The mango martini



Growing up on an island off the west coast of Scotland, I don’t think I even saw a mango until I was a fully grown adult living on the mainland. However they almost immediately became my favourite fruit. I love their sweetness combined with a zesty taste that reminds me of the smell of pine needles.

This pine flavour might be one of the reasons this fruit it goes well with gin. I think it compliments the juniper which also has notes of pine (Christ that sounds pretentious). Anyway, for the sake of objectivity I tried eating a mango cube followed by chewing a juniper berry and the two seemed to go well together.



In order to make a mango martini get yourself a tin of mango slices in syrup.



Pour the syrup into a glass and place it in the freezer for around 45 minutes to cool down.



Take a fresh mango and slice off an end, cutting it as close to the stone as possible. Use a blunt knife to cut the flesh of the cut side into cross-crossed squares but be sure not to cut through the skin of the fruit.



You can then invert the sliced piece which makes it easier to cut out little cubes of the flesh.

You’ll be left with a piece of skin that by law you must chew and suck while your guests aren’t watching. Don’t let any of that succulent flesh go to waste!



When it’s time to pour add a measure of vermouth (to taste), then fill up the rest of the glass approximately half and half with gin/vodka and the mango syrup.



Garnish with a slice of mango and serve with some of the pieces of mango as an accompaniment.



I also had my first breakfast on the balcony this year the next morning. A cup of tea with mango pieces and a small sprinkling of pepper – an unusual combination I first tried during my time in Sri Lanka. I’m not sure why it works but it does!

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Non-alcoholic rose and lemon drop martini

Yes, yes, non-alcoholic. I can’t drink all the time you know.

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After serving martinis, you might, as I do, find your fridge to be full of bald lemons, shaved of their peel but still bursting with juice. You can use them for all sorts of things, like cooking, putting them in hot water to drink in the morning, making ice cubes, or, as I have done today, juicing them and adding them to a cordial drink to make a refreshing, sweet and sour non-alcoholic beverage.

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Rooh Afza is a sweet, rose-flavoured syrupy cordial to dilute with water and drink, preferably on a hot day. It comes from Pakistan, a country I have never visited but where some of my family used to live (before partition in the old days of the British Raj).

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To counteract it’s strong sweetness I added the juice of a lemon to 35ml and a dash of balsamic vinegar. Stir well then place in the freezer for around 45 minutes. Pour into a chilled martini glass and top up with chilled tonic water. Garnish with a piece of lemon peel.

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You can also leave it in the freezer a little bit longer in individual shot glasses to make a miniature sorbet.

There you go, a non-alcoholic post on my otherwise gin-soaked blog. Pakistan Zindabad!

A martini for Pancake Day (Shrove Tuesday)

Today was a good day.

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For a start, it was the first day I left the office this year and it was still daylight for my walk home.

However, more importantly…

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Today is Pancake Day! My favourite saint’s day of all.

Valentine’s Day is a horrible endurance of emotional intensity and commercially enforced feelings of low self-worth if you’re single.

St Patrick’s Day might have been a favourite but (a) I normally don’t remember celebrating it and (b) it was meant to be my birthday but I was late (probably sipping on an amniotic fluid martini…).

Pancake Day/Shrove Tuesday/Fat Tuesday/Mardi Gras is for indulging in all those wordly things you want to abstain from or cut down on during Lent, so that’s things like carbs, fat and alcohol. It’s a day I always enjoyed as a child, and unlike other faux-Christian traditions such as Christmas, I continue to enjoy it greatly as an adult.

Except now I can imbibe in an alcoholic beverage at the same time.

So which one would I recommend? A Lemon Drop Martini with Foam would work nicely, especially if you like your pancakes like I do (with sugar and lemon juice).

For a perfect pre-abstinence extravaganza I followed this recipe from the Telegraph.

And after a bit of mixing and frying, the results were as follows (and it’s a pretty easy recipe to follow):

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I managed to make about 6 pancakes.

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You can serve it with lemon juice and sugar like my childhood, or with maple syrup perhaps, or a thin spread of cold, salty butter.

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Perhaps you could also serve it with a lemon drop martini or two. You might as well if you’re going to be cutting out all this frivolity for Lent. Here’s the recipe again if you want to try it

The Lemon Iced Tea Martini with Foam

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While I first made this during the winter, I think it will make a better summer cocktail. It involves a similar preparation technique to the Lemon Drop Martini with Foam but uses Earl Grey infused gin as an additional ingredient.

Leave out the egg white and the frothing process in this recipe if you want a simpler drink. For two martinis you will need:

* The juice of 1 lemon
* The white of 1 egg
* Sugar
* Sweet Vermouth
* Earl Grey infused gin
* Standard gin or vodka
* Chilled martini glasses

– Pour the lemon juice and 2 measures of vermouth into a large cup
– Add 2 teaspoons of sugar and stir until dissolved
– Pour the mixture into a bowl and add the egg white
– Beat well until the mixture is thoroughly blended and a thick, velvety foam has formed on top of the liquid
– Rim the martini glasses with sugar
– Using a spoon or fork to hold back the foam, pour the liquid into the martini glasses, about half way up.
– Fill up the rest of the glasses with a half-and-half mixture of Earl Grey infused gin and standard gin or vodka, leaving a space of around 3-5mm at the top of the glass. Lightly stir the mixture.
– Pour over the foam until it has covered the top of the drink and reached the rim of the glass

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– If you like, you can sprinkle some grated lemon rind over the top of the foam to add even more zest, although I preferred it without.

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The Lemon Drop Martini with Foam

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This is a slight variation on a classic American cocktail. I first encountered the Lemon Drop in New York. A barman asked me what I wanted and I said I felt like something strong and astringent. It’s a very simple combination of sweet and sour, and it’s easy to make at home. Leave out the egg white and the frothing process in this recipe if you want an even simpler drink. For two martinis you will need:

* The juice of 1 lemon
* The white of 1 egg
* Sugar
* Sweet Vermouth
* Gin or vodka (it’s more conventional to use vodka)
* Chilled martini glasses

– Pour the lemon juice and 2 measures of vermouth into a large cup
– Add 2 teaspoons of sugar and stir until dissolved
– Pour the mixture into a bowl and add the egg white
– Beat well until the mixture is thoroughly blended and a thick, velvety foam has formed on top of the liquid
– Rim the martini glasses with sugar
– Using a spoon or fork to hold back the foam, pour the liquid into the martini glasses, about half way up.
– Fill up the rest of the glasses with gin or vodka, leaving a space of around 3-5mm. Lightly stir the mixture.
– Pour over the foam until it has covered the top of the drink and reached the rim of the glass
– If you like, you can sprinkle some grated lemon rind over the top of the foam to add even more zest, although I preferred it without

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The drink is sweet and sour with contrasting textures of sharp zesty alcohol, rich foam and the crunch of the sugar rim.

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The Canadian Martini

Canada is one of Britain’s closest allies. It was only a matter of time before I wrote about the country. Have you ever heard of Five Eyes? It’s an intelligence term. I will let someone else give you the details, or you can read about it here. It’s basically an intelligence-sharing arrangement between five key countries – the United States, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Canada.

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To be brief, I am extremely pro-Canadian (moderately concerned by Quebecois secession attempts but that’s another matter) and I regularly attend celebratory events on the 1st of July.

Perhaps more importantly, I’m also a fan of maple syrup. So here is an appropriate martini recipe:

Put 1-2 teaspoons of maple syrup in a martini glass (one for dry, two for sweet).

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Pour in a measure of vermouth and mix well.

Top up with gin or vodka and stir until the drink is a consistent golden/amber colour.

Serve cold. If you’re not in Canada this is a lovely winter drink. If you are in Canada this means it’s a lovely drink all throughout the year except June, July and August. And even then it’s still quite nice.

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Maraschino Cherry Martini

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I love the sweet taste of maraschino cherries, so I thought I would incorporate it into a classic martini.

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I made a classic martini and simply added two teaspoons of maraschino cherry syrup then garnished the drink with one of the cherries.

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Simple.

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Goes well with a cookie. Apparently.