GERANIUM GIN

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Geranium Gin is a new and exciting Danish gin to try out. Launched in Europe this fall and also exhibited at Bar Convent Berlin it soon makes its way over the pond. Geranium gin is  made by Henrik Hammer and his father who is a chemist and was developed by a true passion for gin and using the geranium plant as the geranium oils will increase the flavours emphasizing and enhancing the taste of the whole cocktail.

This is a classic London dry yes but it`s  different – as it contains a specie of said geranium which is a a genus of 422 species of flowering plants and the oils from geranium hasn`t before been extracted with alcohol. Moreover the oils in this geranium is present in most fruits, berries, vegetables and spices and that`s why Geranium Gin blends in well with most mixers. Geranium is a plant that also is being used in therapy along with juniper and citrus oils for against depression and fatigue.

geranium

Geranium gin is also different in that its a new, slightly floral gin yet this tastes very straightforward of what it is – gin – and this is good stuff! The bottle is very nice, simple and stylish and i find the size so perfect. Its thick glass but not too thick and easy to hold and pour from.

I find the nose very clean and the flavour is surprisingly crisp, light and fresh, much citrus and much juniper without being too heavy. But of course its more than that, it contains 10 fresh and dry botanicals:  juniper, geranium, lemon, coriander, cassia, orris, angelica, liquorice + 2 secret ones as should be. The ingredients are matured for 48 hours and then distilled in a 100 year old copper pot still called “Constance” from 100% pure grain spirit (English wheat).

This gin is distilled at Langley Distillery in Birmingham – a 200 year old family owned gin distillery and which is the 3rd biggest gin distillery in the UK – G.J. Greenalls is no. 1 and Beefeater no. 2. Geranium Gin is bottled and held in stock in London.

What i most appreciate with this gin is its oldfashioned gin style yet being new, clean and crisp and i also like the pronounced citrus and faint floral notes. 

Easy to mix with  – – here are two cocktails for you to savour;

LITTLE PRINCE

little-prince

2 oz Geranium Gin
0.5 oz dry Vermouth
0.5 oz Cherry Heering
1 orange slice
1 thin apple slice
1 thin piece cucumber peel
Bitter lemon to top

Shake gin, vermouth and Cherry Heering with ice and strain into a collins glass filled with ice and the cucumber peel, apple and orange slices. Garnish with lime. Top with bitter lemon.

HONEYCOMB

honeycomb

1.5 oz Geranium Gin
0.5 oz vanilla liqueur (i used Navan)
0.5  0z fresh lime
0.5 oz acacia honey syrup
2 vanilla beans

Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with 2 vanilla beans. Originally this recipe contains honey and vanilla vodka which i switched for gin and vanilla liqueur.

MAKING JAMAICA HIBISCUS DRINK

jamaica

I once got the question what to do about the very sour tartness of the blood red hibiscus ”tisane” called jamaica (hamaica) which is made with water and dried hibiscus flowers and indeeed is very tart. When you drink it unsweetened your tongue crumble.

The question was how much really to sweeten it as there were other sweeteners going to be used in the drinks at the bar.

When i got the question i was thinking of my own experinces with hibiscus flowers which is in the making of my hibiscus grenadine which i do quite often. I know that in the grenadine the flowers adds a very fresh and tasty tropical touch. The grenadine is sweetened with simple syrup and its pretty sweet.

I decided to make a small batch to find out which ratios of sugar or syrup was needed to get it tasty instead of tart with a dry-mouth-feel aftertaste. The key is to sweeten the hibiscus drink enough much – but at the same time keep it sweet-tart balanced as its going to be used in drinks which may also be sweetened with other things. Its good to taste while you are boiling it until you find the right sweetness, or you sweeten it afterwards.

And even though you`ll use something to sweeten your drinks you can still sweeten Jamaica quite a bit because it really is tart.

I added 1 oz  agave syrup, stirred, then tasted, then added another 1 oz more etc and found it was good after 3 oz. It wasn`t too sweet, but still a bit tart but now in a pleasant way.

Here is the way i made it:

2 cups (5dl)  water to 2 handful of dried hibiscus flowers
3 oz ( 90 ml) agave syrup
Boil for 5 minutes
Cool for 2 hrs

That`s it! i got a flavor that is sweet enough to temper the tartness but with some sourness still in it, enough to add that deliscious zing and still compose a good balance. This hibiscus drink is very useful, its fresh, tangy and light, wonderful as a cocktail mixer and can of course be drunk without alcohol as a summer refreshener.

I imagine Jamaica goes well with most spirits and that it would pair well with all manner of citrus fruits, cinnamon, ginger, clove, cardamom, vanilla, almond, pear, guava, banana, pineapple, mango, passionfruit, mint, basil, cilantro, red beet juice, cherry, apple, pomegranate juice and surely much more.

Next time i`m going to grate some fresh ginger into it maybe paired with some fresh lemongrass, honey and vanilla – spices that adds some warmness to the sourness, sweetened with syrup, raw sugar or/and honey.

So now when we have the Jamaica we need a cocktail right? as the Jamaica is both tart, fruity and have a fresh tropical flavor i think its fitting with something light and refreshing and then i added some Campari. Its not summer i know – but  i want to pretend it is.

AMORE

amore-2

1.5 oz Gin

1.5 oz Jamaica
1.5 Campari
Top with Lemon soda
Stir with ice and garnish with a fragrant mint sprig.

I have found out also that the hibiscus flowers can be dried again after use and be re-used one more time. Just place them in a strainer and let them get much air, they take a little time to dry completely, then place them in a jar until its time to re-use them.

Then you use a bit less water than the first time and boil them a little bit longer to extract all the remaining flavour and color.

TIKI DRINK NOSTALGIA

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To me there will always be something very special with Tiki drinks, they are so much more than beautiful to look at and so bloody tasty! – and a pain in the ass to make sometimes, especially if you need to make many but if you just hang on and go through with them you are greatly rewarded.

Actually the Tiki drinks doesn`t just deliver great flavours to you, often in a layered fashion allowing you to discover new flavours one after another, they also impart a feeling, a sense of “mystery” and of course the inevitable escape to far away Pacific islands which at least i need, now in these gloomy days which turns darker for each day.

The hunting down of obscure ingredients can sometimes be another problem, which can be solved by making things yourself or sub ingredients with the closest you may have at hand and making flavored syrups, pimento dram, falernum or orgeat is easier than most people think. Good recipes are also easy to find on the many cocktail blogs.

When i started this blog a year and half ago i made only Tiki drinks at the time – which has changed to be all kinds of drinks. While browsing around my old tiki drink pictures i felt i wanted to visit them again and make a few of the old ones.

Here`s a range of  drinks i made in my early blogging-days and a new twist of the Jungle Bird with demerara rum which was very tasty. In the Sumatra Kula i have added an extra oz of white agricole to spice it up a bit. I first made it with 1.5 oz white rum as it is in the original recipe  but i found it a bit tame and i think it needed that extra splash of agricole to really  come to life.

So if you grab your shakers let`s start with the “Kulas” – if anyone knows why some Tiki drinks has that kula in the name please let me know, i`m curious about it. This is supposed to be one of the first drinks served by Don the Beachcomber at his bar in Hollywood, circa 1934. But if you wanna be really genuine omit the rhum agricole.

SUMATRA KULA (From Sippin Safari)

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0.5 oz fresh lime juice
0.5 oz grapefruit juice
0.5 oz orange juice
0.5 oz honey-mix (equal parts honey and water, warm up to mix, let cool and bottle, keeps in the fridge for about a week)
1.5 oz light rum
1 oz rhum agricole blanc
3 oz crushed ice

Put everything in blender, saving ice for last, blend at high speed for no more than 5 sek. Pour into a pilsner glass, add crushed ice to fill. Garnish with a mint sprig. (which i didn´t –  i used pineapple leaves.)

CUBA KULA From Sippin`Safari

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This drink is from the personal notebook of Ray Buhen dated 1935.

And this is another drink i made an ice mold with, i think chimney glasses are very good for these kinds of molds where the ice is supposed to raise itself up from the glass. You make these by placing preferably shaved ice in a pilsner glass in the freezer overnight, just make sure the mold is a bit thinner than the glass you`re gonna serve the drink in and that there`s space for the straw.

2 oz fresh lime juice
1/2 oz honey
1 oz orange juice
1 oz dark rum, the recipe calls for Myers but i used Coruba12
1 oz Lemon Hart demerara
1/2 oz Bacardi 151
Dash Angostura bitters
6 drops Herbsaint or Pernod

Dissolve the honey in the limejuice and then place it all in a shaker and shake with plenty of ice.

GUATEMALA COOLER From Sippin`Safari

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I used different rums in this one as i don`t have the rums called for, so instead of a gold Puerto Rican i used my Jamaican Lemon Hart and then i used Appleton VX. I didn`t use an old fashioned glass with ice cubes either, i used a small pilsner type of glass and made an ice mold where you raise the ice up on the sides by pushing it down in the middle, finally i placed a shy orchid in the middle of the ice.

0.5 oz fresh lime juice
0.5 oz unsweetened pineapple juice
1 oz Lopez coconut cream
1 oz gold Puerto Rican rum
¾ oz gold Jamaican rum
6 oz crushed ice

Put everything in blender, saving ice for last, blend at high speed for 10 sek and pour into a double old fashioned, add ice cubes to fill.

GUYANA BIRD

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This is a twist on the Jungle Bird which is one of my favorite Tiki drinks. I replaced the dark rum with demerara rum and also added a float of overproof demerara and some fresh orange juice,  it turned out really tasty. My friend thought it was too strong which allowed me to have the whole awesomeness for myself;-)

This is a drink that like the Mai Tai let the spirits shine and its that kind of tiki drinks i have found out that i prefer. The 1934  Zombie Punch is another example of such a drink, strong but well balanced.

0.75 oz campari
0.5 oz fresh lime
0.5 oz simple syrup
2 oz pineapple juice
1 oz orange juice
1 oz demerara rum
1 oz overproof demerara rum to float

Shake and pour into a highball filled with crushed ice. Garnish with a lime rose.

SPINDRIFT

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Here`s an old favorite, i really like this drink, its strong and fullbodied with a perfect balance of flavours.

3 oz orange juice
2 oz fresh lemon juice
1 oz passionfruit syrup
¾ oz simple syrup
0.5 t vanilla extract
2 oz dark Jamaican rum
1.5 oz demerara rum
1 oz light Puerto Rican rum

Blend with 2.5 cups srushed ice and pour into a large snifter.

I always come back to the tiki drinks, no matter how long i`ve been away to mix other kinds of drinks – i always return because these drinks are a part of me they`re in my blood.

How do you like tiki drinks? and what about all the mess with mixing them? is it worth the effort or not?

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COCKTAILS WITH MEZCAL part 3 – Fresh herbs

MEZCAL AND FRESH HERBS

– Basil

Its so much fun to experiment with mezcal in cocktails as it has so much flavour of its own –  earhty, vegetal and then it also has that interesting smokiness which truly adds another dimension.

Many flavours naturally fits together and after a while with trial and errors you more or less learn which flavours marries well and which doesn`t, and even if taste is something personal in general those flavour combinations that are natural companions (and these often also comes from in the same type of climate or area)  goes best together.

When i experiment with flavours i try to look for either matching or contrasting – like when you paint a room and paint one wall in a contrasting colour which sticks out but in the end still harmonizes with the rest of the room. Something like that.

Naturally mezcal pairs with the same things that tequila goes well with such as citrus fruits, agave syrup (and other syrups like for example balsamic syrup which has an earthy flavour) spices like ginger, fresh herbs, peppers like jalapeno, habanero and ancho to name a few. And believe it or not but mezcal pairs very well with Campari – another of my favorite libations.

I`m very fond of fresh ingredients and at the farmers market (which here is only open once a year (!) for a few weeks i think it is) i picked up two varietes of basil i haven´t tried before, cinnamon basil and ararat basil. The cinnamon basil has green leaves and look somewhat like thai basil but i was surprised that the flavour was so strong and so crisp fresh! it has stronger flavour than the thai basil. I didn´t exactly pick up any pronounced cinnamon flavour but it did have something spicy.

The ararat basil looked different, its leaves are variegated in green and purple and it has a slight anis taste and is not as strong and pungent as the cinnamon variety. The cinnamon basil plants had flowers on them as well, very pretty.

So my first experiment with these basil plants and mezcal was to muddle a few chunks of fresh pineapple with both types of basil and some simple syrup. A flavoured syrup here would only disturb the other flavours i think. Then i added mezcal, fresh lime and to boost the hint of anise from the ararat basil i added 1 tiny tsp of absinthe. To crown the drink and add aroma i garnished with sprigs of the ararat basil and the blooming cinnamon basil.

Don`t neglect the garnish in those kind of drinks where garnish may add completeness and a feast for the eye. Before we drink with our mouths we drink with our eyes.

Here´s the recipe:

ARARAT COCKTAIL

ararat-cocktail-1

2 oz mezcal

1t absinthe

A handful of fresh pineapple chunks and a handful of basil, preferably two different varietes

0.5 oz fresh lime juice

0.5 oz simple syrup

Crushed ice

Muddle pineapple, basil and syrup in shaker, be gentle with the basil so start with the pineapple. Add mezcal and absinthe. Shake and strain into a glass with crushed ice. Garnish with a sprig of basil.

– Thyme

One of my favorite herbs, thyme is lovely and it has such a fresh yet “grassy” aroma, everytime i get fresh thyme i bury my nose in it. This experiment includes muddled thyme and honeysyrup, pineapple infused mezcal and habanero infused tequila, some fresh lime, a little Ting and finally a mezcal soaked cherry to enjoy when the drink is finised.

Both Ting and thyme is common use in Jamaica and married with the Mexican flavours ut turns out fresh and flavourful at least to my palate but i don`t claim to be an expert on flavours, just a happy experimenter.

The best part in making cocktails is the playing with flavours and trying out the result or letting others imbibe it and give their opinion (hopefully they like it) and the worst part is naming the drink. I hate to try to name cocktails sometimes, its so hard! Camper once said that if i didn`t take so long to name my drinks i would get much more things done in life – i think that was fun..well finally i came up with this:

SABROSO

1 oz pineapple infused mezcal

1 oz habanero infused tequila reposado

0.5 oz fresh lime juice

0.5 oz honey syrup

Fresh thyme

Ting to top

Garnish sprig of thyme.

Muddle the thyme and honey, then add the tequila and mezcal. Squeeze a half lime and shake, strain into a ice filled collins glass. Top with a little Ting (Jamaican grapefruit beverage). Garnish with a fresh aromatic sprig of thyme.

Sugarcane bar

 

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OLD NEW ORLEANS RUM – Cajun Spice

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It took me to go all the way to New Orleans to be able to lay my hands on one of the Old New Orleans Rums..and the one i picked was the Cajun Spice, that`s the one i was most curious about. Unfortunately i  missed the distillery tour bec i was too far away stuck at Coop`s with a mountain of lovely jamblaya in front of me and there was no way to make it in time unless i had runned fast in the over 104 degree (+40C)  heat with all my swag bags…(an act i wouldn`t be able to perform even for a million i can tell) But anyway, eventually i got me a bottle of the Cajun Spice.

The ONO rum bottles are beautiful and on the back of the label there´s an image that is made by the founder of the Celebration Distillation, artist James Michalopoulos featuring architectural paintings of New Orleans which really does have some incredibly beautiful houses to marvel at.

The Cajun Spice is a blend of rums with cayenne and cinnamon, hints of nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. But before i go on telling you how i find this rum i just want to say something about its history.

On the backstreets of New Orleans – that`s where this rum was born – created by a band of artists and musicians who started a small production in their kitchen – and after doing lots of trial and errors and distilling for two years they ended up making a rum that today is quite famous – and made with Louisiana sugarcane.

They made their own combined column and pot still which enabled them to create a more flavourful rum and they still use that still because it`s unique and produces a unique product that is all their own.

In 1995 the Celebration Distillation bought an ancient cotton warehouse on Frenchmen Street. And in 1999, they made what is known as Old New Orleans Crystal which was their first white rum and after that the Amber Rum was made and from it came the Old New Orleans Cajun Spice Rum. They now also have made a 10 year old rum which is only available at the distillery.

So how is this rum? the nose is very interesting, at first whiff i feel the sugarcane, caramel – somehow i get to think about french créme brulèe..then i start to detect the spices, i feel cinnamon and clove – and then i feel the vanilla..

The first sip is very much spice, and now the cayenne speaks, followed by the clove while the sugarcane sweetness is lingering in my mouth. I`m not sure if i detect a slight hint of both cinnamon and nutmeg but maybe that´s it. Its a very pleasant rum and because of the spiciness and the kinds of spices used i think its very much suited in rum-blends for tiki drinks. The spices are just right and the balance is good. This is yummy stuff! Good for sipping, good for mixing too, especially for mixing i would say.

I used it already in a tiki drink and i think it proves good with demerara rum, at least to my palate and to my joy also to others. This shows how versatile this rum is and that`s a very important feature. Very unfortunately this rum is not sold outside of the States.

I have also discovered that equal parts ONO Cajun Spice and El Dorado 12 yo in a sipping glass is heaven on your palate…

CAJUN SPICE OLD FASHIONED

2 oz Old New Orleans Cajun Spice Rum
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 cube brown sugar
2 orange peels
1 orange slice, 1 maraschino cherry

Start squeezing the oil from a piece of orange peel and then put into an old fashioned glass. Add sugar and bitters and some of the ONO Cajun Spiced rum plus an ice ice cube and then stir until the ice starts to melt and the sugar is dissolving.

Add another ice cube and the more rum and keep stirring and continue in this way until the sugar is fullty dissolved. At last spray the drink`s surface with some more orange peel oil and drop into the drink with a maraschino cherry – and a slice of orange too if you wish.

Thank you Ian for teaching me your way of slowly but surely doing the Rum Old fashioned!

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FLAMING TIKI PUMPKIN PUNCH

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As you all know, its pumpkin time and what`s better than a flaming tiki drink? Here´s my version of the halloween tingy – the pumpkin is a good thing and very useful so i got the idea to scoop out a pumpkin and use half of the flesh to make a pumpkin butter syrup along with some toasted pumpkin seeds and use the rest of the flesh to make a spicy pumpkin soup with coconutmilk, chicken, habanero pepper, ginger, nutmeg,and thyme Then using the pumpkin shell as a tiki volcano bowl and create a flaming drink. So much you can do with a pumpkin!

FLAMING TIKI PUMPKIN PUNCH

1 oz Old New Orleans Cajun Spiced Rum
1 oz Demerara rum (you may use any, i used XM10)
.75 oz pumpkin butter syrup
0.5 oz fresh lime juice
Small dash pimento dram
2 oz passionfruit juice
High proof demerara to float. (any overproof demerara rum)
Pinch of cinnamon top get the flame to sparkle and create the volcano effect.

Mix in blender 15 sek (add crushed ice last) float highproof demerara and serve in pumpkin volcano bowl. Place ½ passionfruit shell inside and fill with overproof rum and set alight. Toss some cinnamon powder over it.

Pumpkin Butter Syrup

Toast a handful of pumpkin seeds and set aside. Make a pumpkin syrup with 2:1 raw sugar and water, add a pinch of molasses and a pinch of light muscovado sugar. Add cubed pumpkin flesh and the pumpkin seeds and boil for 2 minutes, then set aside to cool and then bottle.

Before using the syrup warm up some and add a little butter and melt. Cool to roomtemp.

This turned out to be a spicy and quite strong punch, just right for tonight!

 

Sugarcane bar

 

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