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WMBW Drinks

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Those who know me,  know I have a cocktail repertoire of pretty much 2 drinks, the Negroni and the Old Fashioned. Now, Negronis are often reserved for summer, while Old Fashioneds are reserved for Friday nights at The House of Machines, or any long night at home.

Something tells me that’s all about to change, not much, but it’s gonna change.

Lets say hello to the Boulevardier. The Boulevardier can only be described as the love child of these 2 classic cocktails, taking the sweet bitterness from the Negroni and giving it the kick of the Old Fashioned. This drink is the brainchild of Harry Mcelhone, the founder and proprietor of Harry’s New York Bar in Paris. In his book ‘Barflies and Cocktails’, Harry credits the Boulevardier Cocktail to Erskine Gwynne, a wealthy American who ran off to Paris and started The Boulevardier literary magazine, hence the name of the cocktail.

The ingredients and recipe, like most classic cocktails is very simple. Traditionally, the recipe calls for equal parts Campari, Sweet Vermouth and Rye Whiskey. I’m a big fan of bourbon so it’s an obvious substitute for the rye, but I’ve also substituted the Campari for Aperol – I’ve noticed that most people are scared off by the bitterness of Campari, so the Aperol just brings a sweeter side to the drink and it’s become a staple in my bar trolley.

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You’re gonna want to serve this drink in a coupe cocktail glass, it’s a nice tip of the hat to it’s 1920’s origin. Chill the glass with a little ice (no one likes a warm cocktail) before you start prepping the rests of your ingredients.

I like to start mine off with a dash or two of bitters over ice in a pouring glass, the bitters just helps give the drink a little depth of flavouro. Next add the Aperol (or Campari if you prefer) and stir well, then stir in the sweet vermouth.

Stirring cocktails as opposed to shaking them helps maintain the clarity of the liquor while cooling it down and diluting it. Apparently, the secret to a good Boulevardier is a little extra Bourbon, so break the equal parts ration with 1,5 ratio of Bourbon and stir it in. I mean, can there be too much bourbon in your drink?

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Remember, the longer you take to construct and stir your drink the more you dilute it, so be quick. Now take your chilled coupe glass, throw out the ice and simply pour that deliciously dark drink through a cocktail strainer. Yeah, it’s that simple.

Garnish with a twist (if you don’t know what a twist is read this), I like lemon as it helps to balance the sweetness of the Aperol. Drop it in and serve. You can thank me when you’re done.

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I find my guests have trouble with their first Negronis and even more so with an old fashioned. Truth be told, my guests can be a bit soft, so this really does make for the perfect segway. Be warned though, like most prohibition cocktails this is just liquor on liquor and that sweet delicious Boulevardier will have you speaking french faster than you can say ‘tre magnifique’

Okay. Stay Fancy.

final-review-book-camissaIt’s not every day you get invited for lunch at one of Cape Town’s landmark hotels. So when the Table Bay hotel told me they had a couple of bottles of GH Mumm on ice, for me and a couple of friends, I didn’t really give it a second thought. Truth be told, I barely gave it a first thought – they kinda had me at GH Mumm  🙂

The Table Bay hotel itself is nothing short of spectacular, having what is arguably the best address in Cape Town – slap bang on the V&A Harbour – this 5 star landmark often feels as though it’s reserved for those climbing off the super yachts anchored just outside. Today however, there was a table waiting for Elzaan and I together with 4 of our closest friends at the hotels official restaurant the Camissa Brasserie. This would be the perfect start to the year and great practice for the upcoming Sun Met of course.

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It was one of those perfect Cape Town summer days, and although we had an opportunity to dine outside it would have meant giving up the lavish leather and marble interior – besides, it was a hot day and we didn’t want our Champagne getting warm  😉

We were in no rush (luckily neither was the restaurant) so we took our time catching up over the home made bread basket, reading through the menu and of course raising a toast to anything we could think of. Sometimes, you don’t have a reason to celebrate so it’s best to make some up along the way.

We eventually settled on our starters and mains and headed straight back to our conversation, champagne and of course some more toasts. Neither of us are food critics so I wont even begin to tell you about mouth feel or crunch factor (is that a thing? It should be if it isn’t) all I know is that my west coast mussel starter was delicious as was my east rock lobster tagliatelle. Elzaan kept showing me how her lamb shank just slipped off the bone and basically all the plates went back empty which is always a great sign.

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When it came to dessert, no one could really decide, so we ended up settling on a classic ‘speed dessert’ to avoid any order envy. For those of you who don’t know, speed dessert involves ordering a dessert for everyone at the table, then having a spoon full and passing left till all the plates were empty. The chocolate fondant went pretty quickly, followed closely by the rainbow cheesecake (or Unicorn cake as we called it), the only thing to suffer was our chessboard, we were simply to full to get through it all.

Our biggest disappointment was turning our last bottle of GH Mumm over to join it’s empty friends in the ice bucket that had given us such a fun afternoon. There was of course one last toast…to the ice bucket of course.

If you’re looking for a special day or night out, I definitely suggest giving the Camissa Brasserie a try for a classic fine dining experience. If you do, don’t rush it, just sit back and take in the beauty its location has to offer, you wont regret a minute. They’re open for lunch (11:00 – 15:30) and dinner (18:00 – 22:30) Sunday to Saturday and you can get hold of them on +27 21 406 5988.

Okay. Stay Fancy.

 

 

Of---TitleThe old Fashioned is hands down, my favourite drink.

It wasn’t always, in fact it used to be beer.

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while will know that it was introduced to me by Nic Koumbarakis on my first visit to The House Of Machines. My first sip literally changed my approach to drinking and gave me a new appreciation for a well made cocktail. Up until then, my idea of a cocktail was something sugary sweet topped with a cherry, maybe a piece of pineapple and definitely a tiny little umbrella.

Now, admittedly, I do have a penchant for classic cocktails. The kind that are made by mixing booze on booze and giving you a proper kick up the pants. This, is perhaps the most classic of classic cocktails, so classic in fact that it dates back to 1806, so classic in fact that the glass it was served in became known as an old fashioned glass. I mean I don’t know how many other drinks can claim that! Except for whiskey I suppose….and champagne. Wine too I guess. Ok fine, but still classic!

As legend has it (yes legend) this was a breakfast drink – those really were the good ol’ days uh?  Bourbon whiskey mixed with water, sugar and a couple dashes of bitters was apparently the most important meal of the day. During prohibition, the drink saw many variations and additives (mostly because the liquor back then tasted so terrible resulting in most of todays classic cocktails) until 1881 where the first ‘Old Fashioned’ as we know it was created at a gentleman club in Louisville, Kentucky. The rest is history i guess. Well, this part was also history, but this isnt a history blog, so let’s leave it there.

The drink is traditionally still made exactly the same way, sugar, bitters and whiskey all stirred over ice and topped with a citrus twist. Simple, and delicious. For the most part the old fashioned I’m about to show you is traditional except for a little change in the sweetening agent. Instead of sugar I’m gonna use maple syrup, not only because it really brings out the flavour of the bourbon but because that’s how Nic made it and it pretty much tastes like liquid gold.

Below is what you’re gonna need. Some good quality bourbon (I’m a big fan of Woodford Reserve), maple syrup, bitters (i’m using my homemade orange bitters – but that’s a whole other blogpost) and some orange peel. You’re also gonna need some time and a bit of bad assery, that’s what the hourglass and skull are for. As far as the rest of the equipment goes, a mixing glass, stirring spoon and strainer will do the trick, if you’re not sure what these are check out this essentials post.

ingredientsGlass-with-icebittersMaple-Syrup-(rotated)bourbonStir-2

So, that’s pretty much how you start.

You want to get your old fashioned glass chilling right from the get go. The only thing worse than a warm glass is the resulting warm drink. Then grab your stirring glass and drop in a couple sturdy blocks of ice. On top of the ice, throw in a dash or 2 of bitters – this helps balance the drink and give it a depth of flavour. On top of that, a teaspoon or 2 of maple syrup, depending on how sweet you like your drink. The final drink will take 2 shots of bourbon, but you want to stir them in one at a time to ensure even mixing. Stirring the drink not only chills it, but also dilutes it, this is where the quality of your ice is important, cheap ice will give you a very watery drink so be careful to not stir too long as your drink will dilute further in the glass.

Now grab your old fashioned glass and strain out any excess water left behind by the ice. Slowly strain your old fashioned into the glass allowing it to keep chilling along the way. The final step is perhaps my favourite and can even call for a little theatre. Cut yourself a piece of orange peel avoiding the white bitter part under the skin. Give the peel a nice twist over the drink allowing all those fragrant oils to settle on top of the drinks surface. Rub the skin around the rim of the glass and drop it in. Boom! If it worked for Ryan Gosling, it might do the same for you.

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As with all thing, you’ll tweak your recipe to suit your tastes, but these are the basics. Be warned, these drinks are no joke, their strength is cleverly disguised by their deliciousness.

Okay. Stay fancy

An Asutralian walks into a bar and asks “what beer do you have”?

No, this is not the start of a lame joke, though it is funny, in an awkward way. A friend of mine walked into an old New York bar – the name escapes me – it was some fancy place in an even fancier hotel. The bar had been around since forever and it was the kind of place men went to be men, you know, sip whiskey, smoke cigars, talk stocks, that kind of thing. Anyway, he walked up to the barmen and asked what beer they had, the bar man replied with “when you know what you would like Sir, I’de be happy to pour it for you”. Ok, sure I’m paraphrasing, but I think you get the gist of it. No gentleman should walk up to a bar without knowing what it is he wants, more importantly though, when he does he should know how to order it.

I overhear too many guys ordering drinks at the bar incorrectly so I think it’s time we stop confusing (or rather annoying) our barmen with this little bit of drinkucation! Yes it’s a made up word.

Neat

For the purpose of this exercise, Ive used a bottle of Gentleman Jack, not only because it’s one of my favourite whiskeys, but it works across all 3 examples.

Ordering a drink “Neat” will get you your poison of choice in a glass un-chilled, with no ice and no mixer. This kind of request is best kept for a good whiskey, bourbon or brandy, something that is aged and is best enjoyed at room temperature. Of course, if you’re out on a bender and looking for results, you could order anything you want neat – just maybe sit on the corner of the bar close to the toilets.

On-The-Rocks

This one we all know right? “Gimme a Jack on the rocks!” It simply refers to liquor poured neat over ice, allowing the liquor to chill and dilute as you sip it. In this case, your ice grade is very important. Yes, their are different ice grades and a good bar should be able to offer you gourmet ice (yea, it’s a real thing) also known as Top Hat or Octagon ice. You’ll recognise this ice from its clarity, that’s because it’s produced in such a way that it is free from  contamination, free from impurities, and contains no minerals allowing a clear cube (not like my foggy home made ones up above).

The benefit of gourmet ice, is that it melts slower and doesnt alter the flavour of your drink with all the minerals and impurities found in tap water. If you want to be a complete whiskey snob, your ice cubes should be made with the same water they use to make the whiskey. But that’s pretty next level stuff.

Straight-Up

Here’s the drink that brings in all the confusion. The term ‘straight up’ means that the drink has been chilled over ice either via shaking or stirring, strained and served in a glass (usually a stemmed glass) with no ice. This is best for when you are looking to chill your drink without too much dilution. A Martini is a great example of a drink usually served straight up.

Unfortunately, the term ‘straight up’ has now also become used to describe a drink served ‘neat’ – as in “straight up with no bullshit!”. Ordering a drink ‘up’ should get you a chilled drink served in the traditional ‘straight up’ way.

The drink above was chilled in a stirring glass and pored with a twist of lime. What’s a twist now? Ordering a drink with a twist refers to garnishing the drink with a thin strip of citrus peel – not a wedge. In most cases, lemon is the default unless otherwise specified.

So that’s it really. Pretty simple in the end.

Now excuse me while I go enjoy these drinks I just poured.

Okay. Stay fancy.

 

 

 

snow---TitleWhen you walk into Outrage of Modesty you cant help but shake that “where the f*ck am I” feeling.

But I kinda think that’s what the guys at Alliance Brands were going for.

Yep. The same guys responsible for  The House of Machines have taken on a new adventure called Outrage of Modesty. At it’s heart, OoM is a cocktail bar, but you wont find a pina colada on the menu. What you will find, is a little amusement park for your mouth set amongst enough Swedish and Japanese decor to make you forget about the neon signs and JFK mural. That is of course, if you make it past the doorman.

doorman-2OoMstairsneoninterior-with-Pharrelbonsaiboothsinteriors-(B&W)toilet-neonlightbulbmenuglassesI know what you’re thinking “What kind of cocktail bar doesn’t serve Pina Coladas?” The answer my friends is in fact very simple. A good cocktail bar.

See, if you want a sugary sweet cocktail made with cheap booze, lots of fruit juice and a tiny little umbrella stuck into a cherry, you should go anywhere else. The guys at Alliance Brands were looking to redefine Cape Town cocktail culture. And for a coastal city with a cocktail bar on every corner, that’s a pretty big statement to make.

The menu is small (though laser cut into a large wooden block), with only 9 drinks on it. I recognise none of them, I barely even recognise any of the ingredients. I also don’t see a single liquor brands listed. Uh?

Meet Luke “The Wookie” Whearty from renowned bar, Operation Dagger in Singapore and the madness behind the menu at Outrage of Modesty.

Luke---Hero-ShotherbsshakersstrainersLuke-Action-(B&W)frozen-potI asked Luke to “make me something special” because it feels like the kind of thing you should say at a place like this. It was only when I saw him filling a pot with liquid nitrogen did I realise he was taking me quite literally. Luke has been tending bar since he was about 18 and doing his “own thing” (as he calls it) for the last six years. By “own thing” I think he means blowing peoples minds through their mouths.

Luke was making me a drink he calls the snow. The menu simply reads ” amasi, naartjie, white chocolate, toasted rice” so I ask him why they don’t list the liquor that goes into every drink. He asks me if I ask the chef at my favourite restaurant what brand of eggs he uses in my omelette. I see his point. Luke explains to me that the end result is what’s important and that he wants the origin of the ingredients to come through, in this case a mix of Saki, Buchu tea, naartjie and white chocolate all topped with a tiny chocolate bowl.

The drink took 30min to make from scratch but Luke and his team prep all day so that by the time the customers sit down a 30min drink takes only 5min to prepare. Either way, it was worth the wait.

smoke-and-hand-in-pot-(B&W)shakingsquuezing-drinksnowdrink-1snow-3If redefining cocktail culture is what Alliance brands was looking at doing they certainly hit the mark with OoM.

Outrage of Modesty is a must do experience when in Cape Town and a sure fire way to impress anyone visiting. I highly recommend the Icy Hot or the Snow as a way of popping your OoM cork.

Now don’t let the doorman put you off, this places isn’t about exclusivity it’s about experience. The bar only seats 24 people, so when it’s full it’s full. There is no standing around the bar here as it would ruin the experience for everyone. The doorman is there mainly to control the flow, they only allow bookings to half capacity in order to try and accommodate walk-ins. Either way, I suggest you book.

Outrage of Modesty is open Tuesday to Saturday from 6pm till late. You can call and make a reservation on 021 422 2902 or mail reservations@anoutrage.com.

Okay. Stay Fancy.

 

exteriorThis is the entrance to one of the most amazing places Ive ever been.

Pretty epic uh?

I didn’t quite know wether this post fell under travel, drinking or eating (so I tagged all 3) But I knew it was an experience definitely worth sharing.

During our recent trip to Bali (that post is on it’s way) we were told by more than a couple of friends to visit Potato Head for a sundowner or two. Now the name ‘Potato head’ really doesn’t conjure up visions of the coolest of the cool lounging around with nothing to do but soak in the sun and sip on cocktails does it? Strangely enough, it was exactly that.

entrancehalwaytiki-drinkswallPool-ViewThis place is more than impressive and it is definitely worth the trip out, depending where you’re staying in Bali of course. No, wait the sheer site of the “Colosseum” (A tower of mismatched wooden Balinese shutters surrounding the building) makes the trip worth it no matter where you’re staying.

It’s everything you expect from a beach club. Beautiful people and beautiful views all enjoyed to the combined sounds of chilled tunes and laughter – WOW! Did I just wright that? Shcmaltz alert right!? This place does have a way of making you feel pretty schmaltzy though I must be honest.

Now of course beautiful people aside, a beach bar is only as good as its drinks right? Well, this placed nailed those!

drinkssunsetme-sittingbedsunset-2e-sippingfinal-sunsetThe cocktail menu is vast, filled with everything from your classic Mai Tai to Tiki drinks and even some shareable jugs of punch. Elzaan and I decided we would get stuck into the Three Berry Margarita (for me) and the Matahari (for her) as we sat and watched the sun disappear behind the indian ocean. The drinks were strong and well made, and definitely the best cocktails we had in Bali, they’re not cheap but as we had quickly learnt in Asia, you definitely get what you pay for.

When the sun fell and we finally put away our camera we tucked into a chicken burger and the most delicious pulled pork I’ve ever had in my life! (Well, at least the best pulled pork I had on my trip) We switched to our staple of Bintang Beer and just sat back talking about what an epic day we had just had. There’s the schmaltz again!

As I said above, if you find yourself in Bali, definitely don’t give this place a miss!

Okay. Stay Fancy.

 

final-drinksIn case you missed it, Elzaan and I got back from a mini vacation a couple of weeks ago. Singapore was one of our destinations and the Singapore Sling sat pretty high up on our to do list.

As far as cocktails go, this one is pretty old (well, not this exact one. These were made fresh. 🙂 ) in fact, it was celebrating its 100th anniversary at the Raffles Hotel. The supposed home of the Singapore Sling.

Now, my research has proven that the true origins of this drink, together with the original recipe, have all but disappeared in the mist of time, so for the purpose of this post I’m going with the story I liked best and share with you the version of the drink I enjoyed at the Long Bar.

In a classic story of boy meets girl, a young officer buys the youngest daughter of a silk merchant a drink at the bar. Playing it cool, as all gentleman should, he requests that the barman send a drink over, but not just any drink, a special drink, one that would match the colour of her beautiful red lips. The obliging barman Ngiam Tong Boon, whips up a a gin based cocktail  with all the exotics notes of Singapore. So? Did it work, or did the officer just end up with a pink pineapple juice concoction on his freshly pressed khakis? Lets just say, if it’s happily ever after you want, have your barman invent a drink for a lady.

Long-Bar-signageinside-barchairsnutsbag-of-nutsNow, the Raffles Hotel has its fair share of bars and restaurants, but the Long Bar is the legendary home of the Singapore Sling, and as we quickly found out, a MAJOR tourist destination. When we arrived we were met with a massive queue at the door and a packed bar, thankfully the queue moves at a rapid pace and once inside, it’s worth every minute spent waiting outside.

The feel is typically colonial, with a long dark teakwood bar and a beautiful spiral staircase going up the middle. The only thing distracting you from its colonial beauty is the crunching sound under your feet, something we would later discover to be empty peanut shells. We sat down on two wicker chairs as the waiter brought us a fresh bag of peanuts and we ordered our Singapore Sling together with a Tiger beer – but no one wants THAT story.

The reason I decided to write and share this post was that we had read a lot of bad reviews on the Singapore Sling at the Raffles Hotel. Tales of pre mixed drinks and sugary sweet concoctions being pushed across the bar, the original drink lost to the barrage of tourists flooding the place daily. I am happy to report, this wasn’t true.

Every drink is made fresh. It’s made in mass, but it’s made fresh!

glassesIngredientsGin-pourpouring-fina-drinkDrink-on-tableThe bartenders here don’t have much downtime because the one thing that is true, is that this place is a massive tourist destination and almost everyone there is ordering a Singapore Sling. So how do they do it?

They have specially designed trays holding rows and rows of shakers filled with ice and individually filled (all be it at a rapid speed) with the individual ingredients:

30 ml (1 oz) gin
15 ml (1/2 oz) cherry brandy
120 ml (4 oz) pineapple juice
15 ml (1/2 oz) lime juice
7.5 ml (1/4 oz) Cointreau
7.5 ml (1/4 oz) DOM Benedictine
10 ml (1/3 oz) grenadine
A dash of Angostura bitters

The shakers are then individually shaken and poured, leaving each pre chilled glass to be finished off with a slice of pineapple and cherry.

Is it the best drink I tried in Singapore? Certainly not. And at a little under R350 (about $30) it certainly wasn’t the cheapest. But after a long hot day of walking around town, it certainly hits the spot. I didn’t find it overly sweet either and the pineapple and lime really stand out amongst the mess of flavours. I don’t know if I would of had another one or even ordered one at a different bar had I been given the chance, but not because there’s anything wrong with it, it’s just not really my kind of drink.

Was it worth it? Absolutely! The experience alone is totally worth it. The bar is spectacular and youve never eaten a more delicious peanut in your life. If you find yourself thirsty in Singapore, do yourself a favour and stop at the Long Bar will you.

Okay. Stay fancy.