Shakin' Bill's Cocktails Special
The Dry Martini
This should be served and drunk as cold as possible. The gin can be kept in the deep-freeze (it won't freeze), as can slices of lemon, green olives and the glass. The bottle of dry vermouth (often, confusingly, being a brand called Dry Martini) cannot be kept in the deep freeze, as it will freeze. You need to be well organised to deliver a cold dry martini to a guest. Keep everything in the fridge and deep-freeze until you need to use it.
STEP 1. Take half a dozen ice cubes out of the deep-freeze, but them into the cocktail shaker, and shake HARD for 20 or 30 seconds. This makes an excellent noise, and makes the cocktail shaker COLD. You now need to work fast ......
STEP 2. Strain any water out of the shaker.
STEP 3. Take the dry vermouth bottle from the fridge, and pour some of the contents into the shaker and SHAKE. (This is getting the dry vermouth really cold). Put the dry vermouth bottle back into the fridge (to stop it warming up).
STEP 4. Take a glass from the deep-freeze and strain some of the dry vermouth into it, until it is one third to one half full.
STEP 5. Take the gin bottle from the deep-freeze, and top up the glass. Put the gin bottle back in the deep-freeze.
STEP 6. Take a stirrer from the deep-freeze, and stir the gin and Dry Martini together in the glass. Put the stirrer back in deep-freeze.
STEP 7. If the dry martini is to fancified, take either a slice of lemon or a green olive or a small white onion out of the deep freeze, and drop it into the glass.
STEP 8. Rush the drink to your guest. There should be dew, or even frost, on the glass as you hand it over.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION : As the proportion of dry vermouth drops, and the proportion of gin increases, the name of the drink changes. Adding a slice of lemon or a green olive or a white onion also leads to a name change. One day, in the privacy of your own home, whilst you are by yourself, you can secretly pot the dry vermouth and the gin into the shaker (with ice) and shake hard, and pour into a clear glass. You will instantly appreciate why dry martinis are not made in this way.
STEP 1. Into a cold tumbler, pour a sloosh of brandy.
STEP 2. Add a slurp of lemon squash (if you can get Lanitis Lemon Squash (from Cyprus) this is the best lemon squash ever. Anywhere. It is wonderfully thick and lemony. There should be a law requiring all supermarkets to stock it. You can sometimes get it in the Cypriot liquor shops down the Cal (The Caledonia Road, heading up from Kings Cross Station, not far from the London Canal Museum)).
STEP 3. Shake in a handsome quantity of bitters.
STEP 4. Top up with lemonade (some folk think this sweetens it too much, and prefer to top up with soda water. There are even some who favour tonic water).
STEP 5. Drop in a couple of ice cubes.
About 150 years ago, we lost a great many useful words from our language. They were good, earthy, words that came to be perceived as being rude and naughty. Opportunely, a few of them are creeping back into acceptability. A while ago, the nice Will Carling, ably assisted by the media, brought the fart back into polite conversation, using it in connection with the administrators of rugby union. More recently, the even nicer John Major re(-)introduced the word "crap" into the quality end of the media market. I seem to remember that he used the word in conjunction with Europe. Mr Ratner also used the word, when describing the jewellery sold be his (as they were then) shops. The rehabilitation of the word "crap" is most timely, as it is the exact word that is needed when seeking an adjective to describe the average gin and tonic served by the average pub.
To make a decent gin and tonic, take a bottle of good gin. Now! Here is an immediate problem. People like me, blessed with Scottish grannies, have increased difficulties in buying spirits. The utility of alcoholic spirits rests partly in its taste, brand name and social acceptability but mainly in its alcoholic content. Many of us with Scottish ancestors try/like to maximise the number of bangs that we get for each of our bucks. In other words, the price comparisons of one brand of gin with another should be based on the volume of alcohol purchased per unit of currency.
Until recently, this was fairly complicated to compute, as spirits came in .25, .5, .75, 1, 1.5 and even 2 litre bottles. Larger bottles are discounted in price, which means that poor people, and students, pay more for their booze than rich people.
Nowadays, it has become even more complicated, as the volume of alcohol in each bottle has drifted away from the standard 40%, with many brands brazenly stating that they contain (a mere) 37.5%! This requires some pretty nifty finger work on a calculator to compute the volume of alcohol bought per unit of cash spent. When all the sums have been done, the supermarket own label brands often turn out to be good value for money. Some people like the nice green Gordons bottle, though personally I prefer the export version in a clear bottle with the classic yellow label, adorned with a boar's head and juniper berries. The rather jolly Beefeater bottle cheers up the drinks cabinet enormously, while the blue tinged Bombay bottle is very pretty. Traditionalists prefer the straw coloured Booths gin.
After the gin comes the tonic. Sadly, most tonics, even Schweppes, seems to contain saccharine, which seems (to me) to have a cloying taste. Look around, though, and you may find some 'own brands' that stick to sugar (Waitrose used to).
Next comes the lemon. A real lemon, freshly sliced, is a major contribution to the enjoyment of a G&T. Many pubs use little plastic pots of pre-sliced lemons. These are ideal as a fast food substitute, but taste nothing like the real thing! A bottle of Jif Lemon Juice is a useful standby in case of a shortage of lemons. Nonconformist, adventurous, thrill seeking G&T drinkers have been known to use a slice of lime in place of the lemon, but those of us who have lived East of Suez prefer to keep this particular peccadillo to ourselves.
We now have to consider the ice factor. Ice makes things cold, but in so doing it melts and dilutes the drink, so it is as well to start off with cold ingredients in the first place. Gin can be kept really cold in a deep freeze. Tonic should be in the fridge, along with the tumbler and your shoes - if you emulate Audrey Hepburn in "Breakfast at Tiffany's". The ice should be fresh from the deep freeze. If it has lived in an ice bucket for too long it will have lost much of its magic cooling powers. Cubes of ice may be cracked. Cracking the ice increases the surface area of the ice, and hastens the cooling process.
Most people prefer to drink their G&Ts from straight sided tumblers, though a stemmed glass keeps the warmth of the hands away from the drink. Sadly, many stemmed glasses have small bowls - requiring more frequent refills.
Finally, we need to discuss quantities. As a rule of thumb, the thirstier you are, the less gin is needed. If this rule is ignored there is a strong possibility that you will be overtaken by alcoholic unconsciousness before your thirst is fully quenched. The other rule is that G&Ts without the gin are just the ticket if you have to drive home afterwards.
STEP 1. Cool down the shaker with some ice cubes, and strain.
STEP 2. Break up some ice cubes, and put them in a cold glass tumbler.
STEP 3. Add a goodly sloosh of tequila, and top up with orange juice. SHAKE.
STEP 4. Strain this mix from the shaker into the tumbler. The broken ice in the tumbler will, of course, float to the surface.
STEP 5. Pour a slurp of grenadine over the broken ice and serve. Though if the grenadine pools in the bottom of the tumbler, give it a gentle stir with a cold spoon.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION: The general idea is to end up with the orange looking drink being shot through with the red of the grenadine to look like a sunrise. The Vodka Sunrise also works really really well.
STEP 1. Take a shot glass and a bottle of tequila out of the deep freeze. Pour a measure of tequila into the shot glass, and pop the bottle of tequila back into the deep freeze.
STEP 2. Have handy a slice of lemon, and some salt.
STEP 3. Hold a hand, horizontally and palm down. Keeping the thumb horizontal, move it up slightly in a vertical plane. As if by magic, a small hollow will appear on the back of your hand (it's in-line with your index finger, and appears just before the back of the hand becomes wrist). Pour some salt into this hollow.
STEP 4. You now have 3 things to do in quick succession. You have to lick the salt off your hand, bite the slice of lemon, and drink the shot of tequila. It hardly matters in which order these happen, so you might like to experiment. Most people find it best to leave the tequila 'til last, but this is not an absolute rule.
Shake together a sloosh of tequila, a sloosh of Galliano and either one or two slooshes of orange juice (depending on your nerves). This drink really is very nice (hence it's name) but a bit a strong hence .......
(Old joke number 197: We might as well, Sir, 'cos this truck ain't going to get us to the Palace this morning). The basic Screwdriver is a quarter to a third of vodka with the rest being orange juice. Purists put in a drop or two of Angostura bitters, but it works well enough without them.
Hence, obviously, A Long Cool Screw is a tumbler with a sloosh of vodka in it, topped up with orange juice, and, again, with the optional Angostura Bitters. A Long Cool Screw Against the Wall has ice added to it.
Into a cold cocktail shaker containing some ice cubes, pour a sloosh of Kahlua, a sloosh of brandy and a sloosh of dry vermouth. Shake well and pour into a cold cocktail glass. As this cocktail contains unremitting quantities of alcohol, it is what might be termed 'strong'. Hence the following tip. Take the glass of Chocolate Soldier in your right hand. Place your left hand, palm down, on the top of your head, and press down slightly. Take a swig of the Chocolate Soldier. You will find that the downward pressure of your left hand stops the top of your head from lifting upwards.
I can't say that this is one of my favourite tasting cocktails, but it does the business, and it looks exactly like a cocktail ought to look. It's another clear one, so it's best to stir it rather than shake it. It's about one third Cointreau (or what have you) and two thirds vodka, and a few drops of grenadine. This comes out pink and strong (hence the name). If it's too strong, it can be watered down with a sloosh of lemonade.
Into a cocktail glass pour some cold Blue Curaçao (or make up your own with some clear Curaçao, Cointreau or what have you, and some blue food colouring) and add some vodka. The glass should be pretty full.
Now get some cream, and see if you can float some onto the surface of the drink. The idea is not to cover the whole surface, but to leave some of the surface un-creamed, hence looking (if you have a vivid imagination) like a blue lagoon.
My ex-dlw (Dear Lady Wife) and I spent some considerable time researching the Pina Colada, the problems being:
- To find an easy way of introducing the coconut flavour into the drink ('Use creamed coconut' say the books, but I've never seen 'creamed coconut' on sale!)
- To mix milk/cream and pineapple juice without everything curdling.
After visiting lots of bars, and asking lots of questions, we finally teased out a foolproof method from a tiddly bartender called Stavros.
STEP 1. Cool down a cocktail shaker, strain off any water, and add several ice cubes.
STEP 2. Add a goodly sloosh of white rum, a little sloosh of Batida Coconut Liqueur, two slurps of evaporated milk, top up with pineapple juice and SHAKE. When you've given it a really good shake, shake it again. This one needs a lot of shaking, so give it another shake.
It'll come out looking thick and creamy. It looks good in a tall glass, and takes decoration very well. But it dies quickly, and tends to separate out - definitely not the sort of drink where one will last all evening - it needs to be finished within 15 to 30 minutes.
When you make your own, you can guarantee to be the last one standing by reducing the alcoholic content, and making up the volume with extra evaporated milk and pineapple juice.