Monday, 19 August 2013

Passion Fruit Cocktails

This week, I've been experimenting with passion fruit and rather loving the results. It all began with a bespoke cocktail I was creating for a client, who had included passion fruit as a possible flavour in their drink and to keep things fresh and zingy, I wanted to use the actual fruit as well as tinkering about with liqueurs or syrups.

Passion fruit come in several varieties, but in this country, we mainly import the purple skinned variety, which are smaller, but have more juicy pulp and a richer flavour and aroma. They are the fruits of a Passiflora genus which grow like a vine, clinging on with hook like tendrils. We have a rather gorgeous Passiflora in the garden, but sadly, no passion fruit. Lucky for me then, that they are widely available from many larger supermarkets and I was able to easily purchase a pack of three from my local Tesco store.

They are not much to look at on the outside, but cut them down the middle and it's a riot of colour going on in there. And that unmistakeable smell; it's tropical, floral and fresh and the taste, although a little bitter for some, has an almost citrus flavour, backed up with some floral notes. I quite like to eat them just as they are, scooping out the pulp with a spoon, but in some countries, they like to serve them that way, but sprinkled with a little icing sugar, which I imagine is rather nice.

I also decided to purchase a bottle of Giffards Passion Fruit Syrup so I could experiment with that as well. Giffard make a range of liqueurs and syrups, all of which use a maceration of real fruit and although, of course, they use a lot of sugar, the flavour of the fruit always shines through. I love using fresh ingredients as much as possible, but a dash of naturally flavoured syrup here and there, will help to boost your drink's taste and a bottle goes a long way.

One of the most recognised cocktails with a passion fruit flavour, is the Porn Star Martini, which was concocted by Douglas Ankrah at the Lab Academy bar in the 1990's. It was originally dubbed the Maverick Martini and personally, I wish it had stayed that way as ordering a Porn Star Martini always makes me feel a bit of an idiot, but it's a sweet, crowd pleaser, made all the more fun, by the accompaniment of a champagne chaser. In my version, I confess, I used Cava, but seeing as I always end up tipping it in the drink because I find it a little sweet, it doesn't really matter. Plus, there are some great Cavas out there, so there's no need to overspend on fizz. I also used this as an excuse to finish up the vanilla vodka which I had been infusing for so long, it was as dark as bourbon. You can get the recipe to make your own, by clicking here. Alternatively, there are numerous vanilla vodkas you can buy, including Stolichnaya, Absolut, Grey Goose and even Smirnoff.

Porn Star Martini

2 oz Vanilla Vodka
1/2 oz Giffards Passion Fruit syrup
Dash of Clements Martinique Syrope de Canne (or vanilla syrup)
1 passion fruit
1/2 oz lime juice
2 oz Cava

Add all of the ingredients , apart from the Cava, to a cocktail shaker and shake hard, over ice.
Strain into a chilled martini glass and serve with a large shot of fizz.

Having got the taste for vanilla vodka, I decided to make a similarly, flavoured cocktail, but one that could be enjoyed as a long drink, over ice. As I said before, I always end up tipping the fizz into the martini glass when I have a Porn Star Martini, so why not make it a long drink instead? However, I'm not one for smutty cocktail names, so I have given this a far more demure monicker...


2 oz vanilla vodka
1oz Giffards passion fruit syrup
1/2 oz lime juice
1 passion fruit
2 oz Cava

Add all of the ingredients, apart from the Cava, to a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
Shake hard and then strain into an ice filled, hi ball glass.
Top up with the cava and stir gently to mix the drink
Garnish with a lime wedge.

This next cocktail was devised as an alternative to pudding and was absolutely delicious - I'll take one of these over the pick of the dessert trolley, any day. I used the very last shots of my vanilla vodka in this, which is why you can see a dark sediment in the bottom of the glass from the insides of the vanilla pods, but I can assure you, it in no way detracted from the enjoyment of the drink.

Just Desserts

2 oz vanilla vodka
1 oz Giffard passion fruit syrup
1/2 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 oz freshly squeezed orange juice
1 egg white
strip of orange zest to garnish

Add all of the ingredients to the cocktail shaker and shake without ice, holding the lid firmly down - sometimes gas can build up in the shaker, doing this, and actually pop the lid right off, which is messy to say the least.
Carefully open the shaker, add ice and shake again until the outside of the shaker has frosted.
Strain the drink into a chilled martini glass and squeeze the strip of orange zest to first, release the oils and then, garnish.

The final cocktail in this week's selection is the one that started it all. It was created as a bespoke cocktail for a private client, so I'll keep the story behind it to myself, but the cocktail is too good, not to share. It uses bourbon, but is one of those cocktails that works well with rum and even gin, too. Keep the proportions the same and substitute with your favourite tipple.

Bird on the Wire

2 oz Buffalo Chase bourbon
1 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
1 passion fruit
3/4 simple syrup
8 mint leaves
sprig of mint to garnish

Firstly, cut the passion fruit in half, scoop out the pulp and add to the cocktail shaker with the simple syrup.
Add the mint leaves and muddle gently to release the essential oils.
Add the remaining ingredients and half fill the shaker with ice.
Shake hard, until the outside of the shaker begins to frost, then strain into a tumbler filled with crushed ice.
Slap the sprig of mint gently, between your palms - this releases the minty aroma - and garnish the drink.

I highly recommend experimenting with these tasty little tropical fruits. For those with a sweet tooth, the Giffards Passion Fruit syrup is a must and for those who like it fresh and zingy, use the fresh fruit. It's incredibly versatile and combines well with citrus, whilst retaining it's own distinctive flavour. Have fun trying out some of these cocktails and please drink responsibly. x

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