When your OH is a chef and tells you that on your (incredibly rare) days off he is going to cook all kinds of wondrous things, you feel a slight (actually make that a HUGE) sense of guilt that you're really not bringing anything to the relationship. Yes, I chose wines to go with the meals in question, but choosing a wine doesn't really match up to all the prep that goes into a really special meal. I therefore decided I needed to make a cocktail.
I asked him if he wanted a 'tried and true' or something made up, he chose the latter (I later made the former), and he decided (I assume because he had spent the day before cooking doing woodwork in the garden) that this cocktail should be called 'The Carpenter'
A little while ago, I wanted to make Tony & I a cocktail, and, inspired by my recent riff on a daiquiri for our cocktail of the month at Copper & Ink, I pulled a few bottles from our bar and created a little something. I asked Tony what he thought it should be called. He said 'Kevin'. So here you are, folks. The Kevin....
50ml Spiced Rum (I used Rum Bothy)
25ml lime juice
25ml Creme de mure (I love Mure Liqueur)
Blackberry for garnish
I don't typically want to change the names of classic cocktails, especially not ones invented in the 1940s, however, in the current climate, calling this a Black Russian felt somewhat distasteful. I therefore decided that The Zelensky would be a much better name for it.
An incredibly easy drink to make, it was invented in 1949 by a Belgian bartender called Gustave Tops who was working at the Hotel Metropole in Brussels. He made this drink for the US Ambassador to Luxembourg and named it due to the use of vodka.
Traditionally garnished with a slice of lemon or a maraschino cherry, this is a delightful "sippy" drink that will make you feel incredibly grown up. That is until you use it to dip one of my yummy doodles into it...
Traditionally you would add sugar to this, but I am using vanilla vodka as I think it gives it a wonderfully musky flavour. If you don't have vanilla vodka, you can make your own in one of 2 ways (I'm always here for the life hacks!). Firstly, if you have used a vanilla pod for baking or cooking, don't throw away the husk, add it to a bottle of plain vodka and leave it for about a week and it will beautifully permeate into the alcohol. If you don't have the time, or the pods and you have vanilla extract in your store cupboard (please please please use extract NOT essence), then you will need 1 tsp of extract to every 250ml of vodka you use. Mix the two together and you have vanilla vodka! Done! I use Little Pod vanilla as it is not only real vanilla, it is also superior in flavour.
25ml coffee liqueur (I use Fair, but any other coffee liqueur will be fine, although avoid Kahlua unless you are making the "white" version)
50ml vanilla vodka
slice of lemon or maraschino cherry
To a lo-ball glass, add your coffee liqueur and top with the vodka. Add a small amount of ice and stir this with a bar spoon (if you don't have a bar spoon you can use a teaspoon or just swirl it but a bar spoon really does make all the difference).
Once stirred, top off with ice and garnish.
If you want to make a "white" version of this drink - made popular and incredibly cool by The Dude in The Big Lebowski, you simply need to add some cream. Yum!
A little while ago, our dear friend Jack (aka our enabler), gifted us quite a special bottle of wine and it feels like it would be remiss of me not to talk about it here.
I had to do a little bit of internet searching to find out a bit more about it, but I always love finding out geeky facts about wine production.
The Onannon Pinot Noir 2016 from South Gippsland in Australia. A blend of two vineyards, with the two parcels being fermented separately (but using the same vinification process), then blended prior to bottling. Fruit is hand-picked and de-stemmed and fermented using wild yeasts. It undergoes natural malolactic fermentation on the lees (yeast) and spends 10 months in barrel.
On the pour, the wine looked aged - like the colour had been drained from it (red wine loses colour as it ages, white gains colour), but in the centre of the glass the colour was concentrated and beautifully oxygenated. Like the colour of dried blood and dried fruit.
On the nose, I got wild strawberries, meat and a slight smokiness.
On the palate, structured but subtle tannins, an undercurrent of almost salty acidity, raspberries, sour cherries, a sort of iron-like meatiness and a slight herbaceous quality.
It was a joy to drink, and especially when sometimes pinot noir can be a little one note for me - it's a great example of when a grape is treated right and aged well, it can become more than a sum of its parts. Thanks Jack. Keep enabling...
Let's Learn Together
Given what we do for a living, Tony and I don't often get to go out for dinner, but when we do, we try to go big.
A few weeks ago, we went out for a meal at 1* Club Gascon. We went for their Taster Menu with wine pairings (which is usually our go to as that way we don't have to make any decisions about what we are eating and I don't have to pore over the tome of a wine list and give myself a headache), luckily they were able to cater for me being gluten intolerant (which as I am getting older seems to be less severe which is quite exciting, though dairy is becoming less of a friend...), and we decided on their mixed taster and vegetarian taster (I am trying to eat less meat, and also, it was so nice to be able to try so many different things). They cleverly paired the same wine to both menus - something I would like to do more of at Copper & Ink, but equally, I do like to pair to the food in a more concentrated and meaningful way - and we tried some really lovely wines. I did find, however, that their sommelier, whilst incredibly charming and clearly vastly knowledgable, didn't really give us a lot of information about why he had chosen the wine in question, or much about the wine itself.
I promise I will make a point...
During the meal, we had a really lovely Riesling and that prompted a conversation between Tony and I about dessert wines vs still wines and what makes a dessert wine a dessert wine. I proceeded to talk to him about straw wines, and noble rot and fortified wines and he said he was fascinated.
I was then wondering if perhaps as I learn more about wine, I share it with you here. We can basically create a glossary of wine terms and then I can review wines as and when I try them and put those terms into practice.
What do you think? Would this be interesting? We can start with the letter A and work our way through both wine terms and types of grapes?
Let me know...
Food (and drink) For thought
It's been a long-ass time since I posted here. Life, and work (mainly work), has definitely got in the way and prevented me from spending time blogging about food & drink.
I have been pondering over the last few weeks (where I have had the odd few minutes to let my brain catch up), about what I do with this blog & website. I love having it and I love having a place to talk about food, wine & cocktails, however, I'm not sure that it is getting enough of my attention, or, that it is being used to its fullest. My pondering has also been linked to how I feel about food & wine at the moment. Yes, it's my job and sometimes the passion waxes and wanes (because of doing it all the time and because, naturally, our passion for things does as we are only human), but I feel that since having had COVID in 2020 and utterly losing my sense of taste and smell, my palate has changed irreparably. It has left me concerned that I am no longer capable of tasting and smelling things properly, and therefore, bereft of a purpose in life. Yes, this seems incredibly melodramatic, but when you find something you have a passion and interest in, it can feel like losing a limb if you are suddenly unable to participate in it in the same way. It also feeds into a long-held and deep-set fear that I am really not very good at my job... and as now I am feeling unable to taste things 'properly', that fear is being realised.
The question is, do I continue on this path and talk about wine and food in the same way, or do I retreat and let the "professionals" take over? And, if I do continue to talk about wine here, how do I do it? Do I follow the Marissa A. Ross method and just basically write about whatever wine I am drinking at the time, or is that just too much of a copy cat thing? I'm not even sure that I'm even 'qualified' to talk about it anymore.
For those of you who do read me (thank you mum, Tony and that other person I don't know), what do you want to see here, or are you kind of over it and think I should just shut the fuck up!?
There are far too many questions in this blog post for my liking. I need a glass of wine...
This cocktail is nearly as old as me (and that's quite old), but strangely, I don't have the memories that should be conjured up when drinking this one as I didn't grow up anywhere where brambles grew. I lived on a council estate in Fulham so the nearest thing I could have got to foraging was picking up old tin cans or deflated footballs!
Invented in 1984 by Dick Bradsell at Fred's Club in Soho, the Bramble was his way of bringing back memories of foraging for blackberries (or brambles as they are known - though this isn't quite right as the plant itself is called a bramble and the fruit it produces is a blackberry) on the Isle of Wight. The bramble is made using gin, lemon juice and creme de mure (blackberry liqueur) and has a wonderful sweetly sour flavour.
I make these regularly at Copper & Ink, and made it recently on stage at Foodies Festival alongside some delicious Bramble muffins!
3tsp caster sugar
25ml lemon juice
50ml gin (I use Brockmans)
25ml creme de mure (I love British Mure, but any blackberry liqueur will work)
1 blackberry for garnish
I've made you a little instructional video below.
Please Bramble responsibly!
Now, I'm not saying I've been drinking forever - there was that period way back when when I was actually sober for 2.5 years following some kidney issues - but it is true to say that I've known about different cocktails for a long time. I mentioned the cosmopolitan in a previous post, and that was introduced to me by the SATC girls when I was 16. So too did they introduce me to the Long Island Iced Tea, the Statten Island Iced Tea, the Tartini and many more, but they didn't introduce me to this one. I came to this one very late in life. Well, too late in my life anyway for how good of a cocktail this is.
Like most cocktails, there doesn't seem to be a definitive date when it was created, however, it was definitely written about in the late 1920s. There is also contention as to the origin of the name.
Some camps say that the name is derived from the small tool used to drill holes and the "drilling" it gives the drinker, some saying it was named after Surgeon Admiral Sir Thomas Gimlette who is purported to be the first person to add lime cordial to a daily tot of gin for those serving in the Navy to stave off scurvy.
I personally love both ideas of this being where the name stemmed from, but more than that I love the drink itself. Such a popular drink in the 50's; even Raymond Chandler mentioned it (saying it should be equal parts gin and Rose's lime cordial "and nothing else") in his 1953 novel 'The Long Goodbye'.
Whilst there have been and I'm sure will continue to be many different ways of making this classic cocktail, it seems to have fallen out of favour somewhat which makes me sad. It's insanely easy to make, is refreshing and utterly delicious. And yes, it has a penetrating effect just like a drilling tool and incidentally I'm scurvy free, so, what's not to love?!
You could channel your inner Betty Draper by wearing a twin-set & pearls and marrying & divorcing an adulterous narcissist, or, make it easier on yourself and make yourself a Gimlet using my recipe below. I know which one I prefer...
I've even made a little old style video for your viewing pleasure...
Please Gimlet responsibly!
I know, I know, I've been neglecting my site. I apologise. Sometimes, though, it's so much easier to post a review on Instagram than it is here; I love that about Instagram, the quick snap and the review in the comments. I feel like you get more information from me that way than you do here. This is a place for cocktail recipes and more in depth chats about wine I feel. Maybe you like the reviews here? You tell me!
We've definitely been drinking probably more than we should, but I blame lockdown. Things are hard right now, and finding small nuggets of joy in each day is the way to get through. We get joy out of having a glass of wine, so there are times when we have several. Bottles. Anyway, I digress. I thought that I might do a little round up of just a small selection of the wines we have tried recently and have scored them out of 10 just for fun.
First up, this Lucien Lardy Vigneron Beaujolais-Villages "Vignes de 1951". We were sent this by Jascots Wine Merchants (thank you again!). An unpretentious simple Beaujolais which does exactly what you would expect a Beaujolais to do. 100% Gamay and planted on steep slopes and small hillsides; this is a light and fruity wine. Notes of red fruits (raspberry and strawberry) along with some darker fruits like blackberry. There were some subtle savoury characters, perhaps some bitter chocolate or tobacco, and just the slightest grip of some rounded but nicely structured tannins. Not my favourite Beaujolais-Villages I can't lie, but you certainly wouldn't be disappointed if you got this at a pub or restaurant. It's very drinkable! 6.5/10
Next up, Prieuré Saint-Côme Chablis. This one came via Theatre of Wine, and is a really really wonderful example of just how good Chablis can be. I won't start here on a rant about Chardonnay (I've written an article about it for a magazine and I'll let you know as and when that is published), but honestly, Chablis is one of the best things to happen to the Chardonnay grape. This one is fermented and aged in stainless steel, is not oaked (typical of Chablis) and has a wonderful gravelly mineral flavour - the terroir in the Chablis area is well known for this and this is why the wine has such a distinctive savoury note to it. I tasted citrus (lemon & grapefruit) and also honey and apple. A really stunning wine and one I will definitely be buying over and over. 9.5/10
Now we come to what I am classing as the star of this 4-act show. Another Chardonnay, this time from Hungary. The Kovács Nimród Monopole Battonage. Made in a classic Burgundy style, this is a truly delicious wine. Battonage is the process of stirring the lees (or yeast which is formed during fermentation) through the wine. This wine is aged in small barrels made from French, Hungarian and a very small amount of American oak. The lees ageing provides a wonderful creamy, yeasty, almost brioche note to the wine and alongside this, there are flavours of citrus, honey and orchard fruits. This one was another Theatre of Wine purchase, and honestly a real show stopping crowd pleaser. Phenomenal. 10/10
Lastly, we head to France for the Roc' Ambulle Pet Nat Negrette. This is a natural, organic, sparkling pink made from Mauzac & Negrette grapes. Pet Nat, for those who don't know, is short for pétillant naturel and basically means naturally fizzy. The wine is bottled before the primary fermentation is complete and without any additional yeasts or sugars, allowing the final throes of fermentation to happen in bottle creating this wonderful tongue tingling sparkle. This is unlike the champagne method in which the wine undergoes a second fermentation in bottle. Because it is a natural wine it did contain some sediment, which although doesn't affect the flavour, it did, on the last mouthful, impair my enjoyment of the wine. It can sometimes be beneficial to decant natural wines, (perhaps through cheesecloth or muslin), to remove this sediment, but I do love a natural wine. This one was nice; a lovely shade of pink akin to a rose lemonade (mmm, rose lemonade, I quite fancy a glass of that right now actually) and was perfectly pétillant. It had notes of strawberry and a pink grapefruit acidity on the nose and the palate offered up candied strawberries and juicy cherries. I think I said in my Instagram post that both of these flavours had been subtly kissed by a rose in bloom. Yes, this is a very wanky thing to say, but I stand by the description as I think it works. Plus, I'm reviewing wine, and that can definitely be considered a wanky 'profession'! A lovely example of a Pet Nat, and certainly very quaffable, but can't say it was massively memorable. 7/10
Well, there we have it. Just a short round up of some of the wines we have been getting into recently.
I'll try not to neglect this too much, but, despite lockdown, life does still manage to get in the way somehow!
Let me know in the comments what other content you might like to see both here and over on Instagram.
Until the next time my imbibing friends...
Has anyone else found that their intake of both caffeinated and alcoholic beverages have increased substantially during the last 12 months? It might just be me, but I’m pretty sure that most of us have found the need to imbibe more frequently that we used to (it’s just me isn’t it?). Now, although I don’t condone drinking to excess (please do drink responsibly people), I do endorse the mixing of caffeine and alcohol, especially when it’s in the form of an espresso martini.
The espresso martini, or the ‘vodka espresso’ cocktail as it was originally known, was invented in 1983 by Dick Bradsell when he worked at the Soho Brasserie. It has been a staple in cocktail bars and restaurants ever since, and it certainly is one of the more popular cocktails at Copper & Ink. It’s quite possibly my favourite cocktail to both make and drink and I think it always looks so elegant. As with most cocktails, the base ingredients you use are what elevate it, and I believe that the ingredients I use in mine make for a really special drink. Ethical and tasty? What more could you ask for?!
*This vodka is made from milk, so if you are vegan or have a dairy allergy, you will want to use an alternative