It’s a guideline not a recipe!

In my day job I spend a lot of time educating bartenders about bourbon, and this week during a tasting session I was asked to discuss how to adapt some classic recipes to suit different bourbons. All too often we are presented with ‘the recipe’ for making a certain drink, but just saying 20ml of vermouth or 50 ml of gin doesn’t always lead to creating a well balanced drink. The moment you change one ingredient the balance of the drink changes.
When it comes to making cocktails, everywhere you turn you are presented with recipes be it in blogs such as this or in cocktail books or magazines, but maybe we should be talking about guidelines not recipes. It probably seems like common sense to good bartenders that you would always just balance your drink depending on what ingredients you are using, but to the less experienced bartender or cocktail enthusiast it is easy to get caught in the trap of following a recipe blindly.

Drinking Chocolate

Well it’s Easter again, which of course means I have every excuse to over-indulge on chocolate, with almost no guilt whatsoever. This year though, I am not going to be having an Easter egg. No sir! I’ll be getting my chocolate fix in liquid form instead.
The idea of using chocolate in drinks is of course nothing new, and at this time of year especially there are plenty of drinks being posted on cocktail blogs and websites that are absolutely loaded with chocolaty goodness. But I thought it might be time for something a bit different; so grabbing all the chocolate I could find in the house, I set about making drinks that subtly celebrate cocoa in all its glory.
You see, when you add chocolate to a drink it can get pretty rich and sickly, and frankly I’d rather enjoy lots of chocolate drinks (responsibly of course!) than have one or two and then feel sick. So this Easter at b&t HQ we’ll be enjoying a few well-balanced drinks with just enough chocolate to tease the taste buds, but not so much that there’ll be a need to diet once Easter is over.

There's no excuse not to drink cocktails!

I have just returned from my annual Christmas and New Year escape. You see unlike many people I don’t particularly enjoy the ‘festive’ season so I normally grab a group of like-minded individuals and head for the hills. As well as being a keen imbiber I also enjoy mountain biking, so a trip to deepest darkest Wales for a week of playing in the mud and snow up the side of a mountain always cheers me up, while others sit watching TV re-runs and eating Turkey.
This year was no exception, but where as I usually accept a week of drinking beer in place of Manhattans, this year I decided no compromise would be allowed. Here’s my simple philosophy… ‘there is no excuse not to drink cocktails’. No matter where you are or what you are doing, cocktails enhance the occasion, so why compromise?
So with that in mind I set about planning which bottles should go to Wales, with the obvious dilemma of taking enough variety for 8 days drinking, whilst still being able to fit everything else into the car! I would have loved to have been able to take the entire 'drinking room' collection with me, but practicality forced me to dig deep and cull my packing to no more than a couple of boxes, covering spirits, syrups, bitters, tools and fruit.  A real challenge!
I also decided that I should provide a cocktail list for my fellow mountain bikers, offering a broad range of drinks to suit their varied tastes. This made life both easier and harder; at least I could narrow down the list of ingredients to cover a small selection of drinks… but it also meant I had to bring enough ingredients to cover the whole range of drinks, not just the drinks I like best… so much for a bottle of rum, a bottle of bourbon and a bottle of Antica Formula vermouth!

a few drinks inspired by our recent adventures!

Reluctantly I have settled back into the routine now that I am back from France and have 30 days until our next trip (Tales of the cocktail and a tour of the Bourbon distilleries in Kentucky!) but after a long weekend away with friends, Sarah suggested that we shake up a few drinks while we chatted about recent trips and planned for our next one!


So here's what we were drinking last night... I am sure we did some planning too, but it is the drinking that (as per usual) has stuck in my mind!