I'm not the world's biggest fan of Bombay Sapphire. It's by no means a bad gin, but sometimes I feel like it's a little over complex, other times I find it thin and uninteresting. I've made cocktails and when something just hasn't been quite right, process of elimination has often turned to the inclusion of Bombay. All this being said, there is one cocktail where I feel a London Dry just won't substitute. For the Gin Basil Cucumber and Tonic— and I still don't know why, it has to be Bombay.
The Gin, Basil, Cucumber & Tonic.
1oz Bombay Sapphire Gin
4oz Tonic Water
1/2 teaspoon of sugar
3 leaves basil
3 slices cucumber
Muddle basil and sugar in gin, then add cucumber slices and ice. Top up glass with tonic.
If you're at all interested in the history of classic cocktails. The Old Fashioned is a great place to start. They were created in the very early 1800s, where it was just called the cocktail, and then after a stint of variations well into the 1860s, the cocktail came back in it's original form as The Old Fashioned; a mixture of spirits, bitters, sugar and water.
Note that I said spirits and not rye or bourbon. What's doubly cool is that the old fashioned is amongst the Sour and the Fizz as a recipe which can be applied to nearly any spirit, bitters or variation. Historically the Old-Fashioned has gone from Bourbon, to Rye, to Tequila to Gin. And with a slight stretch of the recipe (swapping sugar for vermouth) you get the Martini and the Manhattan.
The Classic Old Fashioned
2oz Any Spirit
2 Dashes Bitters
1/2oz Simple Syrup (Or stir in a teaspoon of sugar)
Stir over ice and strain into an old fashioned glass filled with a large block of ice. Garnish with an orange twist.
My Old Fashioned recipe is a slight variation of the classic recipe. The ingredients are scaled down slightly (So I don't feel so bad about having two) and I use a slight variation of sugar syrup which came from my misunderstanding the process behind the Bon Apetit Burnt Sugar Old Fashioned.
Toffee Simple Syrup
1/3 cup Raw Sugar
1/3 cup Still Water
Put the sugar in a pot over medium-low heat and intermittently add water. Do not let the sugar burn but it should melt in places. When most of the water is in the pot, scrape any sugar which has clung to the bottom and stir in with a metal spoon.
My Old Fashioned
1 1/2oz Rittenhouse or Sazerac Rye
1/3oz Toffee Simple Syrup
2 dashes Orange bitters
1 dash Angostura bitters
I like to garnish with a twist of orange and, when they are in season, a fresh cherry.
I'm starting this website off with one of the most congenial cocktails I've tasted. If someone I don't know well asks for my recommendation, or if a friend says they don't know what they want, I'll be reliably walking back to the table with two Moscow Mules in copper mugs.
Not only is the Moscow Mule a universally enjoyable drink, it's Gin and Tonic level simple. If you can't be bothered with jiggers or fresh ingredients, the Moscow Mule is the drink for you. Of course, I like to pretty it up with fresh mint, lime and a copper mug (Jim Meehan even makes ginger ale from scratch), but if it's not one of those days. This isn't the sort of cocktail that will begrudge you for your head being elsewhere. It also works well with a variety of Vodkas. Today we're showing some love to 666, a Tasmanian Vodka cut with Cape Grim Rainwater. Other favourites include Ketel One, and the West Perth based Hippocampus- which may well be the best Vodka I've ever tasted.
The story of how the Moscow Mule came to be is quite hilarious. A newly minted proprietor of ginger beer, John "Jack" Morgan sat down with a liquor distributor and the president of Smirnoff. Surprising absolutely nobody, the three decided to pair Jack's ginger beer with Smirnoff Vodka and a sqeeze of lemon juice. It was then -his head still reeling from his genius- that Jack remembered he had a girlfriend who had recently been willed a copper factory. She was invited along, and soon they had a great drink with a distinctive drinking vessel.
As often as not I'm not particularly fussy when making Moscow Mules. I fill the ginger beer to the brim and as I finish the drink I top it up with whatever's left. I often quarter a lime, squeezing one quarter into the drink and using another as a garnish. But for those who like to get their ratios right, here's a recipe:
The Moscow Mule
4oz Ginger Beer
0.75oz Lime Juice
Build in a mug filled with (preferably crushed) ice. Garnish with mint and a lime wedge.