Advice starting with cocktails

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  • altitude2k 5 Oct 2012 13:49:37 3,750 posts
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    Looking for a bit of advice. The wife's birthday is coming up, and after enjoying one of her friends' hen nights doing some pre-arranged cocktail mixing I think she'd like a few bits so she can start giving it a go at home.

    I'm not after spending a fortune (just paid for a big holiday for us both - she's truly fine without an expensive gift), but looking to buy a shaker, a good recipe book, a set of syrups and maybe some umbrellas and stirrers - that sort of thing.

    My main question is where is a good place to get this kit? Any good specialist online stores, especially for the syrups? Anything else that would be useful from anybody who does it already?

    Cheers in advance.
  • billythekid 5 Oct 2012 14:02:07 11,017 posts
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    http://www.barmans.co.uk/products/bar-supplies-equipment.asp

    I've bought a few things from there with no issues.
  • SYS64738 5 Oct 2012 14:05:40 1,578 posts
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    You can get loads of recipes for free off the web. Also it can be fun to vary ingredients and experiment, within reason of course unless you want to make your guests sick;)
  • Ginger 5 Oct 2012 14:10:06 6,826 posts
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    Check out http://www.diffordsguide.com/index.html the books are awesome

    London open taekwondo champion

  • Dougs 5 Oct 2012 14:18:11 66,650 posts
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    Didn't deem do the design etc for some cocktails book? Looked excellent IIRC
  • Murbal 5 Oct 2012 14:21:56 21,921 posts
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    @Dougs aye, think he did those Diffords ones in fact.
  • altitude2k 5 Oct 2012 14:24:11 3,750 posts
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    SYS64738 wrote:
    You can get loads of recipes for free off the web. Also it can be fun to vary ingredients and experiment, within reason of course unless you want to make your guests sick;)
    Oh absolutely, but having a starting point is the best way to get things rolling without the vom!

    Another question - there's absolutely loads of syrup flavours. If I had to choose, say, 5 for her to start with, which are the most flexible and useful?
  • smoothpete 5 Oct 2012 14:32:25 31,332 posts
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    Yeah Difford's was deem. Not sure if he's involved any more
  • elstoof 5 Oct 2012 14:34:44 6,604 posts
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    Where are you based? There's a shop called nisbets in London that sells catering equipment, I think they have a website too. They sell shakers etc.

    Get a Boston shaker, a glass half and a metal half which tap together - much more pro than a 3 piece. The diffords guide are a good call, every bar I worked in when I was at uni had a copy stashed somewhere for those odd requests.

    With the shaker you'll need a strainer, a citrus juicer, some bottle pour spouts and measuring jiggers would be nice, manual ice crushing machines can be had for about 20 quid.

    Another thing you could try is find a cocktail bar near you and ask the manager if he'll sell you some kit.

    Edited by elstoof at 14:38:07 05-10-2012
  • elstoof 5 Oct 2012 14:37:15 6,604 posts
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    As far as syrups go, fresh fruit and sugar muddled in the shaker tastes a whole lot better. Apart from if the recipe calls for a crême, like cassis or framboise as these are flavoured liqueurs.
  • PearOfAnguish 5 Oct 2012 14:39:41 7,138 posts
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    While we're on the subject, does anyone happen to know the name of a Bourbon cocktail involving raspberries, and fire? I was very very pissed when I had it and can't remember what I ordered, but it was lovely. Looked like it was just good bourbon mashed up with raspberries then set on fire.
  • elstoof 5 Oct 2012 14:46:09 6,604 posts
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    Could be called anything the bartender wanted to call it but if you rest a brandy snifter with a couple of shots of your spirit of choice in it, on top of a cup of hot water so it's on it's side, you'll be able to chuck a few berries, spices etc in there while it warms and set the fucker on fire when you're done.
  • altitude2k 5 Oct 2012 14:56:01 3,750 posts
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    @elstoof

    I live in Northampton, so a little way out of London to make a special journey. Although going and asking a bar manager is a good idea I never would have considered.

    So the syrups are basically fruit substitutes? I still think that might be a better idea, at least initially. If she can get her head around what's good and bad with some long-life syrups then it saves wasting a load of fruit on experimenting.
  • Ginger 5 Oct 2012 14:58:59 6,826 posts
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    Murbal wrote:
    @Dougs aye, think he did those Diffords ones in fact.
    Exactly why I suggested it :)

    London open taekwondo champion

  • elstoof 5 Oct 2012 15:02:15 6,604 posts
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    There's a few flavoured sugar syrups you'll see in bars, these are just like the ones you can buy in Starbucks, hazelnut, vanilla and all that. The fruit ones generally taste a bit like Crusha milkshake syrup.

    If you can get hold of Funkin' puree's these are good quality, they keep for ages unopened on the shelf and then for a week or so in the fridge. I think waitrose/ocado stock them, and a lot of top bars use them in lieu of fresh fruit because they taste just as good. And also more consistent in taste than fresh fruit.

    Edited by elstoof at 15:06:42 05-10-2012
  • Dougs 5 Oct 2012 15:04:06 66,650 posts
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    Ginger wrote:
    Murbal wrote:
    @Dougs aye, think he did those Diffords ones in fact.
    Exactly why I suggested it :)
    That would be why it rang a bell then!
  • Ginger 5 Oct 2012 15:25:36 6,826 posts
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    Dougs wrote:
    Ginger wrote:
    Murbal wrote:
    @Dougs aye, think he did those Diffords ones in fact.
    Exactly why I suggested it :)
    That would be why it rang a bell then!
    I bought a copy for a mate for Christmas one year - it's like an encyclopedia

    London open taekwondo champion

  • PearOfAnguish 5 Oct 2012 15:54:31 7,138 posts
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    Pago juices go good in cocktails. The cherry flavour makes an awesome Cherry Bakewell.
  • SYS64738 5 Oct 2012 15:56:22 1,578 posts
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    altitude2k wrote:
    I'm not after spending a fortune (just paid for a big holiday for us both - she's truly fine without an expensive gift), but looking to buy a shaker, a good recipe book, a set of syrups and maybe some umbrellas and stirrers - that sort of thing.
    You'll be amazed how quickly the booze expenses rack up depending on how many cocktails you would like to mix. We have several hundred Euros worth of various liquors sitting on the shelf just for cocktails.

    Maybe have a look at some recipes first and see what types you fancy, Vodka based ones tend to be easy and delicious (personal fave is Berry Caipiroska), and maybe get some Malibu for those Pina Coladas (they're always well received).

    Some cocktails require ridiculous amounts of ingredients, such as the Singapore Sling (IIRC), which does taste lovely though.

    Edited by SYS64738 at 16:00:27 05-10-2012
  • elstoof 5 Oct 2012 16:01:50 6,604 posts
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    Yeah, used to use those in daiquiris, banana one is tasty.
  • elstoof 5 Oct 2012 16:11:59 6,604 posts
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    Doesn't have to be so expensive if you plan carefully, I still do a bit of mixing for friends birthdays now and again and you can do a lot with a bottle of gin and a few other things. Lots of lemons and limes, sugar, some soda water and plenty of ice and you can knock out Tom Collins all day long. Get some fruit chopped and muddled or a bit of purée and you can make any flavour you like. Half a pear and a spoonful of elderflower cordial and you've got a winner. A few berries or half an apple, watermelon, you name it. Get a bottle of vermouth and you just added martins to the list. Some angostura bitters and you'll have a Pink Gin. You've already got lemons so you can do a Gin Sour, add some oranges and you'll have a Gin Sling, so make sure you have some maraschino cherries to garnish.
  • Dougs 5 Oct 2012 16:14:57 66,650 posts
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    When's the party elstoof? You've given me a hankering for some cocktails.
  • SYS64738 5 Oct 2012 16:15:37 1,578 posts
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    Good thing about Vodka and Gin is you can also just use them as quick-to-prepare longdrinks, such as G&T and Vodka-O. If you don't fancy complicated cocktails all the time.
  • elstoof 5 Oct 2012 16:21:14 6,604 posts
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    :D good thing I'm thinking about this on a Friday.
  • altitude2k 5 Oct 2012 20:52:57 3,750 posts
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    Great advice, thanks a lot. Think I will look at a couple of recipes and buy enough to make those for starters, along with the hardware.
  • Metalfish 5 Oct 2012 21:07:53 8,786 posts
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    I'm not very sophisticated, but I've always found the following things (not all together!) invaluable for slightly cocktaily things: triple sec, amaretto, coffee liquor (people find a good white russian impressive for some reason) and cranberry juice. Everybody loves cranberry juice.
  • Syrette 5 Oct 2012 21:10:07 43,062 posts
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    @altitude2k

    You went to your wife's friend's hen night?

  • Ginger 5 Oct 2012 21:52:02 6,826 posts
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    @Metalfish heh, white Russians are the easiest to make. Ice, vodka, Kahlua, milk, stir.

    London open taekwondo champion

  • altitude2k 5 Oct 2012 23:37:30 3,750 posts
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    So this sort of stuff for mixing?

    http://www.thedrinkshop.com/products/productlist.php?catid=287

    I'm thinking for starters to go with the mixing kit, vodka, Bacardi and a few of these purees. Probably strawberry, mango, pineapple and banana. I've got a bottle of Morgan's Spiced she can throw in and try as well.

    Edited by altitude2k at 23:40:24 05-10-2012
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