Friday, 11 May 2012

Fabulous Friday: Cocktail Hour

  Adventures with whiskey and cider brandy

Aoife, Cambridge

My local off-license (Cambridge Wine Merchants on Mill Road) keeps an enticing box of miniatures near the till. It’s certainly not just your average selection of mini-bottles of less than premium vodka and gin; I have found all sorts of treasures in there. My last trip yielded mini bottles of Hendrick’s gin and cider brandy. Needless to say, the Hendrick’s was used quickly in a gin related emergency but the cider brandy just sat in the cupboard. That is until a rainy Sunday afternoon with nothing to do but experiment with cocktail making.

A quick, invigorating nip established that it tasted like an alcoholic version of Cidona. This set me off reminiscing about drinking Cidona and eating Tayto in Irish pubs. Once my self-indulgent bout of home sickness was over I started to wonder if I could use the cider brandy with Irish whiskey to create a kind of Irish Manhattan? I had to experiment. 

I started off with a 3:1 whiskey:cider brandy ratio. The only flavour coming through was the whiskey so I changed the ratio to 3:2 and added two dashes of angostura bitters. While this was really tasty, it was lacking the sweet smoothness that you get from the bourbon in a Manhattan. In fact, it was pretty much heartburn in a glass. I happened to have some oranges so I added some freshly squeezed juice and a squeeze of my trusty agave nectar. The flavours were now much better balanced; the aromatics from the cider brandy much more prominent. The Husband didn’t even realise there was whiskey in there on his first taste, really bringing home to me the alchemy of cocktail making: you mix and blend ingredients and you can end up with flavours which are much more than the sum of their parts. This cocktail is definitely worth trying even if you think you don’t like whiskey.

I began my experiment trying to create an Irish Manhattan and I certainly haven’t got any closer to achieving that aim. More experimentation will be required.
3 parts Irish whiskey (I used Jameson)
2 parts cider brandy
2 parts freshly squeezed orange juice
2 dashes bitters (I used Angostura but I think orange bitters would work really well here)
Sugar syrup or agave nectar to taste

Combine all of the ingredients and stir in a jug will plenty of ice. Strain into a prepared cocktail glass. If you are feeling fancy, flame a piece of orange peel on to the top.

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