As I mentioned in my last post, I ran a cocktail masterclass at the fabulous ninetyeight bar and lounge in Shoreditch on the weekend.
I’ve never been before but I popped downstairs to the bar for a drink after the class, and was pretty much blown away. The bar itself is accessed by a spiral staircase coming down from the street – it’s so tucked away that I had trouble spotting it (hint: look for the “Morrell House” frontage!) when I first arrived. The place is decorated beautifully, like a confectionary-themed Versailles.
I love these puzzle pieces/coasters and the other fun little touches.
Behind the bar are rows of perfume jars with home-made infusions – my friend had an amazing berry-infused Limencello concoction, which I’ve (very unprofessionally) forgotten the name of.
Anyway, enough rambling! Hit ‘read more’ to see my Mojito, Cosmo and Pink Bramble how-tos.
I picked these three drinks for a couple of different reasons. Firstly, they taste awesome! Secondly, they’re good ‘basic’ drinks – if you can master the techniques and ideas (shaking, muddling, basic spirit:sweet:citrus ratio), you’ll be able to make most cocktails you can find online. And thirdly, they don’t require many ingredients. I love making cocktails, but even I find it hard to make sure I’ve got a variety of spirits, plus liqueurs, plus fresh fruit, plus syrups, plus ice in the house at the same time!
You’ll want crushed ice for #1 and #3. You can buy it from the supermarket; otherwise, fill a carrier bag with ice cubes, wrap it in a tea towel and beat the hell out of it with a rolling pin. This is also a great way to take out all your anger on an inanimate object!
I am yet to meet someone who doesn’t like a well-made Mojito. It’s so easy to make this at home and is a lovely drink for the summer.
Grab a tall glass. Squeeze in the juice of two lime wedges, then discard. Drop two entire lime wedges in. Add a big teaspoon of brown sugar (or around 20ml of sugar syrup if you’d prefer), then use a muddler or a rolling pin to grind it up until the sugar has dissolved.
Next, mint. You’ll want 3 – 4 stalks per drink. Hold it in your left hand, and then clap your hands together. This gently bruises the mint, and releases the oils. At this point, you can either strip the leaves from the stem or use it in whole. I’m very impatient, so tend towards the latter! Either way, pop it into the glass, then use your muddler to gently press it into the glass. You don’t want to squash it down too hard, just make some room for the ice you’re going to put in next.
Put in enough crushed ice in to fill the glass, then add 40ml of gold rum. Give it a good stir, to pull the mint leaves, lime and sugar from the bottom of the glass and mix them in, then give it a quick taste. If you want to add a little more sugar or lime juice, do it at this point. Top with a splash of soda, add a bit more crushed ice on top, then go and enjoy your Mojito!
(You can garnish it with another clapped mint sprig or a lime wedge if you fancy).
I picked a Cosmo because I wanted a shaken cocktail that was fun to make and drink, but didn’t need too many ingredients – plus I figured the Sex and the City connection would go down well with the hens! I would highly recommend getting a Boston shaker if you want to make cocktails at home a lot, but a jam jar will do almost as well.
First, chill your glass using a bit of ice and cold water. This is really important with martini-type (stemmed) cocktail glasses as you’ll serve the drink without ice, and you don’t want it going warm too quickly.
Put all your ingredients into a measuring glass or jar. Fill it with ice, and shake it hard. If you’re using a tin, you want to shake it till there’s visible condensation on the outside – but not too long, or you’ll overdilute it! Empty out your nicely chilled glass, and strain the your drink into it. Garnish with a twist of orange zest (flamed, if you want to get a gasp from anyone watching) rubbed over the rim of the glass.
#3 Pink Bramble
The original Bramble was invented by Dick Bradsell, who also created two more of my favourite drinks, the Espresso Martini and Russian Spring Punch – but more on those another day! A Bramble is made with gin, lemon and sugar, with Creme De Mure (blackberry liqueur) drizzled over the top. However, I wanted to mix it up a little, and so I replaced the Creme de Mure with Chambord, a black raspberry liqueur.
Some of the girls I showed this to preferred vodka to gin, you can absolutely swap them if you want. Also, try substituting the sugar syrup for a homemade fruit one (like the rhubarb syrup I’ll be sharing in a few days time), or topping with a different liqueur.
Put 40ml gin, 20ml lemon juice and 12.5ml sugar syrup into a glass without ice. Add a big scoop of crushed ice – you want the ice to form a little mountain on top of the glass as this is what makes the drink look so gorgeous. Then drizzle 15ml of Chambord over the top.
I love watching the liqueur sink through the ice!