Antonio's Cocktail Corner - How to make two perfect Christmas drinks
Antonio is sharing his years of experience as a mixologist to tell you how to make the perfect Christmas cocktail
Each one of our team brings incredible expertise into their work. This week we stopped by our restaurant at Twitter UK and chatted to Catering Manager Antonio, who shared some of his cocktail knowledge with us, as well as two truly amazing cocktail recipes. Here's what he had to say - and scroll down for the recipes.
I started my hospitality career as a bartender and as you know, you never forget your first love. Being a great bartender and mixologist, though, is not something you learn overnight - before you can consider yourself really good there's a lot of tasting, study, training, exhibitions, competitions, overtime and drinks nights. That's the big similarity it has with being a chef, or being in the food business as a whole - and having great food knowledge can also really help you learn mixologist skills.
I've now been working in food and beverages for more than 15 years and always give equal importance to both areas. Can a great meal ever be as good without the right drinks pairing? Possibly not. I never stop learning, but here are some of the tips I've learned on my journey so far:
- Develop your palate and sense of taste. Try every ingredient and know your products. The food is a big part of this job.
- Study and understand the basic spirits. Learn the history, how they have been made and how to use them.
- Learn how to use your equipment. That includes your glasses and using the proper ice. This is such an important part of making the "perfect cocktail".
- Understand your customers. You need to know your guests, and more importantly yourself. When you think a drink is good enough for you, it will be good enough for them too.
As for trends, I've seen so many over the years. From Asian influenced spirits and ingredients to smokey drinks that became popular after the smoking ban, and from bitters back to the classics. Personally I love classic cocktails - some drinks are great forever without any need for discussion. You can definitely modernise and twist some recipes but a good negroni is always the classic one.
Speaking of twists, here are some fantastic recipes for this Christmas: one for before the big dinner and one for after. I've put in the recipe but also the exact method - you need to get every detail right for the full effect.
Aperetif - blood orange and rosemary spritz
This refreshing cocktail uses the lightness of the drink, the bitterness of the orange and the fragrance of the rosemary to wake up your palate before you sit down to Christmas dinner.
Ingredients 25ml Aperol 20ml Solerno blood orange liquor 25ml Prosecco 20ml soda water Ice cubes Blood orange slice, cinnamon powder and rosemary branch, for garnish
Equipment Cocktail stirrer Large wine glass
Method Sprinkle some cinnamon powder over the blood orange slice and cook in a 180C/160fan oven for 30 minutes. Allow to cool.
In a large wine glass, pour the Aperol and Solerno blood orange liquor and stir for 15 seconds. Fill the glass with some ice cubes and top it up with some prosecco and soda water.
Add the dried blood orange slice and rosemary branch.
After dinner - JH Endless Christmas
This indulgent cocktail with a hint of almond is perfect with mince pies and a beautiful way to toast the Christmas night. It has a slightly more involved method than the spritz, so follow the instructions closely.
Ingredients 35ml Di Saronno 15ml lemon juice 5ml cinnamon sugar Dash of chocolate bitters 1 Free range egg white 10ml red port Ice cubes Chocolate powder for garnish
Equipment Cocktail shaker Champagne glass Teaspoon
Method Dry shake the egg white (this will properly emulsify the ingredients) before adding ice.
Reshake with Di Saronno, lemon juice, cinnamon sugar and the dash of chocolate bitters.
Pour slowly into the glass and then, using a spoon, slowly top up the glass with some red port.
Slice off any foam that rises over the top. Finish by sprinkling over the chocolate powder.
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