Friday, 22 March 2013

Easter Cocktails

As my family and I are preparing to embark on our first ski trip together, I had thought to miss this week's cocktail, but I couldn't resist trying out these tangy treats and as many of you may well be entertaining family and friends over the Easter break, this will give you plenty of time to make sure you have the ingredients. Both of this week's cocktails are once again, bursting with fruit - I'm not sure if they count as one of your five a day, but they certainly will put a spring in your step. 

The first cocktail, Country Thyme works well as a mocktail, when the vodka is omitted, should you wish to offer a non alcoholic beverage for those that don't indulge. Just follow the recipe as is, but miss out the vodka. Equally delicious, are last week's mojito recipes, minus the rum. Not that I am suggesting you avoid alcohol altogether, but it could be useful, should you find yourself appointed as designated driver for instance. Anyway, for the rest of us, let's throw caution to the wind, charge our shakers and make some cocktails!

Country Thyme


1 sprig of thyme
10 - 15 blueberries
Half a lemon, roughly chopped
1.5 oz vodka
0.5 oz sugar syrup
crushed ice

Place the thyme sprig in the palm of your hand and slap it to release the oils (yes really), then give it a twist and pop it in the bottom of a large tumbler or a highball glass and fill with crushed ice

Set aside the glass, and in the bottom of a cocktail shaker, muddle the blueberries and lemon

Add the vodka and sugar syrup and fill with ice
Shake vigorously for 10 - 20 secs and strain into the prepared glass
Garnish with another sprig of thyme and enjoy!

Next up is this delicious concoction which calls for the addition of a dash of champagne. Obviously, it would be a terribly wasteful to open a whole bottle, just for this, but if you need some inspiration on how to finish it (other than just necking it, that is), then read my vintage post from 2012, all about champagne.

La Fleur de Paradis


2 oz gin
0.5 oz lemon juice
0.5 oz grapefruit juice
0.5 oz orange juice
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
0.75 oz Chase Elderflower Liqueur
0.25 oz sugar syrup
1 oz champagne or cava

Add all of the ingredients, bar the champagne, to a cocktail shaker
Top up with ice 
Shake vigorously for 10 - 20 secs 
Strain into a cocktail glass

Have a wonderful Easter - drink responsibly  - and I'll be back just after the Easter weekend with some apres ski inspired cocktails x

Friday, 15 March 2013


The first time I tried a Mojito was in 2001, in Havana, Cuba's beautiful and dilapidated capital city. Armed with our Lonely Planet city guide, Mr TG and I nervously negotiated the maze of narrow streets, constantly on the lookout for falling masonry from the buildings overhead, which were in a state of treacherous disrepair, until we found the unassuming frontage of La Bodeguita del Medio.

This little bar has continued trading on it's association with the the late, great writer and functioning alcoholic, Ernest Hemmingway, who famously wrote on the wall there, 'My mojito in La Bodeguita. My daiquiri in El Floridita' and is a pilgrimage destination for fans of Hemmingway and tourists looking for an excuse to drink in the afternoon. I admit, we fell into the latter category, although my father was inspired to become a writer after reading Hemmingway, so that counts - right?

Anyway, after stressing about falling masonry and whether or not all the fast talking Cubanos did want to be our tourist guide or just run off with our travellers cheques, the cramped interior of the bar was a welcome sight and the first taste of a mojito, a refreshing, minty, citrus hit. The barman there was more than happy to show me how to make a Mojito and the recipe that I have given you today, is just that. I am also going to give you a few variations which are equally delicious and just call for the simple addition of an ingredient or two, but the basic recipe is always the same. 

Since returning from Cuba, I have subsequently tried Mojitos in many notable establishments - well, it has been 12 years - and have been surprised at how many use granulated, brown sugar. Perhaps this is thought to be more authentic to the original drink, but it's not the one they serve in the home of the Mojito and all the sugar clogs up your straw, not to mention the massive bits of lime and mint floating about. I recommend using  white, caster sugar or sugar syrup which is readily available in most supermarkets and of course, it's only fitting that we should use Havana Club white rum.

Mojito (basic)


5 mint leaves
1 fresh lime
2 level tsp white caster sugar or 1 oz sugar syrup
2 oz white  rum
sparkling water
crushed ice

Take a large tumbler or highball glass and squeeze the juice of the whole lime into the bottom
Add the sugar/syrup and mint leaves and muddle together to dissolve the sugar and release the aroma of the leaves
Add the rum and almost fill the glass with crushed ice
Top up with sparkling water and give it a little stir to ensure it's properly mixed

For an added little kick and a pretty colour, another Cuban barman recommended that I add a few shakes of Angostourra Bitters with the rum and in fact, that is how I've been making them ever since. 

If you are a follower of this blog, you will know that I am a big fan of Chase Elderflower Liqueur and this next variation uses both Elderflower and fresh raspberries, although, just Elderflower alone is delicious. It blends really well with citrus and mint, but the raspberries add a spot of colour too.

Raspberry and Elderflower Mojito


5 mint leaves
1 fresh lime
3 raspberries
1 oz Chase Elderflower Liqueur
1 level tsp white caster sugar or 1/2 oz sugar syrup
1 and 1/2 oz white  rum
sparkling water
crushed ice

Take a large tumbler or highball glass and squeeze the juice of the whole lime into the bottom
Add the raspberries and muddle
Add the sugar/syrup and mint leaves and muddle together to dissolve the sugar and release the aroma of the leaves
Add the rum and Chase Eldeflower Liqueur and almost fill the glass with crushed ice
Top up with sparkling water and give it a little stir to ensure it's properly mixed

Have an amazing weekend and please drink responsibly!


PS - The Friday cocktail will be taking a break in the French Alpes next week, but back the following week with some Alpine inspired deliciousness.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Mother's Day Cocktails

Flush with the success of last week's cocktails, using the fabulous Chase Elderflower Liqueur, I decided it was definitely worth using again for today's Mother's Day special. After all, I'm a mother of two and I love it, but that aside, it has a delicate, floral bouquet that seems appropriate for the occasion.

First up is the ridiculously quaffable Elderflower Fizz, which is not only delicious, but so simple to make. I have decided to use Cava for this, but you can use Champagne if you prefer. The addition of Elderflower liquer will significantly sweeten the drink, so do be careful if you decide to use Prosecco, as it can be slightly sweeter to begin with.

Elderflower Fizz

1 oz Chase Elderflower Liqueur
Champagne or Cava to top up  glass

Pour the Elderflower liqueur into the bottom of a champagne flute and top up with Cava - simple and totally delicious!

This next cocktail, was the winner of the May 2012 Vodka Cocktail Contest and with good reason. It is a fruity, herbal mix that is a joy to drink and was inspired by the creator's mother's garden. As ever, I have adapted it slightly, not least because the name made me howl with laughter. The original recipe calls for Grey Goose vodka, hence the name, 'A Goose in Spring'. I can only imagine that in the US, the term 'goose' does not have the same connotations, or perhaps his mother is partial to a goose in spring - who knows? Anyway, I do not have Grey Goose Vodka and I used lavender in the cocktail, rather than infusing the vodka for 6 days and as I am so enamoured of Chase Elderflower Liqueur, I have decided to call it:

Chase in the Garden

3 raspberries
Sprig of Lavender
2 oz vodka
3/4 oz Chase Elderflower Liqueur
1/4 fresh lemon juice

Muddle the raspberries and lavender  in a cocktail shaker
Add the spirits and lemon juice
Fill to halfway with crushed ice
Shake well
Strain into a chilled, lavender rubbed cocktail glass

I hope you get a chance to treat mother to a cocktail or two, this weekend, or even just try them for yourself - they won't disappoint, but please remember to drink responsibly and never drink and drive. Have an amazing weekend xxx

Friday, 1 March 2013

Butterfly Cocktails

Well, it's Friday afternoon and the weekend is almost upon us, so I think it must be time to start planning a tipple. I stumbled upon this week's delicious libation when I Google searched 'Butterfly cocktails' and found this gem, created by Alex Kammerling in London. 

The cocktail called for the inclusion of Elderflower liqueur, which I had tasted before, but did not have in my possession, so the wonderfully obliging, Mr TG was dispatched to Leadenhall Market in his lunch hour to obtain a bottle. The shop there have several London outlets and even more fabulously, an online shop where you can purchase a wide range of interesting alcoholic beverages. However, a trip in person is recommended if you can, as the staff are extremely knowledgeable and really helpful: Amanthus Drinks

There were several options available, but Mr TG chose this one, which I love. It comes in a lovely bottle and best of all, is made in Britain. I have since discovered that they make vodka, primarily, so next time I am stocking up, I'll be sure to buy British and try theirs!

I must confess that I was so taken with Elderflower liqueur, that I upped the quantity a little as I found the original cocktail a little wersh (bitter,for the non Scots among you), but that could have been down to the grapes I used. Anyway, I shall give you my version of it and you can likewise adapt, if necessary. After all, that's how the best cocktails are born.

Butterfly Cocktail


1.5 oz vodka
1oz Chase Elderflower Liqueur
1/4 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
8 seedless white grapes
3 leaves basil
3 leaves mint

Muddle the grapes in the bottom of a cocktail shaker (muddling is essentially just roughly mashing them) 
 Add the other ingredients with enough crushed ice to half fill the shaker
Give it a bit of a shake - nothing to vigorous as the delicate flavours of the herbs will be marred. 
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and enjoy the fresh citrus flavour.

I had a little sip before putting it in the fridge for later as I still have to take my son to his gymnastics club, but I can assure you it is delish and I will be quaffing it later!

After the success of this Butterfly cocktail and seeing as I had a whole bottle of liqueur, I thought I would put my Mixologist's hat on and make a slightly sweeter, fruitier version and I'm so pleased with the result, I just have to share. 

Strawberry Butterfly Cocktail


1.5 oz vodka
1 oz Chase Elderflower Liqueur
3 large strawberries
1/2 large orange

Muddle the strawberries in the bottom of a cocktail shaker
Squeeze the 1/2 orange directly into the shaker
Add the other ingredients with enough crushed ice to half fill the shaker
Give it vigorous shake this time and strain into a chilled cocktail glass

Not only does it look gorgeous, but it's really tasty too and practically a health drink with all that fruit (okay, maybe not) and although sweeter, not so much so that it tastes like an alcopop - these cocktails are definitely for grown ups!

So, I hope you get to give one or both of them a try and I can't recommend the Chase Elderflower Liqueur enough. In fact, you will definitely be seeing a few more drinks that use it, over the next few weeks, so grab a bottle if you want to join in.

Of course, I'm sure it goes without saying, but I will anyway - always drink responsibly and never drink and drive. Have a fabulous weekend. x