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Tag: Lime

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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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‘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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Conclusion

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.

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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.

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You will need

  • 50ml Gin
  • 20ml Roses Lime Cordial

Gin and Rose's

Method

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.

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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.

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// David

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.

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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

 

Done!

 

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.

 

/David

Key ingredients for the Moscow Mule

Cocktail Recipes – Vodka – The Moscow Mule

Key ingredients for the Moscow Mule

 

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Moscow Mule

Time for the first drink recipe! And a quick and easy one to start, with the cocktail that helped truly bring vodka into bars in the USA for the first time, the Moscow Mule.

A bit of history

The Moscow Mule has been around since 1941, with its invention credited to John G Martin, of Heublein Brothers Inc (an American spirits distributor who had recently obtained the rights to Smirnoff Vodka), and Jack Morgan, who owned a popular bar in LA called the Cock ‘n’ Bull Tavern. The world of cocktails was a very different place in 1941, with the war in Europe raging on and prohibition in the USA only recently coming to an end. Vodka as a spirit was relativly unheard of in North American bars and distillers and distributers were looking for a way to help it break into this lucrative market. Time for Martin and Morgan.

Morgan had recently started making his own ginger beer and Martin was trying to get his Smirnoff brand into bars. Together the two came up with the vodka/ginger beer combo, making perfect use of each others products. In a great marketing move they named this drink the Moscow Mule and served it in a copper mug; Martin set off around the country promoting the cocktail (and thus, the main ingredient, Smirnoff), and low and behold, vodka had finally got its long awaited entry into American bars.

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Making the Moscow Mule

You will need:

  • Highball glass/ Collins glass
  • 50ml Vodka
  • 25ml fresh Lime juice/limes
  • Ginger Beer
  • Angustora bitters*
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Mixing method

Method: Build.

 

Take your highball glass and use your measure to pour in 50ml Vodka (the brand is unnecessary, although I’d avoid using anything you’ve paid a lot for as it will be lost in other ingredients). Next, grab your citrus press and squeeze in 25ml of fresh lime juice (the lime juice is key – it will add a necessary sour character to the drink).

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So far we have vodka and lime; if you were to taste the cocktail now it would be what we describe as unbalanced, in that the sweet:sour ratio would be off. Therefore, it’s time for the sweetener. Many cocktails we’ll make use a sugar syrup or liqueur to get the sweet component to the sweet:sour balance but for the Moscow Mule we’re going to get our sweetness from the sugar in the ginger beer instead.

So fill your highball with ice (as much as you can fit – the more ice you have, the colder the drink will be. It’ll melt slower as well!) and top up with your ginger beer. The quality of your ginger beer is going to have a big effect on the taste of the overall drink so try and avoid the bland store-brand varieties if you can – we want that nice, spicy kick from the ginger.

 

Garnish with a nice big lime wedge and a straw.

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Done!

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* Many bars will add Angustora bitters to a Moscow Mule, it certainly adds to the overall flavour of the cocktail so after you’ve made this first version try remaking the drink with a couple of dashes of  bitters and see which one you prefer (and now you have two drinks… for science!). Be careful not to add to much as aromatic bitters have a very strong taste, as with all ingredients, it’s better to add a small amount and then add more if necessary.

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Happy mixing,

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/David

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