Writing Portfolio

2.12.12

Cocktail hour (part two)

In my first post about cocktails, I said that my new preferences were for gin-based cocktails. My use of the plural was deliberate, for my other new favourite cocktail is also gin-based. I discovered it last month when Allison and I went to the lovely Hawksmoor Seven Dials restaurant for dinner for my birthday.

A recent and well-received arrival on the London restaurant scene, Hawksmoor is a pricey restaurant by our standards but it is definitely worth a visit – but only if you like steak. The 800g (28oz) T-bone we had was more than enough for the two of us! The food was very good, and the staff were all friendly and highly knowledgeable (the fact that they were allowed to wear their own clothes and not dress up in white shirt and black waistcoat was a nice touch, I thought). The bar looks like something out of Mad Men and is worth going to just for the cocktail menu, which is actually less of a menu and more a potted history of the cocktail.

We got there early so we could have a drink in said bar before being seated, and I opted for the house ‘signature’ cocktail, which is called Shaky Pete’s ginger brew (named after bar manager Pete Jeary). To be honest, what appealed was the fact that it had beer in it! This is apparently a new development in the cocktail world. It was delicious – think of a shandy made with Old Jamaica ginger beer, but with a kick.

A couple of ginger brews were followed by a lovely meal that was concluded Italian-style with an espresso and a shot of grappa, which is swiftly becoming my favourite post-dinner drink of choice.

Anyway, following a fantastic time I decided that I had to make a Shaky Pete’s ginger brew at home. I’d taken a quick glance at the recipe in the bar’s copy of Hawksmoor at Home (every restaurant has its own book nowadays) on the way out and reckoned it shouldn’t be too difficult – although I did have to do a little online research to supplement my memory!

The first part consisted of making the ginger syrup. There is no getting around making this in advance, unlike the simple sugar-and-water syrup used for an old fashioned which can be mixed in the glass immediately prior to serving (although some places these days are sensible and have a ready-mixed syrup on hand for this). To make the ginger syrup, I needed to boil sliced ginger with sugar and water. This was cooled, strained and refrigerated. Stage one was complete.







For the cocktail itself, the syrup is mixed with lemon juice, gin and crushed ice, which is ‘roughly strained’ into a frosted beer glass – roughly straining means allowing some of the ice to get into the glass – and topped off with Fuller’s London Pride.

Now, you’re supposed to mix the syrup, lemon juice, gin and ice in a blender. We have a food processor and that worked … sort of, after I wrapped a tea-towel around it to stop the vital ingredients from flying out (that’s what you get from trying to do three cocktails at once)!

Three rough-strainings and toppings-off with the beer later, and the home-made Shaky Pete’s ginger brews were ready for testing by myself, Allison and Mike. They got a three-out-of-three approval rating.



Now that’s definitely one I will be making again over Christmas – and not just because I have plenty of the ginger syrup left over!

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