Article by Chris Hall, Matt Cottom, Douglas McCaffrey and Craig Heap
continued from part 1
The Margarita is a stone cold classic. It’s got pedigree. Tradition. It’s been around so long that no-one knows who came up with it. Most people seem to agree that it surfaced in Mexico during the 1940s and began to wind its seductive way into popular culture. There are claims that it derives from the American Prohibition cocktail the ‘Daisy’ (Margarita means Daisy in Spanish) with the Brandy replaced by Tequila.
I like this story because it evokes an image of hundreds of thirsty Americans flooding over the southern border, in search of sweet, sweet liquor and making do with the local speciality. Others claim that it was made by a Texan bartender for singer Peggy Lee (ask your Dad).
However it came into being, the Margarita has an elegant simplicity that is at the core of its many variants. Below is the International Bartenders Association (Best. Association. Ever.) recipe for the classic Margarita:
Rub the rim of the glass with the lime slice to make the salt stick to it. Shake the other ingredients with ice, then carefully pour into the glass (taking care not to dislodge any salt). Garnish and serve over ice.
Simplicity itself, although the rimming (hurhurhurhur) can be awkward. It is best to pour salt into a saucer or plate and dip the wetted rim in to coat it evenly. Give the base of the glass a bit of a tap to get rid of excess.
My own preference is to use Triple Sec as opposed to Cointreau, I feel it gives a more pleasant result. Also, I like to have the minimum amount of salt possible on the glass. Everyone will have their own way of making a Margarita. The one I go for is the half and half Tequila and Triple Sec mixture and as much lime juice as you can squeeze out of one of the little green bastards. Sweet and sharp with a clean after-taste, the Margarita can win over even the most ardent of Tequila nay-sayers.
Most variant Margaritas will replace the orange liqueur with another ingredient. Limoncello makes for a tart, bitter citrus experience whilst Blue Curacao will make a bright blue, intensely sweet cocktail. I’ve a mind to try swapping in Midori this summer and enjoying something the colour of Kryptonite. The possibilities are endless.
Margaritas are my favourite summer cocktail as they lack the pretentiousness of other drinks. Three core ingredients that come together quickly and create a clean, crisp and refreshing drink. There’s no messing about with muddling sugar and mint, you don’t need a degree in chemistry or a steady hand. Even the rimming (still funny – I’m 27) is an absolute breeze once your plate of salt is set up and your limes are cut. Do yourself a favour. If the sun ever returns to our fair shores and the BBQ-fever strikes, consider the Margarita for your non-burger flipping hand.
Alright, simmer down at the back there. I’m well aware a jug of Pimm’s is neither the epitome of cool, nor the quickest thing to put together – you have to massacre half a grocery to properly make it. But, when you make it right, you have to admit it’s damned impressive. Everything has its place, and the Pimm’s jug is the ideal summer beverage for when your partner’s parents, the neighbours, the parish priest, your MP – whoever – come to visit.
It’s one made for social sharing, you get all of your five-a-day from just looking at it, and the effort taken to make it is always appreciated by all. It kills a thirst and makes you look classy. All you need is some cucumber sandwiches and the priest will immediately marry you to your partner with her parents’ blessing while the neighbours applaud and the MP fantasises about having a scandalous affair with you, right there and then on the patio. What other drink can do all that?
Serve in a large jug (adjust the Pimm’s and lemonade in accordance with the jug. Remember, it’s 1 part Pimm’s to 3 parts lemonade)
Pour into highball glasses over ice, and decorate with a slices of lemon and/or strawberries.
Dirty Vodka Martini
You know that heat? The really, really hot heat? The heat where you can’t move, can’t think and can’t eat? The problem with that heat is, sooner or later, you’ve had so much that the drink will kill you if you don’t eat – but it’s too hot to eat, and too hot not to drink. What to do?
The answer is simple: you need an aperitif. When you have to build up a hunger, no matter the weather, and keep drinking in style, you need a Dirty Vodka Martini.
So-called because it is made with olive brine (yes, the off-colour liquid your olives float in), the DVM is quick to make, cooling, and like a mini-lunch in a glass. Necking the salty liquid contents of the olive jar may sound revolting, but when mixed with vodka and vermouth it is genuinely delicious. It’s guaranteed to trick your stomach into wanting solid food.
It can be made with gin, but for my palate there’s too much of taste clash between the botanicals and the brine. The inclusion of chilled vodka gives it a sharp clarity which helps whet that appetite.
50ml ice cold vodka
1 tablespoon dry vermouth
2 tablespoons olive brine
3 olives on a stick
Shake the liquid ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker, strain into a chilled martini glass, add the olives and eat up.
Corn and Oil
Decadence, sleaze and excess distilled into an oozing, soothing, tongue-titillating liquid form. You won’t find Corn and Oil in most cocktail books, and a rudimentary search of the Internet brings up recipes with warnings of how hard it is to make. This is codswallop. Corn and Oil is easy to make: the problem is that it’s so good people quickly develop their own exactingly precise, personal preference.
The (approximate) recipe is:
¼ – ½ shot of velvet falernum
2 – 3 dashes of Angostura bitters
Squeeze of lime
The ingredients themselves are immutable, and while the volumes are more or less similar, an extra dash of bitters or a few more millimetres of falernum can make the difference between mouth-gasm and ‘meh’.
Velvet falernum is a lime liqueur, and quite sweet, so the bitters give balance. It’s like the vermouth in a martini; everyone has their own view on how much is right. It’s bloody hard to find, but find it you must. You will use so little of it and the longevity of the drink means it will last forever. Unless you really like caning Corn and Oils, but you would need to drink 4 bottles of rum to see the end of your falernum.
As to the rum, more or less each recipe you will find will say you must use this rum. Again, that’s just personal preference. They usually say the darker the rum, the better, but I’ve had better results with Mount Gay Eclipse (a golden rum) than Old Vatted Demerara (very dark). Go explore and see what you like, though I would advise against a white rum (please do prove me wrong and let me know, though).
You may be worried that Corn and Oil is not a suitable drink to serve to a guest, given how subjective it is. Don’t worry. Everyone’s first is amazing (most people have never had velvet falernum, so it’s always a new experience); after you’ve opened the door for them, let them go on their own journey of self-discovery to find out how they like their Corn and Oil. Meanwhile, you swagger off like some mystical cocktail-guru.