Easy Cocktails That Impress

Little known fact about me – for 6 years I worked in cocktail bars (very, very busy cocktail bars).

The downside of this is that I am unapologetically snobby about my cocktails. I don’t like my mojitos too sweet, God help you if you go anywhere near my margarita with sour mix, I want my drinks garnished correctly, I demand quality spirits with clean, fresh ingredients and I mix a mean iced tea (actually about 20 variations thereof).

The upside is that I can teach you a few things about mixed drinks.

Now, unlike most cocktail guides, I don’t expect everyone to keep a fully stocked bar cart, so I’m listing my favourite recipes based on the 4-key white spirits. This way, no matter which of the staples you happen to have on hand, you can rustle up a tasty libation.

Tequila

The simplest and most beautiful tequila drink (in my humble opinion) is the Paloma. Wonderfully sharp and refreshing – only 5 ingredients required.

Refreshing Grapefruit and Tequila Palomas

tequila

grapefruit juice

simple syrup*

club soda

fresh lime juice

:: Mix equal parts grapefruit juice, tequila and club soda (1/4 cup) – add a teaspoon of simple syrup and a quarter lime squeezed. Stir and serve over ice. Garnish with a slice of lime or grapefruit. (Salt rim on the glass or a sprig of rosemary are also optional extras). Serve and enjoy!

FYI – many recipes will just mix tequila with a grapefruit soda and it is still very tasty, but I’d urge you to try making it from scratch – it is so much better!
Gin

Elevating the classic G&T with the quintessentially British pink gin.

gin

angostura bitters

fresh lime juice

tonic

:: Add two shots of your preferred gin with five dashes of angostura bitters and a quarter lime squeezed to a large glass with ice – top with tonic water – stir and serve garnished with a slice of lemon.

Vodka – the secret to this is a good quality (read: fiery) ginger beer – the Moscow mule.

Cold Moscow Mules - Ginger Beer, lime and Vodka

Vodka

Fresh Lime Juice

Ginger Beer

:: Add two shots of your favourite vodka to a tall glass (or copper mug, if you have one) and half a lime squeezed (some recipes call for you to drop the lime shell into your drink – I’ll leave that up to you) and top with ginger beer. Garnish with a wheel of lime and enjoy!

Rum

Ernest Hemingway’s favourite, the classic daiquiri. Not all daiquiris are blended with fruit. In fact, I much prefer it when they’re not. A classic daiquiri requires only three ingredients. (Not to be confused with a Hemingway – which is a different variation altogether).

The glass of alcoholic cocktails Daiquiri consists of rum on the leaves of lime, elderflower syrup stands on wooden table on black background
a good white rum

fresh lime juice

simple syrup*

:: Add two shots of white rum with the juice of one lime and a teaspoon of simple syrup. Shake vigorously over ice and pour into a coupe/martini glass. Enjoy!

(This is the only recipe that actually needs a cocktail shaker or any equipment – apologies for that.)
*You will have noticed that a couple of these recipes require a simple syrup. Easily made you will need equal parts granulated white sugar and water. Pour one cup boiling water and one cup sugar into a pan on a medium heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Be careful not to let it boil. When dissolved let the syrup cool and pour into a sterilized bottle or jar. It will keep in the fridge for up to a month. Once you have mastered basic simple syrup you can then start exploring herb infusions (basil and rosemary are two of my favourites) but that’s a lesson for another time… 🙂

So there you have it – a clean and effortless cocktail that you can throw together no matter which spirit you happen to have at home – just in time for the weekend!

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Mango and Raspberry Sangria

Last weekend was my birthday and I was incredibly touched by all the thoughtful gifts that I received, to others some of them might sound a bit mad – but they showed just how well the person that gifted it really knows me! (Like my beautiful Juniper Fox painting or the instant cheddar grits I was given, because shrimp and grits is my Sunday brunch obsession!)

One of my presents was a gorgeous clutch of mangoes, fresh off the tree (two different types!) and you know what they say – when life gives you mangoes, you make mango raspberry sangria!

(Wait, that is what they say… right?)
I’ve been patiently waiting for them to ripen – and now they’re ready, so I made a birthday batch! It’s super simple and really delicious – you should give it a go…




Mango, Raspberry Sangria

1 mango

1 punnet of raspberries

1 cup Triple Sec

1 bottle of rose

club soda or prosecco to top up

lemon slices to garnish


:: Cut your mango into cubes – it’s a messy job – if anyone has found a mess free method, please share
:: Combine chopped mango, raspberries, triple sec and rose wine in a large jug. Chill for 2+ hours.

:: Pour over ice, garnish with lemon slices and top up with either prosecco or club soda.




Enjoy!

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Chicken and Shrimp Gumbo Soup

Yesterday I came across a big, fat bag of locally grown Caribbean Seasoning Peppers. These little guys are a bit of an anomaly as, while they look like a habanero pepper or something super hot, they are actually very mild. Just a slightly spicier version of a regular capsicum pepper and commonly used in marinades and pepper sauces over here.

I decided that I wanted to use them in my Gumbo Soup and whipped up a batch of it – warming, spicy, smokey and comforting.

(You can also use regular red, orange or yellow pepper in place of the seasoning peppers.)

Chicken and Shrimp Gumbo Soup

1 yellow onion, peeled and diced

4 celery stalks, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped

6 seasoning peppers, chopped (or 2 regular peppers)

1 smoked beef sausage, chopped

2 chicken breasts

10 jumbo prawns, uncooked

2 cans of diced tomatoes

6 cups of low sodium chicken stock

1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained

1 small can of sweetcorn

1 cup of frozen okra pieces

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp chipotle chili flakes (or more if you like the heat)

1 tsp Tabasco

Salt and Pepper to taste

Serves 4-6 (makes for great leftovers as the flavours continue to develop)

:: In a small pan bring your chicken stock to a boil. Poach your chicken breasts in your chicken stock. This will typically take 15-20 minutes depending on the size of your chicken breasts. Once cooked remove them from the liquid and shred the meat. Reserve the chicken stock (now extra chicken-y) for the soup.

:: Meanwhile saute your onions, garlic, celery and sausage in a large pan on a medium/high heat. Cook for 5-10 minutes until the onions are translucent.

:: Add your peppers, black beans, okra, sweetcorn and tomatoes to your pan along with the shredded chicken meat, the chicken stock and the spices. Turn the heat down and let everything simmer for 15 minutes.

:: Drop your uncooked shrimp into the soup for the last 10 minutes. Serve once they are cooked through and nicely pink.



I challenge you to stop at just one bowlful, I’ve never managed to… 🙂

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3-Minute Boozy Bread Pudding

Anyone else suddenly get the occasional mid-week 9pm ‘screw the diet – treat yo’self’ feeling? That need for a sweet treat in order to pull yourself out of a hump-day slump? No? …just me then! 

When I get these moments of weakness I need to make something tasty quickly – and it is imperative that it’s ready before I come to my senses and reach for the carrot sticks… that’s where these three minute microwave puddings (I love you so much I gave you three options) come in. Before the kettle has even had a chance to boil – this little pot of decadence is ready for eating…

All recipes serve 1 – I’d suggest you try making a couple and sharing them. Best served with a mug of tea or a milky coffee.

:: Amaretto and White Chocolate Bread Pudding

1 piece of soft white bread or brioche, generously buttered (I actually used my leftover fruit buns from Easter)

1 egg

2 tbsp Amaretto

1 tbsp milk

Small handful of white chocolate chips

  • Mix together your booze, milk and egg in a microwave proof mug or glass.
  • Cut up your buttered bread – into roughly 1″ pieces.
  • Add the bread into your boozy custard mixture and stir so that it is evenly coated.
  • Sprinkle in your white chocolate chips and put everything into microwave on high for 1 1/2 minutes. (Microwave times may vary so just keep an eye on it.)
  • Add some ice cream, cream, clotted cream or custard and dig in!

:: Mocha Bread Pudding

1 piece of soft white bread or brioche, generously buttered

1 egg

1 tbsp Kahlua

1 tbsp Baileys

1 tbsp milk

4 squares of good quality dark chocolate roughly cut into chunks

  • Mix together your booze, milk and egg in a microwave proof mug or glass.
  • Break up your buttered bread – roughly tear it into pieces.
  • Add the bread into your boozy custard mixture and stir so that it is evenly coated.
  • Sprinkle in your chocolate chunks and put everything into microwave on high for 1 1/2 minutes.
  • Add some ice cream, cream or custard and dig in!

:: Maple Whisky Bread Pudding 

1 piece of soft white bread or brioche, generously buttered

1 egg

2 tbsp milk

1 tsp maple syrup

1 tbsp good quality whisky (I like something smokey to balance out the sweetness)

Pinch of ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tbsp raisins

  • Mix wet ingredients in a microwave proof mug (or glass), add cinnamon and whisk to combine.
  • Cut up your buttered bread into 1″ pieces
  • Add the bread into your boozy custard mixture and stir so that it is evenly coated.
  • Sprinkle in your raisins and put everything into microwave on high for 1 1/2 minutes (check during cooking as microwave times vary)
  • Add some ice cream, cream or clotted cream and dig in!

*Eating it in bed, while you watch tv through the open door of your bedroom into the lounge because your apartment is tiny, is optional… 🙂



Please let me know if you give these a go and tell me how you get on!

PS. Zero judgement from me if you decide to go for one of these on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday etc… a girl’s got to do what a girl’s gotta do in order to get through the week 🙂 

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Bloody Mary Bombs

This long weekend has seen many a Caribbean BBQ and social occasion (read: lots of daytime drinking).

I love a good pot luck lunch and it gave me a chance to break out one of my favourite crowd-pleasing snacks – the Bloody Mary Bomb (edible Bloody Mary skewers – what’s not to love??)


Bloody Mary Bombs –

1 punnet Cherry tomatoes

3 sticks of Celery, chopped into 1/2″ pieces

3 rashers of Bacon, chopped into 1″ pieces

1c Vodka

3 tbsp Worcester Sauce

1 tbsp Tabasco

1 tsp Lemon Pepper

Jar of pimento stuffed green olives

Mix 1c of vodka (this isn’t exactly a strict measurement, more of a suggestion, use as much as you like) with 3tbsp of Worcester sauce and 1tbsp Tabasco sauce (I like the smoked Tabasco with chipotle chilis) add a tsp of lemon pepper, taste and set aside.

Skewer your tomatos (poking a few different holes all over) and add the celery pieces to the skewers, pour your vodka mixture over the skewers, trying to ensure that they’re evenly coated with the liquid, cover and put aside for a 2-3 hours (or overnight, if you can wait that long)

Meanwhile cut your bacon into 1″ pieces and fry (bonus: sprinkle 1 tbsp of brown sugar over the bacon as it cooks for a brown sugar glaze). Remove from the heat once cooked.

Drain the vodka mixture (into a glass with some ice, if you have any sense – add tomato juice and enjoy!) and add an olive and piece of bacon to each skewer.

Serve proudly (smug look as your dish disappears is optional…)

Makes around 30


Yummy!

What did you guys get up to this weekend – were you getting a well earned break and relaxing or out partying?

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