Thursday, 30 August 2007
Tired of the substandard cocktails on sale at most of the bars we frequent - which are admittedly not known for their cocktails, but are in walking distance of the house and have a happy hour - I asked my husband to do something about it.
So for my recent birthday I received a collection of professional cocktail-making equipment; proper Boston Shakers, ice strainers, muddler, ice-crusher, shot measure, fine strainer and most of the main spirits and some of the syrups necessary for a nice repertoire and most importantly, a copy of the latest Diffords. (Diffords is the definitive guide to cocktails. Every recipe will make the BEST version of that cocktail that you've ever had.)
My baby brother lives in a tiny village in the mountains Switzerland, not far from fancy-schmancy Gstaad, but not within walking distance. When he moved out there, he decided that the posh cocktails of his native London would be too hard to miss, so he decided to learn the art himself. And boy does he make a mean cocktail! (But don't help yourself to the pineapple juice from his fridge or you'll get yelled at for using a cocktail ingredient!). He acted as the authoritative consultant on what to buy, strictly advising the proper equipment, even if it takes a bit of practice to use a Boston Shaker.
For my birthday party we invited a select group of four people (I didn't want to spend the entire evening mixing cocktails after all), I made a menu of about 20 cocktails I was prepared to make, and we went for it.
And Diffords came up with the goods! Simply by exactly following the instructions I was able to make amazing, yummy cocktails including Daiquiri, Pina Colada, Ron Collins, Cosmopolitan, Maple Leaf (bourbon, triple sec, maple syrup), Dry Martini, Coolman Martini (vodka, triple sec, lime juice, apple juice).
It turns out not to be so hard. Like all cooking, the secret is to use top notch, fresh ingredients, have great recipes and follow them.
One of my friends offered to hire me for her birthday party. Yay! A backup career!
Anyway...I was swapping cocktail reminisences with my agent recently and thought it would be a fun thing to blog.
Here are my top five cocktails ever tasted (not counting the ones I made t'other day...) Please let me know yours!
1. Daiquiri in Floridita London.
Straight-up, not frozen. Dizzyingly strong and refreshing. I made a mistake on the second and went for the Hemingway. Stick to the Classic.
2. Margarita in San Angel Inn, Mexico City
Straight-up, not frozen. We visited this restaurant, once one of Mexico City's most elegant and expensive, during a big local recession which made it very cheap for us. The place was almost empty. The margaritas were served inside metal cups containing dry ice to keep the glasses cold. Ahhh...
3. Dry Martini in Japp's Martini & Cigar Bar in Cincinnati, Ohio.
I was there on a business trip and I SWEAR the guys from that software company were trying to see how drunk they could get me! But what a martini. Later we went dancing to a swing club. Dancing the Lindy Hop, a guy tried to do an air-step with me and I ended up flat on my back. I DON'T DO AIR-STEPS AND YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO ASK! Luckily I was so drunk that I was very relaxed.
4. Frozen Daiquiri in Sancti Spiritus, Cuba
Like smooth, lime+rum flavoured, cool silk.
5. Pina Colada at the poolside bar of the Acapulco Princess, Mexico
Made with fresh pineapples and fresh coconut cream, the fruit all piled up at the bar. I read "The Da Vinci Code" whilst addled by a long afternoon drinking these.