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Dubai Desert Classic in a cocktail

February 29, 2016
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Desert fizz - a cocktail to celebrate the Dubai Desert Classic. Recipe on mycustardpie.comThe aromas of the souk, the warmth of nutmeg, the refreshing bite of citrus, a hint of creaminess… all this in a cocktail but…

…I like wine.

It’s endlessly fascinating encompassing history, geography, geology, agriculture, language, culture, climate change, politics, fashion and food-matching. Oh, and at times, it’s the most sublime liquid evoking a unique sense of place, time and overwhelming sensory pleasure.

Spirits? My interest in gin is well-documented here. And I totally get the fascination with single-malt whisky as it steps over into some of the reasons I like wine.


I love the idea of them. I like the ritual too. The Bloody Mary on the plane (I know I’m not alone in this), minty Mohitos with your mates, the end of week gin and tonic, sipping Moscow Mules while wrapped in a fur blanket watching the sun disappear behind a mountain. The theatre and anticipation of watching the bartender prepare your cocktail heightens the expectation… which can often be dashed as you sip a bland, watery, sweet, underwhelming drink.

Denzel Heath of the MMI Bar Academy - for his cocktail recipes visit

Meet Denzel

So when I met a man who said he liked wine but found it very boring compared to the infinite variety and interest offered by the world of spirits I was intrigued. Denzel Heath heads up the Bar Academy at MMI. There are two main suppliers of alcohol in Dubai, MMI and A+E, and both offer training to the staff of hundreds of bars and restaurants here, ultimately to foster loyalty of their brands and services. Denzel is like a whirlwind behind the bar and you can almost see his mind whirring through options and flavours as he decides which drink to create for you. He knows a phenomenal amount about his topic and recently hosted an entertaining and illuminating gin tasting house at my house. He also makes stellar cocktails.

Keen to learn from him, he’s come up with some gin-based recipes for me which fit into the Dubai calendar. We started the year with his tips on making the perfect gin and tonic. February is a big month for golf with the legendary Dubai Desert Classic. I’m the original golf widow, don’t play, have the sport gene missing, but even so thoroughly enjoy this tournament. Wandering around Emirates Golf course watching the best in their field then returning to the club house where many mingle with the members there, sipping a cocktail…

Dubai Desert Classic

So a classic cocktail with a twist – a Dubai Desert Classic – based on a gin fizz.  This has to have three things: gin, citrus and something fizzy. Denzel added the flavours of a date-studded carrot cake and some camel milk for a touch of creaminess. If you can’t get camel milk where you live use single cream but it will be a little heavier. Laban works well too adding an extra touch of sourness.  Camel milk is actually very light and this is a refreshing, moreish cocktail. Ophir is very scented and described as an oriental spiced London Dry Gin. As well as obligatory juniper it has a whole range of spices including cubeb berries, black pepper, coriander, cardamom and cumin making its aroma and taste warm and earthy, evocative of wandering through the spice souks in this part of the world.

Desert fizz - a cocktail to celebrate the Dubai Desert Classic. Recipe on

Desert Fizz

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • A shaker
  • A strainer
  • Long glass


  • 60ml Ophir gin
  • 30ml fresh carrot juice
  • 20ml date and pineapple syrup*
  • 15ml fresh lemon juice
  • 15ml egg white (approx 1/2 large egg)
  • 30ml camel milk
  • Soda water
  • Cubed ice
  • Nutmeg, star anise and dates (optional).
  • Edible sand (optional – see below)**

How to mix

  1. Put all the ingredients into a shaker without ice and shake it hard so that the egg white turns into foam.
  2. Add some ice into the shaker and shake hard for another 20 seconds so that the liquid is very chilled.
  3. Pour 50ml of chilled soda water into the Collins glass and strain the cocktail over the soda.
  4. Garnish with grated nutmeg and star anise. You can also serve with a side dish of dates, some edible sand (see below) and a parasol for that extra Arabian desert vibe.

*Date and pineapple syrup

Denzel makes his own syrups often using a sous vide but you can buy both date and pineapple syrups.  For homemade I wouldn’t bother making date syrup – it looks like a real faff but here’s a very simple pineapple syrup recipe.

**Edible sand

Crush 5 digestive biscuits (Graham crackers if you are in the US) into fine crumbs using a food processor or putting into a sealed plastic bag and bashing with a rolling pin. Combine with 2 tablespoons of Demerara sugar and 1 teaspoon of caster sugar.

  1. February 29, 2016 12:11 pm

    What an interesting cocktail. I bet it tastes wonderful.



  2. February 29, 2016 12:24 pm

    Sounds wonderful, although I suspect I might have problems sourcing the camel milk…

    • February 29, 2016 9:16 pm

      Ha ha – yes … only just become widely available in this part of the world. Do you get a kind of drinking yoghurt called laban? This is excellent too.

      • February 29, 2016 11:25 pm

        I’ve never seen laban here, but then the French are incredibly conservative about all things dairy…

  3. February 29, 2016 2:52 pm

    Cocktails are one of those things that I love to drink and I love to watch them being made, but I very rarely make them myself. There is such a science to them, and I never was much good at science. I do want to try making more of them this summer though.

    • February 29, 2016 9:15 pm

      I’m going to be practising a lot – the whole process fascinates me.

  4. February 29, 2016 3:03 pm

    Looks potent. Whoa, carrot juice and camel milk!

    • February 29, 2016 9:14 pm

      Got to be good for you right?

  5. sarahhedonista permalink
    February 29, 2016 5:26 pm

    Wow, those images! Fabulous lighting

    • February 29, 2016 9:14 pm

      You’ve just made my day. It was incredibly challenging. I was crouched on the floor trying to push my lens around a whole stack of boxes to get the last sliver of light!

  6. February 29, 2016 6:49 pm

    Oh my days, this sounds crazy-amazing! Camel’s milk! Edible sand! Carrot cake flavours! Stunning. I love how creative people can be with cocktails, although that name gives nothing away to what lays in store for the drinker!

    • February 29, 2016 9:14 pm

      Denzel is a true flavour master – it’s so exciting.

  7. unicornsinthekitchen permalink
    February 29, 2016 11:25 pm

    This looks so good! My husband will love this! Camel milk and date and pineapple syrup is so interesting to use!

  8. February 29, 2016 11:47 pm

    Okay, that cocktail sounds absolutely fabulous! I’m not sure about where to find Camel milk, but I can definitely make some date and pineapple syrup, which sounds delightful! Also, I agree with a previous commenter — your photographs are beautiful!

  9. March 1, 2016 12:26 am

    Wow, that sounds fancy and tasty! I have to say I am quite boring with my cocktails. I need to try out some new recipes.

  10. March 1, 2016 1:30 am

    Sounds super fancy, and the photography is gorgeous!

  11. March 1, 2016 1:44 am

    Ooooh heeeeyy Denzel! I’ll take a drink from him any day!

  12. Sanderella's permalink
    March 1, 2016 3:57 am

    Looks fantastic and shared the post!! A most fun blog to visit too! ❤

  13. March 1, 2016 12:54 pm

    Interesting cocktail and lovely photos. A carrot cocktail drink – amazing.

  14. March 1, 2016 1:49 pm

    I love golf!! #not only the 19th hole!!

  15. March 1, 2016 4:46 pm

    Oh girl, this looks good, I wouldn’t know where to begin to get camal milk! I’m like you though, I’m a wine girl with a whisky heart (I thought no I need to retry gin, didn’t go so well before!) but I do enjoy the occasional cocktail! X

  16. March 1, 2016 7:17 pm

    This sounds delicious, even with the weird and wonderful ingredients I would never have though to combine in a G&T! Unfortunately due to health reasons i’m unable to drink and I do miss having a G&T.

  17. March 2, 2016 5:14 pm

    You have such an engaging writing style – pulls me in every time. Please excuse me now, I suddenly feel the urge to make myself a G&T 😉

  18. March 4, 2016 6:38 pm

    I love gin, and I’d never heard of spiced gin before I saw this post. Where have I been? Apparently, I can get some in Tesco. Brilliant.


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