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Gin Cocktail

Gin Cocktail

Gin Cocktail rating 4.5
Base Spirit: Genever
Style: Classic/ Vintage

A close relation to the Martinez, and so by default also the Martini, this cocktail is adapted from one of the oldest known cocktail recipes. Some, including Salvatore Calabrese, say this recipe dates back to 1824, coincidentally the same year Dr Siegert created Angostura Bitters. However, the first known recipe appears in Jerry Thomas’ 1862 The Bartender's Guide as follows: "Gin Cocktail (use small bar glass) 3 or 4 dashes gum syrup 2 dashes bitters (Bogart's) [it’s widely accepted that he meant Boker’s Bitters] 1 wine-glass of gin 1 or 2 dashes of Curacao 1 small piece lemon peel; fill one-third full of fine ice shake well, and strain in a glass" Under this recipe he goes on to say "Fancy Gin Cocktail – This drink is made the same as the gin cocktail, except that it is strained in a fancy wine-glass and a piece of lemon peel thrown on top, and the edge of the glass moistened with lemon." There are conflicting claims as to what constitutes a “Fancy” or “Improved” Gin Cocktail as opposed to a bog-standard “Gin Cocktail”, some stating it’s the style of glass used and others the inclusion of either lemon peel and or orange curaçao. Incidentally, some versions of this recipe suggest switching absinthe for curaçao. Rather than substituting we recommend adding a couple of dashes of absinthe in addition to curacao, or alternatively, absinthe rinsing the glass before mixing the drink. Gin, sugar and bitters can make for a perfectly delicious cocktail without the addition of either curaçao or absinthe – a combination best known as a ‘Gin Old Fashioned’.

Mai Tai (Trader Vic's) Cocktail

Mai Tai (Trader Vic's) Cocktail

Mai Tai (Trader Vic's) Cocktail rating 4.5
Base Spirit: Rum Aged
Style: Classic/ Vintage

In 1934, Victor Jules Bergeron, or Trader Vic as he became known, opened his first restaurant in Oakland, San Francisco. He served Polynesian food with a mix of Chinese, French and American dishes cooked in wood-fired ovens. But he is best known for the rum based cocktails he created. One evening, in 1944, he tested a new drink on two friends from Tahiti, Ham and Carrie Guild. After the first sip, Carrie is said to have exclaimed, "mai tai-roa aé", which in Tahitian means ‘out of this world - the best!’. So Bergeron named his drink the Mai Tai. The original Mai Tai was based on 17 year old Jamaican J.Wray & Nephew rum, which Vic in his own guide describes as being “surprisingly golden in colour, medium bodied, but with the rich pungent flavour particular to the Jamaican blends”. Vic states he used “rock candy” syrup, an old term for the type of strong sugar syrup we prescribe - two parts sugar to one part water. The term 'rock candy' referred to the fact that you could dangle a piece of string in the syrup to encourage crystallisation and make rock candy. When supplies of the Jamaican 17-year-old rum dwindled, Vic started using a combination of dark Jamaican rum and Martinique rum to achieve the desired flavour. Sheer demand in his chain of restaurants later necessitated the introduction of a Mai Tai pre-mix (still available from tradervics.com). Others, particularly Ernest Raymond Beaumont-Gantt, then owner of a Hollywood bar called Don the Beachcomber’s, have also laid claim to the creation of this drink. But as Vic says in his own Bartender’s Guide, “Anybody who says I didn’t create this drink is a dirty stinker.” This recipe is adapted from Victor Bergeron’s ‘Trader Vic’s Bartender’s Guide’ (1972 revised edition), the original 1944 formula is: 2 ounces of 17-year old J. Wray & Nephew Rum Juice from one fresh lime 1/2 ounce Holland DeKuyper Orange Curacao 1/4 ounce Trader Vic's Rock Candy Syrup 1/2 ounce French Garier Orgeat Syrup Shake vigorously over shaved ice and garnish with a mint sprig.

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