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Two world class gin cocktails you can make at home

June 27, 2015

There’s a frivolous excitement about ordering a cocktail. It makes the start of an evening special and really gets the party started. The alchemy of different spirits, mixers, juices and ingredients in a distinctive glass can be akin to turning base metal into gold. But all too often cocktails are meh-tails – a watery, over-iced, over-sweet disappointment. And if you do have a great one then they are nigh on impossible to make at home, requiring botanicals plucked at full moon from the middle of a rain forest and a professional sous vide machine.  Visiting the Embassy Club Dubai recently, I was on the hunt for an amazing cocktail that I could make for myself and my friends.

Entering a nightclub in the afternoon is a strange experience. This is intensified when some of the leading bartenders in the world are mixing up drinks and glamorous PR and media people are standing around smoking, with light streaming through the windows, the water of the Dubai Marina glinting in the sunshine many floors below. Feeling fairly conspicuous clomping up the stairs in my Birkenstocks and casual Dubai summer attire, I was a little tongue-tied meeting Jeff Bell from PDT, New York and Charles Joly from Chicago – the latter dapper in waistcoat and a smooth line in patter.

World Class UAE gin cocktails - on mycustardpie.comCharles and Jeff were in the Dubai for the UAE Diageo World Class finals, a hotly contested global bartending competition, as a Dubai bartender has been in the top five every year for the past five years and came in second two years ago.  Jet lag followed by a succession of late nights was faintly discernible. At moments like these I keep it simple and instead of a stream of questions I just asked them to make me a great gin cocktail that would not be too complicated to replicate at home.  And they did.

The gin-gin mule was good. Gin and ginger combine brilliantly. But Jeff normally uses his own homemade ginger beer which would make it less sweet and more intensely gingery (which I’d like to taste solo). I fell in love with the Apposta – although Charles just deemed it ‘passable’.  He described it as a more refreshing version of a Negroni – and I agree, the pink grapefruit citrus bitterness offsetting the medicinal orange peel of the Aperol and the botanicals of the gin.

Foodiva had a proper chat with Charles and managed to extract some fascinating commentary on cocktail making. Mix up one of these to sip while you’re reading.

Apposta

Charles Joly explained that apposta means ‘on purpose’ in Italian. He’s the current Diageo Global World Class Champion (2014), the first American ever to win it. Voted American Bartender of the Year in 2013 he’s renowned for a mad scientist approach toward creating the perfect drink. This is his delicious creation.

  • 60ml gin (Charles used Tanqueray 10)
  • 30ml Aperol
  • 30ml sweet vermouth (he used Punt e mes)
  • 15ml fresh lemon juice
  • approx 60ml San Pellegrino Pompelmo (grapefruit) Soda
  • grapefruit peel and fresh thyme sprig to garnish

Build over 4 cubes of ice into a chilled Collins glass. Add the gin, Aperol, sweet vermouth, lemon juice and stir briefly. Top up with grapefruit soda (you could use bitter lemon or ‘squirt’ as an alternative). Garnish with grapefruit peel expressed (slightly squeezed) and placed in the drink. Add thyme and 2 narrow straws.

Gin-gin mule

Recipe given to me by Jeff Bell of PDT (Please Don’t Tell) in New York (which is a secret reservations only bar which looks exquisitely intimate and mysterious).  Jeff was named 2013 StarChefs.com Rising Star Mixologist and was the US representative at Diageo World Class global finals in 2013 coming second overall at the global finals. The Gin-gin mule was invented by Audrey Saunders of the Pegu Club, it requires homemade ginger beer which looks pretty simple to make.

  • 6 mint leaves (plus more to garnish)
  • 20ml fresh lime juice
  • 30ml simple syrup
  • 45ml gin (Jeff used Tanqueray)
  • 30ml homemade ginger beer
  • Slice of lime and candied ginger to garnish (optional)

Muddle the mint sprigs with the lime juice and simple syrup. Place the muddled mixture with the gin and ginger beer in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into a Tom Collins glass. Garnish with more fresh mint sprigs.

Mehmet Nur Sur from Zuma Abu Dhabi won the the Diageo Reserve World Class UAE Bartender of the Year 2015 and will compete against bartenders from around the world at the seventh annual Global Diageo World Class Competition to be held in Cape Town, South Africa, in October.

Cocktails – magical or a let down? Ever make them at home? What’s your favourite?

19 Comments
  1. June 27, 2015 6:33 pm

    Delightfully refreshing! I’d have a gin-gin mule, please… 😉

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  2. glamorous glutton permalink
    June 27, 2015 7:18 pm

    I agree, if you find a great cocktail it’s often impossible to replicate. I love that the bar is covered in botanicals but I would want to be able to order something similar elsewhere or make it myself. Great cocktail recipes. GG

  3. Emily (@amummytoo) permalink
    June 27, 2015 11:05 pm

    Cocktails? At home? Sold! 🙂

  4. June 28, 2015 7:46 am

    I have recently joined a local group that convenes over spirits; last meeting was Gin and I learned lots. Thanks for sharing these recipes, I may give them a try myself.

  5. June 28, 2015 11:03 am

    My favourite is a ‘Manchester Tart’, which is inspired by our locally famous & much loved school pudding (jam, cream,coconut). It is however vodka based, and creamy of course. “Chin chin”

    • crasterkipper permalink
      June 28, 2015 11:05 am

      Oops…It should say ‘custard’ rather than cream…

  6. June 28, 2015 11:46 am

    There are some wonderful gins around now..very aromatic. I remember drinking Oude Geneve in Amsterdam during the 70’s…a very good era in Amsterdam:)

  7. June 28, 2015 1:24 pm

    One of my favourite cocktails is the kiwitini – fresh kiwis blitzed up with vodka and ice. Far too moreish!

  8. June 28, 2015 3:26 pm

    I’ll be trying both of these when I get back to the heat of our sandpit this week, Sally. They look so refreshing!

  9. The Real Geordie Armani permalink
    June 28, 2015 4:02 pm

    both sound fabulous!! I will share them with Mr GA 🙂

  10. June 28, 2015 5:00 pm

    I’m a bit late to the party, only finally getting into gin this year! Had some amazing ones in Scotland this early summer!

  11. June 28, 2015 5:19 pm

    They both look incredibly tasty. We rarely have cocktails at home, although I am coming round to making them more than ever before. Kicked off a Mexican evening at my house with homemade margaritas, which was a good way to kick start the evening.

  12. June 28, 2015 8:57 pm

    There’s something magical about a gin cocktail. You’ve done a great job 🙂

  13. June 28, 2015 10:51 pm

    Firstly you are totally totally right about the ordering of a cocktail. I think it sets the tone for the evening. Get it wrong and I am almost immediately in a bad mood. I hate the kind of cocktails you get that are barely a few sips. So I always try and order the long tall glasses as you certainly get more value for money.
    Now then this Gin Gin Mule. why did I not think of this combo. Ginger beer and gin. Genius! I am making this during this week of heatwave we have in the UK. What better excuse to make it and send you a virtual cheers in the heat of Dubai!

  14. June 30, 2015 10:54 am

    Thanks for sharing the cocktail recipes. I think they are perfect to be enjoyed at the pool on a hot summer’s day. I have all the kit to make cocktails but, I seldom do as it just seems easier to have a G&T 🙂

  15. June 30, 2015 5:40 pm

    This is so timely. I bought a bottle of gin to make Long Island Ice Teas but don’t typically drink it so I needed some more tasty uses for it.

  16. July 8, 2015 7:09 pm

    Tanqueray is the best gin. I applaud your recipes. I like the mint and adding ginger or ginger beer is interesting too. It’s like a gin martini (with the vermouth) in a tall glass. Magnificent!

  17. July 16, 2015 2:16 am

    We’ve only recently discovered the joys of Gin and Gin-tonic so I’m always looking for new things to try. Though our favourite still is Fentimans tonic, a decent gin, cucumber. That’s is, I know super boring! 😉

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