Shaken and stirred: Eight of the best cocktails
Cocktails aren’t just for hot summery days – there are plenty of delicious, even warming, combinations that make the perfect pre- or post-dinner drink…
Say the word cocktail and many women of a certain generation may think of Tom Cruise in the 80s film classic, or James Bond and his martini sidekick. Cocktails are by no means the preserve of glamorous films, but their presence on screen through the years has helped imbue them with an air of class and sophistication.
There’s still something slightly decadent about sipping a Cosmopolitan. The earliest known reference to a cocktail – ‘a stimulating liquor, composed of spirit of any kind, sugar, water and bitters…’ – appeared in an American magazine in 1806. It continued to say that ‘a person, having swallowed a glass of it, is ready to swallow anything else’. Indeed, some cocktails are an acquired taste – salt round the rim of a glass doesn’t sound appealing, but the Margarita, believed to have been created in 1936, is an enduring popular choice.
Today, mixing cocktails has been lifted to an art form, with competitions held worldwide for ‘mixologists’. But you don’t have to be an expert to create a delicious cocktail at home.
Here, mixologist Wayne Collins, from Maxxium Cocktails, explains the six methods for creating cocktails, followed by six recipes you can whip up at home…
Wayne’s mixology methods
Build: The simplest way to create a cocktail. Fill your glass with ice and pour the ingredients over it. Use plenty of ice to keep the drink cooler for longer and to help maintain a consistent taste throughout the drink.
Swizzle: The essence of ‘mixology’. The idea is that you create the perfect cocktail by adding one ingredient at a time. Having filled your glass with ice and the required liquid ingredients, use a swizzle and stir briskly for three to five seconds.
Shake: The iconic image of cocktail making! The trick is only to shake for about 12 seconds. Remember, you’re aiming to wake up the combination of flavours rather than rock them to sleep!
Stir: Another easy method – fill your glass with ice, add the ingredients, then use a bar spoon, or long-handled teaspoon to stir. Place the spoon down the side of the glass and stir briskly for 25 seconds.
Muddle: Using a muddling tool, your aim is to gently crush your ingredients – juices, pulps and essential oils – to release an intense flavour.
Blend: You need your blender for this, to create thick, smooth cocktails. Pour the liquids into the blender first, followed by solids, such as fruit. Next add crushed ice – it’s important to use crushed not cubed ice. Blend on a high speed, then pour into a glass.
Autumnal punch: Pomme Spice Punch
- Take a punch bowl and fill it with ice cubes.
- Add two shots of Courvoisier, one shot of elderflower cordial, three shots of pressed apple juice, one shot of lime juice and four shots of ginger beer. Stir the ingredients together.
- Garnish with fresh mint, and float slices of apple and fresh ginger root on the top.
- Serve in tall glasses over plenty of ice cubes.
Zingy zest: Stuffed Grouse
- Fill a clean, tall glass with plenty of ice cubes.
- Squeeze one wedge of fresh orange over the ice and drop the wedge in the glass.
- Add one shot of The Famous Grouse Scotch Whisky, one shot of Sourz Apple Liqueur and one shot of cranberry juice. Top up with ginger beer.
- Give it a quick stir and garnish with a half-slice of orange and wedges of apple.
Timeless classic: Margarita
- Add one-and-a-half shots of tequila, half a shot of Bols Triple Sec Liqueur, one shot of freshly squeezed lime juice and half a shot of sugar syrup or gomme syrup, into a clean, empty Boston Shaker glass (a tall, straight-sided glass that fits into a stainless steel cup, used by professionals to shake cocktails).
- Fill with ice cubes, place your cocktail shaker over the top of the glass and seal tightly with a firm tap.Shake vigorously for 10 seconds.
- Carefully open the cocktail shaker, keeping the ice and drink inside the tin portion. Place a strainer over the top and strain into a pre-chilled cocktail glass, half-rimmed with salt.
- Garnish with a lime wedge on the rim of the glass.
Winter warmer: Calypso Coffee
- Take a warm toddy glass. Add one shot of rum and two bar spoons of demerara sugar. Top up with hot brewed coffee.
- Using a bar spoon, stir the coffee briskly for 20 seconds.
- Garnish with whipped cream and sprinkle with a little sugar.
Pure magic: Gin Genie
- Add eight fresh mint leaves, one shot of gin, three quarters of a shot of freshly squeezed lemon juice and one third of a shot of sugar syrup or gomme syrup into a tall glass.
- Muddle gently together to release the juices and essential oils of the mint.
- Half-fill the glass with crushed ice.Churn vigorously for 10 seconds to infuse the flavours. Top up with plenty of crushed ice.
- Add three quarters of a shot of sloe gin and stir. Garnish with a fresh sprig of mint.
Back in fashion: Pina Colada
- Add two shots of white rum, three shots of pressed pineapple juice, two shots of cream of coconut and half a shot of heavy cream to a blender.
- Add one heaped scoop of crushed ice to the blender. Blend on a high speed until it reaches your desired consistency.
- Slowly pour the mixture into a hurricane glass (a pear-shaped tall cocktail glass).
- Garnish the glass with a skewered cherry and a pineapple wedge resting on the rim.
Marco-approved cocktail choices
Usually a whisky or ale man, it seems Marco is partial to the odd cocktail, too. At his London-based Steak and Ale House, the stylish cocktail bar serves two signature Marco Pierre White drinks – the MPW Bellini, described as ‘probably the most popular Champagne cocktail around’, and the MPW Seabreeze.
Make your own versions of these favourites at home, following these simple recipes.
- 2 ripe peaches, peeled, halved and stone removed, or the equivalent using tinned peaches in natural juice
- Chilled Champagne
- 2 chilled Champagne flutes
Place the peaches in a small blender and purée until totally smooth. This can be done well in advance and kept in the fridge. Spoon into the chilled Champagne flutes and slowly top up with Champagne, stirring with a bar spoon as you pour. You should ideally have one third peach purée to two thirds Champagne. Serve straight away.
Serves 8, to be made in a jug
- 300ml vodka, well chilled
- 600ml cranberry juice, well chilled
- 300ml grapefruit juice, well chilled
- 1 lime, thinly sliced
Put all the ingredients in a jug and stir to mix. Pour mixture into individual glasses, half-full of crushed ice, and serve garnished with cranberries and curls of grapefruit peel.