Ten classic drinks to make at home
Drinking at home is not a guilty activity. Fixing yourself a cocktail, when you do it well, is all about giving yourself the same love and care as you would a dear guest. Many people often save the good gin at home for when a friend comes over, but that’s a waste of life. Dearest reader, you are utterly worth it. Treat yourself.
Some of you out there might think there is not much to the humble gin and tonic. I disagree. The perfect G&T is a thing of beauty, a failed attempt is a dashed promise mixed with a broken heart served by a crooked hand. What differs the two? There are five elements. Get them all lined up like happy little drinking ducks and you’re sitting pretty. Mess them up and your life will forever be bound in shallows and miseries. Well at least cocktail hour will be.
What are these five elements I hear you ask?
Glass. This one isn’t too tough – something with a fine lip and a suitable volume (something around 300 ml range is what you’re looking for) but look, if all you can manage is a chipped mug at least you’re not drinking from your cupped hands.
Ice. Never underestimate the power of ice, you want some good-sized ice and you want lots of it. Pack those cool cats right in there.
Gin. Well, obviously. That’s the whole game, right? Might I suggest a splash of your favourite local boutique gin? Archie Rose you say? Well alrighty then! At the moment I’m drinking Archie Rose Smoked Gin – if you’re lucky enough to have one of those in your paws then might I suggest the following:
Tonic. good one. If, like me, you’re drinking some Smoked Gin please join me in mixing it with Strangelove Dirty Tonic. It’s a great Australian mixer – hailing from Byron Bay – these bad boys are as easy on the eye as they are the tongue.
Garnish. WELL. We’ve had this chat before haven’t we? But let’s revisit it, because when is talking about fruit not fun? In the case of Smoked Gin I’m currently enjoying it with some ruby red grapefruit and a sprig of thyme. The sweet soft acids of the grapefruit gives a tropical lilt to the earthy leaf-litter notes of this end of summer gin. The garden variety thyme reinforces the herbal, weedy notes of the funky native thyme. What a G&T. But that’s just one roadmap. The path to true happiness lies in listening to your heart and following it. So try every gin, pair them with all available tonics, and experiment with garnish. The important thing is the ratio. And that is dependent on you too. For me I like equal parts. If I’m feeling abstemious, I’ll lean towards a 1:2 ratio. If your nerves need calming a 2:1 ratio is very effective. The important thing you’ll learn perfecting your own ideal G&T is not only to listen to and honour your every whim, but also how to combine things in a glass and use a jigger. And that’s the first step. The great thing about mastering the G&T? You just mastered a bunch of other mixed drinks, the world of the built drink. A built drink is just a few measured ingredients combined in a glass and given a stir. What could be easier? Why not give these drinks a try?
We’re stepping things up a notch here. We’re learning how to stir. And yes, yes, I know, you’ve mixed a salad how hard can a cocktail be? There is an art to the technique – you want to slide the convex side of the spoon around the inside of a mixing glass, carefully dragging the ice with you as you go. Place the mixing spoon between your index and ring fingers – using your fingers in two pairs – your forefinger and index and your ring and pinkie. Using the latter pair push the spoon and the former pull the spoon. It’ll take a bit of practice, but a touch of care, some determination and elbow grease and you’ll get there.
That’s the technique, but what’s the recipe? Again, unfortunately, only you can truly tell me what your palate desires. But I’ll give you a good jumping board from where you can start to experiment and you can make up your own mind. Dry? Wet? Dirty? Twist? Switch it up and see what your persuasion is.
- 50ml Archie Rose gin or vodka
- 10ml good quality dry vermouth
- garnish – a twist of some sort of citrus peel – cut a sliver of the peel (no pith please) from a citrus fruit (use a peeler for an easy hack), give it a trim if like me you subscribe to conformity. After the chilling and dilution of your chosen ratio, gently express the oils across the surface of the drink.
Lean back, on an outdoor chair in the sunset if you can, sip gently and slowly. Feel the weight of the ice-cold liquid on your tongue. Relish in the most luxury you can have within your own home. I do this on occasion – when I feel the need to seriously unwind. I take myself on a little trip to Martini Island. Even when you’re sitting on those shores alone, you’re still in paradise.
You know the great thing about mastering the Martini? You also just nailed a bunch of stirred drinks. The rest is in the recipes. And here they are:
So that leads to the last major cocktail skill: shaking. Shaking is the dark art of the cocktail world. What happens inside that shaker is a multitude of things. The elements combine, in double time. They join in unholy matrimony, they dilute, they chill, and they aerate. The drink is given a new agency. And so are you. Remember, when shaking you’re aiming to wake that drink up, not rock it to sleep. The one bit of advice to take on board when learning to shake is this: shake harder than you think is possible. Put your back into it, put your arm into it. Go hard and stay home.
Let’s start with a great drink to make at home. Welcome to the Southside. I like to call it the thinking drinkers’ Mojito. Gin. Mint. Lime. Sugar. Shaken harder and faster than you thought possible. Fine strained (use a tea strainer or small sieve if you don’t have a cocktail strainer) Drink with intent while the drink is alive. Show your friends your new-found skill, be cooler than your average bear.
- 60ml Archie Rose Signature Dry Gin
- 30ml lime juice
- 15ml sugar syrup
- 8-12 mint leaves
Combine all the ingredients with ice in a shaker. Shake really hard and fast, fine strain into a coupette.
When you have mastered your shaking game, give these drinks a try: