Tuesday 28 October 2014

Halloween cocktails

Bobbing for Apples
Last time I featured some Halloween cocktails they were for a menu I devised for the Candlelight Club Halloween Ball and I played to the gallery more than usual with some visual effects, such as the black and red bands in the Black Widow.

This time our Halloween cocktail list has been put together by Brian Silva, formerly of the Connaught and Rules. Brian’s taste in cocktails is classic: he doesn’t go in for zany effects, nor does he seem keen on making his own exotic infusions, tinctures or flavoured syrups, but sticks to the barman’s essential job of combining commercially available ingredients to exquisite and elegant alchemical effect.

His Bobbing for Apples cocktail is, at heart, a French 75 with added apple juice. It doesn’t sound like a lot of apple juice but it really is enough to make itself felt without turning the drink into a long, fruity number.

Bobbing for Apples
25ml gin
25ml apple juice
15ml lemon juice
5ml gomme syrup
Sparkling wine
Apricot eau de vie mist

Shake the first four ingredients with ice and strain into a coupette. Top with sparkling wine and spray a dusting of apricot eau de vie on the top. If you lack either the eau de vie or a mister, I have experimented with adding 5ml of apricot brandy, which has a nice effect. In any case you may have to adjust the amount of syrup depending on how sweet your apple juice is.

Bermuda Triangle
The Bermuda Triangle is a name with several different recipes attached to it. One version includes peach schnapps, another uses a mix of orange juice and cranberry juice, but Brian’s version is simpler, essentially just rum, orange juice and lime juice. As a Halloween concession he suggested adding a dash of grenadine at the end—it will sink to the bottom, creating a blood-red layer than bleeds upwards. (The other rum drink in the running was, of course, the Zombie, essentially rum, pineapple juice and apricot brandy, although recipes can be very complicated with perhaps three different rums involved.)

Bermuda Triangle
50ml golden rum
3 lime wedges
Orange juice
Dash of grenadine

First squeeze three lime wedges into a glass (“not two, not four, but three” Brian’s recipe admonishes). Add the rum, then ice, then top with orange juice and stir, adding the grenadine at the end. The recipe doesn’t specify what happens to the lime wedges once squeezed but I dropped them into the glass. They end up looking a bit like antediluvian sea beasts rising from the murky depths…

Autumn Sour
The autumn sour is an interesting cocktail in that it doesn’t really have a spirit base, simply combining two liqueurs with lemon juice to balance the sweetness and egg white for texture—so it is not that strong as cocktails go. Which is just as well, as it is quite moreish.

Autumn Sour
35ml amaretto
15ml apricot brandy
25ml lemon juice
White of an egg

Shake all ingredients vigorously with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. The egg white gives a silky texture and a pleasing foam at the top. The amaretto and apricot are a natural partnership (the almond-flavoured amaretto is in fact sometimes made from apricot stones) and the lemon juice balances the sweetness.

And what Halloween classic cocktail menu would be complete without the Corpse Reviver No.2,* originally equal parts gin, triple sec, lemon juice and Kina Lillet, with a dash or rinse of absinthe? Kina Lillet, with a bitterness from quinine, is no longer made and most people use Lillet Blanc instead, but I always find that this produces too sweet and orangey a cocktail; in the past I have tried cutting the triple sec and boosting the gin. Last time I had decided that the traditional proportions worked OK if you used Noilly Prat dry vermouth instead, but my current thinking is to use Cocchi Americano instead, which is an Italian aromatised wine with a distinctive bitterness and probably a lot like Kina Lillet was. I was interested to learn that Brian uses Cocchi as well.

Corpse Reviver No.2
Corpse Reviver No.2
25ml gin
25ml triple sec
25m lemon juice
25ml Cocchi Americano
Dash of absinthe

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a strip of lemon peel or a maraschino cherry.

* Despite the gruesomeness of the name, it is actually intended to denote a pick-me-up: this cocktail is designed as something you might drink the morning after the night before (remember, drink responsibly, folks!). In case you’re wondering what the Corpse Reviver No.1 is, The 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book gives the recipe as ¼ part Italian (sweet red) vermouth, ¼ part calvados and ½ part brandy, commenting that it is “to be taken before 11am or whenever steam and energy are needed”. Yes, they were pretty hardcore in those days. Since it is apparently National Calvados Week at the moment, perhaps we should all give this a try. Meanwhile there is another Corpse Reviver recipe that combines 1½ parts brandy with 1 part crème de menthe and ½ part Fernet Branca, which minty blast would certainly be an eye-opener. If you want something a little gentler, the Café Royal Cocktail Book (1937) combines equal parts brandy, orange juice and lemon juice with a couple of dashes of grenadine, all topped up with Champagne. Which sounds rather nice…

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