Gourmet Secrets by Karen Anand: The rainy-day cocktail for the parched soul
It’s raining cocktails nowadays. With the number of bars opening, cocktails seems to have moved out of the realm of sweet, disguised alcohol with little umbrellas that girls love, to more serious concoctions that even spirited drinkers are happy to order.
The 2 cocktails that are making waves nowadays are Aperol Spritz and the Martini in all its forms. Spritz has become popular in the last few years on the international circuit because of the marketing blitz that Campari and Aperol have been doing. The difference between them is that Campari is a bit more ruby red in colour and Aperol is slightly more orange and not as bitter. They are in fact brother and sister in the same family. The origin of the Spritz is unknown but it is said to have been invented by Austrian soldiers when the Veneto region was part of the Hapsburg Empire. Soldiers were not used to the alcohol levels of wine in Venetian bars and therefore asked to spray (spritzen) local wines with water and later in the 1900s with carbonated water. The traditional Spritz Veneziano is still made with Aperol or Campari, still white wine and sparkling water. However, all over Italy, the recipe has now evolved into a much more sophisticated drink where Aperol or Campari is topped with Prosecco and a dash of sparkling water served over ice with a slice of orange or olives
Shaken, not stirred
The classic martini is a cocktail made simply with gin and vermouth with one to three olives and a twist of lemon zest. Again, the origins are uncertain but it may have started in the mid 19th century and named after Italian vermouth maker Alessandro Martini. Another theory is that it was named after a cocktail called Martinez from a hotel in San Francisco. Martini definitely became more popular during prohibition in the US and is really considered a cocktail Icon. However respect for the classic doesn’t dampen an eagerness to experiment. In the last few years mixologists have gone wild with variations from the appletini, chocolate martini, espresso martini, a dozen or so with fruit, flowers and even a breakfast one with marmalade. And of course, there are famous martini drinkers like James Bond who popularised the drink in his famous line ‘shaken, not stirred’ line. Bond’s is made with vodka not gin.
I was recently at the swanky new Conrad Bangalore where they have the most stunning poolside bar called Tiamo. With balmy days and cool evenings, Bangalore is the perfect place for al fresco dining and drinking. Tiamo serves Mediterranean Bistro Classics on the deck by the edge of the infinity pool overlooking Ulsoor Lake and a range of lovely easy drinking cocktails. These are 3 classics which they do exceedingly well and which you can do at home. The Spritz is a twist on the Venetian drink made with Campari or Aperol and prosecco. The Appletini is a refreshing version of the Martini and the Easy being Green a refreshing aperitif for whisky drinkers.
Chunks of green apple – muddled in a shaker
20ml lemon juice
20 ml green apple syrup
60 ml vodka
Shaken with ice and strained into a Martini glass.
Garnish with green apple.
45 ml of Aperol
Add ice cubes in a white wine glass.
Top up with Prosecco .
Garnish with orange slice.
Easy Being Green
10 ml Monin mint syrup
10 ml lime juice
20 ml sugar syrup
60 ml Jameson whisky
4 chunks of honey dew melon, green apple, cucumber, muddled in a cocktail shaker and shaken well with ice
Serve in an old fashioned glass with lots of ice.
Garnish with cucumber, mint sprig and green apple slice.
If you would like to have a go yourself, it’s not as hard as you think. This is what you’ll need .
Measure / Jigger
The first thing any aspiring bartender should acquire is a measure (jigger). Too many professional bartenders regard the jigger as a tool for the novice -their guesswork results in many delicate cocktails being ruined.
The shaker is the second most important piece of equipment for a bartender. The Boston shaker, half stainless steel, half glass is great for a stylish performance, but the more orthodox shaker with the inbuilt strainer and twist off cap works equally well.
The barspoon, with its long spiralling handle, is useful for stirring drinks and the gently pouring required for layered drinks. The ‘wrong’, flat end can be used for muddling or crushing herbs etc
The bartender’s friend is a useful implement that removes corks and bottle caps and opens cans.
A muddler is a wooden pestle for mixing or crushing sugar cube, limes and herbs, etc
A mixing glass with strainer is used for making drinks that are stirred not shaken
Other useful but not essential accessories are an ice bucket, ice tongs and a citrus squeezer. There are five basic ways of creating a cocktail: building, blending, shaking, stirring over ice and layering. Whichever method you are using, accurately measure the ingredients first to get that all-important balance of tastes right. If you would rather try guesswork, just see how much practice it takes to get the quantity right to fill the glass exactly - I still have problems in that department!
Author Bio: Culinary expert and explorer Karen Anand has been writing extensively on the subject of food and wine for 30 years. Apart from having her own brand of gourmet food products, she has anchored top rated TV shows, run a successful chain of food stores, founded the hugely successful Farmers Markets, and worked as restaurant consultant for international projects, among other things. Her latest passion is food tours, a totally curated experience which Karen herself accompanies, the first of which was to Italy.
This is a fortnightly column. The next edition will appear on August 11
From HT Brunch, August 4, 2019
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