Sunday, 26 October 2014

Recipe: Earl Grey Gin Sours

I love gin and I love a good cocktail. When I was a student, I worked in a number of pubs and bars, but it wasn't until I started working for a boutique hotel with an award winning cocktail bar that I really began to understand what a "good" drink was.

The best bit about that job was the beautiful food and good drinks, all at a discount. We were actively encouraged to go to training and tasting sessions (even those of us not behind the bar) so that we knew what we were selling - and that's when my love of gin began.

Having never really been a fan of sugary drinks (well done mum and dad), it's not a surprise that I'm a fan of a gin cocktail. I love a good 'classic' - a Prohibition era cocktail where good quality spirits are the star, rather than fruity flavour combinations.

I don't know why, but until I made a batch of Earl Grey Gin, I'd never had a gin sour. Sours don't tend to be on menus (other than the occasional Whiskey sour) but I was a big fan for a while - and still am - of an Amaretto sour. I am now hooked.
Earl Grey Gin Sours

25ml sugar syrup
25ml lemon juice
Lemon or orange peel twists to serve

Half fill a cocktail shaker (or jam jar, or coffee flask) with ice cubes, add in the ingredients.
Fill a small tumbler with ice.
Shake your shaker for 20 seconds. The key to shaking cocktails is to get the ingredients to hit each end of your shaker, traveling through the ice on the way there to chill them quickly, so you're aiming for an up and down, or forwards and backwards motion. 
Strain the liquid (ie, pour out the cocktail, leaving the ice cubes behind) into your serving glass.
Enjoy, with a twist of orange or lemon to garnish.
Flamingo glass optional...

Recipe: Earl Grey Gin

I drink a lot of tea. It's good for you - rehydrating, relaxing and comforting. I also drink a lot of gin. That's good for you too - especially if you drink it with tonic to keep the mosquitoes at bay.

My love for Earl Grey Tea continues, and seeing as I have been particularly embracing the gin this year, I thought I'd finally get round to trying an Earl Grey gin infusion. This is inspired by a cocktail class I went to a few years ago at Eteaket.
Earl Grey Gin.

250ml Gin
10g Earl Grey Tea leaves

Place the gin and the tea leaves in a jam jar or similar airtight container, and leave to infuse for about ten hours (or overnight). Upend the jar occasionally, to mix the flavours around.
Strain to remove the leaves, and pour into a clean presentation bottle for storage.

You can use tea bags, but loose tea tends to be a slightly higher quality. Don't worry about using your fancy stuff for this - common garden gin will do the trick.

Booze not your bag? What about an Earl Grey Tea loaf cake instead...

Recipe: Sugar Syrup

I've started experimenting with making cocktails at home, after a fair few years hiatus from making them behind a bar. Generally I like a simple classic cocktail, which makes recreating them easy - as long as you can get the ingredients.

One of the ingredients a lot of cocktails use is a sugar syrup. You can buy it - it's usually called Gomme - but to be honest, making it at home is a lot easier when you're having an impromptu play around, and it's so much cheaper.

100ml water
200ml caster sugar

Place the sugar and water into a large saucepan, and warm on a medium heat. Stir gently until the sugar is dissolved and the liquid begins to simmer.
Remove from the heat, and pour into a sterilised jam jar or glass bottle.
Allow to cool before use.

You can experiment with the sugars - dark sugar works really well with a rum cocktail for example, but will change the colour of your cocktail if it's a paler liquid.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Edinburgh: St Bernard's Well

There's a quote somewhere about a weekend well spent means a week of content. I agree with that one - I am a rather big fan of getting out, seeing some greenery, or feeling like I've achieved something (even if that achievement is the entire box set of Broadchurch in one weekend. Ahem).

Doors Open Day is the last weekend of September in Edinburgh. It's such a good opportunity to have a nosey around some of the most stunning buildings in the city - most of which are not usually open to the public. I decided on the Sunday morning that I'd drag myself out the house before the rain started, and potter over to Stockbridge to see the newly renovated St Bernard's Well.

St Bernard's Well lies between Stockbridge and Dean Village - two affluent city centre suburbs joined by the Water of Leith walkway. It's such a lovely short stroll, dipping down a side street, under the bridge, and onto the path that runs between the two. The Well was discovered by two boys fishing in the 1750s back when the area was part of the land belonging to the St Bernard's Estate, far outside of the city limits. The current well house, built in 1789, tapped in to the reputation of the well as a healing source and encouraged wealthy tourists to come, sit, drink the waters and rest for a while. The Well, combined with the beautiful statue of Hygieia, was part of Edinburgh's Twelve Monuments project. It was so lovely to sneak in and see it restored and working.