Star Wars Episode IV Cocktails

Continuing our preparation for Star Wars day, here are some cocktails for Episode IV…

EPISODE IV – A NEW HOPE

Where we learn you can command the deadliest weapon in the galaxy in your slippers and that exhaust vents do not make the best architectural features.

Bantha Milk

Bantha Milk Cocktail Episode IV Star Wars Drinks - FINALWhat is that weird blue stuff that Luke drinks with Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen? It’s bantha milk (banthas are those buffalo-like creatures that the Tusken Raiders/Sand People ride on); oh and it’s blue!

Recipe
35ml White Rum or Coconut Rum, 15ml Blue Curacao, 70ml milk (semi-skimmed)
Shake ingredients with ice, then pour into a tall, ice-filled glass. Top with whipped cream.

Understandably milky, but still lightweight in texture, this cocktail has a gentle sweetness at the start, boosted by a light note from the rum, which takes on a chocolate-like flavour (much like the chocolate filling you get sandwiched between biscuits like bourbons). The whipped cream adds a touch of luxury and a real dessert quality. The finish is clean and dry, ensuring that it continues to be easy to sip.

The Peter Cushing

Peter Cushing Cocktail Episode IV Star Wars Drinks - FINALPeter Cushing already had a great deal of experience with monsters by the time he played the ruthless Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin aboard the Death Star in Episode IV. This cocktail, in honour of the gentleman and the actor, is made from completely vegetarian ingredients (he was a patron of the Vegetarian Society).

Recipe
50ml Shortcross Dry Gin, 25ml Stone’s Ginger Wine
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Smooth, but complex, with notes of juniper, coriander, and a light note of black pepper that integrate well with herbal notes and a gentle warmth from the ginger wine. The flavour develops more as you sip, with the ginger building and lasting, and adding a delicate and not overwhelming sweetness. Equally, the finish builds with notes from the gin, including a greener, herbal juniper flavour. Sophisticated and delicious.

Binary Sunset

Binary Sunsets Cocktail Episode IV Star Wars Drinks - FINALThe Skywalker homeworld is in the Tatoo binary star system in the Outer Rim Territories. The system’s two suns – Tatoo I and Tatoo II – appear in a poignant scene during which one of Star Wars’ great musical themes is played: Binary Sunset’.

This bi-glass drink is an adaptation of the two Tequila Sunrise cocktails from Dale DeGroff’s excellent book, ‘The Essential Cocktail’.

Recipe
Tatoo I – 30ml Blanco Mezcal, 80ml Fresh Orange Juice, 15ml Grenadine
Combine ingredients in a glass with ice and then slowly pour in the grenadine.

Smoky mezcal on the nose, which immediately continues onto the palate, before a flash of sweet red berries, then fresh orange juice. The mezcal then returns, starting out strong – almost like charred meat in its level of smokiness – and gradually softening to a fruity smokiness, like chargrilled pineapple.

Tatoo II – 30ml Reposado Tequila, 30ml Fresh Lemon Juice, 20ml Simple Syrup, 5ml Creme de Cassis, 5ml Grenadine
Combine ingredients in a glass with ice and then slowly pour in the Creme de Cassis and Grenadine.

Sharp and revitalising. Tart lemon notes at the start are almost sherbet-like in texture – very reminiscent, actually, of a lemon sherbet sweet. The tequila then appears, gradually building on the finish, where it mingles with the lemon notes and more tangy notes, this time blackcurrant notes from the Creme de Cassis.

Star Wars Episode III Cocktails

Coming this week is 4th May or, in America, May 4th (as in “May the 4th Be With You”), which makes it Star Wars Day. As such, I am creating some companion cocktails for each of the seven films. Today, we’re watching/drinking to Episode III.

EPISODE III – REVENGE OF THE SITH

Things go from bad to worse for Anakin Skywalker, the Jedi, and Democracy in the Galaxy…

The Wookiee

The Wookie Cocktail Episode III Star Wars Drinks - FINALIn Episode III, we are taken to the Wookiees’ homeworld of Kashyyyk. This cocktail was inspired by the mighty, feisty, and loyal Wookiees and their forest-covered planet.

Recipe
50ml Oat-infused Brandy*, 120ml Cloudy Apple Juice
Add to ingredients to an ice filled glass and stir. Garnish with three fanned slices of ginger root.
*Infuse 50ml of brandy with 1 tsp of oats and 1/2 tsp of grated ginger root for 5 mins. Strain before using.

Dry ginger on the nose, then a delicious, smooth, lightweight fruitiness: it has an almost tropical, but not too sweet flavour, reminiscent of coconut water. This fades to a more creamy, tart flavour of cloudy apple juice and a softness from the oats. The warmth of ginger and woody cinnamon increase on the finish, leaving me craving apple crumble.

The Emperor Palpatine

The Emperor Palpatine Cocktail Episode III Star Wars Drinks - FINALFrom Senator to Supreme Chancellor to Emperor, Palpatine is the Francis Urquhart/Underwood of the Galaxy. This drink is a variation on the Emperor Cocktail (with Unicum) from the excellent Kindred Cocktails.

Recipe
30ml Campari, 20ml Red Vermouth, 5ml Orange Curacao
Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

From the moment you bring the glass towards you, there is a strong nose of orange and sweet red fruit. The initial taste has a smooth, regal nature to it, full of silky flavours from the red vermouth, but the palate is quickly absorbed by a rich bitterness from the Campari, highlighted by hints of bitter orange. A perfect fit for this cocktail’s namesake.

The Mustafar

Mustaphar Cocktail Cocktail Episode III Star Wars Drinks - FINALFor the final cocktail of Episode III, we take some inspiration from the fiery, Outer Rim planet of Mustafar.

Recipe
30ml Chilli Vodka (I think the St. George Spirits’ Green Chile Vodka is the best that money can buy), 10ml Smoked Vodka (optional), 60ml Carrot & Orange Juice
Add to an iced glass and gently stir. Garnish with chilli flakes and a small red chilli.

Rich, warm, genuine notes of chilli, swiftly followed by creamy, savoury notes of carrot and then the fresher, brighter notes of orange juice; neither of the latter are too strong, though, so it stays both savoury (and slightly reminiscent of soup) and refreshing. The chilli returns on the finish, along with a hint of charred smokiness. A delicious twist on a Bloody Mary that works extremely – if surprisingly – well.

Star Wars Episode II Cocktails

Coming this week is 4th May or, in America, May 4th (as in “May the 4th Be With You”), which makes it Star Wars Day. As such, I am creating some companion cocktails for each of the seven films. Today, we’re watching/drinking to Episode II.

Episode II – Attack of the Clones

In which we see: the beginnings of the stormtrooper, a galactic colosseum, and possibly the worst on-screen chemistry of any cinematic couple.

Jawa Juice

Jawa Juice Cocktail Episode III Star Wars Drinks - FINALThe Jawas – those rapscallions from the desert planet, Tatooine – appear in a number of the Star Wars films, but with so much inspiration for drinks in Episode IV, I’ve fitted them in here.

Recipe
30ml Coffee vodka (or a 50/50 mix of cold coffee and vodka), 90ml Cola.
Add ingredients to an ice-filled glass and garnish with two honeydew melon balls.

Smooth, slightly sweet and herbal cola flavours are lifted by lovely notes of black coffee, dark chocolate, and sweet vanilla wafers. On the finish, the light fruitiness of the honeydew comes through, nicely complemented by the other flavours and making the drink a refreshing cooler.

Kamino Float

Kamino Float Cocktail Episode III Star Wars Drinks - FINALKamino is the water planet from which the clone army originates. Unsurprisingly, given that its inspiration is a planet covered by sea water, this cocktail is blue and, sticking with the aquatic theme, it has a scoop of cream added to make it a “float”. *groan*

Recipe
25ml Vanilla Vodka, 15ml Blue Curacao, 100ml cream soda
Add the vodka and curacao to the glass, top up with cream soda and then add a dollop of vanilla ice cream.

The creamy vanilla of the cream soda is strong at the outset, then gradually fades to a zingy, refreshing note of sherbet-like citrus. Very tasty and the perfect colour to accompany the tranquil, then stormy scenes on Kamino.

Count Dooku

Count Dooku Cocktail Episode III Star Wars Drinks - FINALPortrayed by the wonderful Sir Christopher Lee, Count Dooku is a character that I don’t think we get to see enough of. This drink has a slightly red colour – a nod to Dooku’s lightsaber – and the Italian vermouth is a reflection of Lee’s Italian heritage.

Recipe
20ml Scotch whisky, 20ml Bourbon whiskey, 10ml Red Vermouth, 5ml Cherry Brandy
Add ingredients to a mixing glass and stir with ice; strain into a Martini glass.

This is a complex, herbal, and bitter cocktail that would make a great aperitif. It starts with dry notes of cola, red currants, and cherry, with a gradually increasing herbal bitterness somewhat reminiscent of a Negroni. After a few sips, however, it takes on more of a creamy, bourbon character. The finish is of smooth vanilla oak, but it nonetheless keeps its refreshing, bitter edge.

Star Wars Episode I Cocktails

One week from now is 4th May or, in America, May 4th (as in “May the 4th Be With You”), which makes it Star Wars Day. As such, I am creating some companion cocktails for each of the seven films.

EPISODE I – THE PHANTOM MENACE

In which a young Darth Vader races through the desert, some robots fight swamp creatures, and we see a double-bladed lightsaber.

Naboo Royale

Nabbo RoyaleThis cocktail takes its regal inspiration from the tipple enjoyed by both Queen Elizabeth and the late Queen Mother; gin & Dubonnet, which has been lengthened with Champagne in the style of a Kir Royale.

Recipe
20ml Gin, 20ml Dubonnet (or Red Vermouth), 75ml Champagne

This has a wonderfully savoury, herbal nose. Rich, warm berry notes are quickly followed by an unexpected, but pleasant note of basil, which develops into a more complex array of herbal flavours. This fades into more savoury notes from the gin – a little pine and tart berry – accompanied by the revitalising dryness of the Champagne.

Podracers’ Punch

Podracer PunchFor this cocktail, I wanted to reflect the colourful, exotic scenes of Tatooine’s podrace. As a punch, it’s also easy to scale up and share with a group of friends (or fellow spectators).

Recipe
30ml Rum (I used Golden Rum), 10ml Lime Juice, 10ml Sugar Syrup, 30ml Pineapple Syrup Mix ingredients in a shaker, pour into a glass with ice and top up with a splash (10ml) of ginger beer.

Thirst-quenching, light, and comforting, this has a great note of spice at the start, followed by notes from the rum and a hint of fruity cola. What’s particularly nice about it is that it’s neither too sweet, nor too bitter. The fresh sweetness from the pineapple juice comes through increasingly on the finish, along with richer notes from the rum and a light, warm spiciness.

Duel of the Fates

These three mini cocktails, inspired by Episode I’s lightsaber battle, work surprisingly well when drunk together – taking a sip from each highlights strengths and flavours in each.

Duelofthefates

Recipe
Blue – 10ml Blue Curacao, 60ml Champagne
Red – 10ml Campari (Grenadine or Cherry Brandy if you like something sweeter), 60ml Champagne
Green – 10ml Midori, 60ml Champagne

For each, add the liqueur to the glass and top up with Champagne.

The green cocktail is vibrant, bubbly, and full of fruit notes; there’s a flash of sweetness at the start, before a more confectionery flavour of melon gradually builds. The Champagne adds a lovely dryness to the finish, although the melon notes linger for a while in the background, taking on a more bubblegum type of character.

The green cocktail is complemented well by its blue counterpart, which is more dry and has an array of complex citrus notes, including hints of marmalade and dried fruit. Again, the wine adds a refreshing dryness to the finish.

In stark contrast to both of the above, the red cocktail is full of bitter, earthy notes, which nonetheless works surprisingly well alongside them. The light, fruity sweetness of the wine also comes through more strongly, balancing out those bitter Campari notes on the finish.

Check back tomorrow for Episode II – Attack of the Clones

Gin Distilling Workshop, Ginposium and Craft Distilling Debate

Gin Workshop at the Bermondsey Distillery

Wednesday 11th May 2016 – 10:00-15:30 with Dr. Anne Brock and David T Smith.

DTSAB1After its popularity during the last two London Cocktail Weeks, we are once again running our one-day workshop exploring designing and distilling your own gin. As well as instruction on the practical aspects of gin, the workshop will allow attendees to discuss the more nuanced aspects of bringing a spirit to market. Topics covered include: production methods, “making the cuts”, working with botanicals, and filtration.

10:00-15:30, Bermondsey Distillery, 55 Stanworth St, London SE1 3NY.

£234 (lunch included). Tickets available here.


Special Offer: Buy a ticket for the Gin Guild Ginposium and receive 20% off the ticket price for the Gin Workshop.

Places are limited and allocated on a first come, first served basis.

Wednesday 11th – Thursday 12th May promises to be a little hub of distilling events in London with the Distilling Workshop (11th), the Gin Guild Ginposium at the London Transport Museum (12th), and the Worshipful Company of Distillers’ Annual City Drinks Debate on Craft Distilling (12th).

Cocktails with… Crossbill 200

Terroir – the idea of capturing part of the essence of a gin distillery surroundings in the flavour of the spirit – has become increasingly popular in recent years, with more producers using locally sourced botanicals.Another trend is an increased interest in juniper, the key ingredient in gin; from how it is used to where it is sourced from.

Small British brands such as the Moorland Spirits Company (Hepple Gin), Crossbill Distillery (Crossbill Gin), and Becketts Gin all use at least some British-grown juniper; Crossbill is made using 100% British-grown juniper.

A few years back, Master of Malt’s Ben Ellefsen started his Origin project, where he placed a bounty on any source of juniper that could be traced to a specific geographic location. This resulted in seven single-estate, cold-distilled gins that he made with juniper from Italy, Croatia, Macedonia, Kosovo, Netherlands, Bulgaria, and Albania.

But what if you took terroir to a micro-level – rather than a single location, just one corner of a field, or even a single bush…

This is exactly what Jonathan Engels of Crossbill did for his new gin, Crossbill 200. The juniper is exclusively harvested from a single, 200-year-old juniper bush in the Cairngorms. The rosehips (Crossbill’s only other botanical) are harvested from around the bush.

Crossbill200.jpg

On its own
Nose: Strong and resinous upfront, with just a hint of salinity, then a light, leafy, creamy vanilla and a hint of wood.
Taste: A symphony of juniper flavours: from green, resinous pine notes, then some floral spruce, before a little sweetness and a more jammy juniper note mixed with woody vanilla. Some florality then opens up from the rosehip, with hints of raisin and a touch of nuttiness.

Gin & Tonic
This has a very light louche. Upfront, there is some sweet anise, then creamy vanilla and light oak notes, before green, resinous pine and juicy, jammy juniper. This is an intensely flavoured gin that should stand up well to any tonic; excellent refreshment.

Martini
Thick and oily, with light, woody vanilla notes of young juniper and then a deep cedar note. The lighter juniper notes work really well with the slight tartness of the vermouth and its complex herbal flavours.

Negroni
This is full of very leafy, green flavours with a hint of vegetal bitterness. It’s an exceptionally intense Negroni with fresh juniper and resinous woody notes, before a clean, earthy bitterness. The higher ABV adds intensity, but no heat.

Gin Soda
A drink with a really luscious, slightly oily, texture. It’s smooth and refreshing, and more exciting than your average Gin Soda, even without a garnish. A lovely way to appreciate the subtleties of the gin in a long drink.

Gin Old Fashioned
The bitters work well with the creamy, woody elements of the gin, and the sweetness works well with the rosehip notes, balancing out the dry juniper.

French ‘75
Another fantastic drink: complex, full of rich juniper notes, a touch of spice, and a little florality from the rosehip. It’s a bit like a 3D – or even 4D – French ’75, transcending time….

In Conclusion
I think that the idea and concept behind Crossbill 200 is superb; it’s fascinating and I’ve been keen to try it since I heard about it. With such high expectations, the spirit had a lot to live up to and – thankfully – I wasn’t disappointed.

My favourite drink was the French ‘75 – sublime!

Cocktails with a variety of American Gins

Pinnacle Gin (40.0% ABV)

Pinnacle Gin FINALPinnacle Gin is made by a company best known for its neutral and flavoured vodkas. The bottle says the gin is imported and implies it is made in the UK, but I couldn’t find out much more information. I picked up a 200ml bottle in the US for $6.

On its own
Nose: Pure alcohol.
Taste: Very simple and spirituous to taste, followed by a single dimension of juniper. The finish burns the throat. Decidedly below average, this seems unlikely to have been designed for drinking and I certainly wouldn’t.

Gin & Tonic
Rather dull; with a whiff of juniper and citrus, it is only slightly refreshing and rather cloying on the finish. There are far better drinks out there, but it is an improvement on drinking the gin straight. With a fresh wedge of lime squeezed in the drink, it becomes just about acceptable.

Martini
Again, this is very basic, with a little juniper coming through, but most of the flavour comes from the vermouth. A boring Martini – usually such a rare creature. I don’t think I’d drink this, even in a pinch.

Negroni
Simple and a bit flat in terms of flavour, although it improves with a slice of orange to add a touch of zing. It could do with a little more bitterness, but, on balance, an average drink.

Of those that I tried, my favourite drink with Pinnacle Gin was the Negroni.

Skol Gin (40.0% ABV)

SkolGinA London Dry Gin with a history dating back to 1849, Skol Gin is currently part of Barton brands (who also own Fleischmann’s Gin and Mr. Boston Gin). I purchased a 200ml bottle in the US for $5.00.

On its own
Nose: Rather “quiet”, with a faint whisper of pine and vanilla notes.
Taste: Not bad, with a relatively light character of juniper, angelica, coriander, and citrus. There is also a raisin-like note in the middle and a rather dry finish.

Gin & Tonic
Dry and rather cloying, this Gin & Tonic has a conspicuous lack of character. Below average and one to avoid.

Martini
Skol Gin produces a very straight-forward Martini, with notes of pine, citrus, and nutmeg. It’s not bad, but greatly improved with the addition of a fresh fruit garnish – a twist of grapefruit peel is particularly good.

Negroni
An average Negroni. The gin’s raisin character really comes through in this cocktail, as well as some notes of white wine. Juicy, with a fair amount of sweetness and then a rather intense bitterness. Not bad, but it won’t blow you away.

My favourite drink with Skol Gin was the Martini.

McCormick Extra Dry Distilled London Dry Gin (40.0% ABV)

McCormick Gin FINALDistilled from American grain in Weston, Missouri, I purchased 200ml of McCormick Extra Dry Distilled London Dry Gin for $4.50.

On its own
Nose: Juniper, coriander, and the sticky-sweetness of figs.
Taste: Surprisingly smooth, with a sweet fig silkiness to it and some fragrant spice, before notes of bitter pine. Unfortunately, the flavour then collapses into an unpleasant void – there is no finish.

Gin & Tonic
With steady notes of juniper and citrus, this is rather average, but thankfully not too cloying. A standard drink, but reasonable enough when caught short.

Martini
This gin produces a well-rounded and refreshing Martini with a nice interplay between its spice and juniper notes and a dry finish. A good garnish and chilled glass could make this drink very good.

Negroni
I found this Negroni to be rather off-balance; there is a lack of flavour and the cocktail’s signature bittersweet character is missing. Dull.

My favourite drink with McCormick Extra Dry Gin was the Martini.
New Amsterdam Gin (40.0% ABV)

AmsterdamGinOn its own
Nose: Subtle, with just a little sweet citrus.
Taste: Again, quite sweet, with a sherbet-like citrus flavour and fruity notes reminiscent of the “Fruit Salad” chewy sweets. Very light on the juniper.

Gin & Tonic
Dominant notes of vanilla and citrus. As it develops, you can make out a touch of grapefruit, more vanilla, and notes of chocolate and dry pine at the end. Overall, pretty good.

Martini
This Martini is, sadly, distinctly lacking in juniper, has too much sweet citrus to taste, and lots of alcohol on the nose. It is okay as a drink, but, even for the most liberal of contemporary gin drinkers, this may well stray too far to be called a Gin Martini.

Negroni
In sharp contrast to the Martini, this is rich and fruity, with plenty of notes of orange, herbs, and an earthy bitterness. Full-bodied, rounded, and smooth. The overall intensity of bitterness is good and ensures that this is a pretty tasty cocktail.

In Conclusion
Overall, I’m left feeling that this gin is a bit hit and miss. It makes a disappointing Martini but the gin and tonic was quite acceptable. Where it worked best was the super-smooth Negroni.

 

 

Smuggler’s Notch (44.0% ABV)

Smugglers NotchSmuggler’s Notch distillery is in Jeffersonville, Vermont.

On its own
Nose: Light and refined, with hints of biscuit, coriander, cassia, and floral blossom.
Taste: Dry, with notes of citrus and cilantro upfront, followed by a fair dose of spice. Then there is some ultra-dry citrus flavours and a little warm tingle on the finish.

Gin & Tonic
A rather savoury Gin & Tonic with a little salinity and spice notes such as cumin. Smooth with a dry finish, this is easy to drink.

Martini
Light and crisp, with subtle hints of vanilla and lemon, before peppery notes, juniper, and angelica on the finish.

Negroni
A clean and smooth Negroni; not too intense and quite accessible, this nonetheless works even better with a slightly higher ratio of gin.

In Conclusion
A very light, clean gin, although I would have enjoyed a little more botanical intensity. My favourite drink was the Martini.

Smuggler’s Notch Hopped Gin (45.0% ABV)

Made by vapour infusing Vermont Cascade Hop and Organic Juniper.

On its own
Nose: Quiet, with an air of spice.
Taste: This gin has a pleasant texture, but the spirit itself is light on character. With a little time, however, flavours of chocolate and spice emerge.

Gin & Tonic
This has some light hop notes that add complexity to the drink, plus a touch of bitterness and a hint of citrus. A smooth and crisp drink.

Martini
A soft Martini with the creamy smoothness of a vodka Martini, this has a little residual juniper, before some angelica on the finish.

Negroni
This is a more complex version of the Negroni made with the original Smuggler’s Notch Gin. It has floral citrus notes and an appealing bitterness thanks to the mix of hops and Campari.

In Conclusion
Smuggler’s Notch Hopped Gin is gin light on character when sipped neat and, although a nice spirit, it works best in mixed drinks. I liked the Negroni best.

Oola Gin

Oola GinMade at one of the many distilleries in Seattle, Washington State. Oola distillery also make an aged gin, flavoured vodka and bourbon.

On its own
Nose: A very rich and creamy vanilla nose with a touch of citrus.
Taste: Oily on the palate, with notes of liquorice, a little creamy vanilla, and dry juniper. It’s slightly spirituous on the finish with a leafy zing to it.

Gin & Tonic
Creamy on the nose, with hints of caramel panna cotta. It’s also creamy to taste, with sweet caramel and vanilla upfront, before a more typical dry gin character of earthy pine and citrus.

Martini
Very fruity and creamy – great for those who like a slightly sweeter Martini. This is a better choice for post-dinner, rather than pre-dinner cocktail.

Negroni
Sweet and creamy, with a bitterness level much lower than most Negroni drinkers would expect. Packed full of sweet spice and vanilla, with a just a spot of earthy bitterness.

In Conclusion
Oola is very much of a sweeter style then a dry gin with a good level of flavour and a pleasant texture. My favourite drink was the Gin Tonic.