bacon fat wash to finish it)

2 dashes Angostura bitters

flamed orange peel to garnish

beauty shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith, arranged by The Cup

In a chilled rocks glass muddle lager syrup and bitters together , add whiskey and stir a little more before adding your cracked ice. Stir for about 10 seconds, I like my Old Fashioned’s served hot , pretty much meaning slightly diluted allowing the dilution to continue as you drink the cocktail. Peel off strips of orange peel and spritz their oils over a match or lighter allowing the flamed oils to drop onto your drink. Rub the zest on the rim of your glass and pop into the cocktail for added aroma.

 

Captain’s Log: We follow the coast of the East Indies, the air full of salt, spice and fruit.

The East Indies is a term used to describe the swath of lands from South to Southeast Asia, including India,

Bangladesh, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam and Indonesia, all countries that create some of the most flavorful and aromatic foods. By this time on Ahab’s journey I would Imagine him needing somewhat of a strong and long drink to kill the pains that ail him, from his phantom leg to the bitterness and anger in his heart. Its also here that the giant Moby Dick makes his home , Ahab so close to his Nemesis but still out of reach. The Painkiller cocktail is my starting point for this coconut laced drink.

Garnish based on ceremonial Temple offerings and the Southeast Asian jungle.

Temple of Solace (Ahab’s Advil)

(if these portions seem large to you , bear in mind that its being poured into this Thai Coconut shell which yields around 12 oz of liquid, if not using the coconut shell the drink can be split between two drinking vessels)

2 oz toasted coconut infused white rum ( toast 500 grams of desiccated coconut in your oven, add to 1 750 ml bottle of white rum and infuse for 2-3 days, strain before using)

1/2 oz blackstrap molasses rum ( such as Cruzan)

1/2 oz Jamaican rum such as Smith & Cross

1 oz passion fruit pulp

1 oz orgeat ( I used Wilks & Wilson)

1/2 oz St.Elizabeth allspice dram,

1 oz lime

1 oz madeira

2 oz coconut milk,

1 oz coconut water

1/4 teaspoon Tahitian Vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon curry powder

beauty shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith, arranged by The Cup

Prepare your Thai young coconut by lopping off the top and draining out its guts, mostly coconut water and some coconut meat, carve a large enough hole to place the end of a funnel into.

To make the drink , toss everything into a large tin shaker with 6 ice cubes and shake for about 25 seconds , strain into the funnel/coconut. Top with leaves and flowers of your choice and present with incense and smoked cinnamon sticks if you like.

 

Captain’s Log: The Beast is spied in the Japan Sea

Ahab and his crew finally meet Moby Dick in the Seas off Japan, it is here that both their and Melville’s journey ends. I could not decide which one of these drinks would be a fitting companion to the end of the story so am using both, the first based on a sherry cobbler and the second my take on a filthy, dirty, briny martini that I imagine Melville diving into once he puts his pen down. Both drinks star some lovely provisions that I picked up at my local Japanese market.

The Kyoho Cobbler

1 oz manzanilla sherry

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( I know, not Japanese)

1 1/2 oz Junmai sake

3/4 oz Avua aged cachaca ( not Japanese either bit works really well with the grapes and shiso)

1 oz martini bianco

1/2 oz gomme syrup such as Liber & Co.

3/4 oz lemon juice

4 shiso leaves

6 Kyoho grapes plus mor for garnish

beauty shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith, arranged by The Cup

Muddle 2 of the shiso leaves with 6 grapes and the gomme syrup for about 5 seconds, add the rest of your ingredients and 5-6 ice cubes and shake for about 20 seconds, dump into a chilled wine glass that has been lined with the remaining 2 shiso leaves, garnish with an abundance of Kyoho grapes for maximum drama.

Melville’s Postscript

1 1/2 oz Ford’s gin

1 1/2 oz dry sake

1/4 oz Umeboshe vinegar

3 dashes Mircale Mile celery bitters

2-3 Umeboshe plums for garnish

beauty shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith, arranged by The Cup

In a mixing glass add all of your ingredients plus 6-7 cracked ice cubes, stir for 30 seconds then strain into a chilled coupe glass, garnish with Umebsohe plums in the bottom of your glass.

 

“Gone Fishin”

 

he Cup will be back shortly I promise. I’m not one that can just crank out drinks or ideas just for the sake of cranking and I felt I was getting a wee repetitive so am taking a time out to

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research and gather inspiration for an upcoming series called “Bar & Books”

 

Next Issue…..the Tale of Moby Dick

Issue No.025 ” My Heart belongs to Daddy”

 

up, I know Miss Monroe is singing about her sugar daddy, she’ll gladly flirt but won’t lift her skirt for any laddy. The Daddy in question  here is my Pops who you may remember my mentioning in previous posts, Popsi’s name was  Iggy, Ignacy to be exact. He passed away from the big C on June 8th 2001, as you can imagine it utterly destroyed me, he was my hero, my light, my anchor , my all. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t remember him, I had dog tags made for me that I wear daily as a reminder of him worn close to my heart, I’m a sentimental fool but you see  like any little girl I think my Popsi was the best dad that walked the earth. Of course   there were times when he drove me absolutely bonkers like the day I came home from college looking for my cool ass beaten up leather motorcycle jacket only to discover he had cleaned out my closet of anything he thought was unladylike and pretty much burned all of it!!!?  Or the time he wouldn’t let  fourteen year old me hang out with the pot smoking boy of nineteen I was dating one summer so I sneaked out anyway and had the entire police force of my home town looking for me , I could handle my shit , I was a mature kid,  I knew when to say no   but to my Pops I was his baby that he needed to protect forever and ever amen till time ends and hell freezes over!  My ode this issue and for Father’s day is for  Iggy Mlynarczyk  , musician, day dreamer, soldier, life saver, father and best friend  .

We had a curious journey together the 33 years that I spent with him, filled with fairy tales  and make believe that helped me out of the darkest places when I was a kiddie. He taught me to follow my dreams and my heart as he had not been able to, to  be respectful, keep my eyes and ears open and my mouth closed until it was needed. My pops was a farm boy, one of nine kids being raised  in rural Poland  like so many other families   eking out an existence where they could,when the kids reached eleven or so they were sent out to work for other farmers to bring money back to the house, it was on one of these excursions  during WWII Popsi’s  sister who I’m named after was captured by the Gestapo, a petrified farmer trying to save his own kids  gave her away as a migrant gypsy, my dad saw the scene from the field he was working in and ran to her aid, he  begged them not to take her  knowing she was not strong enough to survive the ordeal instead he struck a deal and they took him instead  to a camp first in Poland then later to Germany where  he was forced to work digging ditches for burying bodies and farming the land.  During his time there he made friends with a German girl called Gisella who would sneak him food from her family table and books to read to teach him the German language. After  a few years of watching , waiting and building courage Pops hatched an escape plan  aided by his friend , so his story goes she helped him  and two others escape . Dad was just 17 , the other two were not as lucky as young Iggy, they were captured and shot as an example to the rest of the inmates, Pops journeyed on alone through a bitter winter  traveling on foot from Germany to France picking clothes and boots off dead soldiers and existing on frozen roots and other peoples throw aways.  One morning he found himself staring into Bakery  shop window, it was early enough that there were no people around except the baker who took pity on him and beckoned Pops in, so hungry he  stopped for a second not knowing if he would get turned in but that gnawing ache in his belly lead him forward through the door, the baker turned out to be one more of his guardian angels, he fed him, gave him clothes and a hot bath and a few days later he was picked up by  the French  resistance who transported him to an  RAF  hospital  close by . There he was enlisted in his Majesty’s service and  eventually he was sent to the UK  , Pops was taught to play the Piano and in his barracks and would play at the town hall dances in Lincolnshire where he shared more than one dance with a very young Miss Thatcher, it was also in that town that he had his heart broken by a young lass who’s own father forbade her to mix with a foreigner . In his early thirties he moved to a small town in Derbyshire ( home to Miss Austen’s Darcy) where he met and married  my mum, not a long union but one that produced two very different kids, my brother first then in 67 myself . According to family stories Pops suffered a serious mental breakdown, not surprisingly the trauma of his earlier life finally caught up with him, giving him night terrors and turning him into a ghost, he was further tormented by the barbarian “Doctors” of that time and given the One flew over the Cuckoo’s nest treatment, “healing” by electrocution! I won’t go into the details of how or why my parents divorced, they did when I was about five, it was a nasty experience all around, fights and attempted suicides  turned into a year of custody battles and tugs of war, it was also the first time I ran away from home, I think I was maybe six. Iggy was eventually granted custody of his two willful children and devoted   the rest of his years raising two kids as a single parent, we were his everything and though he had a funny way of showing it  his love was never ending, he never said I love you, or gave us hugs ( not until I was older and forced him into expressing himself) but there were many nights he would sit by my bed side stroking my hair and singing  a Polish “Lulka” or lullaby to get me to sleep.

Pops was never much of a talker, he was however an amazing story teller and  would on occasion after a wee nip of his favorite dram spill his memories for me as a  reminder to be grateful for the life I was given, no wars to fight , food on the table, a roof over my head and a good education were pretty much all he said I needed, boyfriends and rock music were most definitely not part of his prescription .  Since we’re talking booze you know there has to be a link here in my story to some sort of liquid refreshment, yes indeed, the wee nip of Iggy’s truth serum was the Mother of all libations uisige beatha ,  the water of life, fire water whatever you want to call it, commonly known as  Whisky, to be exact that peaty, stinky green bottled monster,  Laphroaig. My first taste came   somewhere back in the early eighties when I was going through my teenage angst years, the bottle was only ever brought out on special occasions and was kept in Iggy’s not so secret, secret stash hole, I would watch my dad sip his glass of amber nectar watching with awe as his face brightened and his smile would erupt, I felt for sure it would cure my blues so I poured myself a glass and retreated to my red painted womb of a bedroom, lighting a clove cigarette and whisky in hand  I thought I was super sophisticated, that is until I choked on the first sip of Laphroaig the rest being spilled on the floor. Times have certainly changed, Islay scotch whisky is now one my preferred tipples, over the years I have learned to love that smoky , briny flavor picked up by smoking the barley over peat moss fires before going off to be distilled .

There’s nothing  unusual about the drinks that follow , but I think the old man would have enjoyed one or two whilst waiting for the horse he backed to win or relaxing reading one of his Louis Lamour Western novels or maybe comforting his troubled memories,   his tastes were pretty simple and classic, Chopin played the theme song to his life, Maggie Thatcher was his dream girl,  when he could scrape his pennies together  meat and two veg were his idea of fine dining, every day I saw him he wore a jacket and tie, pressed pants and shined shoes, at times his socks may have been full of holes but he presented as the perfect put together gent, both inside and out .

Islay be seeing you

1 1/2 oz Laproaig 10

1/2 oz Smith & Cross Jamaican rum

1/2 oz honey syrup ( 1:1 honey to hot water)

1/2 oz ginger syrup ( fresh ginger juiced and added to a simple syrup)

1/2 oz fresh lemon juice

1/4 oz Yuzu juice

 

photo by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Toss everything into your trusty Boston shaker and add 5 ice cubes, this drink needs a good shaking and the flavors of both the scotch and rum stand up to being well whipped around so shake for about 35 seconds until the drink is ice and chilly . Strain into a chilled old fashioned glass filled with ice, garnish with one or more candies ginger cubes.

when to drink:  whilst watching the horse races  on the telly, as an aid to numb the pain of the local clergyman’s sunday visit, or just for the hell of it!

 

Peat-er & the Wolf 

2 oz Laphroaig 10

1/2 oz St.Elizabeth allspice dram

1 oz fresh lime juice

1 oz ginger syrup

2 oz Theakstons Old Peculiar ale or Newcastle Brown ale ( plus the bottle for topping up)

photo by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

 

Shake everything except the beer over ice for 30 seconds, strain into a chilled ice filled highball glass and top off with the brown ale

When to drink: After painting the house , fixing the roof, cleaning your daughters closet and building a fire, as a reward for being the Best Dad EVER!

 

 Lincoln’s Peach

1 1/2 oz Laphroaig 10

1 oz creme de peche

1 oz calvados

3/4 oz maple syrup

1 oz lemon juice

2-3 oz Lapsang Souchong tea chilled ( depending on glass size)

1 ripe peach

2 drops vanilla extract

photo by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Chop half the peach into cubes and put aside for muddling, the other half of the peach needs to be sliced into 1/4″ slices for garnish.

In the bottom of your shaker add the peach cubes, vanilla and maple syrup and muddle, add the rest of your liquid ingredients plus 5 ice cubes to shaker and shake  for about 25 seconds, dump into a chilled glass and top off with more ice, garnish with peach slices.

When to drink: Goes down well after a day spent chasing thunderstorms away with that big stick, unravelling the cat from the washing line, or tending to Aunt Judy’s raucous brood of five.

 

The Old Man’s Fashioned

1 1/2 oz Earl grey tea soaked Laphroaig 10 ( steep 6 tea bags in one 750ml bottle of whisky)

3/4   oz cinnamon simple syrup ( 1 spoon of Vietnamese cinnamon powder steeped for 4-5 hours in hot simple syrup)

1/2 oz  brandy

3 dashes angostura bitters

two orange twists

photo by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Muddle the simple syrup, bitters and 1 orange peel in the bottom of a chilled old fashioned glass, add the whisky and brandy and stir for a few turns. Add a couple of hunks of ice and stir for about 15 seconds to chill slightly but not dilute too much. Spritz over the orange oils from the second twist and rub on the rim of the glass , plop the twist into the glass and sip slowly.

When to drink: As an after bed time story treat,  as a partner to your favorite Spaghetti western or just to warm the cockles of your heart.

 

Cheers to you Popsi , wish you were still around for hugs on this Father’s day! Miss you so so much,  Love always!!!

Issue No. 024 “Bittersweet Symphony”

 

 

 


hat bitter ruby red elixir , something about its balance of bitterness ,sweet and underlying herbal notes had me hooked from the get go. Yes I’m talking about Campari the bitter sorceress that plays so well with others yet always manages to stand out with her own amaroidal voice, I use it in all manner of ways , mixed with lemon lime soda, IPA beer & grapefruit, freeze it into an after dinner palate cleansing treat, or dehydrate it into pink fairy like dust for sprinkling.

There’s a tale out there (maybe tall maybe true) about a  Nobleman also partial to a glass or two of this jewel like temptress, the story goes that  one day around 1919 a certain Count Camillo of Florence , Italy  made a simple request  to his bartender , he needed his usually satisfying Americano cocktail made stronger, the Americano is a highball built over ice consisting of equal parts Campari  and sweet vermouth topped with soda water . The bartender pondered and turned to a bottle of gin, he poured out an equal amount of gin and added it to the glass but this time without soda and finished with a spritz of orange oil. The result was at once bitter and sweet, racy and refreshing and warming and spicy, the color of a deep red treasure  winking across the bar at the Count demanding that he savor it, he became a man bewitched , the bartender named it using Camillo’s last name  and so the Negroni was born.

Who knows why the good Count thought of it, maybe a day of frustrations led him to need something stiffer we shall never know, so happy was he with the result  the Count and his family opened a distillery and made the first pre-packaged version marketed as Antico Negroni ( and you thought bottled cocktails were new!). The Negroni  has become one of the most recognized classic drinks and in many cocktail bars I’ve  auditioned at the first drink I was  asked to make to prove ability. If the bartender shakes it or adds the wrong ratios then its an immediate fail, but get the proportions, garnish  and the chill on the nectar just so and your taste buds will be enveloped in its splendid bittersweet symphony.

Typically drank as an aperitif  , the  bitterness rounded out by a spicy sweet vermouth plus the nerve taming tonic of a good dry gin is the perfect end in my mind to the day or beginning of a great evening,   these days  I’ve seen the Negroni made with Dutch Genever adding a lovely malty finish or turned into a lesser known classic the Boulevardier by subbing out whiskey for the gin, the whiskey I think turns the drink into an after dinner sipper which is fine since the chinoto from the Campari also works as  a digestive aid. The Negroni to me is also the quintessential summer cocktail  and with summer  ( yes time has gone too fast this year) comes Negroni Cocktail week put together by Imbibe magazine and Campari , a seven day celebration of the classic Negroni and its variations, participating bars will donate a portion of Negroni sales to their favorite charities,its also a chance for the bar community to gather together and give something back. If you would like to join in the festivities go here for a list of participating bars in your area, my own list includes The Varnish, Eveleigh, Tasting Kitchen and Harvard & Stone in Los Angeles and Broadway restaurant in Laguna , please also visit us at Ink in West Hollywood where I’ll be serving up our Rapid Barrel aged Negroni sous vide for 2 days, as well as our Boulevardier finished with a splash of lambic ale, or if you’re hearing the call of adventure maybe I’ll hook you up with a hit or two of Campari dust.

And now , without further stories my Ode to the Negroni and all it inspires , but if like me you prefer playing the Hermit from time to time and are not in the mood for playing with others, here’s seven days worth of recipes for you to get your own bitter sweet symphony on with!

monday June 2nd….Start your engines with this lovely smooth Barrel aged Negroni. 

Serves 12 ( or 4 really thirsty peeps)

12 oz Fords Gin

12  oz Noilly Prat or Cocchi Vermouth Di Torrino

12 oz Campari

16 dashes orange bitters

1 barrel stave ( Tuthilltown distillery  in NY sells packs)

orange zest for garnish

shot by the one and only, delightfully talented Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Combine everything in an airtight preferably glass container like a ball canning jar ( a big one) stir and add the barrel stave. Allow to sit in a dark corner of your pad for at least a week, no cheating you need a nice flavor to develop. If you are lucky enough to have access to an Immersion Circulator, toss everything into a large vacuum sealable bag, seal up and sous vide at 55 degrees C for 2 days, let  the bag chill down before decanting into an airtight bottle .

Once ready, pour in 3 oz of batch per person into a mixing glass, add cracked ice and stir for about 30 seconds until a nice chill develops on your glass, strain into chilled ice filled rocks glasses and garnish with an orange twist, feeling fancy, you can flame the twist by setting fire to the expelled oils from the twist.

Tuesday June 3rd….chill out with a Negroni sour

1 1/2 oz Cap Rock gin

3/4 oz Campari

3/4  oz Sweet vermouth of choice

1/2 oz lemon juice

1 oz grapefruit juice

1/2 oz simple syrup

dash rosewater

1 oz egg white

garnish with Campari dust (recipe below)

shot by the one and only, delightfully talented Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Add everything except garnish to a Boston shaker and dry shake without ice for 1o seconds, add 4-5 ice cubes and shake again for 25 seconds or so. Strain into a chilled vessel of choice and sprinkle over a pinch of Campari Dust

 

Wednesday June 4th…round out hump day with Ink’s variation on a Boulevardier

1 1/2 oz Buffalo Trace Bourbon

1 oz Campari

1 oz Cocchi rosa

3 dashes Miracle Mile chocolate chili bitters

a splash of Timmerman’s strawberry lambic ale

garnish with an orange peel

shot by the one and only, delightfully talented Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Add spirits only into a mixing glass with cracked ice and stir for 25-30 seconds, strain into a chilled coupe glass , add splash of lambic ale and finish with your twist of orange peel.

 

Thursday June 5th….indulge with a Negroni Milk shake (you did Yoga all week you deserve it)

1 1/2 oz  Bols Genever

1 1/2 oz Campari

1 1/2 oz sweet vermouth

1 cup of vanilla ice cream

2 dashes peychauds bitters

1/2 oz simple syrup

1 bar spoon citric solution 10:1 water to citric acid

1/8 oz vanilla extract

Campari dust to finish if you so wish

shot by the one and only, delightfully talented Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Add everything to a blender  with 4 ice cubes and blitz for about 15 seconds or until its nice and smooth, pour into a chilled glass of choice, add straw and slurp away!

 

Friday June 6th….get your friday frisk on with this cross between a Negroni, a salty, spicy margarita and a michelada….The Negritalada (perhaps)

3/4  oz of thai chili infused tequila ( if you want a pony kick instead of a ass whooping you can use half spicy and half regular tequila)

3/4 oz Vida Mezcal

3/4 oz Campari

3/4 oz sweet vermouth

1/2 oz agave nectar

1 oz fresh ruby  grapefruit juice

1/2 oz lime juice

a dash of vanilla extract

salt rim and IPA beer to finish

shot by the one and only, delightfully talented Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Add everything except garnish into a your Boston shaker, shake for 25 seconds with 5 ice cubes. Strain into a chilled, salt rimmed highball glass filled with ice, top off with a generous splash of IPA beer.

 

Saturday June 7th….Amp up your weekend with Negroni jello shots and Campari Dust Pixy Stix (or lines depending on your mindset)

For the Jello shots ( you will need to do this in stages giving one layer time to fully set before adding second layer)

Gin layer:

1 x 7 gram packet of  Knox gelatin

1/3 cup of Aviation gin

2/3 cup of lemon lime soda

1 tablespoon cane sugar

1/4 oz rosewater

Campari layer:

1  x 7 gram packet Knox gelatin powder

1/3 cup Campari

1/3 cup sweet vermouth

1/3 cup orange juice

Add gin+rosewater / Campari to a small bowl with the packet of gelatin powder, stir and allow to dissolve for 1 minute, meanwhile in a pan add your lemon lime soda/sweet vermouth+OJ to the heat and heat up to just before simmering. Take off and add lemon lime soda to gin rosewater and vermouth OJ mix to Campari. Stir to incorporate and fully dissolve the gelatin powder, add sugar and stir again dissolving sugar. Let sit for 3-4 minutes then pour into silicone ice cube trays from Cocktail Kingdom filling up to the half way line. Let sit for few minutes then place in the fridge for 3 hours to let fully set. When set repeat with second layer. To extract from tray, warm up a small palette knife with hot water and run around the edges of each cube, gently coax out and , depending on your mood, either gobble up or arrange neatly on serving tray .

 

For Campari Dust

1 cup Campari

1 cup powdered sugar

mix together well to dissolve sugar, I found its quicker to get absolutely all the lumps out if your sieve your sugar first. Add the slurry to a heavy bottomed pan and set onto a medium heat, this part takes some patience since you have to stand and stir the mix whilst it slowly evaporates down to a paste. Once pasty, take off heat and quickly spread out onto a silpat lines baking sheet ,spreading evenly with your trusty palette knife. Add to a very low oven and let it dehydrate over night. Once dry add to your blender and wazz it until it resembles a fine pink powder. Store in airtight container with silicone packets to stop it from clumping . Slurp up through straws, add to your ice cream, milk shakes, sours etc.

 

shot by the one and only, delightfully talented Patrick O’Brien-Smith

 

Sunday June 8th….Finish off with a refreshing Negroni Bianco Sgroppino

The Classic Negroni made with white bitters , carbonated  and poured over Campari grapefruit granita

serves 4

For the Campari Granita:

1/2 cup Campari

3 cups strained ruby grapefruit juice

3/4 cup of sugar

1/2 oz rosewater

1/4 oz vanilla extract

Add grapefruit juice and sugar to pan and set on heat to dissolve sugar, add to Campari, rosewater and vanilla and stir. Allow to chill before pouring into a metal container that you will then set in the freezer. Every couple of hours you will need to stir the freezing mix to stop ice crystals from forming . When set, cover top with a sheet of parchment paper to protect from freezer burn.

for the Negroni Bianco:

6 oz Aviation gin

6 oz Tempus Fugit Gran Classico

6 oz Dolin blanc vermouth

add everything to a pitcher with a scoop of ice and stir to chill and dilute . Pour into either an ISI gun or a Twist and Sparkle contraption and charge with one CO2 gas charger.

 

shot by the one and only, delightfully talented Patrick O’Brien-Smith

 

With all your components ready and your glasses nice and frosty, get an ice cream scoop and portion out a generous scoop of the Campari granita into Coupe glasses, pour over the carbonated Negroni Bianco and garnish with  a twist of grapefruit peel.

 

Cin Cin!!!

Issue No. 023 ” Street Fighting Woman”

 

 

 

he is strong, she is feminine, she can hang with the boys and shoot as well as seduce the pants off of bandits, she is La Adelita , the Mexican heroine known to kick ass through the revolution and beyond, a warrior, inspiration and symbol of action for the great nation of Mexico. My first introduction to this female super hero was back in the Eighties in a theme bar called “Down Mexico Way” which was as far away from Mexico as you could get, down London way, she was featured in paintings around the room. My first taste of Tequila was also in that bar and came from the bar’s super hero the shot girl who carried two bottles of tequila in holsters either side of her and a row of shot glasses in bandoleras draped around her waist, I don’t remember much what she looked like but she was the epitome of La Adelita , strong , sassy and in control and I wanted to be her! Beyond Elizabeth the 1st and Margaret Thatcher the Brits don’t churn out that many strongly vocal women, we’re told as toddlers to be seen and not heard, so to see this chica whooping it up and entrancing all the guys around her was revolutionary to me.

La Adelita, has become known in Mexican folk lore and popular culture as the gun toting street fighting woman, fighting for her rights and what she believed in, as well as fighting for her man, she was a suffragette long before the term was even invented. This Cinco de Mayo I thought I would take a minute to celebrate lady Adelita and all that she stands for with this collection of Tequila and Mezcal laced drinks .

A little background knowledge first to contemplate whilst you’re mixing, sipping and pistol whipping bad guys…..

Tequila is a regional specific name for a distilled beverage made from the blue agave plant, primarily in the area surrounding the city of Tequila and in the highlands (Los Altos) of Jalisco. Although tequila is a kind of mezcal, modern tequila differs somewhat in the method of its production, in the use of only blue agave plants, as well as in its regional specificity.

The blue volcanic soil in the surrounding region is particularly well suited to the growing of the blue agave, and more than 300 million of the plants are harvested there each year. Agave tequila grows differently depending on the region. Blue agaves grown in the highlands region are larger in size and sweeter in aroma and taste. Agaves harvested in the lowlands, on the other hand, have a more herbaceous fragrance and flavor.

Once distilled the Tequila can then be left as a silver tequila or aged , Reposado may be rested in oak barrels or casks as large as 20,000 litres, allowing for richer and more complex flavors. The preferred oak comes from the US, France, or Canada, and is usually white oak. Some companies char the wood to impart a smoky flavor, or use barrels previously used with different kinds of alcohol (e.g. whiskey or wine). Some reposados can also be aged in new wood barrels to achieve the same woody flavor and smoothness, but in less time.

Añejos are often rested in barrels previously used to rest reposados. The barrels cannot be more than 600 liters (158 gallons), and most are in the 200-liter range. Many of the barrels used are from whiskey distilleries in the US or Canada, and Jack Daniels barrels are especially popular.This treatment creates many of the aspects of the dark color and more complex flavors of the añejo tequila. After aging of at least one year, the añejo can be removed from the wood barrels and placed in stainless steel tanks to reduce the amount of evaporation that can occur in the barrels.

 

La Pasionista (based on the popular Batadita fruit drink)

1 1/2 oz silver tequila

3/4 oz Velvet Falernum

1 lime juice

1 oz coconut milk

the pulp of half a passion fruit

1/2 oz of agave nectar or more if you have a sweet tooth

2 dashes Miracle Mile chocolate chili bitters

 

patiently shot by Patrick O’Brien -Smith

 

Add everything to your Boston shaker with 5 ice cubes, shake for 25-30 seconds, dump into an ice filled receptacle of your choice, add straw and slurp

 

Santa Sangre

1 1/2 oz thai chilli infused tequila ( take a bottle of tequila, add 4-5 thai chills and let it sit and get spicy for a day or so)

1 oz lime juice

1 1/2 oz pineapple juice

1/2 oz St.Elizabeth allspice dram

3 drops Mexican vanilla extract

6 mint leaves

1/2 oz agave nectar

1/2 oz Barolo Chinato as a float (from the folks at Cocchi)

 

patiently shot by Patrick O’Brien -Smith

Toss the mint leaves into your Boston shaker with the agave and muddle briefly. Add the rest of you ingredients except for the Barolo Chinato and add 5 ice cubes. Shake for 25 seconds and strain into a chilled highball glass, top off with the Barolo , a couple of pineapple leaves and a slice of blood orange.

 

La Pelirroja

1 1/2 oz tequila reposado

1/2 oz Cynar

1/2 verjus rouge

1/2 oz fresh lime juice

3/4 oz demerrera simple syrup (same recipe as simple subbing out demerrera sugar for white)

3/4 oz pomegranite juice

1/8 oz rose water

splash of strawberry lambic ale

garnish with pomegranate seeds

patiently shot by Patrick O’Brien -Smith

Add everything to your Boston shaker except for the garnish and the lambic ale, shake for 25 seconds with 5 ice cubes. Strain into a chilled old fashioned glass filled with ice, pour over the lambic ale and finish with pom seeds.

 

Mezcal or mescal, is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from the maguey plant (a form of agave Agave ) native to Mexico. The word mezcal comes from Nahuatl mexcalli ,metl and ixcalli which means “oven-cooked agave”.The maguey grows in many parts of Mexico, though most mezcal is made in Oaxaca. There is a saying attributed to Oaxaca regarding the drink: “para todo mal, mezcal, y para todo bien también” (“for everything bad, mezcal; for everything good, the same”). It is unclear whether distilled drinks were produced in Mexico before the Spanish Conquest .The Spaniards were introduced to native fermented drinks such as pulque, also made from the maguey plant. Soon the conquistadors began experimenting with the maguey plant to find a way to make a distillable fermented mash. The result was mezcal.Today, mezcal is still made from the heart of the maguey plant, called the “piña”, much the same way it was 200 years ago, in most places. In Mexico, mezcal is generally consumed straight and has a strong smoky flavor.

The maguey was one of the most sacred plants in pre-Hispanic Mexico, and had a privileged position in religious rituals, mythology and the economy. Cooking of the “piña” or heart of the maguey and fermenting its juice was practiced. The origin of this drink has a myth. It is said that a lightning bolt struck an agave plant, cooking and opening it, releasing its juice. For this reason, the liquid is called the “elixir of the gods.” Traditionally, mezcal is handcrafted by small-scale producers. A village can contain dozens of production houses, called fábricas or palenques, each using methods that have been passed down from generation to generation, some using the same techniques practiced 200 years ago.The process begins by harvesting the plants, which can weigh forty kilograms each, extracting the piña, or heart, by cutting off the plant’s leaves and roots. The piñas are then cooked for about three days, often in pit ovens, which are earthen mounds over pits of hot rocks. This underground roasting gives mezcal its intense and distinctive smoky flavor. To further enhance their image of badassdom some mescal distillers add chicken or rabbit bits to their stills to add more savory notes to certain iterations , Chef Jose Andres worked with the folks at Del Maguey together coming up with the brain wave of adding Jamon Iberico to the still, has to be delicious! They suspend the meat inside the still using string and as the vapors rise in the still they pick up the essence of the meat, most noticeable on the finish.

El Gato Negro

1 1/2 oz Vida mezcal

1 oz House Spirits coffee liqueur

1/4 oz Fernet vallet ( Mexican fernet drank after heavy meals)

1/2 oz Lustau East India Solera oloroso sherry

1 oz milk of your choice

1/2 oz Vietnamese simple syrup ( made by steeping 1 tablespoon cinnamon powder in 1000grams hot simple syrup 1:1 ratio)

3 dashes Miracle Mile chocolate chili bitters

3 drops vanilla extract

for the garnish:

Milk foam

8 oz skimmed milk

4 oz egg white

1/4 oz vanilla extract

1 oz cinnamon simple syrup

add everything to an ISI gun canister, charge with 1 No2 capsule and shake before dispensing

Fernet Dust

1 cup of fernet branch or branca mentha

1 cup of powdered sugar

add both to a heavy bottomed sauce pan and stir to dissolve sugar, place onto a medium heat and reduce down until you have a thick spreadable paste. Spread out onto a silpat and dehydrate for as long as it takes to create a dry cracking texture, in a very low oven or in a dehydrator . My first version took me 12 hours , my second took much longer due to humidity, like baking you have to factor in weather conditions . Once crackable, remove from silpat and place into a vita prep blender, pulse at high speed until you have a nice fine powder. Store in airtight container with a couple of silicone packets to stop it from clumping ( buy at baking suppliers)

For the drink:

Except for the coffee liqueur , add your liquid ingredients to your Boston shaker, if you want more coffee flavor add a shot of chilled espresso. Shake for 25 seconds with 4 ice cubes, strain into a chilled glass , then pour in the coffee liqueur, since its density is heavier it will sink to the bottom of the glass creating the layered look above. Finish with a shot of milk foam from your ISI and sprinkle over the fernet dust serving a wee bit on the side for adding to the drink or licking off your fingers.

 

El Guerro

1 oz Del Maguey Pechuga mezcal

1 oz scotch such as Balvenie or Auchentoshen

3/4 oz lemon juice

3/4 oz agave

1 oz cocchi americano

4 cucumber slices for muddling

pinch of maldon smoked salt

pinch of fresh black pepper

 

patiently shot by Patrick O’Brien -Smith

Add everything to your shaker and shake with 5 ice cubes for 25 seconds. Strain into a chilled old fashioned glass filled with one big rock of ice, sprinkle over the S&P and garnish with fennel frond or cucumber slices.

 

The Oaxacan (based on the classic Manhattan)

1 1/2 oz Mezcal

1/2 oz Averna amaro

3/4 oz dry vermouth

1/2 oz Cynar

2 dashes orange bitters

 

 

patiently shot by Patrick O’Brien -Smith

Add all into your mixing glass, stir for 30 seconds over cracked ice until a nice chill develops on the glass. Strain into a chilled coupette or martini glass and garnish with an orange twist spritzing the oils from the twist over the drink.

 

Next Up…..a weeks worth of Negronis

 

Issue No. 022 “I could drink a case of you”

 

ut I would still be on my feet, oh yes I would still be on my feet…

Grandad Joe was I think partially to blame for my experiments in all things chemical, he had his lab in our cellar basement, that creepy damp ,dim lit space that housed sacks of potatoes, reams of Encyclopedia Brittanica, the cat when it snowed and shelves upon shelves of bottles filled with ruby red and deep purple fermenting juice. We were lucky enough to rent an allotment as a kid that come summer was filled with all manner of berries, no grapes mind you but a ton of blackberries, gooseberries, red currants and strawberries, my fingers as a kiddie during those summer months were regularly stained inky purple from over indulgence in sweet , tart blackberries straight from the bush. Back to Gramps, since we had this abundance and there was only so much jam and pie making you could do he decided to start his covert ops down in that dungeon experimenting with fruit wine it was also a chance for him to sneak a crafty fag ( cigarette in case you were wondering). The formula was simple, fruit , sugar and sometimes yeast, sometimes relying on natural yeasts in the air to convert sugar in alcohol . Many a time we would be sitting down to eat dinner and there would be almighty crashes as a bottle had de-corked itself exploding all over the cellar and annihilating many a jam jar. Oh, but when he got it right that fruit wine was dark and ripe and sweet a perfect after dinner sip,had I known about mixing back then I’m pretty sure I’d be making Rebujitos with lemonade and Sparkling punches.

My intro to real wine came with my first sip of champagne, or to be clearer Babycham , champagne cleverly packaged in 187ml mini bottles , gussied up with pale blue foil and a skipping Bambi, what kid could not resist trying to sneak a wee nip. This one could not and spent several

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sundays sitting under the table slightly sloshed from drinking the dregs from my Mum’s bottle.

My real career as Wino started though somewhere back in the Nineties when the Windows on the World wine course was forced upon us at a French style bistro in New York’s Village, I got excited to get my nerd on learning about varietals and terroir ( that would be grapes and soil). Not until recently though, say three years ago did I start mixing wine into cocktails, I mean yes I’ve been using wine based vermouth forever and mixing any number of sangria punches for twenty odd summers now, but actually using shots of wine as a component in my drinks is fairly new, as well as using champagne or other bubbles in place of soda water to top off Collins’s and Fizzes. My plan this year, should I get time is to take that love of the grape one step further and try getting my certification as a Sommelier but till then here’s a bunch of lovely libations to whet your whistles.

 

Flight of the Humble Bee

1 oz Linie Aquavit ( similar to vodka as its grain based but infused with fennel seed and cumin)

1 oz chamomile infused Dolin blanc vermouth ( add 6 chamomile tea bags to 1 bottle of Dolin)

1 oz Riesling

1/2 oz lemon juice

1/2 oz honey syrup ( 1:1 ratio honey to hot water)

1 dash Scrappy’s cardamom bitters

1 oz egg white

bee pollen to garnish

 

Toss all ingredients except for bee pollen in to Boston shaker and dry shake without ice for 10-15 seconds to wake up the strands of the egg white and get them nice and fluffy. Add 4 ice cubes and shake again for about 25 seconds, strain into a chilled glass , scoop out some of the egg white meringue and garnish with bee pollen

 

Sparkle Up

2 oz rose wine

1/2

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oz verjus blanc ( the pressed juice of unripened grapes, I use in place of a souring agent such as citrus juice)

1 1/2 oz cucumber infused gin ( I used Aviation which is a little more floral) allow cucumber to steep in the gin for 48 hours

3/4 oz Nikolai elderflower cordial

bar spoon Salers gentian aperitif

patiently shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

 

Add everything to a mixing glass and chill down with about 6 ice cubes stirring for about 20 seconds, this drink needs both dilution and chilling to successfully carbonate. Pour the chilled mix into either a Twist&Sparkle or ISI chamber. Carbonate with 2 Co2 capsules shaking in between each blast of Co2. Dispense into chilled rocks filled vessel of choice and garnish with a cucumber slice and mint sprig.

 

Sour Grapes ( based on a classic New York Sour)

2 oz rye whiskey

1 oz fresh lemon juice

1 oz pink peppercorn infused simple syrup ( steep 1/2 cup or pink peppercorns in 3 cups of simple syrup)

1 oz egg white

1 oz claret, merlot or barolo

Add everything to your Boston shaker except for the red wine, dry shake for 10-15 seconds without ice, add 4 ice cubes and shake for about 25 seconds, strain either into a chilled coupe glass or into a rocks glass filled with rocks ice cube, pour on the surface the red wine and then spoon out some of the egg white meringue and dust with crushed pink peppercorns.

Verbatim

1 1/2 oz Avua aged Cachaca

1 oz lemon verbena infused Sancerre wine ( leaves should steep for about 48 hours)

1/2 oz verjus blanc

1/2 oz Cynar

 

Patiently shot by Patrick O’Brien-Smith

Add everything to your mixing glass with 6 ice cubes. stir for about 30 seconds to get nice and chilly then strain into a chilled coupette or martini glass. Garnish with verbena leaf.

 

Next up…..not just another Tequila sunrise

Come together, right now, over me…or them

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