Saturday, 18 March 2017

Cocktail No 61 - Bloodhound

I nearly didn't make this today as it calls for strawberries and strawberry liqueur and I have neither. Then I remembered the stewed straberries in the freezer from last year and the strawberry spirit produced from strawberry wine. Its possibly sweeter than the original, but as I haven't tasted strawberry liqueur, I can't say.

Its like a slushpuppy with high octane. The complexity of flavours and organoleptic (mouth feel) qualities of the drink are quite extraordinary.

The dash of strawberry spirit dominated the initial taste, but in a great way - none of the harshness that accompanies some Eaeu de Vie drinks. Immediately next is the strawberry fruit followed by sweetness. Then a warmth boosted with the herbs from the vermouths floods over the roof of the palate. The clean high notes of the Noilly Prat are clearly discernible, but so is the caramel and the earthiness of the Rosso. The Birkdale Gin is not noticible, but binding everything together we presume.

I am not normally one for sweet drinks, but the complexity and the kick of the Strawberry spirit makes this one to try. Will be fantastic on a summer's evening when the strawberry plants are fruiting.

Recipe

4 ice cubes
1 part Birkdale Gin
1 Part Noilly Prat or dry vermouth
1 part rosso vermouth
2-3 dashes Strawberry Liqueur
4 Strawberries.

Crack ice. Put half cracked ice in an electric blender with gin, vermouths, strawberry liqueur and 2 strawberries.

Blend briefly and strain into a cocktail glass. Add remaining cracked ice and decorate with remaining strawberries.

Serve with straw and a spoon.


Sunday, 12 March 2017

Cocktail No 60 - Berlin

Madeira is a new drink for me, so this is the first time I have tried this cocktail. Where else could I rely on stocking Madeira, but the Wine Rack in Birkdale, where they have 3 varieties. I went for the traditional Blandy's as that would fit the chronology for the original Berlin Cocktail.

The Madeira surprised me as I was expecting something similar to port, but it is much lighter in colour, almost rosé in colour and lower viscosity. Sweet as an after dinner drink should be. but not cloying.

The Berlin isn't the prettiest drink in the world. The orange juice gives a turbidity and the Madiera dampens the colour from a bright orange to tangerine.

The nose is mainly from the Madeira, but the Angustura bitters are also poking through.

Then the first taste - orange hits you immediately. Very full, very strong and very delightful if you like your citrus. The Birkdale Gin is giving it a kick, but isn't over-powering - I would almost say you can't tell its there. The Madeira is also doing something, but its all blended in. The Angustura is contributing, but not over-powering.

I have to confess that I am extremely surprised by this cocktail - its a perfect blend of its component parts and the Birkdale Gin and Madeira are supporting roles boosting the orange to an unexpected height.

I have just added a dash of orange bitters and that extra zest boosts it even more.

Very, very, very pleased with this cocktail - think alcoholic and complex oranges.

Looks like Madeira is going to be in the cocktail cabinet from now onwards.

Recipe

1 part Birkdale Gin
1 part Madeira
1 part Orange Juice
1 dash Angustura bitters
(Optional 1 dash Orange Bitters)

Put ice in shaker with other ingredients. Shake well and pour into cocktails glass. Serve with straw, which I did not have, so omitted.


Saturday, 11 March 2017

Cocktail No 59 - Angel's Face

Well this is bizarre. The overwhelming note on the nose is Marzipan, with the characteristic Birkdale Gin notes hiding behind. On tasting, the almonds disappear and the apricots come through.

Its a sweet drink, so not my personal favourite, but I am sure many others will disagree. The gin gives it great complexity, which is why its the base for so many great, classic cocktails. It doesn't bring down the sweetness, but adds an undercurrent layer of flavour - its almost as if you have 2 flavour streams in the one drink that are equally present and not mixing - like oil and water, but in taste terms.

I notice the recipes on the internet call for equal measures, whereas my cocktail book calls for half the measure of Calvados, which may make a difference.

For those with a sweet palate, this is worth trying. If you prefer sours, it may be a little too much for you.

Recipe:

1 measure Birkdale Gin
1 Measure Apricot Brandy
1/2 Measure Calvados.

Crack Ice and put in shaker with other ingredients. Shake well and strain into a cocktail glass.

I tried to take a different photo shot - no awards for including my feet.


Cocktail No 58 - Alaska

The pic looks identical to the Martini Dry, but I promise it is a different drink - almost exactly the same concept though of an excess of gin with a minority of a herbal liquor. I didn't have Yellow Chartreuse in the house so substituted Green Chartreuse, which is stronger and less sweet.

The first thing to notice is the nose. The herbs in the Chartreuse come through loud and clear - can hardly smell the gin, though it is there in the background. There is a slight green tint to the drink. The first sip tells you immediately that this is nothing like a Martini Dry, even though it is the same concept and similar measure of gin to herbs. This is Chartreuse with adrenaline. Everything is there - the herbs, the bitters, the gin cutting through as an aftertaste.

It is a very particular drink - I suspect it has the Marmite factor - you either love it or hate it. Its not a sweet drink. Its not sour. It has a purity and cleanness - its going to sound crazy, but the alcohol has an impact like chilled vodka, even though its laced with herbs and bitters. The gin does not dominate, but it is there and changes the Chartreuse enormously.

Its definitely one to try - I like it. Have to get some Yellow Chartreuse to see how that works.

Recipe

3 parts Birkdale Gin
1 part Yellow or Green Chartreuse

Put ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake well. Strain into a cocktail glass and serve.



Cocktail No 57 - Martini Dry

OK its been a while, but a new chapter has opened - we are going to have a run of classic gin cocktails made with my very own Birkdale Gin - a highly aromatic gin that is going down a storm in the locality.

We start with the absolute classic - the Dry Martini or Martini Dry.

First sip and I am slightly lost for words - in a good way. This one is a little drier than I would normally make and I am glad it is as the vermouth is still quite dominant. I couldn't get Noilly Prat, so unsure if that would make a difference. The first flavour is definitely the taste of the herbs in the vermouth. I little fire from the spirit is followed by the complexity of the gin coming through. I used a twist of orange peel instead of lemon, based on others tasting observations.

The gin is very powerful and aromatic. It works, but its not your classic dry Martini taste, where the gin is so clean its almost invisible. Birkdale Gin definitely makes its presence known.

I think its a hit.

Update - turns out I did not look hard enough and the Wine Rack did have Noilly Prat in stock, so had a re-run. It does make a difference. It's a lot cleaner than the supermarket dry vermouth which was all I had yesterday. Initially there is no taste - just a chill in the mouth and throat. After a few seconds, a warmth spreads across the top palate. The very first sip had a dominance of the vermouth, but after a few more sips, it falls very much into the background and the gin comes forward, with a herbal topnote. It still will not please those who favour the classic London Dry Martini's, but there is a complexity which makes it interesting and worth sampling.

I still think it is a hit.

Recipe

5 parts Birkdale Gin
1 part dry vermouth

Add to cocktail shaker and shake over ice. Pour into martini glass. Add twist of orange or lemon peel. Serve


Sunday, 13 November 2016

Cocktail No 56 - The Mango Sidecar

Version 2 with the Mago fruit brandy substituting normal brandy, halving the quantity of lemon juice and topping up with a splash of water to balance the volumes.

Much more successful IMHO. Mango is again the dominant flavour, but the orange and the sweetness of the Triple Sec blend perfectly into it supporting the flavour and altering it. The lemon juice is there with a hint of acidity, but it is more sweet than sour - I normally don't like sweet drinks, but the Triple Sec with its bitter orange overtone adds an element that helps balance the drink.

I think I rather like this one.


Recipe

1 part Mango Fruit Brandy

1 Part Triple Sec or Cointreau

1/2 part freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 part water

Shake on ice and serve in a Martini glass.

Cocktail No 55 - The Oriental Sidecar

Another novelty ingredient that I created last week - Mango fruit brandy.

This drink is a twist on the classic Sidecar, where the Mango Fruit brandy is substituted in place of the Triple Sec. Its a bit tart as the Mango isn't as sweet, so addition of some sugar syrup would help. The Mango is quite dominant, so playing around with the proportions would be a good idea. The acidity of the lemons is there, but the taste has combined with the Mango in a very pleasant manner. The brandy is there, but only just detectable.


Recipe

1 part Mango Fruit Brandy

1 part Triple Sec or Cointreau

1 part freshly squeezed lemon juice

Shake on ice and serve in a Martini glass