Sunday, February 13, 2011

The History of The Cocktail

Cocktails have been around for hundreds of years and yet the origin of the word is very murky with numerous urban legends on exactly where it came from.

One of the interesting stories I've heard is that it comes from a drink - Cock's Ale - that was served at cock fights.   Sounds plausible I thought to myself, so I looked at what Cock's Ale was and I'm afraid I lost my appetite for cocktails!

Cocks Ale

Brown Sugar

Ferment all of these ingredients together for 9-12 days.

All I can think of is food poisoning when I read that!

Let's move right along to another legend on the origin of the word cocktail.    Some say it's a mispronunciation of the French word Coquetier.   Now those of you who speak French are probably scratching your head right now thinking 'but coquetier means egg cup - what does that have to do with cocktails.'   Yes it does mean egg cup and the connection with cocktails comes from Antoine Peychaud.

Antoine Peychaud is famous in mixology history as being the creator of the Sazerac cocktail and when he opened his store in New Orleans he served this drink in egg cups.

Sazerac Cocktail

1/2 tsp absinthe
1 tsp simple syrup
4 dashes of bitters (Peychaud Bitters for an authentic flavor)
2 oz rye whiskey
strip of lemon peel

Place the absinthe into an old fashioned glass and swirl around so that the sides are coated and discard excess.   Next add the simple syrup, bitters and whiskey to a mixing glass with ice and stir gently until the drink is chilled.   Now strain the liquid into your old fashioned glass and twist the lemon peel over the glass to release some lemon oil, wipe the peel around the lip of the glass and then drop it into your drink - voila one Sazerac Cocktail ready to drink!

There are several more legends on where the word cocktail originated from, but I doubt we'll ever really know which version is really correct so we might as well just continue to enjoy a cocktail or two without worrying about their history!!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Valentine's Day Cocktails

Cocktails are such a special drink that it makes sense to drink them on special occasions such as Valentine's Day.   Valentine's Day cocktails can be fun and flirty, rich and sensuous or just plain delicious!   I personally think that cocktails for two make great Valentine's Day cocktails, here's one I prepared earlier!

White Chocolate Martini For Two

2 oz Amarula
2 oz Godiva White Chocolate
1/2 oz White Creme de Cacao
1/2 oz Chambord
2 oz cream

Shake all of the ingredients together with ice in a shaker and then strain into two chilled martini glasses, serve with a couple of strawberries on the side.   For an extra special touch dip the strawberries in white chocolate ahead of time - the little touches are always appreciated.

Now obviously I know a lot of Valentine's Day Cocktails and they are all listed on my site - Valentines Day Cocktails, but you don't have to stick to these recipes.   If you're daring enough you can try your hand at mixing your very own cocktail and naming it for your own Valentine.

The trick to making your own cocktail is like cooking - think of the flavors!   I always suggest that you keep things simple for example if you know that your partner likes Baileys with milk as a drink then use that as a base and add another flavor that they enjoy such as chocolate - creme de cacao or berries - Chambord.

I love chocolate flavored cocktails and you can check out some of the recipes at Chocolate Cocktails.   I know my chocolate really well so I know what flavors compliment it.   I started off by using creme de cacao and Baileys (they compliment each other really well) as a base and came up with lots of different combinations such as adding Frangelico for a nutty flavor, Kahlua to intensify the chocolate flavor, Chambord for a berry flavor - you get the idea.

Another idea for Valentine's Day Cocktails is to simply re-name a cocktail.   Serve it up in one of these fun Valentine's Day martini glass and there you have it!  

I can't actually take credit for this idea............we went to a place on Australia's Gold Coast called Draculas where we watched a show and ate dinner.   Before the show we went into the bar area and they had a number of cocktails with names that were very 'Halloween inspired', upon closer inspection I realized that I knew the recipes - management had simply changed the name!

This is a great idea if you already know a couple of cocktails that your partner enjoys, you can come up with your own name such as Romance's Chocolate Kiss or Everlasting Lovetini.