I have been ‘in travel’ since the age of 18, and probably the most memorable dip into this industry was my time at sea as a bartender with Princess Cruises. At my interview in Southampton one of the questions I was asked was “What spirit is used to make a Tom Collins?”. Do you know? Have you ever drunk one? I hadn’t…..but I still got the job!
Do cocktails fill you with visions of Del Boy with his umbrellas and flamboyant colours or Carrie in Sex & The City sunbathing on a New York roof top? A cocktail is a mixed drink that is made with a distilled beverage that can either be mixed or blended with other ingredients. But you don’t have to have the collection of The Queen Vic in your home to mix up some pleasant drinks.
Let’s go around the globe from the comfort of your own home…..and let me share with you my top 10 favourite cocktails……and why.
From Cyprus, my birth place and the land I have moved back to after all my travels. I prefer to use Anglias Brandy and the local Brandy Sour Drops, but you can use any brandy and Angustora Bitters. Mix two parts of Brandy with 1 part of lemon squash and pour in a high ball glass over ice, add 2-3 drops of the bitters and then top with soda water. Garnish with a lemon slice.
You will have seen above that in my interview to take me to sea, Princess asked if I knew the spirit used to make this cocktail. I didn’t, but they weren’t to know that…..I guessed. And for that reason it is a favourite of mine as it took me from pulling pints in a pub in Yorkshire to serving Martinis in Acapulco! Add 3 parts of gin (Old Tom Gin if you have it) and 2 parts lemon juice to a highball glass filled with ice, add one part of sugar syrup and then top with soda water….and stir. Serve with a lemon twist. Basically alcoholic lemonade!
My ultimate unwinder. Traditionally made with vodka citron, but I have used Absolut Kurrant before to make it sweeter. Use 1 ½ oz of vodka to ½ oz of triple sec, ½ oz of freshly squeezed lime juice and 2oz of cranberry juice. Shake the above ingredients over ice and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a lime twist.
Hair of the Dog and if made & served correctly, a very good breakfast. It’s a Bloody Mary made with Clamato juice instead of Tomato juice, and American doctoring…..used by many as the hangover cure! If you can, rim the glass with celery salt, for best results. Use 1 ½ oz of vodka, 4oz of Clamato juice, 2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce, 1 dash of Tabasco, ¼ teaspoon of horseradish, pinch of black pepper, shake over ice and pour all into the rimmed glass. Garnish with a wedge of lime and a stalk of celery. Fantastic when ordered in the bar of it’s name in Bora Bora.
A frozen/blended drink I have enjoyed looking down onto the harbor of St Thomas in the Virgin Islands with four cruise ships in port, a view that was breathtaking and one I will remember for a very long time. Remember the White Russian from last month, well this is the same ingredients, vodka, Kahlua and cream, but with a shot of Baileys too, all blended with the ice……but if you prefer it as a martini, just shake the ingredients and strain!
Took me a while to master, but there is no greater compliment as a bartender when you are told you’ve made a super martini. One of my earliest memories of this cocktail was when a passenger asked my bartender for an ‘extra dry’ martini and his response was just to show the bottle of dry vermouth to the chilled gin in the glass! According to Noel Coward, “A perfect martini should be made by filling a glass with gin, then waving it in the general direction of Italy”. Traditionally this is a gin cocktail with a ration of 2:1 with dry vermouth. Can be served on the rocks, or shaken or stirred over ice and strained. Can be garnished with a lemon twist or an olive. However, there are those that prefer a vodka martini.
JAMMY DODGER SHOOTER
Working as the bartender for The Pig (the fond name given to the crew bar referring to The Pig and Whistle) was far more challenging than tending bar on deck for 3000 passengers. But one way for sure to keep the crew ‘sweet’ when they ask for a round of shooters is this easy shooter. Sugar rim a shooter glass, ¾ fill it with Chambord (black raspberry liqueur) and using the back of a spoon if you don’t have a steady hand, float double cream on top.
Perfect for after dinner. For ultimate indulgence, crumble a Flake and using sugar syrup to rim the glass, dip into the crumbled chocolate. In a shaker pour a shot and a half of Baileys, one shot of white crème de menthe and one shot of double cream over the ice, shake and strain into the martini glass! Personally enjoyed at the roulette wheel in Melbourne!
From the Ritz in Paris no less! One should use Cognac, but some say it is a taboo to add anything to Cognac. Sugar rim a martini glass, using lemon juice as your sticking agent and chill. Over cracked ice pour 2 parts brandy, 1 part Cointreau and 1 part lemon juice, mix, strain and serve in the chilled glass.
A cocktail is a distilled beverage mixed with other ingredients, but I know there are many people that do not touch alcohol, and I do not want to offend them……so I will end with a ‘Mocktail’….a non-alcoholic cocktail (words that do not really exist together). Those sober amongst us must be tired of being offered fruit punches or virgin coladas……so here you have…..
Like the Mojito from last month, make up a jug. Put a good handful of fresh mint leaves and 2 limes cut into wedges into the bottom of a pitcher and muddle together. Half fill the pitcher with ice, pour over 1 litre of pomegranate juice and ½ litre of traditional lemonade. Garnish with sprig of mint…..and if you had the time before hand….ice cubes with 5 pomegranate seeds inside!
I hope you have enjoyed my travels…..but do remember “Keep Calm and Drink in Moderation”.