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Saturday, 24 March 2012


In the interests of continued financial prudence – to which I referred in an earlier post – I’ve utilised some elements in my latest creation which might not as a rule find themselves in a chic cocktail.
Yet needs must.
                                                         Keen for my next cocktail...
                                           a prudent chap. Remember him?

A few weeks ago, I had made a bile o’ jam, as they say in Aberdeen – the rhubarb and ginger variety.
As a result, I had half a jar left of stem ginger pieces still covered in their thick, gooey juice.
Also wilting away at the back of the cocktail cabinet was half a bottle of Liqueur de Framboises, a strawberry concoction hunted down in Fortnum’s for an earlier creation, and still exceedingly potable, given its 21% alcohol volume.
So get to work then, mister, I ordered myself. The guests will be here any minute.
It’s more common for the dear better half to do the ordering but she’s making herself even more beautiful at the moment.
The name I’ve given it – Ginger Pop – will appeal to those of un certain age but don’t let the kiddies get anywhere near it, whatever you do.

Serves four
2 fl oz good vodka taken straight from the freezer
1 fl oz Grand Marnier
1 fl oz juice from jar of stem ginger
Good dash of orange bitters
Juice of half a lime
12 black seeded grapes
4 tiny chunks of stem ginger
Chocolate sauce
Caster sugar.

Place four or five ice cubes in a cocktail shaker
Add the remainder of the ingredients
Shake vigorously
Remove Martini glasses from the fridge where they’ve been chilling
Smear a smudge of chocolate sauce on the base of each glass and attach a grape to each. (This is an idea I got from Nightjar, the fab cocktail bar I wrote about last time.) The thick consistency of the sauce will ensure the grape adheres to it. (I used a yum variety: Chocolate & Orange Fudge Sauce from Fudge Kitchen, a wondrously thick extravagance which you can – not without a certain degree of guilt – eat straight from the jar with a spoon.)
Run a wedge of lime around the edge of each glass then dip it into a saucer of caster sugar
With each of four cocktail sticks pierce a grape followed by a stem ginger fragment then another grape
Pour the liquid into the glasses
Place a fruit-laden cocktail stick into each

As is customary, you’d wait until the magical Cocktail Hour of 6pm to serve these (even if I do say so myself) delights. But the clocks spring forward later tonight so we’re going to neck ’em at five o’clock.
Radical, what?!
All things ginger have a deep resonance in certain parts of the country, not least the west of Scotland. You may know someone such as the following... If so, don’t advertise it.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Maybe it's a big horse...

The London Evening Standard – a free paper owned by a Russian oligarch – boasts that it has its ear to the ground regarding cultural life in the city. 
Yet it has only just discovered (15/03/12) that Londoners – I use the term loosely – love cocktails. 
Where have their staffers been all this while? At fires? Riots? Covering Parliament?
The report in question, too, misses out on possibly the best spot in town.

Nightjar – named after a nocturnal bird with short legs (see above in daylight for a change) – is squeezed between two greasy spoons on the edge of Shoreditch, where the bells once chimed to the tune of "When I am rich". 
When indeed? 
Yet there are plenty of well-off punters around in this neck of the wood, situated within thieving distance of the City.

And inside, it's dark. Really dark. As my picture above shows. 
The bar, unobtrusive until then, opens its double wooden doors at 6pm, aspiring to the ambience of a Chicago 'speak' in the prohibition era. 
All that's missing is for the doorkeep to whisper "Leave your piece at the desk".
Mind you, if you asked that of a thirsty Glaswegian, you might be surprised to discover the punter divesting himself of a jam sandwich instead of a gat.
The cocktails at Nightjar are a wonder, costing about £10 each – and are in abundance. We had – as the pic shows – a White Lady and a Cosmo Roast. Because the lady loves a Cosmopolitan. (God knows what she sees in me.)
My selection wasn't like any White Lady I had ever encountered or even tasted before, but that merely confirmed my opinion that for every cocktail, there are umpteen recipes.
The place sells bar snacks too: decent tapas-style stuff for about £3 a pop. 
We had salmon balls, gorgeous warm bread and olives and feta-stuffed zucchini rolls.
Dulce et decorum est that a salmon should lay down his balls for a hedonist.
From 8pm a small band play selections from the hot jazz days. You know the kind of thing...

I was recommended to visit by a friend who had travelled all the way from Glasgow for one night only just to try it out. He and his companion spent several hours and much mazooma there.
Possibly not to be recommended. The place being so dark, you might end up tumbling into the lap of an oligarch's female companion.
Then you'd be required to give the billionaire and his broad-shouldered телохранители the Possil stare.
That might do it. Might