There is a certain amount of kudos to be had from handing over a beautifully crafted and garnished cocktail to guests when they come over. Of course, the idea is to make it look simple, but the truth is there is a bit of preparation involved to carry this off.
All great cocktail bars get the prep right to ensure a beautiful drink is handed over their bar fast, and it’s no different at home.
Here are some wonderful drinks for the festive season that you can pull off yourself.
What you’ll need:
- A shaker
- Loads of ice
- Sugar syrup (see prep below)
The Basil Smash
On a hot sweltering day, nothing beats a basil smash. It’s alluring and packs a super fresh kick. The beauty of this smash is that you can sub out the basil and just use whatever fruit you have on hand.
50ml Ounce Signature Gin
15ml elderflower liqueur (a great addition, but don’t sweat it if you don’t have it)
15ml lemon (roughly quarter of a lemon)
6 fresh basil leaves (approx)
2 slices of cucumber plus ribbons for garnish
Method: Muddle your slices of cucumber in the bottom of your shaker tin, throw in the basil leaves whole, add the gin, elderflower, lemon and a scoop of ice. A quick fast shake is all it takes, and then pour the liquid into a tall glass with ice.
Garnish: To finish it off, gently whip a small sprig of basil across your glass (to wake it up), pop it in the top to look good, then add some beautifully peeled cucumber ribbons.
This is refreshing and citrusy, a sparkling gin cocktail made for raising a glass in celebration. It’s great as an aperitif, as the bubbles do their magic to lift any mood.
30ml gin (a floral gin, such as Applewood’s Signature Gin, works best)
15ml sugar syrup (see below for prep)
15ml lemon juice
Topped with Champagne or sparkling white wine
Method: Add gin, sugar syrup and lemon juice to a shaker and give a good hard shake. Pour into a Champagne glass (without ice) and top up with bubbles.
Garnish: Fresh lemon twist.
We serve a shipload of these at Hains & Co. It’s a bar favourite, and it’s well worth investing in a good bottle of apricot brandy to see you through summer. The lemon cuts through the sweetness of the sloe gin and apricot brandy to create a beautifully balanced drink. Pairs well with salty snacks.
20ml sloe gin (Elephant Sloe is delicious and rich)
20ml apricot brandy or liqueur (try Massenez Liqueur D’Abricot)
20ml lime juice (a bit over half a lime)
20ml water (very important for the balance)
Method: Add all ingredients in a shaker and shake hard. Pour into a Champagne saucer or martini glass, without ice.
Garnish: Fresh lime peel or apricot wedge.
Gin Spritz Jug for the masses
You’ll fall hard for the ease of this simple gin jug (say that quickly!). When you have guests over, it frees you up to flit around enjoying your summer evening.
(These are the ratios for a litre – adjust to suit your vessel size.)
200ml gin (a classic London Dry like Never Never Triple Juniper)
200ml vermouth (we like Maidenii Classic)
Method: Simply pour all ingredients in your jug over lots of ice and give it a stir.
Garnish: Throw in fresh mint, strawberries, or fresh fruit from your back garden.
Tips to make it all look easy:
Sugar syrup: Don’t be put off, this is super simple to make. Just dissolve equal parts of sugar in water over slow heat. Bottle it and keep in your fridge for up to a month. To up the ante, infuse your water first with your favourite spice – ours is cassia bark, but things like ginger, mint and rhubarb work really well, too.
Get a shaker: It is worth investing in a shaker and, for the beginner, I’d suggest using the three-piece Cobbler shaker, which has all the bits you need without the need for a separate strainer. Just a word of caution – don’t close the lid too tight; once it chills, it can be impossible to open. Instead, hold the top and the bottom together and shake with two hands to keep sealed.
Preparation: Prepare your garnishes beforehand, juice your fruits, and have everything to hand so it is faster and easier to make your cocktails. And ensure you have plenty of ice – cocktails use a lot!
Be bold and enjoy. Here is to lifting spirits this summer.
Hains & Co, 23 Gilbert Place, Adelaide, is open from 4pm-2am every day except Christmas Day.
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