Mums Limoncello from the Last Milennium

We were clearing up the house after taking down all the Christmas decorations and we came across this mysterious bottle.


Okay okay… I say “mysterious” but actually, as soon as I saw it I knew exactly what it was.

Sometime in the last few years mum made some limoncello with vodka and lemon rind then left it to season. Obviously we forgot about it and it even managed to accompany us undetected through a house-move. I’m not quite sure how this happened but there you go.


So obviously I wanted to (a) taste it and (b) use it in martini form somehow.


A few years back a man in Beirut told me he liked to add a teaspoon or two of limoncello to his martinis to give them a nice, citrusy note.

So that’s what I did.


I chucked the limoncello into the freezer for a few hours, although note that some limoncellos might freeze. Mum’s was suitably alcoholic that it did not.


Add one teaspoon to a normal martini (the standard recipe is here) and stir it with your piece of lemon peel. Serve.


It adds a nice lemon aftertaste but is a little sweet, so consider using less vermouth than normal if you want to try this out.


It’s also worth noting that this makes an excellent substitute if you find yourself without any fresh lemons. Remember – these are crucial for making a standard martini (unless you’re having it dirty or you’ve got a very good or distinctive gin to taste). A teaspoon of limoncello might be a nicer to impart a lemon flavour than using a dab of lemon oil which I sometimes resort to.


The limoncello also goes very nicely added to a gin and tonic (with a 50:50 gin:limoncello ratio).


So act now: buy some limoncello, make your own, or give your house a spring clean. You never know what alcoholic delights might be gathering dust in a corner.


If you’re moving house be especially sure to check for rogue bottles. You wouldn’t want the next occupants to enjoy it at your expense.

The Breakfast Martini

Wake up to something magically taboo.
 

Marmalade cocktails have been around for a long time but the decadent breakfast martini was invented by Salvatore Calabrese in the Lanesborough hotel in London in 2000. It involves gin, marmalade, lemon juice and Cointreau or Triple Sec.

  
Those nice people at Fragata sent me a jar of Marmalade from their native Spain. It tasted so good I had to alter Mr. Calabrese’s famous recipe in order to use more of it, made with Seville oranges.

  
In addition to marmalade you will need the juice of half a lemon.

  
Cointreu or Triple Sec (I found some in one of the secret alcohol cupboards we have in our house).

   
And of course, some gin, which we always keep in our freezer.

  
Muddle, stir then shake the following ingredients in a cocktail shaker (or a simple jam jar if you don’t have one of those):

  • 1 tbsp marmalade
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp Cointreu
  • 120ml gin

These measures serve approximately 140-150ml – enough for one large martini or two small ones.

Strain the ingredients into a chilled martini glass. Leave out the ice, but be sure to get some of those luscious marmalade strands into the drink.

 As a garnish, you can use a strip of orange peel dropped into the drink, a slice of fresh orange, or as I have opted for in this case, a whole crystallised/candied orange slice.

You can also use a triangle of toast with some marmalade spread on it, which provides a nice contrasting crunch to the jellied drink.

Note that texture is an important and striking element of this drink which sets it apart from other martinis. 

  
Here’s a toast garnish I made with jam a year ago, although I don’t think it’s quite as visually appealing as the breakfast martini equivalent.

  
For extra morning decadence you could also serve additional crystallised/candied orange slices dipped in dark chocolate (available online from Tobermory Chocolate who deliver all over the world). I would save this for a special occasion, like a birthday or Christmas for example.

  
The cocktail also makes a nice shorter drink over ice. Here I used my previously purchased spherical ice makers.

Despite being a breakfast cocktail, it’s a very nice after-dinner drink to have by the fireside as well.

How to make a very simple lemon drop martini

  

Quick and easy; serves one.

  

Juice a fresh lemon.

 

Add 3-4 teaspoons (or to taste) of sugar. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. If you have time, place the mixture in the freezer for 20 minutes, or the fridge for an hour.

Into a martini glass pour a dash of vermouth, then equal measures of chilled vodka/gin and the lemon mixture.

Stir then serve with a strip of lemon peel as a garnish.

 

There are other variations which include triple sec, or you could rim the glass with sugar (as I did in the first picture), but otherwise, this is the fastest, easiest recipe I know. If you feel more adventurous try the Lemon Drop Martini with Foam or my own creation the Lemon and Lime Drop Martini.

Enjoy!

The mango martini



Growing up on an island off the west coast of Scotland, I don’t think I even saw a mango until I was a fully grown adult living on the mainland. However they almost immediately became my favourite fruit. I love their sweetness combined with a zesty taste that reminds me of the smell of pine needles.

This pine flavour might be one of the reasons this fruit it goes well with gin. I think it compliments the juniper which also has notes of pine (Christ that sounds pretentious). Anyway, for the sake of objectivity I tried eating a mango cube followed by chewing a juniper berry and the two seemed to go well together.



In order to make a mango martini get yourself a tin of mango slices in syrup.



Pour the syrup into a glass and place it in the freezer for around 45 minutes to cool down.



Take a fresh mango and slice off an end, cutting it as close to the stone as possible. Use a blunt knife to cut the flesh of the cut side into cross-crossed squares but be sure not to cut through the skin of the fruit.



You can then invert the sliced piece which makes it easier to cut out little cubes of the flesh.

You’ll be left with a piece of skin that by law you must chew and suck while your guests aren’t watching. Don’t let any of that succulent flesh go to waste!



When it’s time to pour add a measure of vermouth (to taste), then fill up the rest of the glass approximately half and half with gin/vodka and the mango syrup.



Garnish with a slice of mango and serve with some of the pieces of mango as an accompaniment.



I also had my first breakfast on the balcony this year the next morning. A cup of tea with mango pieces and a small sprinkling of pepper – an unusual combination I first tried during my time in Sri Lanka. I’m not sure why it works but it does!

The Lemon Drop Martini with Foam

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This is a slight variation on a classic American cocktail. I first encountered the Lemon Drop in New York. A barman asked me what I wanted and I said I felt like something strong and astringent. It’s a very simple combination of sweet and sour, and it’s easy to make at home. Leave out the egg white and the frothing process in this recipe if you want an even simpler drink. For two martinis you will need:

* The juice of 1 lemon
* The white of 1 egg
* Sugar
* Sweet Vermouth
* Gin or vodka (it’s more conventional to use vodka)
* Chilled martini glasses

– Pour the lemon juice and 2 measures of vermouth into a large cup
– Add 2 teaspoons of sugar and stir until dissolved
– Pour the mixture into a bowl and add the egg white
– Beat well until the mixture is thoroughly blended and a thick, velvety foam has formed on top of the liquid
– Rim the martini glasses with sugar
– Using a spoon or fork to hold back the foam, pour the liquid into the martini glasses, about half way up.
– Fill up the rest of the glasses with gin or vodka, leaving a space of around 3-5mm. Lightly stir the mixture.
– Pour over the foam until it has covered the top of the drink and reached the rim of the glass
– If you like, you can sprinkle some grated lemon rind over the top of the foam to add even more zest, although I preferred it without

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The drink is sweet and sour with contrasting textures of sharp zesty alcohol, rich foam and the crunch of the sugar rim.

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The Mangoosteeni

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Mangoosteen are an unusual looking tropical fruit with a thick, purple skin and soft, sweet white flesh, similar in taste to a lychee.

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In order to make a martini out of them, I followed a very simple formula similar to a Lychee Martini.

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Take a tin of mangoosteen (you can find them in specialist Asian supermarkets), then make the martini as follows (you can alter it to taste):

1 dash sweet vermouth
3 measures of gin or vodka
3 measures of mangoosteen syrup
Mangoosteen pieces on a toothpick to garnish

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It’s sweet and not as strong as a full martini.

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Did I mention I love mangoosteens?

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You could even have them as an accompaniment to a normal martini.

The Lemon and Lime Drop Martini

Have you ever had a lemon drop martini? It’s the inspiration for this drink. I just altered the recipe slightly.

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You will need:

Gin or vodka (vodka is probably better)
Sweet vermouth
Lemons and limes (one each for the number of drinks you want to make)
Honey
Sprite (yes, sprite)

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I’m on holiday in the Mediterranean; a time for relaxation and spending quality time with friends.

A very important part of this holiday time is drink o’clock. Whatever you’ve spent your day doing, be it history, culture, hiking, watersports or simply lying by the pool, I crave the ceremonial time at sunset when everyone showers off the sea salt, chlorine or sweat and puts on their evening wear, in preparation for a drink followed by dinner. It’s my favourite part of the day.

My friend wanted to try an alternative to a martini so I started wracking my brain. She likes lemons and limes so I thought back to time spent in New York, a time when I first encountered the Lemon Drop Martini. This is basically a strong vodka drink with the addition of lemon juice and sugar.

I didn’t have all the ingredients available to make a classic lemon drop martini so I started to think something up. I could have trekked around the local shops for the right stuff but I’m on holiday! I also wanted to put to use the lovely limes we had to hand.

We didn’t have any sugar, which is an important lemon drop ingredient, but we did have some Greek honey, so I came up with a plan which I hoped had some real local spin to it.

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Low hanging fruit

Juice a lemon and a lime for every martini you want to make.

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For every drink add 2.5 teaspoons of honey to a cup, then add the same amount of hot water to melt it.

Stir the honey mixture until the honey has dissolved, then add the lemon and lime juice. Stir them and chill, either in the fridge for a few hours or the freezer if you’re pushed for time.

When drink o’clock happens, add a dash of sweet vermouth to a chilled martini glass.

Top up half way with the honey lime and lemon juice.

Add a measure or two of gin/vodka.

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Top up with sprite to add some effervescence.

Garnish with lemon and/or lime peel, then serve it before it warms up.

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Yiamas!

The Apple Martini (aka the Appletini)

This drink, the apple martini, took several attempts (and a strong liver) to perfect.

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My first recipe simply involved sour apple spirit (there are several brands) mixed with vodka (stored for at least a day in the freezer) garnished with an apple slice.

2 parts sour apple spirit
4-5 parts vodka
Apple slice

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While visually appealing with its clear green hue, I thought its chemical flavour was too strong and did not do justice to the fruit. I wanted a more natural apple taste. I also thought I could do more with the garnish.

So, after a few different experiments, I came up with the following:

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Thinly slice a green apple into round slivers, one for each of the martinis you intend to make. Try to make them as thin as possible so they are flexible, almost like paper, although this is difficult without breaking them.

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Cover both sides of the slices in sugar and set aside in the fridge, ideally for half an hour or more. If you know how to crystallise fruit this might be a good way to do it as well.

Chop up the rest of the apple into small chunks, discarding the core.

Put a squeeze of honey (around 1-2 tsp) into a Pyrex bowl and add around 30ml of boiling water. Stir until the honey dissolves.

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Add the apple, then add around 50ml sour apple spirit.

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Use a hand blender to turn the mixture into a small, highly alcoholic smoothie.

Take a martini glass from the freezer, then add the following in order:

1 measure sweet vermouth (or to taste)
2 measures of the smoothie (or to taste)
2-3 measures of vodka (or to taste)

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How you garnish the martini is up to you.

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But if you serve the slice of sugar-apple floating on the drink you might want to provide your drinkers with chopsticks or some other means of removing the slice elegantly from the glass.

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It’s a very sweet martini.

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And the combination of sugar and alcohol give it quite an explosive quality with a potentially devastating impact.

You have been warned!

Peartini

I’ve posted about this before but I’m going to do it again as I changed the garnish and the company.

The peartini is very easy. My rough recipe is as follows:

1 part vermouth
2.5 parts gin
3 parts pear juice from a tin
Garnish with one or two pear slices

And adjust the measurements to taste. It’s not really set in stone.

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It’s sweet and not as strong as a full martini, so it’s a nice after dinner drink instead of a dessert (some people might think that sacrilegious which I accept – I don’t eat many desserts).

For the garnish, slice the pear to shape, then cut a small insertion in the thick end so that it can fit onto the glass.

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And there you go.

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All you need now is some company.

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