Showing posts with label cocktail. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cocktail. Show all posts

Friday, 12 May 2017

Isle of Harris Gin

The rise of gin sees no end.  Lots of different choices surround us, and everyone has a different gin recipe. I remember making gin in London a couple of years ago. I really enjoyed the process, and I think I still have my recipe somewhere...

The other day I was introduced to Isle of Harris, a new gin from the Outer Hebrides, Scotland, has just landed in London, from the most remote located spirit producer. Infused with local hand harvested and sustainably sugar kelp and made with other eight meticulously chosen botanicals this gin capture the local maritime spirit.

Where is the Isle of Harris?

'Harris is the southern part of the Scottish Hebridean island of Lewis and Harris. It’s known for sandy beaches like Luskentyre and Scarista on the west coast, and for rugged mountains in the north. In the east is an area of miniature fjords called the Bays. The 16th-century St. Clement’s Church in the village of Rodel has three richly carved tombs. Harris is also the original home of Harris Tweed, a luxury handwoven cloth.'
In late 2015, the Isle of Harris Distillery opened in Tarbert; this new 'social distillery' is the first one on the Isle of Harris.
The Isle of Harris  Distillers is improving the local social, financial landscape by employing young and more experienced labour alike. Their aim is to create an enterprise that will prosper over the generations to come.

Tasting Isle of Harris Gin

Gin is clear alcoholic spirit distilled from grain or malt and flavoured with juniper berries and other botanicals. This gin is made in a small copper still called 'Dottach' .

Isle of Harris gin has a sharp juniper note with pine needles, followed by bitter orange, lime and grapefruit. A sophisticated floral note of roses, green herbs, coriander and gooseberry supported by mixed spices.

On the palate -  a fresh, clean, well-balanced juniper and pine gin with the underline of fruity citrus flavours and crushed coriander.  It has a distinctive smooth dry and 'flinty' taste.

Its finish is long and clean with juniper, and citrus peel notes that fade away leaving the sweet vanilla and black pepper and a faint sugar kelp as a reminder of the sea.

The Isle of Harris suggested serving

It was recommended 'on the rocks' with an addition of a few drops of their own sugar kelp aromatic water, with a wedge of pink or red grapefruit or lime. Served in a long glass, with ice and with a good quality tonic water.  

For those with a more creative mind, this Gin is actually splendid in cocktails too inclusive Martinis!

Here is another suggestion from the Isle of Harris folks:

50ml Isle of Harris Gin
3-4 drops of Sugar Kelp Aromatic Water
Walter Gregor's Scottish Tonic with Quinine
Red or Pink Grapefruit

'We like to 'build' our favourite serve, savouring the smoothness of the Isle of Harris Gin unadulterated before any additions are made. So pour a good measure into a wide rimmed glass and sip neat. If you want to enhance the maritime elements of the spirit, add a few drops of our Sugar Kelp Aromatic Water to taste. Then introduce ice, large blocks if possible to avoid dilution, and taste once more. If you feel tonic is required, add just a splash, try not to drown the gin flavours. Finally rim the glass with a wedge of Red or Pink grapefruit showing plenty fruit flesh and add a slice to your final drink. Enjoy!'

To Buy Isle of Harris gin and sugar kelp water:

The Social Distillery:
‘For And By The People Of Harris’ 

Ambassador Opportunity:
Anyone interested in the role can find out more at facebook/isleofharrisdistillers

Disclosure: I was a guest at Isle of Harris gin event. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Cointreau Blood Orange

Cointreau Blood Orange
Cointreau is a liquor which is made by the process of a triple-copper-still-distillation, commonly referred to as Triple Sec. It is produced in Saint-Barthélemy-d'Anjou, France. It is consumed as both an apéritif and digestif and is a component of several popular cocktails. It was formerly called "Curaçao Blanco Triple Sec."

Cointreau is a triple sec style orange liqueur invented in 1875 in Angers in the Loire Valley. I visited the region last year, read about it Angers. The whole operation is incredible. Its museum is rich in the history of the company including everything from advertising to design to the bottling process, from the inception of the beverage up to nowadays.

Jean's son Edouard achieved cocktail culture immortality for the company when he created the namesake liqueur from bitter and sweet orange peels.  He used a beet sugar-based spirit - technically a rum but highly refined into a more neutral spirit.  Sugar was added, and the result was the orange liqueur we know today.

Cointreau Blood Orange is a new expression of this famed liquor, and it is as versatile. Made with specially selected blood oranges originally from Corsica, L'Ile de Beaute',  this distillation achieves the right balance between the sweet and the bitter of the citrus peels.
Cointreau Blood Orange - Launch

At the event launch which took place at the iconic Royal Opera House in London, we had a sneak peak of what goes on behind-the-scenes at rehearsals - it was all fascinating. After that, we were guided to another beautifully decorated room with a magnificent centre table with all paraphernalia and ingredients for the guests to make their own cocktail or long drink.  There were plenty of Blood Orange Cocktails being served as well.  That was fun!   We all got a bottle to take away so that we could continue the party at home.  Cointreau Blood Orange is also delicious drunk on the rocks.

Make a delicious cocktail with Cointreau Blood Orange at home; this one is smooth and citrous

Cointreau Orange Velvet cocktail recipe

Cointreau Orange Velvet cocktail

serves 1

 ¾ Part  Cachaça or Rhum
 2 ½ Parts Blood Orange Juice
 ¾ Part Blood Orange Cointreau
  ½ part of simple syrup
 1 Slice Orange to garnish

1) Fill the serving glass with ice cubes, reserve.
2) Add all ingredients and some more ice to a shaker
3) Shake well.  Strain the cocktail into the serving glass on the rocks.
4) Garnish with orange.

For mode ideas on the Cointreau Blood Orange Cocktail head on over to their site:
The new Cointreau Blood Orange 50cl will be available at selected Waitrose stores from  June 2017 RRP £17/bottle

All pictures copyright ©Rosana_McPhee  - please ask permition to use.
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Disclosure: I was a guest at this event. All opinions are mine.

Friday, 28 October 2016

Sparkling thriller, a rum Halloween cocktail

Every year my neighbour and I celebrate Halloween by having excellent drinks and lovely comfort food for dinner on the 31st October.  It's such a fun time; decorations go up, and we dress up. The tradition of dressing in costume for Halloween has both European and Celtic roots. We have a good catching up time too.  Halloween falls right in between autumn and winter, it's a time of magic, mystery, celebration and superstition.

It is thought that Halloween originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in), people would light open-air fires and wear costumes to fight off roaming ghosts. Pope Gregory III appointed November 1 as a time to honour all saints and martyrs. The holiday, All Saints’ Day, was incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain in the eighth century.

The evening before was known as All Hallows’ Eve and later changed to Halloween. Over time, Halloween developed into a non-religious, community-based event with child-friendly activities such as trick-or-treating. In some countries as the nights get colder and the days grow shorter people welcome the winter season with gatherings, costumes and sweet treats.

On Halloween eve, when it was believed that ghosts came back to the mortal world, people thought that they would encounter ghosts if they left their homes. To avoid being recognised by these ghosts, people would wear masks when they left their homes after dark so that the ghosts would mistake them for fellow spirits. To keep ghosts away from their houses, people would place bowls of food outside their homes to appease the ghosts and prevent them from attempting to enter.

But back to reality of 2016....Last month I was given a bottle of Captain Morgan's spiced rum to come up with a cocktail for Halloween. This is what we are going to be drinking for our Halloween gathering this year:

Sparkling thriller, a Halloween cocktail recipe

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Serves : 1

50ml  Captain Morgan Spiced Gold Rum
25ml of hibiscus syrup
20ml  fresh lime juice
1 - 2 drops of chilli spice drops, optional
Champagne to top up
Fresh small Chilli to decorate

1) chill a martini glass with ice
2) In a cocktail shaker mix the  Rum, hibiscus and fresh lime with ice cubes and shake for a minute.
3) Discard the ice in the cocktail glass and strain the mixture into the chilled martini glass, add chilli drops (optional)  and top with champagne.
4) Serve  immediately

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Disclosure : I was sent a bottle of Captain Morgan Original Spiced Gold to make a Halloween cocktail.  All options are my own.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Lime, Physalis and Elderflower Caipiroska recipe

The Caipirinha is one of the most famous cocktails in Brazil, in general, no visitors from other countries who visit Brazil can leave Brazilian soil without tasting this delightful drink.

An interesting thing about this popular drink, full of green, is that it has a multitude of possibilities. The proof of this is in the Caipirinha recipe with Vodka, also known as caipiroska or caipivodka.

This type of Caipirinha is quite common. It's said that the use of vodka
probably arose from the difficulty of finding a good cachaça in the major cities so that they could make a decent caipirinha.  Anyone can make caipiroska all over the world.

This option is ideal for gatherings, parties, BBQ or when watching your favorite sports event. I took the inspiration for this recipe from thebar by Diageo, and the seasonal  Elderflower to make a light and a summery cocktail to liven up any occasion.

Lime, Physalis and Elderflower Caipiroska recipe

Serves: 1

50ml Smirnoff No. 21® Vodka
1 lime
10ml Elderflower Sugar Syrup (bought or recipe below)
4-5 physalis
crushed ice

1 x Short Glass
1 x Crushed ice
1 x Jigger
1 x Muddler
1 x Chopping Board
1 x Knife

1)Cut the lime in wedges, take out the white membrane, then cut the physalis in half and place in a glass.
2)Muddle the lime, physalis with the Elderflower sugar syrup in the glass.
3) With a muddler press down on the lime and physalis to extract flavour and juices.
4)Fill the glass with ice.
5)Top up with Smirnoff No. 21 Vodka.
6) decorate with a slice of lime and physalis



elderflower syrup

makes: 1L

1L of water
1kg of sugar
20 Elderflower heads
1 lemon
1 orange

Cook: 10mins
1)Carefully wash the elderflower heads and remove any insects or dirt. 2)Place the flower heads in a large bowl together with the orange and lemon zest.
3)Bring 1 litre of water and 1 kilo of sugar to simmering point until the sugar has completely dissolved, boil for 5 minutes.
4)Switch off the heat and pour over the elderflowers and citrus zest. Cover and leave infusing 24 hours
5)Sieve the liquid through a piece of muslin.
6) Use a funnel to pour the liquid into sterilised bottles. Seal the bottles with swing-top lids, cleaned screw-tops or corks.

For more Summer cocktails inspiration head to thebar

Disclosure: This post was written by me and sponsored by Diageo, the makers of Smirnoff Vodka.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Barrio comes to Brixton

Barrio Brixton

About two years ago I stopped briefly at Bairro Soho, for a very quick drink while waiting for a friend. It was late afternoon, sunny and I promised I would go back. As life goes, I never did. The decor was very colourful, and the drinks were very enticing indeed!

Fast forward and two tears later, Bairro comes to Brixton. I was invited to review it for the blog. The vibrant brand Barrio began in 2007 and the family still growing serving Latin-inspired drinks and food. The Brixton branch was just opened in March 2016.

We went on a Thursday early evening 6 pm, and it was already in full swing by 8.30 pm, when we left.

The menu is a mixed bag of Peruvian, Nikkei and  Mexican flavours. From homemade marinades, ceviches with delightful Leche de Tigre (tiger's milk), to grilled and barbecued Anticuchos (Mi Corazon on the menu)  and other meats, to Fried chicken with a secret aji panca sauce, that sauce should be bottled and sold on the premises - amazing!

I need to go back and try the one desert in the menu - Peruvian mess, the pork and steak sanguches,  Pork & Chican Bun, Grilled pork belly, chicharron, coriander, red onions, rocoto chilli & sweet potato jam,  they all looked incredible.  It's food to share; I would say 2-3 plates a person if you were ravenous. 

 Ceviche amarilllo and Guac & Chips - great corn chips!

 che guava cocktail and nibbles

Mi corazon and lamb rocoto cream served with mint and coriander dip
green grocer
Ol' dirty bastard

making the Brazillian Lady

The cocktail menu consists in ten concoctions, using herbs and exotic fruits. Price varies from £8.50-£9/each. My favourite was the Brazilian lady: cachaca, passion fruit, Cointreau, lemon, and egg white - this combination is heavenly. The second favourite was Che Guava:  Rum, Mezcal, guava, passion fruit, and lime. Ol' Dirty Bastard was a hit too, bourbon, rum, orange and angostura bitters. The least favourite was Port of Call, not sure why...

They have an extensive and affordable wines, beers, and cider list if you don't like cocktails. Wines start at £4.50/glass and £18/bottle. Beer bottle at £4, draft from £5 and one cider in the menu at £4.50/glass.

The decor is fun; there are lots to see and admire including a painted wall by Brixton local artist. Bright interiors take upcycling to the next level. They have an outside area excellent for the Summer months. The staff was nice and polite; some of them didn't seem to know the menu well. 


Such a good vibe and best of all local, walking distance from home and Brixton station. Highly recommended if exploring the area or live locally.

Open seven days a week and until 2 am on the weekends while offering brunch from 10 am on Saturdays and Sundays.

Barrio Brixton
30 Acre Lane, Brixton

nearest underground: Brixton

Disclosure: I was a guest at Barrio Brixton for review purposes. All views are my own.

Until next time why not join me on  InstagramTwitter and Facebook…X Square Meal Barrio Brixton Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Cocktail: just in case you missed dessert

Cocktail week is upon us, and I've seen and tasted so great cocktails lately. Many establishments have hit the cocktail trail. The spirit of the old times is holding sway the classics and their reinventions and twists are all the rage at the moment. One kind of cocktail I enjoy the most is the after dinner tipple.

The kind of cocktail that you have after a glorious meal with fantastic company. You just don't want the evening to end, so you order another drink so it can stretch the proceedings a little bit longer. Or indeed if you missed dessert a cocktail will finish a meal in style.

Coffee is high on my agenda, a cup of coffee after a meal sounds ideal, so I created a dessert-coffee-cocktail to celebrate this year cocktail week with the help of House of Fraser who provided me with some beautiful glassware and a very 'on-trend' cocktail shaker. I also made a little sablé in finger format as an added indulgence. 

Just in case you missed dessert, cocktail

Make one drink

25ml  Cachaca or rum
25ml  coffee liqueur
25ml  strong coffee brewed
25ml simple syrup
2 tsp of chocolate essence
2 tsp of peanut butter, room temperature
50ml of milk, frothed to top the drink

Mix all (except the milk)  in a cocktail shaker with the ice

Pour into glasses and topped with frothed milk
Serve with a Sable cookie to accompany this delicious cocktail.

Enjoy it! 

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Sunday, 31 May 2015

London: Mint Leaf, a very modern Indian dining room

The first time I tried curry was absolutely tremendous experience. I was just a teenager living in Brazil, hungry for an exotic meal. As soon as I walked into that small cafe in the shopping mall, I was hooked. At that point, Indian cuisine wasn’t exactly a popular food choice in my country, and all I knew about curry was the instant powder packets that local street vendors sold. Even the culturally-diverse city of São Paulo didn’t have very many Indian restaurant options back then.

Once I relocated to London, I was both shocked and delighted by the enormous selection of Indian restaurants that were available. I full-heartedly welcomed the numerous dishes, colours and smells this foreign cuisine offers. As I became more comfortable with Indian food, I used favourite TV shows and cookbooks to learn some recipes on my own. Needless to say I jumped at the opportunity to try out some more authentic dishes when my friend Tracey invited me to visit Mint Leaf, a modern Indian dining room and bar located in Haymarket, London.

Haymarket’s Mint Leaf Restaurant was established in 2003, and paved the way for the successful Mint Leaf Restaurant Group. The business grew quite rapidly since its inception, and became London’s premiere modern Indian restaurant and bar. The decor doesn't feel like your run-of-the-mill Indian place.  Far from it, it looks more like a funky, modern, high-end bar/nightclub and at the same time comfortable and welcoming. The clientele the evening I went were families and local suited office workers.

The bar area

The bar holds over 600 bottles and 400  different spirits

Deadly Berry

We started the evening with a cocktail from the new spring cocktail menu that perfectly paired with Chef Pandey’s menu was developed by Bar Manager Javed Sidah and his team. The menu offers a vast selection of gin and tonics, as well as numerous fine whiskies. There were even a number of classic and exotic cocktails and “mocktails” available, created with fresh fruits, purees, and the most premium spirits at the bar. 
There are also plenty of beers, bubbles and fine wine selection on the menu.

The star of the cocktail menu, however, is Mint Leaf’s signature drink, the Porn Star Martini, but this time we tasted the Deadly Berry, one of the prettiest cocktail I ever had and the quirky Tikky Takka. Deadly Berry is a long and fruity drink , not overly sweet, a mix of vodka, melon liqueur and creme de mure, topped with Fresh berries and passion fruit - a real magnificent combination. Tikky Takka, was served in a fun tikky mug, a blend of spiced rum, Frangelico, banana liqueur, lime juice, chilli syrup and pineapple juice, I was expecting a bit more of a kick from the chilli. It was nice but, in my opinion, not as nice as Deadly Berry! 

Deadly Berry and Tikky Takka cocktails at Mint Leaf London

Mint Leaf’s Executive Head Chef, Rajinder Pandey, is the visionary behind the restaurant’s delectable a la carte Spring menu. The chef built his vast knowledge of Indian cuisine by traveling throughout the country to study traditional Indian dishes. By using high quality ingredients and authentic flavours, Chef Pandey was able to create a menu consisting of dishes fit for the contemporary palate.

The Haymarket, London central location is perfect for film and theatre premieres, extravagant fashion shows, exhibitions at the nearby Somerset House, wedding and civil partnership ceremonies. As well as special occasions like birthdays and engagements. 

The meal at Mint Leaf Haymarket

The crispy and thin Papadums and the delicious chutneys are addictive
We were offered a number of innovative, yet authentic, dishes that were inspired by techniques and flavours from all over India.

Starter (£28): Mint Leaf Grill, a very generous platter of Indian delights:
Salmon fillet seasoned with kasundi mustard, chilli and ajwain seed.
Tandoor glazed paneer tikka with carom, chilli and fenugreek.
Kebab Lamb leg spiced with ginger, chilli and mint.
Chicken supreme, kashmiri chilli marinade, lemon and yoghurt.
pan seared potato and chana dal spiced with mint chilli and ginger
Tandoori Broccoli, Grilled broccoli florets seasoned with cheese, ginger and chilli.- Amazing platter, I love the tamarind and the mild green spicy sauce

Wine from Bordeaux: 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, Deep garnet-red with  aromas of prunes and liquorice. A robust and well-balanced wine in the palatte with a firm, long length finish.

Murgh Tikka Makhani (£18.50)
Tandoor grilled chicken supreme in a piquant tomato, cashew nut and fenugreek sauce.
Meen Moileey(£19)
King fish and coconut stew flavoured with curry leaf, mustard and tamarind.
Jeera and Saffron Pulao Rice (£4.50)
Dal Makhani (V)(£7)
Slow cooked black lentil with tomato and butter.
Bhindi do Pyaz (V) (£7)
Cumin tempered stir fry okra with onion, tomato and mango.
a selection of  three special breads (£8.50)

a selection of three special freshly baked on the tandoori oven breads and King fish and coconut stew: the white fish was firm and flaked easily as we cut through it,  the fragrant sauce was mild with distinctive turmeric and curry flavours.

I do love okra! Cumin tempered stir fry okra with onion, tomato and mango and Slow cooked black lentil with tomato and butter- both very tasty and filling vegetarian dishes

what a delicious feast! Mint Leaf

I liked all the dishes. The vegetarian options were excellent full of flavour, textures and complexity. The Murgh Tikka Makhan was outstanding, the fenugreek gave the sauce a special character. Service was on point!

a trio of Indian desserts at Mint Leaf : from the top: Gulab Jamun, Kulfi and Ras malai

Other Mint Leaf Locations

London City

Mint Leaf Lounge was established in 2008, following the success of its Haymarket location. It is located next to the Bank of England, London, and mainly attracts a loyal clientele of corporate employees. The lounge’s extensive cuisine and cocktail menus are offered in a more intimate setting for those who value a bit more seclusion. Customers have access to a luxurious bar, champagne mezzanine, main restaurant area, and two private dining rooms. Mint Leaf Lounge is generally open Monday thru Friday for lunch and dinner, but is available for special weekend events.


Mint Leaf of London was established fairly recently in 2014, but I was told is quickly growing into an extremely popular location in DIFC Dubai.  I can't wait to try it on my travels!

Disclosure: I was a guest of Mint Leaf. All views and images ©RosanaMcPhee are my own. Apart from first image, which is © of the restaurant.
Until next time why not join me on  InstagramTwitter and Facebook…X
Mint Leaf Restaurant & Bar
Suffolk Pl, London SW1Y 4HX, United Kingdom

Mint Leaf Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon Square Meal
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