Summer is starting, dear friends – time for a little party or two with a couple of exotic looking cocktails! Mixing drinks, I’ve always thought, simply fixes your mood, makes you feel like Nick Charles in “The Thin Man” or Jeeves in “Jeeves and Wooster”… It’s such a creative activity, too – all the little decorations you can add, like straws or paper umbrellas or glace cherries or slices of lemon!
You don’t need a lot of equipment for this; you can use your plastic iced coffee shaker and any sort of glasses you’ve got at home, just as long as the volume they can take is big enough for the drink you want to make. You don’t need a big choice of spirits, either; one or two sorts will do the trick. Just a tip: one of the most needed spirits in mixing is Cointreau – you can also use Curacao orange or Southern Comfort, though, they’re all orange liqueurs!
Now there are two basic types of cocktails: short drinks and long drinks. Let’s start with some short drinks – the ones that consist mostly of different sorts of alcoholic drinks and dashes of various aromatic ingredients…
20ml brandy (or whisky), 5ml Cointreau, 50ml champagne (or cider), 5ml cream, ½ tsp sugar, 1 egg yolk, nutmeg
Put the brandy, the Cointreau, the cream, the sugar and the egg yolk in a shaker, shake for 20-30 seconds, then pour into a champagne flute and fill up with champagne; top with a dash of nutmeg.
Here’s my own idea: instead of brandy use whisky, and instead of champagne a nice strong cider – you could call that a… British champagne flip!
40ml gin, 20ml Cointreau, 30ml lemon juice, 1 egg white
Put all the ingredients in a shaker with ice, shake vigorously for 20-30 seconds, then pour into a cocktail glass. You can add some lemon zest or a slice of lemon for decoration!
5cl tequila, 2cl Cointreau, 3tsp lime juice
Put the ingredients in a shaker with ice, shake well and pour into a cocktail glass. You can add dashes of any fruit juice you like, especially orange, strawberry or raspberry!
50ml whisky, 4-5 mint leaves, 10ml lemon juice, 1 slice lemon, 1tsp sugar
This is a very old American cocktail, dating from the mid-19th century. And it’s very easy to do: Put the whisky, the mint leaves, the lemon juice, the sugar and 20-30ml water in a shaker with ice and shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Pour into a whisky glass and decorate with the lemon slice.
6cl bourbon, 1tsp sugar, 4-5 mint leaves
A classic drink from the Old South, deliciously refreshing on a hot summer’s day: Put the mint leaves and the sugar in a pitcher and mash them with a cooking spoon. Add the bourbon and stir well. Strain the liquid through a little sieve into a glass (the most stylish and genuine way of serving is in metal tankards, if you’ve got any) with lots of ice and enjoy sitting on your balcony or your sofa!
And here are some long drinks – alcohol mixed with bubbly soft drinks like soda, tonic water and cola, or with fruit juice. For most of them, a highball glass is used, that is a tall, straight glass with a content of about 200-250ml.
50ml gin, 20ml lemon juice, 2tsp sugar, 1 slice lemon, 100ml soda water, 1 glace cherry
Put the gin, the sugar and the lemon juice in a highball glass with ice and stir well. Add the soda water and decorate with a glace cherry and a slice of lemon on the rim of the glass.
There are lots of variations of a Tom Collins, all with different first names: a Jock Collins is done with Scotch whisky instead of gin, a Juan Collins with tequila, a Joe Collins with vodka, a Pedro Collins with white rum, and a Pierre Collins with brandy…
Also, you can put strawberries, blueberries or raspberries in it, dashes of fruit juice or even celery juice!
5cl tequila, 1 dash grenadine syrup, 100ml orange juice, 1 slice orange, 1-2 glace cherries
Put the orange juice, the gin and the tequila in a highball glass with ice and stir, then add the grenadine syrup and wait until it sinks to the bottom. Garnish with a slice of orange on which you can put a little paper umbrella or a toothpick with glace cherries on it – or you can throw the cherries into the drink!
I know, grenadine syrup often is hard to get at your neighbourhood supermarket; but you can use raspberry or cherry syrup instead, or even concentrated blackcurrant (Ribena) juice.
5cl vodka, 150ml orange juice, 1 slice orange
This is one of the easiest cocktails of all: Just pour the vodka and the orange juice into a highball glass with a lot of ice and stir (with a screwdriver if you like, or a bar spoon). Then, decorate with a slice of orange and whatever else you like – straw, paper umbrella, cocktail stirrer…
Long Island Iced Tea
10ml vodka, 10ml gin, 10ml tequila, 10ml white rum, 10ml Cointreau, 1 dash lemon juice, 1 wedge lime or lemon, 100ml cola
A classic with a misleading name: there’s no iced tea in Long Island Iced Tea at all, in fact it’s made with cola! Put all the spirits and the lemon juice into a highball glass with ice and stir. Add the cola and the lemon wedge and serve with a straw.
Cucumber Gin and Tonic
50ml gin, 2 slices cucumber, 100ml tonic water
This is a variation of the good old-fashioned gin and tonic: put ice into a whisky glass or a highball glass, pour the gin over it, then add the tonic and stir. Add two slices of cucumber – that gives your drink a special look and an additional kick in taste! You can decorate with another slice of cucumber.
Enjoy your own little cocktail party at home, dear friends, and do tell me about your own favourite mixed drinks!