Cocktails with Nick : Espresso Martini

Good evening Birmingham.

What we are about to discuss is an important recipe. This is the secret drink that keeps bartenders wired and energized on even the toughest days.

You need the following equipment:

  • A martini glass
  • A cocktail shaker
  • An Espresso maker

Ingredients:

  • Good vodka
  • Espresso coffee

That's all.

Firstly, you need espresso coffee.  Make it in a proper espresso maker and allow it to cool.  Accept no substitute.  If you use Nescafé, we can't be friends.

Take the shaker and add five large chunks of ice.  Add 60ml of vodka and the same amount of coffee.  Shake well until condensation appears on the outside of the shaker.

Strain it into the martini glass and serve.

One sip is like doing the ice bucket challenge. But some nights, it is exactly what you need.  Trust me on this.

Words & photos by chef Nick Gilmartin who can be contacted on @Nick1975 or find out more here. #ChefsTable

#ChefUnderTheTable

Cocktails with Nick: Mojito

Hello  Brummies, is it five o'clock yet?

Fresh out of Havana comes one of my all-time favourites.  The Mojito has a unique flavour, sweet and fresh, yet deep and mellow at the same time.  It is rum based, and everyone has their favourite.  I like Morgan's Spiced Rum, as it has a kick, and the spices add layers to the flavour.

So you start with a nice thick based glass.  You also need a muddler stick.  If you don't have one, just use the end of a rolling pin.  And a bar spoon.  Right, that's the kit.

For the ingredients you need:

  • Rum.  I recommend Appleton’s, Havana Club or Morgan's Spiced.  Bacardi, at a stretch.
  • Sticky brown sugar, nice and dark.
  • Fresh mint, nice big leaves
  • Fresh limes
  • Ice for crushing
  • A mixer, such as 7up or sugar syrup

Take a nice, wide, thick-based glass and, using the bar spoon, add a spoonful of brown sugar.  The darker and stickier, the better.  Add four or five large mint leaves. Carefully crush the mint into the sugar, this releases the flavour.  Cut a lime into wedges and add three to the glass.  Now crush them in too.

Add the rum, and we are talking 50ml as a bare minimum.  Make it 70ml, what the hell.  And stir well.

Take some ice cubes and crush them into tiny little pieces.  Pour them into the glass.  Decorate the edge of the glass with a wedge of lime placed over the ice and a few mint leaves arranged in a fan shape around the edge.

Enjoy, amigos. Hasta Manana

Words & photos by chef Nick Gilmartin who can be contacted on @Nick1975 or find out more here. #ChefsTable

#ChefUnderTheTable

Cocktails with Nick: Old Fashioned

Take off your shoes, kick back and open the cocktail cabinet.

The Old Fashioned is exactly as its name suggests. It is also, in my opinion, a very masculine cocktail. It was the cocktail Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra would have waiting for them on the bar after a night playing at the Dunes hotel.

You need:

  • Your favourite brand of Whiskey
  • Angostura Bitters
  • Sugar (cube form is recommended)
  • Mixer (optional)
  • Big chunky ice
  • Garnish

Equipment:

  • One sturdy Whiskey glass
  • A bar spoon.

Take the sturdy glass and place the sugar in the base.

Drip five drops of Angostura Bitters on to the sugar.  Use your bar spoon to crush it down and mix it up.

Add a good measure of whiskey. Anything less than 50ml is just cheating yourself. Give it a stir. If it too strong, add a little mixer. Be it, tonic, lemonade or ginger ale. Never be embarrassed of a little mixer. This is your drink, for you to enjoy.

Add big chunky pieces of ice.  Anything small just melts away and dilutes your drink.  Cut a slice of orange for garnish, and a cherry if you like, and serve.

Enjoy your weekend, Birmingham.

Words & photos by chef Nick Gilmartin who can be contacted on @Nick1975 or find out more here. #ChefsTable

#ChefUnderTheTable

Cocktails with Nick: Cosmopolitan

Hello you lovely Brummie people,

Let's get this show on the road shall we?  Clear some space, grab some clean glasses, because it is Cosmopolitan time. This drink of choice dates back to the days when Dorothy Parker and her cohorts would write a short column for Vanity Fair in the morning and then retire to the bar for lunch, and get kicked out about three in the morning.  In more recent years it became popular with Candice Bushell's alter ego, Carrie Bradshaw, who brought it to the attention of a new generation.

Ingredients

  • Vodka  (Smirnoff is fine, but have you tried Chase Vodka from Hereford?)
  • Triple Sec  (A typical brand is Cointreau but you can also use Grand Marnier for a deeper, richer flavour)
  • Cranberry Juice
  • One fresh lime
  • One fresh orange

Equipment and glassware

  • One two-part Boston shaker
  • One strainer
  • One knife and green chopping board
  • Crushed ice
  • Regular ice
  • and one cigarette lighter (I will explain in a minute)

Right, let's do this thing.

  1.  Take one clean martini glass and place it on a dry surface. Crush some ice and fill the glass with it, and leave it to cool.
  2. Take one lime and cut it lengthways in half. From one half cut a wedge and cut an indent into it so it will hold on to the side of the glass.
  3. Cut a thin slice of orange zest. That's all you need of it, put it back in the fridge.
  4. Fill the glass half of the Boston Shaker with ice.
  5. Take one spirit measure, add 35ml of vodka, 15ml of Triple Sec and  25ml of Cranberry juice to the shaker.
  6. Grab the half of lime and squeeze it into the shaker, using a juicer, or in your hand if you want to look all strong and masterful.
  7. Place the metal half of the shaker over the top and push it down hard and then place one hand on the top of the shaker and half on the bottom. Shake it like a pro, go on!
  8. Remove the crushed ice from the glass and place the lime wedge on the side. Place the shaker on the work top with the metal half at the bottom and the glass half at the top. Using the strainer to hold back the ice, pour the drink into the glass.

Now the final touch.

Take the orange zest and give it a quick wave under a flame from the cigarette lighter. Hold the flame over the glass and squeeze the oils from the orange over the drink. They will ignite as they hit the flame. It is perfectly safe [so he says – the Ed] and adds a bit of theatre to the drink.

To see this done properly (It is hard when you are holding the camera yourself) click this link here

And serve to the person of your choice, with one eyebrow slightly raised.

Next we are doing Don Draper's favourite cocktail, the Old Fashioned.

Words & photos by chef Nick Gilmartin who can be contacted on @Nick1975 or find out more here. #ChefsTable

#ChefUnderTheTable

Cocktails with Nick

Bonjour Brummies I am hanging up the apron for the month, and switching the cookers off. It is time for me to dig out my best shirt, pants and bow tie.  In the back bedroom there is a case of cocktail kit and some very dusty bottles. I've scrubbed them all down to present Nick's guide to running a bar for a party.

First of all, you need a bar. But really all you need is a clothed table, and possibly a shelf behind, depending on what you have got. You need a bucket of ice, glassware, and a few tools of the trade.  Oh, and booze.  Lots and lots of boozy booze and mixers too.

Let's start with cocktail shakers. They normally come in two types.  First, the three-part shaker, which is mostly old school and there is the two-part shaker, that requires at least one separate strainer. To use a three-part shaker, stick the cap on the top half, add ice to the base, and add the top half.  Now to shake a cocktail, place one hand firmly on the top, and one hand on the base, and shake firmly into the shoulder.  Not over it.  And never hold the shaker by the sides, it will fly open and cause a godawful mess.  I have seen this happen at competition level.  After the one shake, the shaker will now be nice and cold, covered in condensation, and ready to go.

So what kind of kit does a bar need?  In the photo you will see some examples.  Tongs for ice and lemon, bar spoons for stirring and adding ingredients such as sugar. Notice how the stems spiral?  That isn't just funky design - they are used to liquors to trickle down when you are making layered cocktails such as the B-52.  The flat-headed wooden thing is a muddler, used for making Mojitos or muddled drinks where you squish down soft fruit, limes or mint.

The little grater is a zester, this is used to extract the lemon zest from the skin.  It is also used for spices such as nutmeg that get added to some milky cocktails.  The fruit knife is always small, preferably very sharp.  Blunt ones just cause more accidents as they can slip easily.

Next to it is a bar zester, another handy bit of kit.  When someone asks for a Martini with a twist, they mean a strip of lemon zest that you cut with the side of the zester, very carefully.  Then they place it in the Martini glass and send it over to Mr Bond's table.

On the far right is a small strainer, to prevent bits of pulp falling from the shaker into your drink.  The one pictured is not, in fact, a very good example.  You really need a strainer like a small sieve.

At the bottom is one of the most important pieces of kit.  To a barman or waiter, this is the most important piece of kit.  The waiter's friend.  The little knife at the front is for cutting through foil on bottles, the lever at the other end is for latching on to bottle edges and the corkscrew drills into the soft cork.  Pull back against the anchored lever and the cork will come out nice and smoothly.  And you look much cooler.  The last thing you need are bar towels or small lint-free towels.

You don't need all this kit, all the time, but it helps, trust me.

Glassware

Big fruity cocktails should come in nice big sturdy glasses that hold out well and smaller, tall drinks come in half pint glasses. Built drinks, such as Mojitos or a White Russian come in shallow, wide, and thick based glasses usually used for whisky.  They are wide so you get to appreciate the vapours of the whisky.

The triangular glass near the back is, of course, the Martini glass, immortalised by one Mr J Bond.  Of course it was around a long time before he appeared on screen.

Next to it is a slightly more rounded wide cup.  This is a coupe, used mainly for Margaritas.  It is no coincidence that they always seem to be plastic.

On the far right is a latte glass.  Now an important safety tip is that warm drinks such as Irish coffee or mulled wine should only be served in these glasses.  They have a handle and are made from very thick glass that does not shatter when exposed to sudden heat.

For every cold drink, you need ice.  Either nice big pieces or well and truly crushed.  For that, you will need an ice crusher.  If you do not possess one, use a blender or wrap your ice in a clean towel and beat it with a rolling-pin.  It never fails.

As well as spirits and liquors, you'll stock juices, mixers and other herbs, such as cloves and mint.  For mixers, go for things like coke, ginger ale or lemonade.  For juices, orange is always the best bet. Pineapple is very sweet, but when shaken, it gives a lovely frothy head to a drink.  Grapefruit is very bitter but it gives a hell of a kick. Tomato is best served with just spirits on its own.

For fruit, you don't need the full fruit salad, Del-boy style, just cut a lemon or lime wedge or a full slice of orange.  Less is more. The photo also shows an egg and these are used raw, although I don't recommend it. Egg yolks atop vodka and tomato makes a hell of a hangover cure (apparently).

The last thing you need is a few bar decorations. A good bar ought to have a personal touch, be it a few ornaments, flags or small games. Put a full orange in a pint glass of water. Ask people to balance a coin on top of the orange, to see if they can.  You will soon pay off your mortgage.

So this is a good start in what a bar needs. Not all of them, not all the time, it depends on what kind of party you are planning. Next week we get into the serious business of mixing the cocktails. Have your spare liver standing by.

Words & photos by chef Nick Gilmartin who can be contacted on @Nick1975 or find out more here. #ChefsTable

#ChefUnderTheTable