Make Cocktails at Home

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Category: Ingredients

Stir

Cheaters Guide to making Grenadine at home

Grenadine

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Sometimes it’s good to cheat…

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Flavoured syrups are a useful component to cocktails as they allow us to add flavour at the same time as adding the sugar that is necessary in many drinks to achieve sweet:sour balance.

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Unfortunately mass production and efforts to achieve economies of scale may be good for many of the big-brand syrup producer’s bottom lines but they have had a pretty negative effect on the quality of many of the products that reach the market. Spinning around to the ingredients list on a syrup bottle you’re more likely to find a long list of artificial flavours, colours, preservatives and other E numbers than anything resembling a simple combination of sugar, water and authentic flavouring. Grenadine is no exception.

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Originally made from pomegranates, modern store bought Grenadine is usually a bright red, artificial ‘red berry’ flavoured syrup sweetened with high fructose corn syrup and is commonly used to provide a berry flavour without the alcohol of berry shrubs or liqueurs.

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If we are going to make Grenadine to use at home then we want the original, proper pomegranate flavour; we could use real pomegranates but instead we are going to cheat and use pomegranate juice – its quick, easy, and still gives us the real fruity flavour we’re after.

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Cheaters Grenadine

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What you need

  • Pomegranate juice (we see note below)
  • Fine sugar

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Method

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Very quick and easy; to make the Grenadine all you need to do is mix equal amounts of the Pomegranate juice and fine sugar in a bowl until the mixture is completely dissolved. Once the mixture has dissolved you can transfer the syrup into a bottle and store it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it. It really is that easy!

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Sugar

Sugar…

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Juice

Followed by juice…

Stir

then Stir! Stir! Stir!

 

Grenadine

The finished product – Grenadine

 

 

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Note:

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The key to making sure you make good grenadine this way is to ensure that you are using pure pomegranate juice – you want to make sure that the juice is 100% pomegranate juice so make sure you get a decent product like POM Wonderful. It’s worth paying a little more for a much better flavour.

 

Sugar Syrup/Simple Syrup

Make Sugar Syrup at Home

Make Sugar Syrup at Home

Sugar Syrup (or Simple Syrup as it is also commonly known) is one of the most common sweetening ingredients used in cocktails and also one of the easiest to make at home.

 

Sugar is an essential ingredient in cocktails as it allows us to add a sweetener to bitter or sour ingredients and help create a balanced drink. As we are working with liquids when we make cocktails sugar syrup has the advantage of already being dissolved making it mix into our cocktails much faster/easier than if we were using granulated sugar, especially as we will be using ice in the majority of our drinks (I’m sure many of you realise it takes longer for sugar to dissolve in cold liquid than warm).

All about Ratios

 

The standard ratio for simple syrup is 1:1, meaning 1 part sugar to 1 part water. I prefer to make a syrup with a 2:1 sugar:water ratio with gives a slightly thicker, richer flavour; if you are going to make this then remember  to be careful when using it in cocktails as the extra sweetness means you will not need to add as much syrup as you would from the 1:1 ratio (more sugar = use less in drink).

Put simply, for a 1:1 simple syrup you’ll need 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar. It’s that easy.

 

You will need

  • Water
  • Sugar
  • A pot
  • An oven (a camp stove will probably do if you need to MacGyver it)

 

 

Pour your water into your pot and turn the heat on. Wait until the water is hot but not boiling and pour in your sugar -now stir stir stir!

You want to make sure the sugar dissolves completely but we don’t really want the mixture to boil so now is a good time to turn off the heat.

Continue stirring until the mixture is completely dissolved.

Leave your dissolved syrup to cool off and once cold pour it into a bottle, put a lid on and keep it in the fridge until you need to use it. Refrigerated and with a cap on the syrup should last a few months at least.

 

Done! I told you it was… simple (hahaha… I’m sorry)

 

We’ll have a look at making flavoured syrups (like Grenadine) an upcoming post…

 

Until then, happy mixing

 

// David

 

 

Bombay Sapphire

Essential ingredients for your home cocktail bar

Updated: 27 July 2016

We’ve had a look at essential equipment for your home bar, time to take a look at the essential ingredients that will go into your cocktails.

Essential ingredients

Working as a cocktail bartender gives you the luxury of entire back bars full of wonderful, exotic ingredients to taste and play around with. Home bars tend to be a bit less well-stocked, as most of us have little things like money/space/time/partners to get in the way, however if you try and stock a few main ingredients you should find that you can make a pretty good selection of good, classic cocktails.

 

Below I’m going to give you a list of the main ingredients for a well stocked home bar, and also the main ingredients that we’ll be using in the training lessons.  I’m going to start off as basic as possible to help keep your costs down, but we’ll go into some more extended lists in later posts as we progress and get a bit more creative. If you’ve already got some old stuff lying around at home feel free to make use of that to start.

So, without further ado,

 

Spirits

  • Vodka – any reasonable brand will do, but it’s worth paying a couple of dollars to avoid the bottom shelf and its associated industrial cleaner taste. I’m a fan of  of the Polish Wyborowa, great taste and value.
  • Gin – preferably a dry style such as a ‘London Dry’ Beefeater or Bombay Sapphire. We want to keep it simple (for now) so I’d avoid some of the newer brands with ‘exotic’ botanicals as those flavours will influence the cocktails too much.
  • Rum – white or light – A good light rum, something like Havana 3 Años (- if you’re from the USA and can’t buy anything Cuban,  Pampero, El Dorado, and Santa Teresa all make good products)
  • Tequila – white (blanco) – look for ‘100% Agave’ on the bottle; we want to avoid the nasty ‘mixtos’ brands and their associated taste of gasoline. El Jimador is good, standard Jose Cuervo or anything with a novelty sombrero, not so much.
  • Bourbon / American whiskey- Easiest to start with a Bourbon over a rye. Brand wise,  Makers Mark, Woodford Reserve are both good and easy to find.
  • Blended Scotch whisky – you may choose to sip on Single Malt (and who could blame you!) but a blend will be more cost effective for mixed drinks. Try Johnny Walker Black or Chivas Regal.
  • Brandy – try for a VS Cognac, look for a deal on any of the big brands (Hennessy, Remy Martin etc)

 

Liqueurs

  • Triple Sec/Orange liqueur. The orange flavour is very versatile and is used to flavour many popular cocktails. Cointreau is a nice premium brand but we’ll be using this liqueur quite a lot so don’t be scared to go for something cheaper, like Bol’s or Giffard Triple Sec.
  • Maraschino liqueur – an Italian cherry liqueur, you might recognise the Luxardo bottle.
  • Coffee liqueur – Kahlua or Tia Maria are popular brands that should be easy enough to find.
  • Crème de Cassis – Blackcurrent liqueur, a cocktail brand like Bols or Marie Blizard will do.
  • Crème de Cacao – a light, cacao (chocolate) bean liqueur, less sweet than a straight chocolate liqueur such as Godiva or Mozart. Especially useful for late night ‘desert’ style cocktails. Bol’s is fine to start.

Sweet stuff out of the way, it’s time for vermouths and bitters (hint: once opened keep your vermouths in the fridge like you would with wine – they’ll last longer and taste much better).

Vermouths and bitters

  • Dry Vermouth – Martini dry, Noilly Prat dry are both good products.
  • Sweet (red) Vermouth – again, Martini, Cinzano, Noilly are good brands to start with.
  • Campari – an Italian brand of bitter aparatif. It may seem incredibly bitter by itself but will come in handy with some classic drinks like the Americano and the Negroni.
  • Angostura Bitters – Aromatic bitters in the well known bottle, we will use a ‘dash’ or so to add flavour and balance to many drinks.
  • Orange Bitters – similar to Angostura bitters (in fact they make their own version), aromatic bitters but with a strong orange flavour. Angostura, Reagans no. 6 or Fee Brothers are a good start.

Non Alcoholic Syrups

  • Sugar syrup or gomme – you can either buy gomme or make syrup at home.
  • Grenadine – traditionally flavoured from Pomegrantes, now days its basically ‘Mixed berry syrup + a whole bunch of E numbers’. The Monin brand is cheap and easy to find, or you can make a decent Grenadine syrup at home.

 

The rest

 

These items tend to be perishable so rather than buying everything straight away, buy them as needed.

  • Ice – good cubed ice (and quite a lot of it too as we need fresh ice in each glass and each shaker). Make yourself or buy bags.
  • Limes and lemons – we need for garnishes and even more importantly for juice. Hint: a decent half lemon gets around 25ml juice, a good half lime squeezed can get around 15ml.
  • Oranges – for garnishes, twists.
  • Juice – Orange, apple, cranberry pineapple, grapefruit, depending on what you plan on making. You don’t have to buy Tropicana but get the best you can afford, avoid the cheap blends (eg: Tropical with 85% Apple and 15% Mango).
  • Salt and pepper
  • Sugar and sugar cubes
  • Roses Lime Cordial

 

Hopefully you’ll already have some some of these in your cabinet (otherwise you’re about to become your liquor stores new favourite customer). The list may seem long but it’ll let you make a lot of good drinks and give you room for a bit of creativity.

 

Any questions about brands or anything, contact me or leave a comment.

 

/ David

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