This is a blog I've been thinking of doing for a while. Any time, anyone compiles a top-whatever list they are asking for trouble. Opinions are subjective. The way I think a Mojito should be made, may differ from how someone else thinks it should be made. What I think is right, others think is wrong. That's life, and the world we live in. I like it that way. To paraphrase Groove Armada; "If everybody looked the same, we would get tired of looking at each other..."
Here's my top-five cocktails of the last 30 years. Recipes are mine and may have been adapted from the original. Photos have been stolen from the world-wide-inter-web.
Maybe I'm slightly biased here as I am well and truly 'gay' for all things Sam Ross. On this though, I think i may have a point. Sam came up with this drink in Milk & Honey NY around 2006 to utilise a fairly new staple in cocktail bars; ginger juice. Coupling this with honey, lemon and smokey whisky was something so simple, but so beautiful - and it hadn't been done before. Sam and the team at M&H NY make so many of these Sam is thinking of changing his name to "Penicillin Ross" by deed poll.
50ml Famous Grouse Scotch
20ml Ginger Juice (Sweetened)
20ml Honey Syrup (3:1)
20ml Lemon Juice
10ml Compass Box Peat Monster
Shaky shaky, serve on a large rock of ice. Garnish with Peat Monster float and candied ginger.
Probably the least surprising of them all from this list. To new bartenders this one sounds boring. I can already hear them say, 'Gin, lemon, sugar, blackberries? Whatever! I could of come up with that!' But really? Really could you come up with a drink so focused on classic mixology in a time where all "Cocktails" were either blended or blue? Dick Bradsell came up with this masterpiece in the 1980's at Fred's Bar in SoHo, London. I assume, based loosely around an 1860's Jerry Thomas recipe for a Gin Fix (Holland Gin, raspberries, lemon, sugar). This drink was the u-turn of how we bartend today. Making bartenders rely on balancing a drink with sweet and sour, rather than just throwing ingredients into a shaker, and hoping the drink comes out Ok.
50ml Plymouth Gin
20ml Lemon Juice
15ml Gomme (1:1)
15ml Creme de Mure (Replace with Blackberries if in season)
Build all ingredients in rocks glass. Float Mure.
3. "Precursory Cocktail"
Is it wrong of me to put one of my own drinks in this list? A little self-promotion never did any harm did it? Plus I'm really proud of this one. I came up with this in 2009 for the CLASS UK Bartender of the Year competition. I think of it as an improvement on the Blackthorne Cocktail (Sloe Gin, Rosso, Lemon, Bitters) from the 1910's. My love of cheap Tawny Port is no secret and I wanted a way to enjoy it as an aperitif. I'd like to think this cocktail as something you can enjoy any time of the day. Hence the name. It's pairing of no base spirit and two types of wine is also quite rare. No base spirit means low cost also. Great for your bars' bottom line. You will have to excuse my vanity in including this one.
35ml Tawny Port
35ml Antica Formula Vermouth
10ml Gomme (1:1)
5ml Lemon Juice
2 dash Fee's Orange Bitters
2 dash Angostura Bitters
Shake HARD, serve up. Garnish with oil of small lemon peel.
-NO PHOTO- (...sorry...)
2. "London Calling"
The only drink to appear on every M&H London menu, the London Calling was created around 2002 by Chris Jepson for a Drinks International magazine competition. Utilising London's, London dry gin (Beefeater), a little sugar and lemon. The drink comes alive when paired with the unfashionable dry sherry and bitters. Nutty, dry, fruity, this drink has it all. A grapefruit-peel garnish is contemporary and perfectly paired. Delicious!
40ml Beefeater Gin
10ml Lemon Juice
10ml Gomme (1:1)
15ml Tio Pepe Sherry (Fresh bottle please)
2 dash Fee's orange bitters
Shaky, shaky, serve up. Pink Grapefruit peel garnish.
1. Pharmaceutical Stimulant (AKA. Vodka Espresso)
Endearingly called the Espresso Martini in Australia, this is the second drink from Dick Bradsell to grace this list. Apparently first made with Tia Maria, apparently first made at Pharmacy (makes sense) in London, in the early 1990's. Dick has been interviewed saying it was also a creation of his at Fred's Bar. Regardless of the conflicting etymology this cocktail has to be one of the sexiest drinks of all time. Sleek, and all class. Perhaps Tequila instead of Vodka improves the cocktail? Perhaps Kim Beazley would of made a great prime-minister if he weren't as generously portioned? I don't care, I'm happy with the original. Hat's off to a drink that can be spawned from an ingredient like coffee so commonly found in bars, yet at the time, so rarely used.
5ml Gomme (1:1)
30ml Chilled Espresso
Shake in short, hard bursts to achieve maximum foam.