Friday, 15 August 2014

Summer Pastels

Obviously, the number one priority when choosing your cocktail should be taste, but there's a lot to be said for looks as well, particularly if you are creating a cocktail for an event such as a wedding where the colour scheme is all important. Colour plays a large role in my business of creating Bespoke Cocktails as often, I am making a drink to represent a brand or a special occasion. So this week, for no other reason than I think they are as pretty as they are delicious, I've put together some martini-style drinks in pastel shades that might just be the perfect match for you.

The Just Peachy cocktail is fragrant with peach, hints of raspberry and spicy undertones. It's sweet enough to to slip down all too easily, but if you like your liquor hard, you can always double up on the gin. Remember, with a martini-style drink, there's no non-alcoholic element to water it down so the dilution comes, solely from shaking it over ice. Likewise, the drink is always best, enjoyed cold, hence the need for a stemmed glass to drink it from - this will prevent the heat of your hand, warming the contents of the glass and keep it icy cold from start to finish.

Just Peachy

1 oz Whitely Neil Gin
1 oz extra dry vermouth
1 oz martini rosato
1/2 oz Cartron Crème de Pêche de Vigne

Add everything to a shaker with ice and shake hard for about 20 secs.
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass

The Elderflower and Violet Cocktail is a floral treat with just enough sharp lemon to cut through the sweetness. The pale violet colour is a joy to behold and the flavour is a must for those who like their cocktails flowery.

Elderflower and Violet Cocktail

2 oz dry vermouth
dash of lemon juice

Add everything to a shaker with ice and shake hard for about 20 secs.
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass

The Flamooga is a Bespoke Cocktail I created for a customer recently that I hope they won't mind me sharing. It's a delicate shade of flamingo pink and a sophisticated blend of Gin Mare, Chase Elderflower Liqueur, a dash of Campari and ruby grapefruit. The herbal botanicals of Gin Mare (rosemary, thyme, basil and olive) and the citrus zing of ruby grapefruit are balanced with a little bittersweet from the Campari and fragrant floral of elderflower - something to reach all the tastebuds. It's not too sweet and works really well, shaken and served straight up, as shown here, or topped up with a little champagne and served in a champagne glass.


1 1/2 oz Gin Mare
tsp Campari
2 oz freshly squeezed ruby grapefruit 

Add everything to a shaker with ice and shake hard for about 20 secs.
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Fabri Manus

The cocktail I'd like to share with you this week, is a Bespoke Cocktail named the Fabrimanus.

Fabri Manus is derived from the Latin translation of 'The Artisan's Hands' and is the name of the bespoke, cabinet making firm, run by husband and wife team, Michael and Caroline Usher. Michael is the Artisan whose hands create the bespoke joinery and cabinet making commissions and Caroline takes the helm of the business side, allowing him to focus on creating high quality pieces for their diverse portfolio of clients. This September marks the ten year anniversary of the company's instigation and is a milestone achievement for them both, brought about by talent, hard work and exacting standards of quality and workmanship.

I was approached by Caroline to create a Bespoke Cocktail to mark the occasion, that they could both enjoy, but that primarily focussed on Michael's love of cider with a nod to Caroline's appreciation of gin, in particular, William's Chase. We also discussed how we could include some of the produce they grow at home and I was immediately drawn to the herb, tangerine sage and fresh blackberries. The final stipulation was that it should be quite sweet, so a spoonful of sugar wouldn't go amiss...

In the end, I decided to make a homemade Blackberry Liqueur that seemed to be in keeping with Fabri Manus ethos and was something that Caroline could quite easily make and store to use in the Bespoke Cocktail as well as others. The tangerine sage, when muddled in the drink, added an extra fruity, earthy dimension that was further enhanced with a dash of Angostura Orange Bitters. I opted for the Williams Chase Elegant Gin as it is quite a light, fruity gin with a slight apple nose that was perfect for combining with cider. In fact, Williams Chase Elegant Gin, unlike most, is actually distilled from apples rather than grain and in the early stages of the process, is a flat cider. And finally, but all importantly, the cider. I toyed with the idea of using an artisan brand, but truth be told, my client is partial to Strongbow and it is a perfectly quaffable, light and fruity drink, so that is what I went with.

I created a base cocktail using all of the above ingredients that could be shaken and served short and sweet, like a martini, in a stemmed, cocktail glass or served over ice and topped up with extra cider to make a long, refreshing, summer cooler.


1 oz Williams Chase Elegant Gin
1 oz Blackberry Liqueur
3-4 leaves tangerine sage
dash of Angostura Orange Bitters
2 oz Strongbow Cider
fresh blackberry to garnish

In the bottom of a shaker, muddle (gently squish) the tangerine sage with the gin and blackberry liqueur.
Add the cider and stir for about 20secs to remove the fizz (this will ensure there are no explosions when it comes to shaking the drink).
Add a couple of dashes of bitters and a handful of ice.
Shake hard until the outside of the shaker frosts over and strain into a chilled, stemmed cocktail glass.
Garnish with a fresh blackberry on a cocktail stick.

Fabrimanus Cooler

1 oz Williams Chase Elegant Gin
2 fresh blackberries
1 oz Blackberry Liqueur
3-4 leaves tangerine sage
dash of Angostura Orange Bitters
 Strongbow Cider to top up

In the bottom of a tall sturdy glass, muddle (gently squish) the sage, blackberry, gin and liqueur.
Add a dash of bitters, plenty of ice and top up with fizzy cider.
Stir carefully to mix.

Should you decide to try this one at home, be sure to raise your glasses to Michael and Caroline Usher, without whom this cocktail would not have been created.

Friday, 1 August 2014

T.L.C Cocktail

This cocktail was created as gift to mark the 30 year, Pearl Wedding Anniversary of a couple who work hard all year on the farm and in the local community and enjoy an annual cruise to far flung lands as a reward. From the brief I was given, I wanted to create something that would combine quintessentially British flavours with something a little more  cosmopolitan, that was both fruity and sweet.

The name of the cocktail refers to the couple's initials, but serendipitously also stands for 'tender loving care', without which, a marriage is unlikely to last 30 years. The bottles were hand painted in a lace design with a pearl outline and the number 30 entwined into the pattern to represent their 30 years of marriage to one another.

And so, to the cocktail...

The recipe calls for fresh raspberry purée which is easily made by squishing the raspberries through a sieve with the back of a spoon - collect the purée in a dish and discard the pips. About 4 large raspberries should be enough to make a tablespoon of purée.

The dash of lemon juice should be fresh, not the bottled type, but is literally, just a tiny squeeze, less than half a teaspoon. Although seemingly minuscule, that little dash just adds a freshness and depth to the alcohol.

Should you wish to make their signature cocktail for yourself, you will need to invest in a bottle of Martin Miller Gin (highly recommended with Fever Tree Tonic for an exceptional G&T), Cartron Crème de Pêche de Vigne and Giffards Crème de Framboises (both delicious when added to fizz in the style of a Kir Royale) and a sweet vermouth such as Martini Rosso which is an essential ingredient for many cocktails, including my current fave, the Negroni.

TLC Cocktail

3/4 oz Martin Miller Gin
1/4 oz Crème de Framboises
1/2 oz Crème de Pêche de Vigne
1/2 oz sweet vermouth
1 tbsp raspberry purée
dash of fresh lemon juice
raspberry to garnish

Add all of the ingredients to a cocktail shaker with a handful of ice (cubed, not crushed) and shake hard until the outside of the shaker becomes frosted (about 20 secs).

Strain the contents into a chilled martini glass and garnish with a raspberry or two on a cocktail stick.

If you find the drink a little intense, served this way, why not try it served over ice or topped up with champagne - delicious!