Antonio's Cocktail Corner - Two January cocktails to add real theatre to your weekend
Antonio is sharing his years of experience as a mixologist to tell you how to make the perfect Christmas cocktail
After Antonio treated us to last month's Christmas cocktail recipes and it went down a treat, he's agreed to start a monthly series of cocktail recipes. Here he keeps the recipes simple and knocks a dose of theatre into these January drinks.
The ingredient to really talk about in these cocktails is the Mezcal. Mezcal is very similar in taste to tequila - the main difference that tequila has to be made from one very specific type of agave fruit, whereas mezcal can be made from any type and any combination of Mexican agave.
Because they are very similar drinks, each with a strong smoky flavour, you can use them in a lot of similar ways.
There are a lot of health claims floating around about tequila. Those claims include benefits for your heart and for stomach problems, and that they might strengthen your bones. It's possible, as they're both made from agave, that any health benefits from tequila might also come from mezcal. Unfortunately, at the moment, the science backing up these health claims is not great. It's also worth noting that even if agave is incredibly healthy, there are probable better ways to get those health benefits than from an alcoholic drink. Yep, mezcal is strictly for pleasure, not medicine.
The other thing to talk about when it comes to mezcal are the worms.
It is actually mezcal that famously contain larvae in some bottles, not tequila. These larvae are completely edible and the idea is to add savoury flavour to the drink. You're welcome to buy a bottle and try for yourselves but if that sounds a bit much for you you can buy mezcal that doesn't have these added.
Now on to the cocktails. Both the Mezcal Bloody Maria and the Rum New Fashioned 2017 seem complicated, but actually there's very little technique involved. There are a few ingredients to prepare in advance, and in the New Fashioned you'll need to spend a while stirring, but they are very very hard to get wrong, and they taste great.
Mezcal bloody Maria
This is a great cocktail for a party, especially if you're willing to go all out with the garnish. I served mine with tortilla chips on the side for dipping and poured it into a hollowed out red bell pepper - it creates some great theatre, plus guests can eat the pepper afterwards, which saves on the rubbish clearing after the party. Though I suppose it would be fine to serve it in a regular glass if you're pressed for time.
Ingredients The pre-mix 150ml tomato juice 2 tbsp crushed avocado 2 dashes of chilli and lime red hot Frankie's sauce 1tbsp of vinaigrette (I used JH's own orange and chive recipe) 1tsp Dijon mustard 30ml freshly squeeze lime juice 2tsp salt Ground pepper
The rest 50ml tomato juice 35ml mezcal 1 red bell pepper, hollowed out, with the top sliced off and kept Salt and pepper Chia seeds Fresh red chillis, sliced crossways Tortilla chips Ice cubes
Equipment Cocktail shaker
Method First, blend the pre-mix together and set aside.
Mix the salt, pepper and chia seeds and lay them out on a plate. Take the red pepper and dip the sliced edge into the dry mix, so that it's coated. Set aside.
Add the pre-mix, tomato juice, mezcal and ice cubes to the shaker and shake!
(Editor's note: Antonio loves it when I post pictures of him mid-shake)
Pour into the red bell pepper, then sprinkle over some ground black pepper. Serve with the nachos and sliced red chillies.
Rum New Fashioned 2017
This is an incredibly simple recipe that has a little bit of theatre in the preparation and gives a lovely kick of flavour. Though because you're using a whole sugar cube, get ready for a whole lot of stirring. I've added a little display with orange and brown sugar - but of course that's completely optional.
Ingredients 1 cane sugar cube Grapefruit bitters 65ml Duppy Share rum Ice cubes Grapefruit peel to garnish
Equipment Tumble glass Cocktail stirrer Napkin
Method Lay a napkin over the tumble glass and place the sugar cube on it. Drop just a dash of the grapefruit bitters on to the sugar cube, then turn the napkin so that the cube drops into the glass.
Add 25ml of the rum and some ice cubes. Stir until the sugar starts to dissolve, then add another 20 ml and keep stirring.
Nope, keep going.
Carry on until the sugar is completely dissolved.
Finish with another 20ml of rum, then perch the grapefruit peel on top of the ice.
Happy January folks!
We do workplace catering! If you're interested in having someone with this much passion, expertise and creativity serving your team every day, get in touch or drop by LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram to see what else we're up to.