burnt toast

Tag: gin

Spring Fizz

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It’s summer guys! Confusing Swiss summer. I’m surprisingly okay with that. No sweating! No sunburn! And lots of happy green trees having a ball of a time. Gentle monsoons is where we’re at.

In order to celebrate the very agreeable climate had here, I thought I’d serve you up a nice little tipple. This is what I’ve been nipping at in the past few months, at first because I was in the mood for something a little less heavy, and then later because there was an inordinate need for something refreshing and citrusy to reflect the parasol- and gumboot clad world outside.

 

Spring Fizz

Adapted from this recipe . Serves 1.

Ice

2 tsp orange, lemon and vanilla syrup – recipe below

2 tsp lime juice

3 shakes bitters

15 ml sweet vermouth

30 ml gin

1 strip lime rind

30 – 60 ml sparkling water

Fill a tumbler with ice. Drizzle over the syrup and juice. Add the bitters, vermouth and gin. Rub the lime rind around the rim of the glass, give it a bit of a squeeze and drop it in. Give everything a good stir and top it with as much sparkling water as you’d like.

 

Orange, Lemon and Vanilla Syrup

1 orange

1 lemon

½ tsp vanilla seed paste or ½ vanilla pod, seeds scraped

250g sugar

300ml water

Using a vegetable peeler, remove as much of the orange and lemon peel as you can. Transfer to a small saucepan. Juice the orange and the lemon, adding that to the peel. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes (maybe more), until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and let it cool. When it’s reached room temperature, remove the peel and pour into a large jar. Keeps for a few weeks in the fridge.

The Perfect Dirty

perfect martini

For years I had decided that martinis weren’t my thing. Too strong. what’s the point, give me one of those sweet ones instead. And to some extent, I still agree with that line of thought. But now I also know that there is a martini for everyone, or at least almost everyone, minus the uncool people. This came to be while I was having dinner at this Italian place with two dear friends of mine, and for some reason I was feeling a bit frisky and up for a bit of a challenge in the drink sector. I confided in the lovely waitress that I was new to this, and I don’t know what was said between her and the barman, or what he was plotting in that little genius mind of his, but what came to the table a few minutes later made me re-evaluate my life’s decisions and ponder over what else was lying ahead of me, yet to be uncovered or rediscovered. The martini was ever so slightly sweet, balanced out by the salt from the olive brine, and the gin, oh how it sung. None of that punch-in-your-face bull of “I’m a purist martini, triple concentrated and only held within the vicinity of a photograph of a water droplet, because dilution would be a sin. Vermouth was never in fashion anyway.” No, this was sophistication in a glass.

Weeks later, after repeated experimentation with vermouth and olives of different degrees colour and texture, we got there. And I’ve been making them ever since. You’ve heard of a perfect martini, right? That’s equal parts sweet to dry vermouth. I don’t care what you think, but I like the sweet edge the former gives to the drink. The way to prevent it from becoming  too girly or overpowering, is by giving it a nice dose of dirty with that olive brine. Essentially it’s combining a perfect and the dirty. In with the gin, stir, stir, stir, pour, garnish, yum.

If you’ve never been a martini person either, give this a try. It might just change your mind. And if you already have a favourite recipe, and you will have it no other way, then I hope that at least you can appreciate the photographs I made of mine.

martini 2

The Perfect Dirty

Makes one glass

10ml sweet vermouth

10ml dry vermouth

20ml olive brine from a jar of Sicilian olives (the green ones with the pip intact)

40ml gin

ice

3 Sicilian olives (or more – I’m a greedy creature)

Combine both vermouths with the olive brine, gin and ice in a jar or tall glass. Stir intensely for a minute or so until very very cold – you want a bit of dilution going on if you’re like me and don’t like being assaulted in the neck by what tastes like a shot of scented nail polish remover. If you’re unsure, give it a little taste. Give it a few more stirs if you’re not satisfied yet, or strain it into a coupe glass. Add your olives and enjoy.

Combine both vermouths with the olive brine, gin and ice in a jar or tall glass. Stir intensely for a minute or so until very very cold – you want a bit of dilution going on if you’re like me and don’t like being assaulted in the neck by what tastes like a shot of scented nail polish remover. If you’re unsure, give it a little taste. Give it a few more stirs if you’re not satisfied yet, or strain it into a coupe glass. Add your olives and enjoy.

The Earl of Grey

the earl of grey

Most of us seem to associate a cup of tea with grandparents – a doily or two thrown in there with the shortbread biscuits, the teapot shining with all its glory in the middle of the table, waiting to be poured. Tea is the bomb. I have two wonderful grandmothers, one of them, Grandma, lives about an hour out from where I live in Melbourne. Every one of my weekly visits starts with a cup of tea in the living room – hers very weak with a splash of cold water (I know. But she has many other fabulous assets), mine with milk, sometimes with or without sugar, depending on the biscuit situation. The two of us sip and exchange our news of that past week, before deciding what else we have in mind for the next few hours. I love my Grandma days.

My memory of tea with Omi reaches back a bunch of years, back to Switzerland, to when I was small, but still the tallest of my class, with white-blonde hair and an obsession with dogs. Every once in a while I’d stay the weekend at my grandparents’ place, at their wooden chalet with the red geraniums, nestled at the foot of a forest. Giesenstein is basically a hill with a few farms sprinkled about, an only child’s paradise, where you could pick cherries during your afternoon walks with Omi and Opa in the summer, play with the tadpoles in the pond in their front yard, or watch TV. I may have mentioned before that I was a TV-less child growing up, which was great I might add, but which also made me appreciate TV and its many wondrous animal documentaries all the more. I truly loved breakfast at their place. Omi would already be awake down in the kitchen, singing to herself, setting the table for me. I’d pad down the stairs and sit down in my chair, where I’d select which type of jam I wanted on my slice of freshly buttered bread. In her sweet Austrian accent Omi would then always ask me how I would like my tea, with milk or with lemon, and I’d almost always request lemon. You know why? Because when you poured the lemon juice into the tea, it would change from black to golden caramel. Magic. And which little girl doesn’t like magic? A few lumps of sugar and then we were in business.

This cocktail recipe is inspired by Omi’s breakfast tea. It’s deliciously fresh and a slight bit posh. Earl grey takes the place of black tea and is paired with dash of lemon, accompanied by vanilla vodka and gin, because earl grey and gin are good friends, and a squeeze of orange rind to complement that seductive bergamot flavour.

 

The Earl of Grey

Serves one

 

For the earl grey syrup:

1 tsp earl grey leaves

½ cup / 125ml boiling water

½ cup / 220g white sugar

 

30 ml earl grey syrup

30 ml fresh lemon juice

30 ml vanilla vodka

30 ml gin

ice

a thin sliver of orange peel

 

Get a tea sieve or whatever handy contraption you own, place the tealeaves inside. You could use a teabag here of course, but if you’re going to all this trouble, you might as well go the whole way. Plus tea from tealeaves is a million times better. If you haven’t already, it’s time you converted, trust me. Place the sieve into a small cup, and add the boiling water. Let it sit for about 3 minutes. Remove the sieve and pour the tea into a small saucepan. Add the sugar and bring to the boil, letting it simmer until thickened slightly. Transfer to a jar and let it cool.

Once you’re ready to cocktail, combine the earl grey syrup, lemon juice, vodka, gin, and a few cubes of ice in a cocktail shaker or a jar and give it a good shake. Find your prettiest teacup, fill it up with ice cubes and pour over your Earl of Grey. To finish off, squeeze the orange rind over the top of the drink before dropping it in and giving it a little swirl.

 

 

Sling

Singapore sling

It’s Friday ladies and gents. Time to celebrate. Why, you ask. Because it’s the day all the good comes together, and all the bad gets released, the pressure, the stress, all gone. It’s the day of reflection, recounting the irritating, the weird and the hilarious, sharing it with friends, loved ones and cats. This one is especially for two of my favourite people, the co-founders of Friday night drinks and Nibbles, Hayley and Ross. Back then in the “Free-tapas-plate-with-every-two-cocktails” days at Dominic’s in Brunswick heads, back then when the bar tender was called Cameron, back when the cocktails were teasingly flirty, the conversation pun-heavy, and the tapas phenomenally memorable.

 

I’ve never tasted a Singapore Sling that good since. Sad? A little. But not despaired. I was stealthy enough to memorize the ingredients and amounts on one such Friday night occasion, so that I could recreate it for myself and others in future, creating peace and happiness all around for many, many more years. Such stealth. Wow.

lime slice

Singapore Sling

(The way it should be. Forever.)

 

Makes 1

 

30ml gin

15ml Benedictine

15ml cherry brandy

15ml Cointreau

15ml lime juice

10ml grenadine

120ml pineapple juice

Ice

 

lime slices or umbrellas or parrots or something even more exotic than that if you feel like decorating

 

Get a nice big jam jar and pour all the ingredients with a few cubes of ice in. Give it a mighty good shake, then pour into a tall glass filled with ice. Decorate however you see fit.

Cucumber Gimlet

cucumber gimlet

Oh hey. Listen I’m sorry about all this not posting stuff. First there were the holidays, which had to be spent doing jolly things, no question. Then there was Cambodia, and then there’s this heat wave that is threatening to fry, or indeed melt the majority of the people who call Melbourne home. So you know, I’ve been busy.

Without further ado, and because it’s just so incredibly hot, here a delicious something which I feel everyone should know about really. We all know cucumber and gin have always been best friends, we just need to be reminded about it every now and again. Throw in some mint and lime and hey, you’re the coolest cat of the dead-end street. I love this tipple. It is the most frequently drunk cocktail in our house, and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be at yours.

more gimlet

Cucumber Gimlet

Serves 1

2 thin slices cucumber, plus one extra for garnishing

15ml sugar syrup

15ml fresh lime juice

60ml gin

2 mint leaves, shredded, plus extra for garnish

ice cubes

Got a jam jar with a screw top? Good. Chuck your two slices of cucumber in there, and muddle them with the back of a knife or a rolling pin or an actual muddling utensil, until decently smashed. Add the sugar syrup, the lime juice, gin and mint leaves, and throw in about 4 ice cubes. Screw on the lid and give it a good shape. Now, get some more ice, and fill up a tumbler with ice. Pour the contents into the glass, by holding the lid slightly askew so as to catch any unwanted pulped cucumber. Get your saved cucumber slice and mint leaf and add to your drink in whatever way seems most appropriate.

Santé darling. It’s good to see you again.

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