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Tuesday, 28 October 2014


WE know a bear loves his/her honey. Such sustenance derived  from this primal source can keep a bear going long enough for … an unsuspecting salmon, say, to leap out of the river and  get munched by a waiting ursine creature.
As in – if ah see her, Alaska. Though they're not usually so polite.

            But have you ever seen a bear munch a cocktail? Probably not. Yet there is one bear at our apartment who looks on despondently when he hears the mixer being all shook up.
            And it ain’t Elvis doing the shaking. He left the building some time ago as all non-conspiracy theorists will know.
            A heart-warming cocktail then for a bear. More than just heart-warming as this chap will testify. More bare than bear, really.

            Our own furry friend – one William Brown Bear –  would, I’m certain, love to join in the fun. So, I’ve invented this cocktail just for him.
            Yet we rather liked it too.


75ml gin (have it resting in the freezer for an hour or so beforehand)
25ml vodka
Splash of dry vermouth
50ml triple sec
Juice of one lime
Juice of half an orange
Good squeeze of runny honey (bears love it)
Two twists of freshly ground black pepper
Good dash of orange bitters
Similarly aromatic bitters

Place a few ice cubes in a cocktail shaker
Add the ingredients
Shave vigorously
Smear a film of honey across a third of the rims of two chilled cocktail glasses
Have some ground pepper and sea salt on a plate then pass the prepared rims of the glasses in this mixture
Pierce a small piece of fresh orange and a maraschino cherry on a cocktail stick and place in each glass
Pour the mixture into the glasses
(Serves two or only one teddy bear if he gets in first)

            Otherwise you never know how things might pan out. See the following, for instance …

Monday, 15 September 2014


My dear friend Boo is something of an aficionado in pleasure-related pursuits.   
    Especially if they’re related to Manhattan – hence her e-notebook – a must for those interested in what’s going down downtown.
    She’s full of surprises – that’s possibly why they call her Boo – and recently told me that cocktails were once served in cups in the speakeasies as a disguise during that singularly unsuccessful experiment, Prohibition, so raiding cops would think the patrons were drinking coffee or tea.
    Aye, right, as the Scots among us are wont to mention.
    Whatever your response, the notion of a cocktail in a cup is quite enticing and, after seeking some advice from the aforesaid Boo, I sought out the Royal Doulton. She prefers Limoges china, but when the devil drives etc….
    So here it is – and looking more like afternoon tea than afternoon tea. Even the accompanying caviar blinis look jolly pleased to be in the frame.

Vesper Cocktail

(To give the tea colour to the cocktail I’ve added a little extra bitters.)

2 measures vodka
1 measure gin
½ measure dry vermouth
Dash of orange bitters
Dash of  aromatic bitters
Splash of angostura bitters

Drop a few ice cubes into a shaker
Add the ingredients
Give it a plentiful shake

Serve with a slice of lemon in your best china teacups. 

    So, if this is prohibition, bring it on.
    But perhaps avoid the following sort of thing....

Saturday, 19 April 2014


So, it’s health that I’m thinking of here and hence – the Beetroot Martini, the healthiest repast you’ll find this side of a fish supper. At a stroke. Without the stroke.
   Betaines contained in beets are thought to cut levels of homocysteine in blood vessels thus possibly preventing heart attacks and strokes.
   This clever chemical compound may also protect against the liver disease you thought you were going to get with all the gin drinking.
   As the man said: it’s all about work-life balance. Or in this case pleasure-risk balance.
   Beetroot, too, can combat bad breath so after a couple of my martinis, you can approach your inamorata with confidence about the snog to come.
   There are those who prefer a version of this cocktail made with vodka. There’s a great East European spot in South London – Baltic in Blackfriars Road – which does a lovely one. 
   Yet after trying both, I do prefer the old British version – with gin.
   Hogarth would have appreciated it, I think.

Beetroot Martini

Place a few slices of pickled beets along with some of the juice from the jar in a liquidiser; whizz it good
Drop 6 ice cubes into a cocktail shaker and add a bunch of gin (Bombay Sapphire or Plymouth Gin are damned good and improved if kept for a while in the freezer)
Fresh lime juice, about half a lime per serving
Dash of creole bitters
Dash of celery bitters
(No arithmetician me, but you should aim at a ratio of about 3:1 in favour of gin)
Add the required beet mixture and give it a proper shake
Have some champagne coupes chilled in the freezer; rub the rims with fresh lime juice and dip them in some freshly milled salt and pepper
Place a couple of pimento-stuffed olives on a cocktail stick for each glass
Pour. Purr, purr, purr ...

Here’s an appropriate musical mix of the old and new which you might care to listen to as you take your first healthy sip on the road to recovery.