Storm Clouds and Thunder over Kennington:
I have probably done more cocktail mixing classes than anyone in London other than a professional mixologist. I go along and join in various events, shaking away with the best of them to make a whole range of cocktails. I’ve done special rum cocktail mixing events. I’m a regular at the Tabasco world championship Bloody Mary Awards and I’ve even been in the ‘winning team’ making tea based cocktails with Twinings and Alex Kammerling (one of the world’s leading mixologists). But, do I try at home? If I’m honest it’s a rare indulgence.
Having the right kit is part of the game of course. Pretty cocktail glasses, a good shaker and a range of ingredients. I have a couple of simple tips too which I’ve learnt along the way. Firstly, chill the glass, all the spirits and mixers you intend to use and the shaker in the fridge or freezer before hand. Starting with everything as cold as possible means that when you shake your ingredients, you don’t end up diluting the drink, just chilling it. Secondly, I’ve learnt never to shy away from experimenting. After all, if you can make cocktails with tea, you can make cocktails with almost anything.
House of Fraser sent me a stunning cocktail shaker in burnished copper. It’s the sort of thing that makes me feel I MUST know what I am doing.
There were three different glasses in the kit. A standard cocktail glass, an iconic martini glass and beautiful champagne cocktail glass from Biba. I fell in love with the champagne glass so, for completely the WRONG reason my creation has ended up being served in that. But, a coupe glass (this style of champagne cocktail glass) is also the right glass for a whole range of other ‘short’ cocktails served without ice. It has the advantage of being something that can take up space in your cupboard for more than one reason – for cocktails AND to sip champagne. For most of us, short of cupboard space, that’s a real benefit.
In keeping with both the weather and Halloween, what I’ve made is intended to be a take on a drink known as a ‘Dark and Stormy’. A classic Dark and Stormy is, for me, a typical Caribbean drink. Make it with ginger ale and dark rum over ice, gently mixing to create something that looks a little stormy in the glass and is spiced up by the ginger to complement the rum.
Long cocktails for me are summer drinks, so I wanted to make a short, seasonal cocktail that still had the all important kick of ginger. Using ginger wine instead of ginger ale or beer means the end result is a short cocktail. Appleton rum is one of my favourite drinks – and it works very well as the base for a rum cocktail too. My first attempt was unsweetened because I thought the ginger wine would add enough sugar. But, for my palate, it needed a little more (and generally I dislike overly sweet cocktails). So, I added in a teaspoon of pure apple syrup from Ireland, along with a little pumpkin puree and some fresh ginger.
I tried the end result two ways.
Neat – it’s a pretty, cloudy and stormy looking drink which is warming, not over-sweet and really rather good as an aperitif.
Topped with cream to add yet more storm clouds, the result is softer and perhaps a better after dinner cocktail. I could imagine sipping this happily with an expresso on the side, or even while I ate dessert. You could even excuse spilling the cream over the edge – after all, it’s meant to be stormy isn’t it!
Without further ado, here’s the recipe.
Feel free to mix it up a bit to your own taste. I think you could switch the pumpkin puree for a little apple – or make it with a good spiced rum or even a bourbon. What DOES matter is using a few fresh ingredients to lift the drink – in this case ginger, pumpkin puree and cream. And, of course, serving the end result in a pretty glass, even if you do manage to spill cream down the stem.