Elixir for the Soul

This is a blog about sophisticated drinking, because alcohol doesn't have to be a poison, it can be a medicine for the soul.

Shawn, 21. Currently studying foreign language at university in China. Researching about cocktails is one of my passions, and I hope this blog can introduce others to the true way of imbibing. Every drink on this page is mixed, tasted and photographed by me.

Feel free to ask.

mercutios-houndstooth asked: Alright, that's it. China's a bit too far but if you decide to come work a bit in a bar in Europe, I'll arrange a trip just to be able to taste your drinks and will drag husband along to convert him.

Wow, I’m honoured!

But I’m sure there are tons of great bars and bartenders in Europe that can satisfy your thirst (particularly in the UK), a lot of them are probably better than me. Besides, I don’t need to remind you that I’m not a bartender, merely someone who mix drinks as a hobby, or an obsession rather. I have thought about tending bars professionally after I finish university, but that depends entirely on how well the pay is.

Anyway thank you so much for all the support! It’s feedbacks like this that keeps me want to dig deeper into the world of drinks.

Rum Julep
Demerara Rum - 1 1/2 oz
Aged Jamaican Rum - 1/2 oz
Lime Juice - 1/2 oz
Orange Juice - 1/2 oz
Honey Mix - 1/2 oz
Grenadine - 1/4 tsp
Falernum - 1/4 tsp
Pimento Liqueur - 1/4 tsp
Angostura Bitters - 1 dash
Blend everything with 1/2 cup crushed ice and pour unstrained into a julep cup, add more crushed ice to fill. Garnish with several mint sprigs.
Clearly this isn’t just a Julep made with rum, but a Tiki drink created by Don the Beachcomber back in the 1940s.
The focus is still on the rums: a rich and smokey demerara with a vanilla and buttery Jamaican. This is slightly flavoured with some citrus and various spices from the honey and liqueurs.
The honey mix is basically honey syrup, made by combining equal parts of honey and water.
Pegleg Punch
Vodka - 2 oz
Aquavit - 1 oz
Grapefruit Juice - 2 oz
Lemon Juice - 2/3 oz
Simple Syrup - 1/3 oz
Orgeat Syrup - 1/2 oz
Shake everything with ice cubes and pour unstrained into a tall glass. Garnish with a mint sprig and a lemon slice.
An original cocktail by Beachbum Berry, who managed to incorporate the one ingredient you would never associate with Tiki: aquavit, into a Tiki-style punch. The original recipe was designed to be served in a punch bowl for 12 people, I scaled it down to a single serving.
Light in flavour which masks its heavy strength, with upfront caraway mixed with citrus.
Mai Tai
Aged Jamaican Rum - 1 oz
Amber Martinique Rum - 1 oz
Lime Juice - 1 oz
Orange Curaçao - 1/2 oz
Orgeat Syrup - 1/4 oz
Simple Syrup - 1/4 oz
Shake everything with crushed ice and pour unstrained into an old-fashioned glass. Garnish with a mint sprig and a spent lime shell.
Don the Beahcomber’s Zombie and Trader Vic’s Mai Tai are the two drinks that should jump to mind when thinking about Tiki; but unlike the Zombie, the Fog Cutter, or the Scorpion, no one knows who actually came up with the original Mai Tai.The name came from the Tahitian phrase “maita’i roa a’e”, basically means “out of this world, the best!”
Without getting too deep into the “Mai Tai Battle”, I’d just like point out a few facts:
According to Trader Vic’s story, he invented the Mai Tai in 1944 in his Oakland bar, and even won a court case for this. Most people believe this.
Don the Beachcomber’s widow Phoebe Beach provided a recipe of Mai Tai Swizzle and she claims it dates back to 1933.
Don the Beachcomber’s Q.B. Cooler cocktail created in 1937 resembles Trader Vic’s Mai Tai in terms of flavour, but contained very different ingredients.
No matter what you believe, it can’t be argued that Trader Vic had a significant role in this cocktail, as his recipe became the standard, followed by most bartenders around the world.
Beachbum Berry updated Trader Vic’s recipe slightly: using a combination of dark or aged Jamaican rum and Martinique rum to recreated the flavours of the original 17-year-old J. Wray & Nephew rum used by Trader Vic, that sadly is no longer available; he reduced the amount of orgeat by half and replaced rock candy syrup with simple syrup, for a much more balanced drink.
For the Jamaican rum I’m using Appleton Estate Extra 12-year-old; Myers’s will do, but it’s too rich in molasses and doesn’t have nearly the same complexity. As for the Martinique rum, the only one I have is Saint James Royal Ambre, but an aged Clément would likely to produce a better result.

Mai Tai

Aged Jamaican Rum - 1 oz

Amber Martinique Rum - 1 oz

Lime Juice - 1 oz

Orange Curaçao - 1/2 oz

Orgeat Syrup - 1/4 oz

Simple Syrup - 1/4 oz

Shake everything with crushed ice and pour unstrained into an old-fashioned glass. Garnish with a mint sprig and a spent lime shell.

Don the Beahcomber’s Zombie and Trader Vic’s Mai Tai are the two drinks that should jump to mind when thinking about Tiki; but unlike the Zombie, the Fog Cutter, or the Scorpion, no one knows who actually came up with the original Mai Tai.The name came from the Tahitian phrase “maita’i roa a’e”, basically means “out of this world, the best!”

Without getting too deep into the “Mai Tai Battle”, I’d just like point out a few facts:

  1. According to Trader Vic’s story, he invented the Mai Tai in 1944 in his Oakland bar, and even won a court case for this. Most people believe this.
  2. Don the Beachcomber’s widow Phoebe Beach provided a recipe of Mai Tai Swizzle and she claims it dates back to 1933.
  3. Don the Beachcomber’s Q.B. Cooler cocktail created in 1937 resembles Trader Vic’s Mai Tai in terms of flavour, but contained very different ingredients.

No matter what you believe, it can’t be argued that Trader Vic had a significant role in this cocktail, as his recipe became the standard, followed by most bartenders around the world.

Beachbum Berry updated Trader Vic’s recipe slightly: using a combination of dark or aged Jamaican rum and Martinique rum to recreated the flavours of the original 17-year-old J. Wray & Nephew rum used by Trader Vic, that sadly is no longer available; he reduced the amount of orgeat by half and replaced rock candy syrup with simple syrup, for a much more balanced drink.

For the Jamaican rum I’m using Appleton Estate Extra 12-year-old; Myers’s will do, but it’s too rich in molasses and doesn’t have nearly the same complexity. As for the Martinique rum, the only one I have is Saint James Royal Ambre, but an aged Clément would likely to produce a better result.

Blue Reef
Light Puerto Rican Rum - 2 oz
Lime Juice - 1 1/2 oz
Blue Curaçao - 1 1/2 oz
Galliano - 1/2 oz
Shake everything with ice cubes and strain into a snifter filled with crushed ice.
From Beachbum Berry’s “Grog Log”. Unfortunately no information about the inventor was given.
It’s another blue drink that’s actually delicious; generally speaking, none of the drinks picked out by Mr. Jeff Berry are too bad.
This is a quite a mild drink with a dry base; pronounced lime and orange flavours; the Galliano adds that very needed extra sweetness as well as a beautiful anise and vanilla finish. The drink would have been very boring without it.
A few points about jiggers…
Here I’d just like to point out the importance of measuring your jiggers. The idea of measuring a measuring tool does sound funny, but you’d be surprised to know how many bartenders I’ve worked with had been using the wrong measurement for years, because they were never bothered to take this step.
First of all, do not trust the measurements that you’ve been told; if it says on the jigger’s packaging that it’s able to measure 30 ml and 45 ml, don’t just take their word for it, find out for yourself, and very often the information you were given were wrong.
Whenever I acquire a new jigger, I always measure them with a measuring cylinder, i.e. the long tube from a chemistry set. These things give the most accurate readings due to its long and thin shape, as oppose to a measuring cup that a slight tilting can affect the readings drastically.
In the picture above are the six jiggers I have at the moment, some are very dependable, some are less so. They are all bought from reliable sources, and not just some cheap knockoffs, so the comments I’m about to give on these should apply to all.
(From left to right)
The first one is the cheapest of them all: $8. A very common jigger in most bars in Asia. The smaller side measures 15 ml, 30 ml, and the larger side measures 45 ml, although that’s what the markers on the jigger tells me. The 15 ml marker actually measures 8 ml; the 30 ml marker is actually 28 ml; the 45 ml marker is 41 ml. This is the prefect example of why you shouldn’t trust your jigger without confirming it first.
The OXO jigger is $9, but cost twice as much to buy in China, but I’d still say it’s worth every penny. You can often see it being used in American cocktail bars. I’ve had this one for 3 years, and I can safely say, this is the most reliable jigger I’ve ever used: despite its average look, it’s extremely accurate, has all the measurements you will ever need in mixing drinks, and all of them are correct. It measures 1/4 oz, 1/3 oz, 1/2 oz, 3/4 oz, 1 oz, and 1 1/2 oz.
The third one is a multi-measure jigger, costing about $10, it’s more like a small measuring cup. Very simple in terms of design, doesn’t look very stylish, but the measurements are all accurate: 15 ml, 20 ml, 30 ml, 45 ml, 60 ml, 75 ml. It also translates these to ounces and teaspoons.
The U-Chida jigger cost about $25, quite popular in high-end cocktail bars in Japan, China, and many parts of Asia; because so many bartenders use it, it makes you feel safe, but do not be fooled by that. It is suppose to be able to measure 20 ml and 30 ml on the smaller side, and 40 ml, 50 ml, 60 ml, and 70 ml on the other. The 20 ml marker is slightly under, filling the liquid to that line will actually give you 19 ml, so if you want 20, you’re gonna have to go over that line slightly; the 30 ml marker actually measures 35 - 36 ml. On the larger side, the 40 ml marker is accurate and so is the 50 ml marker; the 60 ml is actually 57 ml, and 70 ml is actually 68 ml.
Mr. Slim jigger is $31, the one used by bartenders across the world, you’d often see them been used in cocktail competitions. It is elegant and accurate. It measures 10 ml, 20 ml, and 30 ml on the smaller side; 15 ml, 30 ml, and 45 ml on the other. All of them are correct.
The final one is a jigger built in the style of a measuring spoon. Cost $10. It measures 15 ml, 30 ml, 45 ml, and 60 ml, which is pretty much all the basic measurements you will need when composing a simple drink. I’d say they are fairly accurate, but the markers are a little bit hard to read, so takes some getting used to.

A few points about jiggers…

Here I’d just like to point out the importance of measuring your jiggers. The idea of measuring a measuring tool does sound funny, but you’d be surprised to know how many bartenders I’ve worked with had been using the wrong measurement for years, because they were never bothered to take this step.

First of all, do not trust the measurements that you’ve been told; if it says on the jigger’s packaging that it’s able to measure 30 ml and 45 ml, don’t just take their word for it, find out for yourself, and very often the information you were given were wrong.

Whenever I acquire a new jigger, I always measure them with a measuring cylinder, i.e. the long tube from a chemistry set. These things give the most accurate readings due to its long and thin shape, as oppose to a measuring cup that a slight tilting can affect the readings drastically.

In the picture above are the six jiggers I have at the moment, some are very dependable, some are less so. They are all bought from reliable sources, and not just some cheap knockoffs, so the comments I’m about to give on these should apply to all.

(From left to right)

  1. The first one is the cheapest of them all: $8. A very common jigger in most bars in Asia. The smaller side measures 15 ml, 30 ml, and the larger side measures 45 ml, although that’s what the markers on the jigger tells me. The 15 ml marker actually measures 8 ml; the 30 ml marker is actually 28 ml; the 45 ml marker is 41 ml. This is the prefect example of why you shouldn’t trust your jigger without confirming it first.
  2. The OXO jigger is $9, but cost twice as much to buy in China, but I’d still say it’s worth every penny. You can often see it being used in American cocktail bars. I’ve had this one for 3 years, and I can safely say, this is the most reliable jigger I’ve ever used: despite its average look, it’s extremely accurate, has all the measurements you will ever need in mixing drinks, and all of them are correct. It measures 1/4 oz, 1/3 oz, 1/2 oz, 3/4 oz, 1 oz, and 1 1/2 oz.
  3. The third one is a multi-measure jigger, costing about $10, it’s more like a small measuring cup. Very simple in terms of design, doesn’t look very stylish, but the measurements are all accurate: 15 ml, 20 ml, 30 ml, 45 ml, 60 ml, 75 ml. It also translates these to ounces and teaspoons.
  4. The U-Chida jigger cost about $25, quite popular in high-end cocktail bars in Japan, China, and many parts of Asia; because so many bartenders use it, it makes you feel safe, but do not be fooled by that. It is suppose to be able to measure 20 ml and 30 ml on the smaller side, and 40 ml, 50 ml, 60 ml, and 70 ml on the other. The 20 ml marker is slightly under, filling the liquid to that line will actually give you 19 ml, so if you want 20, you’re gonna have to go over that line slightly; the 30 ml marker actually measures 35 - 36 ml. On the larger side, the 40 ml marker is accurate and so is the 50 ml marker; the 60 ml is actually 57 ml, and 70 ml is actually 68 ml.
  5. Mr. Slim jigger is $31, the one used by bartenders across the world, you’d often see them been used in cocktail competitions. It is elegant and accurate. It measures 10 ml, 20 ml, and 30 ml on the smaller side; 15 ml, 30 ml, and 45 ml on the other. All of them are correct.
  6. The final one is a jigger built in the style of a measuring spoon. Cost $10. It measures 15 ml, 30 ml, 45 ml, and 60 ml, which is pretty much all the basic measurements you will need when composing a simple drink. I’d say they are fairly accurate, but the markers are a little bit hard to read, so takes some getting used to.
Coronation Royale
Dry Gin - 1 oz
Red Curaçao  - 1/2 oz
Dubonnet Rouge - 1 oz
Grenadine - 1 drop
Stir everything with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
From the “Café Royal Cocktail Book”, invented by Frank Pigott.
A fairly sweet apéritif cocktail, not quite as sickening sweet as I originally thought, I suppose I have Dubonnet’s bitterness to thank. The grenadine in my opinion is completely unnecessary, the drink certainly doesn’t need any more sweetness nor colour, so I kept it down to a drop, but if you do want an extra sweet cocktail, feel free to add more.
There was a time when curaçaos were produced in many different colours: white, orange, blue, red, brown, green etc. Orange and blue are the survivors; white curaçao was taken over by triple sec; brown and green are nonexistent; fortunately red curaçaos are still being made, DeKuyper is what I’m using. Of course no matter what colour they are, they are still identical in flavour, so just go with a regular orange curaçao if you can’t find this.
Holland House
Dry Gin - 1 1/3 oz
Dry Vermouth - 2/3 oz
Lemon Juice - 1/3 oz
Maraschino - 1 tsp
Pineapple - 1 slice
Muddle the pineapple in the shaker with everything else, shake with ice cubes and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
From “The Savoy Cocktail Book”. Not to be confused with a different Holland House Cocktail from “Modern American Drinks” by George J. Kappeler, which contains rye whiskey, eau de vie d’orange, and Peychaud’s bitters.
This is another one of those pineapple-vermouth style drinks, but this one leans more towards the Sour category: refreshingly tart and bitter vermouth and lemon is balanced by just enough sweetness from the Maraschino and pineapple. Originally Holland gin was probably the spirit used, before it became London Dry, but I think this lighter style gin is much more suited for this cocktail.
Mexico
Reposado Tequila - 1 1/3 oz
Lime Juice - 2/3 oz
Gum Syrup - 1 tsp
Shake everything with ice cubes and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
From the “Café Royal Cocktail Book”.
Back in the 1930s, tequila-based cocktails are rare, there are only a few of them in this book, and the famous Margarita wasn’t even invented then, the earliest origin story of the Margarita dates back to 1938, that’s after this book was published, and way before it became well-known throughout the world.
The Mexico is a simple Tequila Sour. In the past I’ve never used quality tequila in any of my cocktails, much like vodka, I really didn’t care much about this spirit. Partly because both vodka and tequila are rarely found in classic cocktails, also I’m just not a fan of them. You may think an expensive bottle of vodka tastes much neater and smoother than your cheap vodka, but when put into a cocktail it hardly matters; however in the case of tequila, a drink made from 100% agave is significantly better than those mixto tequila as I just found out, you could almost say mixtos aren’t tequila at all after you’ve tasted the real thing. I’m using a bottle of Corralejo Reposado, a reasonably priced 100% agave tequila.
The grade of tequila wasn’t specified, but I much prefer a lightly aged and smooth Reposado, but a Blanco would produce a more upfront agave flavour.
Scorpion Bowl
Light Puerto Rican Rum - 6 oz
Brandy - 1 oz
Orange Juice - 6 oz
Lemon Juice - 4 oz
Orgeat Syrup - 1 1/2 oz
Blend everything with 2 cups crushed ice and pour unstrained into a Tiki bowl. Garnish with a gardenia.
From “Beachbum Berry Remixed”. This is the Scorpion by Trader Vic, of course he updated his Scorpion several times during his life, and this is the final version. In terms of ingredients, this Scorpion is nearly the same as Trader Vic’s Fog Cutter, but with gin and sherry removed. Designed to serve two to four people.