Make Cocktails at Home

Learn Mixology – in your own home!

Tag: Cocktails (Page 2 of 3)

Ron Zacapa Rum Bottle

New : Download – Master Cocktail Recipe List

Master Cocktail List and Downloadable PDF  

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(Update Oct 2012 – There are now 96 cocktails on the pdf! Check it out on the link below)

I’ve added a new section to the recipes section of the blog today – The Master Cocktail List.

All the recipes from the blog are presented in an easy list format  similar to a bartenders cocktail specs. You can use it to quickly check a recipe or it is also available as a downloadable and printable PDF, perfect for those times you are away from your pc.

The list starts small right now but will grow as cocktails are featured on the blog so be sure to check back regularly.


Check out the page now:

Master Cocktail List



// David

Lime, Roses Lime cordial

Easy guide to lime juice – fresh lime, Roses cordial and the Gimlet

Is all Lime Juice the same?

There seems to be some confusion for the newly enthusiastic home bartender as to what exactly is meant by lime juice – do we literally mean only the freshly squeezed juice of a lime or could you use one of the green lime bottles littering the shelves at the supermarket?


Why use lime at all?

When we make cocktails we are aiming to take a selection of different ingredients and mix them together, producing something that (hopefully) tastes better than when we started. To get good flavours we need to make balanced use of some of the 5 primary tastes – sour, sweet, salty, bitter, and umami. I’ll go into a detailed explanation of each of these in an upcoming post but for now we are interested in the main taste associated with lime – sourness.


When drinking freshly squeezed lime juice you notice a strong sour taste on your tongue – this is because limes contain a relatively high level of citric acid which our bodies note as being sour. A sour acidic flavour, when balanced with other tastes (such as sweetness from sugar) adds to the overall depth of the cocktail so if we use it correctly we can give our drinks a crisp, refreshing flavour.


Fresh squeezed Lime

Easily the most important lime for us – the vast majority of cocktails that you’ll come across on this blog referring to lime juice are asking for freshly squeezed lime juice. Buy a bunch of limes from your local grocer, wash them, cut them in half and squeeze with a citrus press or reamer to extract all the juicy, natural goodness. Real, fresh limes will provide the acidic bite that we are looking for and provide a more natural flavour in the final drink.


Depending on where you live these can be pretty costly so try and buy a citrus press to make sure you can get as much juice as possible out of each lime. A tip; use the palm of your hand to push on the lime and roll it around on your bench a few times before juicing and you’ll get more out of it. Expect to get around 15ml juice per half lime/ 30ml per lime.


‘Fresh’ Lime bottles

Often found in the soft drink section of your local convenience store or supermarket, these squeezed lime bottles tend to contain concentrated lime juice that has commonly had preservatives and other bits and pieces added. While these bottles may save a few seconds over the hand-squeezing of a real lime, unfortunately they tend to fail on the taste test, generally lacking the true sour or acidic bite as fresh lime juice and are therefore best left on the shelf.


Roses Lime cordial, other brands of Lime cordials

Lime cordials were originally a mix of concentrated lime juice and sugar although the ingredient list on many modern bottles seems to have grown somewhat with a mix of added preservatives and colourings. Hmm. But anyway…


The original and best known is Rose’s lime cordial, invented by a Mr Lauchlin Rose in 1867 in part as a way to help British sailors in their fight against scurvy, a nasty disease bought on by a diet lacking vitamin C.


Sensible medical types had discovered that limes and other citrus fruits were a good natural source of vitamin C and therefore helped in the fight against scurvy and quickly pushed for laws to ensure that all ships carried a ready supply of citrusy goodness for their sailors. While good in theory, problems arose quickly – citrus fruits were not always easy to source, and even when you could find them they were not particularly appetising when they’d been stored in the hold of a ship for a few weeks. Added to this, drinking straight lime juice is not particularly appealing at the best of times and while it could (and was) made more attractive by adding it to the daily rum or gin rations it was still something to be drunk out of necessity rather than choice. Time for Mr Rose.


Lauchlin Rose had a business supplying provisions for ships and after a bit of experimentation discovered that a mix of concentrated lime juice with sugar allowed him to create a cordial which would provide the necessary vitamin C but in a sweetened, more palatable form than simple lime juice. Added to this the lime and sugar combination was stable when bottled and could be stored for lengthy periods without going off. Created just in time for the Merchant Shipping Act of 1868, which made the carrying of citrus a legal requirement, Rose was on to a winner.


Nothing is perfect however. The sugar that helped so much in creating the cordial is often its downfall when used in cocktails. Remembering from earlier, the main reason we use limes in good cocktails is to add an acidic bite from the citric acid contained in the juice. Unfortunately the sugar that is used to help stabilise the cordial weakens this acidity, ultimately giving a kind of sweet general lime flavour but without the acid that we really want. This results in an unbalanced and (often) unpleasant drink when compared to fresh squeezed lime.



Unless specifically stated, use freshly squeezed lime juice for cocktails – your drinks will taste better. Avoid buying pre-squeezed as squeezing by hand will result in better juice and a better drink.


Lesson – Making a Gimlet

A real classic cocktail now, we are going to start by going against what I’ve just been telling you and using Rose’s cordial rather than fresh lime.


You will need

  • 50ml Gin
  • 20ml Roses Lime Cordial

Gin and Rose's


Stir in glass

Nice and easy, this can be made in the glass or stirred in your mixing glass and strained into a cocktail glass. We are going to do the ‘stir in glass’ method today.

Take a rocks glass, old fashioned glass or similar and fill with ice. Measure in your gin and lime cordial and use your bar spoon to stir the ice and liquid until it is well mixed and cold – this should take around 30-40 seconds. Garnish with a lime slice and drink, feeling happy in the knowledge that you are tackling the fight against scurvy head-on.

Finished Gimlet.


Variations to try

After making a traditional Gimlet, make another but replace the Roses lime cordial with freshly pressed lime juice. Prepare in the same manner and taste the difference. You should notice that the new fresh lime Gimlet is very sour from the citric acid in the lime juice. To improve the taste add a small amount of simple syrup and stir – the sugar should help bring the drink back into balance and improve the overall taste.


There you go – more than you’d expect to read about lime juice on any given day. Try making the drinks and let me know in the comments section how they turned out.


// David

Mozart White Chocolate Liqueur

Mozart White Chocolate Cream Review

Mozart White Chocolate Cream


Category: Cream liqueur

ABV: 15%

Produced: Austria


Similar Products: Baileys Irish Cream, Coole Swan Irish Cream, Amarula Cream.




Mozart is an Austrian liqueur brand and along with the white chocolate that we’re looking at today also make gold and dark chcocolate liqueurs, chocolate bitters, and interestingly, a dry chocolate spirit. We’ll cover these products in later posts but now we’re going to focus on the white chocolate cream.


(Check out Easy Guide to Liqueurs for more information about Liqueurs and how they are made)


The liqueurs base distillate is made from sugar cane which is blended with cocoa butter and skimmed fresh cream.  The combination of skimmed cream and cocoa butter gives the liqueur a longer shelf life  and a lower fat content than you would expect from many other cream based liqueurs without the need for buckets of added preservatives.

Extra flavour is provided by macerating Bourbon vanilla from Madagascar and caramel into the distillate.




In the glass the liqueur is white in colour and relatively thick and viscous from the cream. Vanilla and caramel notes show through quite strong on the nose and through to the actual tasting providing a rich, creamy flavour that doesn’t taste artificial like many of its competitors. If you love chocolate as much as I do (damn those vices!) then this is a dangerous product.


In Cocktails


I find that cream liqueurs mixed with vodka tend to be a bit boring and watery tasting and generally prefer to mix them with darker base spirits such as dark rum or an aged whiskey. In the past I’ve had positive experiences matching it with heavy rums such as Goslings Black Seal or Myers, and also with the excellent Santa Teresa Selecto.

Other flavours commonly mixed with cream liqueurs include coffee, vanilla, chocolate, orange, mint; think of the flavours that you would mix with cream in cooking and deserts and you should be on the right track.

Add coffee flavours  either from a coffee liqueur (Kahlua or Tia Maria) or even from a shot of espresso. When adding  chocolate or vanilla flavours it’s worth remembering that the liqueur itself has these flavours so don’t go overboard or your flavours will clash.



Care is needed when you use this product in cocktails – cream can curdle with many ingredients (especially citrus fruit and juices) and this can give your cocktail a pretty nasty appearance and mouth feel. Not good!




A silky mouth feel and rich natural flavours makes this a liqueur worthy of consideration for your home bar.


Example Cocktail


White Martini


  • 25ml Dark Rum (Goslings Black Seal)
  • 25ml Mozart White Chocolate Liqueur
  • 25ml Milk


Measure and pour all ingredients into a mixing glass and fill with ice. Shake  hard and fine strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Bird Shaker

Mixing Cocktails 101 – The Methods – Shake and Strain


Shake and Strain


For more info about bar equipment check out the ‘Essential Equipment for your home bar’ blog post


Depending on the ingredients used and the overall effect we are seeking there are a number of mixing methods that we can use to make cocktails. We’ve covered built drinks already and today we’re going to look at the most visible – shaking.


Shaking and cocktails appear to go hand in hand – it often seems like anytime more than two ingredients are involved they have to be tossed into a tin and shaken around by an enthusiastic bartender. Shaking is an aggressive mixing motion and helps us to mix and chill multiple ingredients quickly and efficiently. The aggressive nature of shaking means that getting the correct technique is very important.




Start by taking your mixing glass and setting it on a table, giving yourself enough room to work.


Add your ingredients (whiskey, lemon, syrups etc) into the mixing glass, being careful to measure for the correct amounts.


Fill the mixing glass with ice – we add the ice last to minimise dilution.


Place the shaker tin on top of mixing glass, being careful to have a slight angle to avoid a ‘perfect seal’ (which is a real pain in the wherever to try and get off) and give a nice, hard tap to seal the glass and the shaker.


Ready for some shakiing


Hold the shaker, ensuring you have a solid grip of both the mixing glass and the shaker tin (we don’t want to let go by mistake!), and shake hard in nice big movements allowing the ice to travel from one end of the shaker to the other. The further the ice travels the better as it will mix and cool the drink faster – you’ll hear a ‘clack clack’ sound as the ice hits each end of the shaker if you’re doing this correctly.


How to shake a cocktail correctly



Continue shaking hard until you have the right level of cooling and dilution – the exact time depends on the style of drink, but around 10-12 seconds will usually be good. If you’ve shaken hard enough then there should be condensation on the shaker tin.


Now its time to separate the shaker. Hold the shaker tin in one hand and use the palm of your other hand to give a hard ‘tap’ on the tin where the mixing glass and shaker meet. This should break the seal and allow you to lift the mixing glass off and away.


Now it’s time to taste test the cocktail. Use your finger to cover the end of a straw and dip it into the cocktail so that you can get some liquid to taste. You want to check whether the cocktail tastes balanced (the right levels of sweet/sour/bitter) and make sure the flavours are correct. If you need to make any adjustments then do so now and either stir or give another quick shake.


The cocktail tastes good (of course!) so it’s time to transfer the drink from the shaker to a glass.


Check your recipe to see whether you need to fill your destination glass with ice (if you’re using a Collins or an Old Fashioned you will probably need to). If you do then make sure to fill it right to the top as more ice = colder drinks of the correct size.


Use your Hawthorne strainer to pour your drink into the glass without any of the ice or other junk in the shaker following along for the ride. If you are pouring into a cocktail glass you won’t be using icing the glass so you can double or fine strain by pouring through a tea strainer placed between the Hawthorne strainer and the glass – this will help collect any small pieces of ice or fruit that and make the cocktail look better.


Finish off by adding your garnish and a straw (if necessary). You’re done!

Cocktail set

Buy Cocktail Set at Amazon!


Weekend Cocktail – Cuba Libre

Cuba Libre

Another nice and easy cocktail just in time for the weekend, but don’t let the simple ingredients fool you as this is more than just a humble rum and coke – the addition of fresh lime juice gives a balance that makes this an easy drinking cocktail perfect in warmer weather. The balance in this case is achieved through the combination of sweet:sour ingredients, with the sweetness coming from the sugar in the Coca Cola and the sour from the citric acid in the lime juice.


A little History

The Cuba Libre, as the name suggests, originated in Cuba sometime around 1900 when Coca Cola was first introduced to the island. The name is thought to be based on a battle cry of the Cuba Liberation Army during their war of Independence in 1898, and was called out in recognition of their newly found independence during some heavy drinking sessions.


Making the Cuba Libre


Cuba Libre Ingredients

You will need

  • Collins/Highball glass
  • 50ml Rum (preferably Cuban)
  • 1 lime (preferably ripe)
  • Coca Cola


Mixing Method

Take your highball and use your measure to pour in 50ml Cuban rum (I’ve used Havana Club as it’s actually Cuban but if you’re from the USA then this isn’t going to be available – light Cruzan or Bacardi will do).


Next, cut your lime in half and use a citrus press to squeeze 15ml lime juice (you can use your measure again to ensure you get the right amount.


Fill your glass with cubed ice – nice big ice cubes are best as they will melt slower than smaller ones. Make sure to get as much ice in the glass as you can – more ice will allow the drink to cool faster and also stops us from pouring too much Coke.


Rum, lime and ice in the glass means it’s time for the Coke. Fill the glass with Coke to the top, but leave a small amount of room so that you can actually pick the glass up and move it around without spilling your cocktail.


Finish the Cuba Libre by cutting a nice wedge of lime and dropping it into the glass, and feel free to add a straw if you feel like it.


Cuba Libre, ready to drink




Variations to Try

Since you already have the ingredients a good little experiment is to make a Rum and Coke (Cuba Libra without fresh lime) and try the two drinks next to each other. What you should notice is that the addition of the sour citric acid from the lime juice in the Cuba Libra has offset the sweetness of the Coca Cola and helped even out the flavour, or balance, when compared to the rum and Coke.


The next easy variation to try is changing up the rum. Cuban rums tend to be very light in style so if you swap it out for something darker (Mount Gay, Appletons or even darker with something like Goslings Black Seal) you’re going to end up with a heavier, ‘richer’ flavour. You could also try using a spiced rum (Sailor Jerrys, Kraken, Captain Morgan’s Spiced), depending on which brand you use you can get some strong vanilla, citrus and cinnamon style flavours coming through.


Let me know what combinations you try and how they work out by leaving a comment below or posting on the facebook page.



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