Tuesday, 25 April 2017

The Wonderland XXX Cocktail (a curiously compelling concoction)

I can hardly believe that it was all the way back in September 2016, that I created this cocktail and that it has taken me more than six months to write a post about it. In the run up to Christmas, I was kept so busy, painting, that I had to temporarily halt the Bespoke Cocktail Service, but it is now available again, so it feels like the perfect time to share the story of the 'Wonderland XXX'.

This cocktail was commissioned by a very thoughtful lady, to celebrate her friend's 30th birthday. Using the information she provided about her friend's drinking preferences and her unique insight into her character, I was able to create a Bespoke Cocktail that I hope, encapsulated all those elements.

The name, 'Wonderland XXX' was playing on the Alice in Wonderland theme, with the 'XXX', implying, not only the strength of the drink, but the roman numeral for '30'.

The drink features Bloom Gin, Cointreau, Aperol, prosecco, cherry concentrate and lemon juice, creating a fruity cocktail with plenty of zing and fizz. 

Bloom Gin provides a delicate backdrop to the contrasting, sweet and bitter orange elements of the Cointreau and Aperol, whilst the cherry concentrate provides a natural cherry flavour and lots of lovely vitamin C, to help mitigate some of the alcohol (although I suspect this is not NHS approved...).

Wonderland XXX

50ml Bloom Gin
25ml Cointreau
25ml Aperol
25ml Cherry Concentrate
15ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
Prosecco to top up
Fresh cherries and a twist of orange zest to garnish

Begin by squeezing half a small lemon to extract the juice.
Add the Bloom Gin, Cointreau, Aperol, cherry and lemon juice to a cocktail shaker, half filled with ice.
With the lid firmly closed, shake for about half a minute.
Strain into a chilled champagne coupe and top up with prosecco, to taste.
Garnish with fresh cherries (stones removed) and a thin strip of orange zest.

The painted glassware was created especially for this cocktail, but you can find similar pieces in the 'Drink Me Alice' section of the Toasted Glass website.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Golden Years Cocktail

The inspiration for this latest Bespoke Cocktail was the celebration of a Golden Wedding Anniversary. Fifty years of marriage deserves special recognition and quite possibly, a stiff drink, so what better gift than a tailor made cocktail.

The glasses were hand painted with a Lace design in ivory with a gold outline, incorporating the number '50' in the pattern and the wedding date, in gold, on the foot of the glass. The design on  the accompanying bottle that contains the all important, alcoholic components echoed the Lace design of the glasses and had the name of the cocktail, 'Golden Years', painted on it, in gold script. The name is both a reference to the Golden Wedding Anniversary and to the precious years they have, together.

The Bespoke Cocktail was commissioned for the lucky couple, by their daughter, who provided all the necessary information via the online survey. From her, I learned that they were partial to a gin and tonic as well as champagne cocktails made with sloe gin, but for this drink, we were looking to create  a martini style cocktail that could be served in their bespoke glasses. It seemed to me that a gin based cocktail would be ideal, but which gin to choose? Their 'go to' gin is Bombay Sapphire, but I had it on good authority that they would be open to trying something different, so, after much deliberation and trawling through my, frankly, worryingly large gin collection, I decided to plump for Bobbys Scheidam Dry Gin. I have written, at length, about this wonderful gin, in an earlier post, Bobby's Girl, but suffice to say, its fragrant, lemongrass aroma and soft, citrus flavour makes it stand out from the crowd.

From the beginning, I had wanted to create a drink with a golden colour, to mark the occasion, and the addition of Crème de Pêche (I used Cartron, but Giffard and Briottet are also good brands), lent, not only a rich tone, but another layer of fragrant, almost floral fruitiness to the cocktail. To this, I added Triple Sec and a pinch of edible gold powder, all of which I bottled, ready to be mixed with freshly squeezed lemon and orange juices.

Crème de Pêche is a peach liqueur made from the maceration of peaches with sugar and alcohol without the addition of any artificial flavourings and Triple Sec is an orange liqueur, such as Cointreau, made from the peel of both bitter and sweet oranges. The combination of the lemongrass, citrus and fragrant peach, makes for a fresh, zesty cocktail, that while, intense, is still very quaffable.

The Golden Years cocktail is served in the 'martini' style, stirred over ice  and strained into a chilled, cocktail glass, but could also be served over ice and topped up with a dash of sparkling water, for a longer, refreshing, summer tipple. The recipe below, is for the original, martini-style drink and serves one.

Golden Years

40ml Bobbys Dry Gin
20ml Crème de Pêche
20ml Triple Sec
20ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
20ml freshly squeezed orange juice
Pinch of edible gold powder

Garnish - strip of orange zest

In advance of making the cocktail, I recommend popping your martini glass in the fridge to chill it. This will ensure that the drink stays chilled whilst drinking it.

Before squeezing the orange, use a sharp, paring knife to carefully remove a strip of zest from its peel, and set it aside to use as garnish.

Add all of the ingredients (apart from the garnish) to a cocktail shaker with a handful of ice cubes. Ice is an essential part of any cocktail!

Stir briskly with a swizzle stick, for 50 seconds - one for every golden year...

Strain through a fine mesh strainer to remove any fruit pulp and maintain the cocktail's clarity.

Twist the zest over the cocktail to release a spray of orange oil and drop into the drink. This will enhance the aroma with a fresh, citrus scent.

All of the alcoholic ingredients, featured in this recipe are available to buy online from Amathus Drinks or Master of Malt.

If you would like more information about the Bespoke Cocktail Service, you can visit the Toasted Glass website.

Friday, 15 April 2016

Classic Cocktails

Well, it's been a busy old time; so busy, in fact, that it has been almost a year since I last shared my love of cocktails with the blogosphere. On the positive side, this is because I am kept so busy painting that it's hard to find the time to drink, let alone, create cocktails, but rest assured, my love of a libation, remains strong, if infrequent.

This week, I've been creating a range of simple, classic, cocktail tumblers, so it seemed only correct, that they should be thoroughly road tested before I unleash them on the world. Each one will come with a handwritten, little recipe card, but you can try them out here and see which is your favourite. I love them all!

None of the above recipes, specify a particular brand of alcohol (other than Campari), so if you find a new, favourite cocktail, here, why not try it with a couple of different ones and do a taste test. As a huge fan of the Negroni cocktail, I can attest that it can taste completely different, depending on the brand of gin you use.


1oz Gin
1oz Sweet Vermouth (the red one)
1oz Campari
Garnish - orange zest

Add all of the ingredients to a cocktail tumbler with a few cubes of ice and stir.
Garnish with a slice of orange zest (cut straight from the peel of an orange, avoiding the pith). Squeeze gently over the glass, to release the aroma, before popping it in.


2oz Rum
2 teaspoons sugar
6-8 mint leaves
1 fresh lime - chopped
Garnish - sprig of mint

Gently muddle (squish) the ingredients in the cocktail tumbler until the sugar is dissolved.
Add plenty of ice and a little sparkling water to top up.
Stir to mix.

The most important thing with a cocktail like the Old Fashioned, is to use a great quality bourbon or rye that you love. With so few ingredients, there's no hiding from the whiskey, so make sure it's a good one!

Old Fashioned

2oz Bourbon or Rye Whiskey
1 sugar cube
3 drops of bitters (your choice)
Garnish - orange zest

Pop the sugar cube in the cocktail tumbler and shake a few drops of bitters on top and let the sugar dissolve.
Pour in the bourbon or rye and stir to mix.
Add a cube or two of ice and garnish with orange  zest as before.


2oz Tequila
1oz Triple Sec
Juice of 2 freshly squeezed limes
Garnish - crushed salt flakes, lime slice

Place the crushed, salt flakes on a small plate.Wet the rim of the glass with the slice of lime and roll it gently through the salt so that the rim becomes salt encrusted.
Add all of the ingredients to a cocktail tumbler with ice (crushed, if possible) and stir.
Garnish with the lime slice.


3oz Bourbon
1 tsp sugar
5-6 mint leaves
Garnish - mint sprigs

Pre-chill the cocktail tumbler in the freezer.
Add the mint leaves and sugar to the chilled tumbler and gently muddle.
Pack the tumbler with crushed ice and pour on the bourbon.
Stir and add more ice.
Garnish with lots of mint, slapping it gently in your palms, beforehand, to release the minty loveliness.

Cachaça, a Brazilian spirit, akin to firewater, is more widely available these days, but if you don't have any, why not try Caipiroska instead, substituting the Cachaça for vodka.


2oz Cachaça
2 teaspoons sugar
1 lime - chopped

Muddle the lime and sugar in the bottom of the glass, allowing the sugar to dissolve.
Add a generous amount of ice (crushed if possible) and top up with Cachaça.
Stir to mix.

I really hope you try some of these classic recipes and if you are thinking of ordering a tumbler for your favourite cocktail, have a little gift from me - enter the code COCKTAIL at the end of the payment process and get 10% off that product. You can use the code as often as you like and on as many cocktail tumblers as you fancy. Enjoy!

Friday, 3 July 2015

Bobby's Girl

I've said it before and I'll say it again - if you are ever in the City of London, do take a stroll through Leadenhall Market and pop into Amathus Drinks. Often, there is some new spirit, wine or liqueur to sample and I guarantee you'll leave with a lighter wallet, but with a spring in your step. Even if there is nothing new to try that day, Diosa and Tom who (wo)man the store are friendly, well informed and always happy to talk you through the mind boggling array of booze that towers overhead in the little shop.

My latest visit unearthed this treasure and it was love at first sip. Bobby's Scheidam Dry Gin is bursting with the exotic flavours of lemongrass and cubeb peppers (which have an almost piney undertone), as well as juniper, rose hip and clove. This week, I wanted to bring in the flavours of Southeast Asia and Morocco to really enhance that lemongrass/cubeb pepper taste and create cocktails that I could sip in the garden while we enjoy some unexpected and practically tropical weather.

This first cocktail (see above) is  a fresh, fruity drink that isn't overly sweet. The addition of the freshly squeezed orange juice and triple sec could be a little sweet, but the lime juice adds a zing that combines with the fresh thai basil and the lemongrass of the gin, to create a taste that evokes the fresh flavours of Thailand.

Bobby's Girl

1.5 oz Bobby's Scheidam Dry Gin
0.5 oz Cartron Curaçao Triple Sec
0.5 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
1 oz freshly squeezed orange juice
2 basil leaves

Muddle (gently squish) the basil leaves in the bottom of a shaker with the gin and triple sec.
Add a handful of ice and both the lime and the orange juices.
With the lid firmly closed, shake the cocktail until the outside of the shaker becomes frosted over.
Remove the lid and strain into chilled cocktail glass.

The fragrant, passion fruit syrup in this cocktail, is lightly floral and enhances the exotic scent of lemongrass. The freshness of mint and lime balance the drink and a little sparkling water dilutes the intensity whilst adding effervescence. Extremely quaffable - you have been warned...

Little Bird

2 oz Bobby's Scheidam Dry Gin
1 oz Giffards Passion Fruit Syrup
1 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
4-6 mint leaves
sparkling water to top up
sprig of mint to garnish

Muddle (gently squish) the mint leaves in the bottom of a shaker with the gin.
Add a handful of ice and both the lime juice and passion fruit syrup.
With the lid firmly closed, shake the cocktail until the outside of the shaker becomes frosted over.
Remove the lid and strain into chilled cocktail tumbler, with a couple of large ice cubes.
Top up the drink with a little sparkling water, but don't overdo it - add a little, stir with a swizzle and test. You can always add more, but you can't take it away!
Garnish the drink with mint, gently slapping it between your palms to release the minty aroma.

This gin makes a mean martini - it's so distinctive in flavour that it doesn't need a lot of dressing up (although dressing up is fun), but I have added a little ginger liqueur for a touch of heat and to give a little twist to a classic cocktail.

Bobby's Ginger Martini

2 oz Bobby's Scheidam Dry Gin
1/2 oz Cartron Ginger
1 1/2 oz Dolin Dry Vermouth

Add all of the ingredients to a shaker with a handful of ice.
With the lid firmly closed, shake the cocktail until the outside of the shaker becomes frosted over.
Remove the lid and strain into chilled cocktail glass.

Cardamom and rose are beautifully suited to one another and this is a cocktail that will work with many different types of gin. However, once again, the fragrant lemongrass just adds another dimension that will arouse your sense of smell as well as taste. The gorgeous Van Wees Rose Without Thorns  (also from Amathus Drinks) is distilled from a selection of different roses, selected for their exceptional fragrance and the result is heady to say the least.

Bobby's Cardamom Rose Cocktail

2 oz Bobby's Scheidam Dry Gin
1 oz Van Wees Rose Without Thorns
1 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cardamom pods
Fever Tree Elderflower Tonic to top up

Gently muddle (squish) the cardamom pods with the gin and rose liqueur.
Add the lemon juice and a handful of ice.
With the lid firmly closed, shake the cocktail until the outside of the shaker becomes frosted over.
Remove the lid and strain into chilled cocktail glass.
Top up the drink with a little elderflower tonic - remember, easy does it - stir and serve.

I hope the sun is shining where you are too. Have a fabulous weekend!

Monday, 15 June 2015

Tease Maid Cocktail

The journey to creating this cocktail has been a long one, that began as a conversation, more than a year ago, over tea and cake, at a Secret Tea Society meeting. Brought together by a love of tea, gin and conversation, Sarah (Sass) Allard shared with me, her vision for an exclusive, yet relaxed Tea Lounge where like minded people could come together and enjoy some exceptional teas. We discussed the possibility of my creating a cocktail for her that would encapsulate her vision and would, one day, grace the incredibly chic tables of her Tea Lounge. It was important to create a cocktail that would be enjoyed by all at the Tea Lounge, but equally, it had to represent Sarah herself as the lounge will be an embodiment of her personal vision.

With that in mind, it was imperative that the cocktail should contain tea in some shape or form and knowing that Sarah is more than partial to the rich, malty flavour of Assam, the first ingredient was assured. Deciding on spirits was slightly more complex - regular followers will know that I am a bit of a gin geek and was therefore bursting with ideas for gin/tea based cocktails. However, much as Sarah enjoys gin, her real passion is for rum; with her Trinidadian heritage, the spirit of the Caribbean runs through her veins and so the spirit of the Caribbean was to run through this cocktail.

Rum and tea have long been traditional bedfellows although it's often served as a hot drink, and creating a martini style drink that would be enjoyed by all, proved trickier than I had first envisaged. Part of the problem was the tea itself; results in the strength of the brewed tea varied slightly, which significantly changed the taste of the cocktail. Add to that, the fact that the tea continued to infuse, even after the leaves were removed, causing the flavour to become bitter and woody, it soon became apparent that another solution was necessary. The cocktail also had to be something that could be prepared in a reasonable amount of time, if it was to appear on the menu of the Tea Lounge and so, the idea of an Assam Peach Concentrate was conceived. This could be prepared in advance, in large quantities, if necessary and stored safely in the fridge. After the initial effort of making the concentrate, the building of the cocktail would be relatively simple.

When it came to choosing a rum, I wanted something with lots of spice and vanilla that would compliment the malty flavour of the tea and fragrant sweetness of peach. Rumbullion navy strength Caribbean rum is tailor made for the job - it's a high proof rum (42.6% ABV), flavoured with Madagascan vanilla, orange zest, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves. Delicious enough to drink neat, it's a worthy addition to the drinks cabinet, plus it comes in a rather fabulous bottle...

So, before I impart the recipe for the Tease Maid cocktail, I must just share with you a few details about Sarah (Sass) Allard and her upcoming Tea Lounge. The fabulously apt name, 'Tease Maid' was conceived by her and sums up perfectly, the spirit of the drink. The 'Tease Maid' character that graces the bottle and martini glass featured in this post, was created by me and I used Sarah herself, as my inspiration. The Tea Lounge is (at the time of publication of this post) still in the conceptual stage, but you can follow Sarah, and I urge you to do so, on twitter (@teapreneur_girl) and Facebook (teapreneur) to keep up to date with all her news.

Tease Maid Cocktail

2oz Rumbullion
2oz Assam Peach Concentrate
1oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
sprig of mint to garnish

Add everything, bar the mint, to cocktail shaker, with a handful of ice.

With the lid firmly closed, shake until the outside of the shaker develops a frosty bloom (about 20secs).

Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Slap the mint gently between the palms of your hands to release the minty aroma and garnish the drink.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Assam Peach Concentrate

Making cocktails with tea is tricky as the brew continues infusing, even once the leaves are removed and if not used immediately, can become bitter and woody. This is particularly apparent when using a strong, black tea such as Assam, but making a syrup or fruit concentrate, can avoid the problem and if refrigerated, will last for a week or so. The rich, malty flavour of golden tip assam is particularly suited to a peach concentrate and will combine with most spirits to make delicious tea based cocktails. It was originally conceived as an integral part of the Tease Maid Cocktail, a delicious blend of Rumbullion spiced rum and Assam Peach Concentrate, that was created for Sarah Allard, to encapsulate her vision for an exclusive Tea Lounge.

Initially I made this using fresh peaches which I blanched, skinned and de-stoned, but after trying it made with canned peaches in juice, rather than syrup, I can testify that it tastes just as good. So, unless you have an enormous surfeit of peaches to use up, save yourself the trouble and buy a good quality can or bottle of peach halves in juice.

The tea should be a high quality, loose, golden tip assam such as Jing Assam Gold; the flavour is characteristically malty with notes of fruit and spice. Jing Tea stock great teas from the best producers, across the world. They supply luxury hotels and top restaurants across 75 countries worldwide. I fell in love with their teas after tasting their Organic Bohea Lapsang Supreme at Asia de Cuba in London and have been treating myself ever since.

Assam Peach Concentrate (makes about a pint)

20g Jing Assam Gold Tea
1 x 400g can of peaches in juice (drained)
120g white sugar
500ml just boiled water

Using a blender, purée the drained peaches and set aside in a bowl, sprinkled over with the white sugar.

If possible, make a little sachet to hold the tea, using a scrap of muslin cloth, ensuring it is securely tied so that it remains tightly shut when the water is poured over.

Using 500ml just boiled water, pour over the sachet and allow to steep for two and half minutes.

Remove the sachet, taking care not to burn your fingers and squeeze to extract all the tea.

Pour the still, hot tea over the purée and stir until all of the  sugar has dissolved.

Cover with a muslin cloth until cooled, then transfer o an airtight container and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Using the muslin cloth, strain the mixture into a clear receptacle, ensuring every drop of liquid is extracted. Discard any solids that remain and store the liquid, refrigerated, in an airtight container.

Shake well before use.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Bespoke Cocktails

 Geordie Lass Cocktail - Lace coupe by Toasted Glass

One of the great pleasures in my life, is my work and I am very lucky to have been able to turn my love of painting and designing, into a business. In fact, so busy am I, right now, that my other great pleasure in life, that of cocktail experimentation, has had to take a real back seat. However, in the process of creating Bespoke Cocktails, the two get to overlap  and it is double the pleasure.

The Bespoke Cocktail first came about when I created one for the relentlessly sartorial blogger, Grey Fox. It was intended as a truly personal gift  that would represent him, both as an individual and as a brand - he is a style writer and blogger who addresses the issue of fashion and the older gentleman. From there, I have had the pleasure of creating numerous cocktails for all sorts of people; sometimes to represent a brand and other times to mark a significant event, but each one requires a lot of thought and a fair bit of testing - a labour of love you might say...

This latest bespoke cocktail has become a new favourite in the Toasted Glass household - so much so, that we are in danger of running out of Chase Marmalade Vodka, yet again! It was created as a gift from one friend to another, to mark her significant birthday and was accompanied by a pair of hand painted champagne coupe glasses. The name, 'Geordie Lass' was a tongue-in-cheek reference to the recipient, but I like to think it suits the cocktail well - fresh, fruity and bubbly, but with an unexpected kick...

The combination of fresh orange and marmalade is quite sweet, but the addition of lime juice dials it down a notch, keeping it zesty and the Campari adds a hint of bitterness that gives it depth. The cocktail can be made using unadulterated Campari, but adding the chilli infusion is very straightforward and adds a certain frisson to the proceedings. In the way that a straight shot of alcohol can turn a night around, a kick of chilli can bring on the same sensation. This is a drink that wants to go out and have fun!

Geordie Lass

1 1/2 oz Chase Marmalade Vodka
1/2 oz Chilli Infused Campari
1/2 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
1 oz blood orange juice
1 oz champagne or fizz

Add all, but the champagne/fizz to a cocktail shaker, with a handful of ice.
Close firmly and shake hard until the shaker develops a frosty bloom.
Open the shaker and pour in the fizz, but DO NOT SHAKE!
Strain the contents in to a chilled cocktail glass.


If you would like to take a look at some of the other bespoke cocktails I have created for clients, click here.