Let's shake a cocktail: a guest blog

Antonio Ciavarella, our catering manager at Twitter, is the go-to man at JH for a cocktail or two. He has years of mixology experience, yet explains cocktail making in such simple terms! He is our guest blogger this week and shares three recipes and some tips to make a perfect cocktail..

With summer officially starting today, what is a better way to celebrate than creating some amazing cocktails from my bar? Today I’m sharing three refreshing cocktails for the perfect summer party. Each of them have a Mediterranean twist for the season coming up!

The aperitif: Lemon fizz

The perfect drink to get a party started - It's got the perfect balance of sweet & sour from the vanilla limoncello and the freshness from the prosecco.

Limoncello is quite often served over ice after a meal in Italy. Many people make their own blends. For this cocktail, I infused a couple of vanilla pods in a bottle of limoncello for two weeks to add a layer of flavour to the cocktail. Vanilla sugar can be made at home by adding vanilla bean scrapings to powdered sugar and sealing it in a container until needed to use.

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Ingredients:

35ml Infused limoncello in Vanilla

15ml Lemon juice + vanilla sugar

35ml Prosecco

Ice - to chill

Twist of lemon for garnish

Equipment:

Cocktail mixing glass

Stirrer

Flute - to serve

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Method:

Pour ice into the mixing glass, pour all the ingredients into the mixing glass and stir gently (so as to not lose bubbles from prosecco). Use a strainer and strain the chilled mix into a chilled flute. Garnish with a twist of lemon

TIP: To retain the bubbles, only add half prosecco at time of stirring and top up the glass after.

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The one to go with barbecues or light bites: Mediterranean Mojito

Mojitos are one of the most popular cocktails worldwide. It is super refreshing, but a lot of people avoid it for its sweet taste. I give my mojito a savory twist with lavender and thyme - making it a great match with food, particularly barbecues. It's the perfect cocktail for a party - you can make a couple of jugs of these before guests arrive - freeing you up to have a great time with friends. I have used a lavender syrup here for evenly mixing the flavours.

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Ingredients:

Half lime (cut into smaller quarters) plus a slice for garnish

Half lemon  (cut into smaller quarters)

10ml Lavender syrup

Mint and fresh thyme (for adding to cocktail and as garnish)

35ml Dark rum

50ml Lemonade

Crushed ice - in the cocktail

Equipment:

Hi ball glass for building and serving the cocktail

Muddler

Stirrer

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Method:

Put the lime and lemon wedges into the glass, muddle this well. Pour in the lavender syrup and dark rum. Add crushed ice, torn mint leaves, gently crushed thyme and lemonade. Stir well, garnish with a slice of lime, mint leaves and a sprig of thyme.

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TIP: Never muddle mint - it makes your drink bitter and takes away the freshness mint typically brings

The grand finale: Chocolate, chilli & orange martini

Martinis are all time favourites. My take on chocolate martini has orange and chilli which add an element of drama to the classic chocolate martini. The cointreau adds the orange flavours and chilli an element of excitement. Flavour combinations like these avoid your cocktails from becoming too sweet and dull.

Ingredients:

25ml Chocolate liqueur

10ml Vodka

10ml Cointreau

10ml Infused chilli and orange sugar

15ml Double cream

Ice - to chill

Orange zest and a slice of chilli for garnish

Equipment:

Cocktail shaker

Strainer

Martini glass - chilled

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Stirrer / spoon

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Method:

Add the chocolate liqueur, vodka, cointreau and the chilli / orange sugar with some ice in the cocktail shaker. Shake it well. Pour this into a chilled martini glass thru a strainer. Then add ice to a cocktail shaker and the cream. Shake this well enough for the cream to chill really well.  Pour out this really cold cream slowly over the back of a spoon / stirrer so that the cream floats. Grate some lemon zest on the floating cream and garnish with a slice of chilli

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TIP: the cream has to be really cold for it to float

I really hope you will enjoy making these cocktails - do send us the pictures on twitter or instagram with @justhospitality. Ask me cocktail questions on twitter - @justeatmytweet!