One of the first things we did when we moved into the flat was buy and set up a bar, and it’s been the best thing we could have possibly done, as it’s had a LOT of use over the last seven weeks. I dread to think how many bottles of wine and gin we have gone through, but I’ve also tried my hand at cocktail making. For an at home cocktail evening, you want easy to make cocktails that aren’t too complicated.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Apologies for the quality of some of the photos, I had to take screen grabs of my instagram stories.
My cocktail set is from Oliver Bonas, I’ve had it for years and can’t find the same one online but this one from Amazon is really similar. Now I may have had a few years bar experience back in my uni days, but certainly not recently. What I find with making cocktails at home is that you never have all the right ingredients, and they’re bloody expensive to stock up on.
The cocktails I’ve been making during lockdown don’t take too much faffing about or require too many unique ingredients. Nobody wants to spend ages making cocktails that don’t taste anything like the ones in a real bar do they. Even those ones sometimes aren’t worth the half an hour wait.
In general the alcohol we always have in the house is gin, prosecco, vodka, wine, whiskey and rum. We also have vanilla syrup so all the cocktails I’ve been making include at least one of these. My cocktail shopping list therefore only included a few extras – Kahlua and Passoa, and some fruit.
If you’re going to be making cocktails, don’t make the mistake of getting loads of fruit and garnish in at once as it will just go off. Pick a couple to start with. Other equipment in addition to a cocktail set that you will also need for some of these cocktails is a coffee machine if you’re going to make espresso martinis, a blender, and a knife.
God these have been the biggest challenge, and they were the first ones I tried to make. Basically I was so impatient and didn’t have the right ingredients that the first attempt was a disaster. Once I got the coffee machine up and running, real espresso, and enlisted the help of award winning bartender Rachel Orange, I did much better and they were lovely.
She actually sent me a personal video with some top tips, including to use loads of ice in the shaker, and to shake it really hard. Check out her instagram she’s been sharing some delicious looking creations.
Double shot vodka
Single shot espresso coffee
Single shot Kahlua
1 tbsp sugar syrup – I like to use vanilla flavoured
All in a shaker with loads of ice and shake for ages to get the froth.
Chill a martini glass, which I did not have originally so obviously I invested, and pour in. If you have two coffee beans add them on top. I found that adding the espresso last gives the best result and it transformed my espresso martini cocktail making from a total disaster into a success.
A firm favourite among my friends and also my dad actually, this one is a lot easier to make. I took guidance from BBC Good Food so can’t take credit for the original recipe, but I’ve actually modified since my first attempt to just make 1 rather than 2, and I use normal vodka rather than flavoured.
Double shot vodka
Single shot Passoa
1tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp sugar syrup, I use vanilla
Halve a passionfruit and scrape into a cocktail shaker, add the vodka, passoa, lime juice and sugar syrup, as well as a lot of ice. Shake well before pouring into a chilled martini glass. Add half a passion fruit on the top, and depending how you drink yours add a shot of prosecco into the drink or into the passion fruit half.
A great brunch cocktail, I’ve had a fair few of these this lockdown and I’ve combined a few recipes together, including Jamie Oliver’s Peach Bellini, BBC Good Food which is a very simple version, and the one in a cocktail book I have – will link at the end. I’ve also used prosecco rather than champagne but obviously the choice is yours. You need a blender rather than a cocktail shaker for this one.
1 ripe peach, or tinned peaches work perfectly fine and are what I used
Chilled Prosecco or Champagne
2 tsp sugar syrup
Blend the peach or tinned peaches with their juices until it’s a smooth puree. I used a whole tin and bottled it up to store in the fridge so it didn’t go to waste. Put about 2-3cm of puree in the bottom of a flute glass, add 2 tsp of sugar syrup (the BBC recipe doesn’t include this and I much prefer it), then top up with prosecco or champagne.
Tip: For a Rossini use strawberries rather than peaches. I did this once and I’m not as much of a fan – too many seeds.
My all time favourite brunch cocktail, I have perfected how I make these for myself. With Bloody Mary’s they should be made to each individual taste so it can take a while to get right until you figure out how spicy you want it. I prefer mine quite spicy because I don’t naturally like the taste of fresh tomato, and it’s the tomato juice that I think puts a lot of people off.
It was a waiter in Mexico who taught me how to make these so a rough recipe is:
1 tbsp lemon juice
Few shakes Worcestershire sauce
Few shakes Tobasco (more or less depending how spicy you want it)
Pinch of salt
Pinch of black pepper
In a cocktail shaker or jug add the ice, then all the ingredients and stir together. Strain into a tall glass, add an ice cube, and then garnish how you prefer. I use a wedge of lemon and a stick of celery, sometimes an olive too if I have them. Technically you’re supposed to add salt around the rim of the glass too.
If you aren’t a fan of vodka you can make a Red Snapper instead, by amending this recipe to include gin rather than the vodka.
I made us these one evening when we had ran out of tonic but had been drinking gin, and they’re very refreshing.
1 shot gin
3 tsps lemon juice
3 tsps sugar syrup
Add the gin, lemon juice and sugar syrup with lots of ice into a cocktail shaker and shake. Strain into a flute glass and top up with prosecco or champagne. If you have an actual lemon you’re supposed to add a twist of lemon skin to decorate too.
Simple RosE Sangria
One of Kieran’s friends Michael gave me this recipe, which I tried last summer and it was so delicious. Great for a refreshing drink if it’s sunny in the garden, or if you’re having a tapas night.
Bottle of rosé
Juice from 2 squeezed oranges
2 nectarines and 2 oranges
In a jug pour the bottle of rose, and the juice from 2 squeezed oranges. Slice the 2 nectarines and 2 oranges and add in. Add plenty of ice and stir it all together. Leave to chill in the fridge for half an hour then top up the jug with cold water.
For a more complicated recipe, you can add in cranberry juice, lime juice, and use soda water instead of fresh cold water. Personally I think this is added hassle and the simple one is so nice.
I haven’t made this recently, but I have in the past. I intended to make it but then I used my bottle of rosé for the sangria above instead.
1 bottle rosé
Strawberries hulled and halved
Juice of 1 lemon
Poor the bottle of rose into a deep tray and freeze overnight. It won’t fully freeze but will go slushy. The next day, mix the strawberries with a small amount of sugar then add to a blender with the frozen rose. Also add in the lemon juice, then blend together and serve in a martini glass. A lot more preparation needed, so think I’ll stick to the sangria.
They may not be as pretty as ones you get in bars, by experienced bar tenders who know what they’re doing but they taste good and are fun to make for a change. I have two cocktail books that I use and are good for some extra tips:
200 Classic cocktails – this one is great and just £5.99
Enjoy your summery cocktails!
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