You may have seen, but the fantastic Drinks by the Dram advent calendars for 2014 are now available for pre-order! (Estimated despatch date 31st October.*) Full of your favourite spirits rather than the usual naff chocolate fare, each one contains 24 different 3cl sample ‘drams’, one behind each window for your Christmas countdown! (Full contents can be found on the product pages for those who don’t want it to be a total surprise.)
So, what’s new for 2014? As well as exciting new lineups of specially selected contents, we’re also rather chuffed with the new boxes, illustrated by the brilliant Duncan Beedie. Let’s take a look at the 2014 Whisky Advent Calendar first (the one with the pre-order promotion attached to it…).
An incredibly simple drink this week, which is so often fucked right up by one stupid 'ritual'. Sugar Cubes. I saw a cocktail this week from some place in London which they're claiming is the world's most expensive (at £8888) and from the looks of it, even at nearly £10k, you get a load of idiotic sugar-sludge in the bottom of your glass.
Using a sugar cube instead of sugar syrup not only makes a nonsense of the 'as served' concentration of sugar as more and more will dissolve as the drink is consumed, but even worse, it provides hundreds upon hundreds of nucleation points (the sugar granules), which are pretty much guaranteed to knock all the fizz out of champagne. Not exactly ideal for a Champagne Cocktail recipe, eh? So, for that reason we're going to be using sugar syrup like a non-mental person.
Right then ladies and gentlemen. Time for week's #MasterofCocktails, featuring a Brandy Crusta recipe - a real life classic. This is a smashing drink, first brought to my attention by the superb @AdamsBitters.
Before we get started, here are 2 tips on the Brandy Crusta:
1) Drink more of them.
2) Don't order one in a bar where it's not on the menu.
Got it? Good. The key to this drink is the garnish, which we will be preparing a couple of hours in advance before actually putting the drink together.
Well hello there Flip fans – it's time for another #MasterofCocktails. This week, we have a Coffee Cocktail recipe for you.
Confusingly enough, there's absolutely no coffee (liqueur format or otherwise) anywhere near this drink. Nevertheless, I'd take it after a meal over a cup of joe anyday. So, straight to it.
Starting with an ingredients picture that doesn't have all the ingredients... Since last week I've discovered that including sugar syrup and Angostura bitters makes for a yummier recipe. So grab those too.
Right then ladies and gentlemen - for this week's #MasterofCocktails we made a Japanese Cocktail. It's one of those oft-forgotten classics that really does work very well indeed if made with decent ingredients.
Before we get onto that though, we need to do some prep for next week's drink. Or rather 'drinks'. See, with all this amazing weather we've been having, I'm going to show you how to make an amazing bowl of Punch.
The first George Berry was born in 1787 and, at the impressionable age of 16, made the two-day journey from Exeter to London, in which city he remained. He would become an extremely successful merchant, maintaining a clear focus on wine and spirits – a tradition continued by his sons George Jr. and Henry – the original “Berry Brothers” who took the helm in 1845.
Berry’s young life was not without event. In 1838, he signed up as a special constable during the Chartist riots, alongside his friend, the future Napoleon III. Years later, whilst in exile in London, Napoleon used the very cellars at No. 3 to hold secret meetings. Two storeys below terra, the marvellous stone-walled chamber bears his name, and is home to a collection of ancient bottles from centuries ago, back when a member of the gentry would have his own glass bottle stamped with his seal. The sealed bottles would be taken to No.3 to be filled with wine or spirit, and returned when they were empty. Napoleon’s own bottle still stands in one corner.
Once upon a beginning, the folks of the world drew chalk lines on their doors to physically count down the first 24 days of December. These days that seems a rather sad thought, more reminiscent of a prisoner counting the days they've been locked up than a celebration of the festive season. Pretty miserable really. (That is, unless you're lucky enough to share a cell with comedy legend Ronnie Barker!) It was some time before some bright spark decided that using candles would be rather less bleak. I mean, candles, they're okay aren't they?
Last week, we gave you the choice between a classic summer cocktail or something more wintery and, overwhelmingly, the good people of twitter voted for a winter #MasterofCocktails option. So, last night we made the ultimate Eggnog!
The clocks had just gone back and the #UKStorm2013 was approaching so it did indeed seem the perfect time to batten down the hatches and mix up a classic winter warmer whilst we waited for all this to blow over.
The entire recipe can be found below, and apologies that it's been posted slightly later than usual - the bloody storm has evidently even affected our blog posts!
On to the 'nog!
Back at the end of May, just before all the busyness and rushing about, Ben and I attended a very special event, which I was no doubt supposed to write about back then. Drawing attention to the fact that I didn’t is probably a terrible decision, but the people must still know, damn it!
The time has come for you to learn all about this: Glenfarclas & Hine 1953 – Auld Alliance.
So – we’ve been doing our Drinks by the Dram whisky sample service for almost a year now, and in that time have decanted ‘loads’ of 700ml bottles into 30ml samples.
700 divided by 30 is 690, so even if one is slightly generous with the 30ml measure, there’s still going to be a little drop or two left over.
My original plan (and I thought it was a darned good one) was to save all of this up, and make some awesome cocktails at the staff Christmas party, or maybe do something at the directors’ joint birthday party, but it turns out that “a little drop or two” multiplied by “loads” is about 37 full-sized bottles-worth.
Even we aren’t that thirsty. More...