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.

Sleepy Head
Brandy - 2 oz
Ginger Ale - 4 oz
Build everything in a long tumbler filled with a few lumps of ice, garnish with a mint sprig and an orange twist.
The April in Southern China is hotter than England’s July.
The Sleepy Head from “The Savoy Cocktail Book” is basically a Brandy Buck with mint and orange essence. I made some subtle alterations from the original: I added ice even thought it wasn’t called for in the original; and three mint sprigs instead of “4 Leaves of Fresh Mint” as aromatic garnish. This should make it more refreshing and suited for the warm weather. A few of this, you are gonna be sleepy for the rest of the day.
Those large and transparent ice I made looks very good here don’t you think?
Tart Gin Cooler
Gin - 2 oz
Tonic Water - 2 oz
Grapefruit Juice - 2 oz
Peychaud’s Bitters - 2 dashes
Build everything in a collins glass filled with ice cubes.
Created by Gary and Mardee Regan when experimenting with tonic water. Gin & Tonic. I prefer building the drink on three large lumps of clear ice to slow down the dilution; add a stirring rod and give a short stir to combine everything; finally float a few dashes of Peychaud’s on the surface both to bring out its anise and cherry aroma, and leave it as the garnish. Of course the drink should be stirred up before consuming.
Dark ‘n’ Stormy
Dark Bermuda Rum - 2 oz
Ginger Beer - 3 1/2 oz
Build everything in a highball or collins glass filled with ice cubes. Garnish with a lime wedge.
This is Gosling’s Black Seal rum’s “signature drink”, ever since Gosling Brothers Limited trademarked the Dark ‘n’ Stormy; it’s also the “national drink” of Bermuda. Of course this drink doesn’t have to be made with Gosling’s Black Seal, any good dark rum of your liking will do, just make sure not to let anyone from Bermuda know about this.
Consider it a Rum Buck. Buck is any form of Highball made with ginger beer or ginger ale.
A nice spicy ginger beer is a must for this cocktail, as much as it is for the Moscow Mule, otherwise where would the “stormy” part be?
Unlike the Moscow Mule though, the Dark ‘n’ Stormy was traditionally never drank with lime juice, but again, you can if you want to, I prefer just a splash of lime juice.
For most highballs, I’d like to use 2 to 3 large lumps of ice, to keep the drink from dilution too fast.
Aromatic bitters for me is a great seasoning for any Buck, its spices add to the flavour of the ginger beer.
The ratio between rum and ginger beer is a personal choice, the 4:7 works for me because I like a strong and gently bittersweet highball, yet it’s just as refreshing.
Remsen Cooler
Old Tom Gin - 2 oz
Soda Water - 3 oz
Build everything in a collins glass filled with ice cubes and a long twist of lemon peel.
Legend has it that a retired navy officer created this drink and introduced it to the Union Club, New York; and since, the drink has taken his name.
I have never imagined that something so simple can be so delicious. There are two versions of the Remsen Cooler, one made with scotch, the other, Old Tom; but the rest are the same, both served in a tall glass with a long lemon peel, topped with soda. So which is original? Here is one of the oldest recorded recipes, from Harry Johnson’s 1882 New and Improved Bartenders’ Manual:
(Use a medium size fizz glass.)
Peel a lemon as you would an apple;
Place the rind or peeling into the fizz glass;
2 or 3 lumps of crystal ice;
1 wine glass of Remsen Scotch whiskey;
Fill up the balance with club soda;
Stir up slowly with a spoon and serve.
But unfortunately Harry was wrong. He confused it with a “Ramsay Cooler”, made with Ramsay whisky, there is no such thing as “Remsen whiskey”. However at the end of the day, it’s what you like that matters; so use scotch if you prefer a scotch drink.
I’m using Hayman’s Old Tom Gin, and I find it to be the perfect spirit of choice. Its gentle sweetness creates a wonderful balance with the subtle tartness of the soda (the small amount of sugar in the gin balances out the carbonic acid in soda water). Old Tom is quite hard to find these days, it’s much sweeter than the London Dry, but drier than genever; if you are using a London Dry gin for example, you might want to add a dash of simple syrup to get a similar experience.
If you peel apples regularly, the long lemon twist shouldn’t prove to be much of a problem.
Lay the peel inside the glass first, use ice cubes to hold it in place, or in my case, I am actually using 2 lumps of big clear ice for a slower dilution.
Add the gin and soda: I’m getting my soda directly from a soda siphon. Make sure whatever soda you’re using, it’s chilled in your fridge.
Lastly, stir: It should be a gentle and brisk stir to combine everything, but not enough to lose the effervescence; in fact, the air bubbles that’s inside of the soda will do part of the job for you, therefore I’m only going to put in a metal stirring rod, so whoever is drinking it can mix it up.

Remsen Cooler

Old Tom Gin - 2 oz

Soda Water - 3 oz

Build everything in a collins glass filled with ice cubes and a long twist of lemon peel.

Legend has it that a retired navy officer created this drink and introduced it to the Union Club, New York; and since, the drink has taken his name.

I have never imagined that something so simple can be so delicious. There are two versions of the Remsen Cooler, one made with scotch, the other, Old Tom; but the rest are the same, both served in a tall glass with a long lemon peel, topped with soda. So which is original? Here is one of the oldest recorded recipes, from Harry Johnson’s 1882 New and Improved Bartenders’ Manual:

  • (Use a medium size fizz glass.)
  • Peel a lemon as you would an apple;
  • Place the rind or peeling into the fizz glass;
  • 2 or 3 lumps of crystal ice;
  • 1 wine glass of Remsen Scotch whiskey;
  • Fill up the balance with club soda;
  • Stir up slowly with a spoon and serve.

But unfortunately Harry was wrong. He confused it with a “Ramsay Cooler”, made with Ramsay whisky, there is no such thing as “Remsen whiskey”. However at the end of the day, it’s what you like that matters; so use scotch if you prefer a scotch drink.

I’m using Hayman’s Old Tom Gin, and I find it to be the perfect spirit of choice. Its gentle sweetness creates a wonderful balance with the subtle tartness of the soda (the small amount of sugar in the gin balances out the carbonic acid in soda water). Old Tom is quite hard to find these days, it’s much sweeter than the London Dry, but drier than genever; if you are using a London Dry gin for example, you might want to add a dash of simple syrup to get a similar experience.

  1. If you peel apples regularly, the long lemon twist shouldn’t prove to be much of a problem.
  2. Lay the peel inside the glass first, use ice cubes to hold it in place, or in my case, I am actually using 2 lumps of big clear ice for a slower dilution.
  3. Add the gin and soda: I’m getting my soda directly from a soda siphon. Make sure whatever soda you’re using, it’s chilled in your fridge.
  4. Lastly, stir: It should be a gentle and brisk stir to combine everything, but not enough to lose the effervescence; in fact, the air bubbles that’s inside of the soda will do part of the job for you, therefore I’m only going to put in a metal stirring rod, so whoever is drinking it can mix it up.
Americano Highball
Campari - 1 oz
Sweet Vermouth - 1 oz
Soda Water - 2 1/2 oz
Build everything in a highball glass filled with ice cubes, garnish with a slice of orange.
There are two versions of the Americano, well, I say two versions, but it’s actually two ways of drinking it. The traditional Americano was served in an Old Fashioned glass with a splash of soda, and the Americano Highball is merely the same drink served in a highball glass, with a reasonable amount of soda. The latter is a little lighter, and more refreshing.
This Italian apéritif was originally known as “Milano-Torino”, due to its ingredients: Campari (from Milan) and Cinzano (from Turin), and this name was changed to Americano, for its popularity amongst the American tourists in the 1900s.
The amount of each ingredients is adjustable. Since I’m using a regular 10 oz highball glass, with two large lumps of ice, I’m sticking to 1 oz of each Campari and vermouth, it’s a more subtle Americano, less liqueur and vermouth means less sweet, and there will be more soda to dilute it down, and the carbonic acid in it will actually help balance the drink a little more. Some recipes will use 1 1/2 oz of each and serve it in a larger collins glass, but the strength of the drink is entirely up to you. It’s common knowledge that lemon or orange pairs well with Campari, well, specifically orange. You would see lemon slice or lemon twist been called for more in classic recipes such as in the “Café Royal Cocktail Book” by William J. Tarling - one of the earliest documentation of the Americano; these days you’d find orange been used more often. The advantage of slice is that it allows a small amount of juice to gradually infuse with the drink; but you know how much I dislike putting a large piece of fruit on top of a carbonated drink; in fact, I won’t even sip from straws, because in my opinion “it ruins the fizzy experience”. So a twist of orange peel is ideal, reinforced with a dash or two of orange bitters.

Americano Highball

Campari - 1 oz

Sweet Vermouth - 1 oz

Soda Water - 2 1/2 oz

Build everything in a highball glass filled with ice cubes, garnish with a slice of orange.

There are two versions of the Americano, well, I say two versions, but it’s actually two ways of drinking it. The traditional Americano was served in an Old Fashioned glass with a splash of soda, and the Americano Highball is merely the same drink served in a highball glass, with a reasonable amount of soda. The latter is a little lighter, and more refreshing.

This Italian apéritif was originally known as “Milano-Torino”, due to its ingredients: Campari (from Milan) and Cinzano (from Turin), and this name was changed to Americano, for its popularity amongst the American tourists in the 1900s.

The amount of each ingredients is adjustable. Since I’m using a regular 10 oz highball glass, with two large lumps of ice, I’m sticking to 1 oz of each Campari and vermouth, it’s a more subtle Americano, less liqueur and vermouth means less sweet, and there will be more soda to dilute it down, and the carbonic acid in it will actually help balance the drink a little more. Some recipes will use 1 1/2 oz of each and serve it in a larger collins glass, but the strength of the drink is entirely up to you. It’s common knowledge that lemon or orange pairs well with Campari, well, specifically orange. You would see lemon slice or lemon twist been called for more in classic recipes such as in the “Café Royal Cocktail Book” by William J. Tarling - one of the earliest documentation of the Americano; these days you’d find orange been used more often. The advantage of slice is that it allows a small amount of juice to gradually infuse with the drink; but you know how much I dislike putting a large piece of fruit on top of a carbonated drink; in fact, I won’t even sip from straws, because in my opinion “it ruins the fizzy experience”. So a twist of orange peel is ideal, reinforced with a dash or two of orange bitters.

Moscow Mule
Vodka - 1 1/2 oz
Lime Juice - 1/2 oz
Ginger Beer - 3 1/2 oz
Build everything in a copper mug or collins glass filled with ice cubes. Garnish with a lime wedge.
It’s funny how I never took a deep look at this infamous cocktail in my whole career of bartending, but the reason is simple: I didn’t have the iconic copper mug yet… but now I do!
Now, the Moscow Mule, also known as a Vodka Buck (I admit the latter sounds much, much less interesting) is a drink that has possibly changed the course of cocktail history forever. Just to point out, a Buck is a type of mixed drinks that contains a spirit, ginger ale/beer, and a little citrus juice, hence the name. Some other examples of a Buck are the Dark ‘N’ Stormy and Mamie Taylor etc.
So what’s so special about the Moscow Mule, well, it merely single-handedly brought vodka to popularity, because before the invention of this drink, vodka as a spirit wasn’t very well received in the United States, and this is the story behind it. The drink was invented by a John G. Martin, an executive at Heublein Inc., after the company bought the rights to Smirnoff vodka in 1938. The brand Smirnoff (Smirnov) was of course originated in Russia, but the company moved to several different countries before it’s finally settled in the USA. John Martin was a smart bloke, he marketed the Smirnoff vodka as “a white whiskey, it has no taste, no smell.” as well as the famous line, “Smirnoff leaves you breathless.” This of course refers to the lightness of vodka, so that daytime drinkers can consume alcohol without giving away a mouthful of alcoholic smell.
One day Martin was at the Cock ‘n’ Bull Tavern in L.A. talking to a certain John A. “Jack” Morgan, the owner of the pub, also the president of Cock ‘n’ Bull Products, John Martin had this brilliant idea of combining his not-so-popular Smirnoff vodka with some of the Cock ‘n’ Bull ginger beer that Jack Morgan was desperately trying to get rid off. So Martin bought a Polaroid camera and some copper mugs, he would go to a bar, take a photo of the bartender holding the mug, then take the picture to a different bar, show the picture to the bartender and ask whether he/she had heard of this new drink that’s “storming the nation”. Repeat this process a number of times, and you get the whole town talking about the Moscow Mule.
All right, so that’s that. Let’s get on the recipe part. In theory, the Moscow Mule is a pretty plain drink, but it is the simplicity and refreshing quality that made it a fine choice for the summer.
Instead of the original Smirnoff, I’m using Stolichnaya vodka as the base, to at least get the “Moscow” part right; unlike Smirnoff, Stoli is still a Russian brand (although it’s sometimes produced in Latvia).
For the lime I’m using a common 1/2 oz, sometimes you have people squeezing a piece of lime wedge into the drink, I reckon you need that 1/2 oz to bring out the freshness.
For the ginger beer, I’m using Idris brand’s Fiery Ginger Beer, because in a Moscow Mule, only the spiciest ginger beer will give the “mule’s kick”, your average ginger ale is definitely not acceptable here.
I’m building the drink on very large lumps of ice, for the slower dilution. The coldness is not the primary concern here, but slowing down the dilution of an already diluted drink is.
Stir the vodka with lime juice first, then add the ginger beer. A final touch that I personally like to have is a few dashes of aromatic bitters on the surface to introduce some extra spices to the smell and flavour of the drink.
Rather than the classic lime wedge, I’m using the spent lime shell as a garnish, it should still retain some of the essential oil on the surface, this will further complicate the aroma.
The ratio between vodka and ginger beer is a personally thing, some people prefer a little under 1:2, some prefer over 1:3… but for me, I like a ratio that’s somewhere between 1:2 and 1:3, it won’t be way too strong, but it surely isn’t as overly diluted as 1:3.
So there you have it, a simple, and dare I say it, “boring” drink can be made interesting with a few twists. The signature copper mug has its advantages, as a metal drinkware, it’s a great conductor, this means it transfers the coldness evenly throughout the drink, you’d also be able to feel the coldness on your hand. I’d also recommend to drink it without a straw, so your lips will have an equally amazing experience. Not to worry if you don’t have a copper mug though, any tall glass like a highball or collins glass is also suitable for serving it in. This copper mug cost me 26 pounds, that’s 40 US dollars; although I will say that my copper mug is much better looking than most common Moscow Mule mugs out there, but I doubt many people are willing to spend this much for a single cup.

Moscow Mule

Vodka - 1 1/2 oz

Lime Juice - 1/2 oz

Ginger Beer - 3 1/2 oz

Build everything in a copper mug or collins glass filled with ice cubes. Garnish with a lime wedge.

It’s funny how I never took a deep look at this infamous cocktail in my whole career of bartending, but the reason is simple: I didn’t have the iconic copper mug yet… but now I do!

Now, the Moscow Mule, also known as a Vodka Buck (I admit the latter sounds much, much less interesting) is a drink that has possibly changed the course of cocktail history forever. Just to point out, a Buck is a type of mixed drinks that contains a spirit, ginger ale/beer, and a little citrus juice, hence the name. Some other examples of a Buck are the Dark ‘N’ Stormy and Mamie Taylor etc.

So what’s so special about the Moscow Mule, well, it merely single-handedly brought vodka to popularity, because before the invention of this drink, vodka as a spirit wasn’t very well received in the United States, and this is the story behind it. The drink was invented by a John G. Martin, an executive at Heublein Inc., after the company bought the rights to Smirnoff vodka in 1938. The brand Smirnoff (Smirnov) was of course originated in Russia, but the company moved to several different countries before it’s finally settled in the USA. John Martin was a smart bloke, he marketed the Smirnoff vodka as “a white whiskey, it has no taste, no smell.” as well as the famous line, “Smirnoff leaves you breathless.” This of course refers to the lightness of vodka, so that daytime drinkers can consume alcohol without giving away a mouthful of alcoholic smell.

One day Martin was at the Cock ‘n’ Bull Tavern in L.A. talking to a certain John A. “Jack” Morgan, the owner of the pub, also the president of Cock ‘n’ Bull Products, John Martin had this brilliant idea of combining his not-so-popular Smirnoff vodka with some of the Cock ‘n’ Bull ginger beer that Jack Morgan was desperately trying to get rid off. So Martin bought a Polaroid camera and some copper mugs, he would go to a bar, take a photo of the bartender holding the mug, then take the picture to a different bar, show the picture to the bartender and ask whether he/she had heard of this new drink that’s “storming the nation”. Repeat this process a number of times, and you get the whole town talking about the Moscow Mule.

All right, so that’s that. Let’s get on the recipe part. In theory, the Moscow Mule is a pretty plain drink, but it is the simplicity and refreshing quality that made it a fine choice for the summer.

  • Instead of the original Smirnoff, I’m using Stolichnaya vodka as the base, to at least get the “Moscow” part right; unlike Smirnoff, Stoli is still a Russian brand (although it’s sometimes produced in Latvia).
  • For the lime I’m using a common 1/2 oz, sometimes you have people squeezing a piece of lime wedge into the drink, I reckon you need that 1/2 oz to bring out the freshness.
  • For the ginger beer, I’m using Idris brand’s Fiery Ginger Beer, because in a Moscow Mule, only the spiciest ginger beer will give the “mule’s kick”, your average ginger ale is definitely not acceptable here.
  • I’m building the drink on very large lumps of ice, for the slower dilution. The coldness is not the primary concern here, but slowing down the dilution of an already diluted drink is.
  • Stir the vodka with lime juice first, then add the ginger beer. A final touch that I personally like to have is a few dashes of aromatic bitters on the surface to introduce some extra spices to the smell and flavour of the drink.
  • Rather than the classic lime wedge, I’m using the spent lime shell as a garnish, it should still retain some of the essential oil on the surface, this will further complicate the aroma.
  • The ratio between vodka and ginger beer is a personally thing, some people prefer a little under 1:2, some prefer over 1:3… but for me, I like a ratio that’s somewhere between 1:2 and 1:3, it won’t be way too strong, but it surely isn’t as overly diluted as 1:3.

So there you have it, a simple, and dare I say it, “boring” drink can be made interesting with a few twists. The signature copper mug has its advantages, as a metal drinkware, it’s a great conductor, this means it transfers the coldness evenly throughout the drink, you’d also be able to feel the coldness on your hand. I’d also recommend to drink it without a straw, so your lips will have an equally amazing experience. Not to worry if you don’t have a copper mug though, any tall glass like a highball or collins glass is also suitable for serving it in. This copper mug cost me 26 pounds, that’s 40 US dollars; although I will say that my copper mug is much better looking than most common Moscow Mule mugs out there, but I doubt many people are willing to spend this much for a single cup.

Joan Bennett
Light Puerto Rican Rum - 2 oz
Parfait Amour - 1 oz
Pineapple Juice - 2 oz
Shake everything with 1 cup crushed ice and pour into a tall glass. Add more crushed ice to fill.
From Sloppy Joe’s Bar, Havana, Cuba, circa 1932, named after the American actress. I love Parfait Amour (also Parfait d’Amour), you just don’t see this liqueur in cocktails often. The Bols brand makes an excellent version of Parfait Amour, using rose and violet petals, vanilla and a curaçao base. When used successfully, this product adds a complex layer of flavour to the drink, and a beautiful violet colour. Unfortunately like I said, out of the few drinks I’ve ever tasted containing Parfait Amour, barely even one of them tasted good.
Following a traditional juice highball formula, with rum as the base, pineapple juice as the mixer, and Parfait Amour as the flavouring agent. Pineapple juice is already sweet, even the unsweetened brands, and adding a liqueur without the help of citrus is asking for trouble. Perhaps a tiny bit of the liqueur wouldn’t have caused much damage, but one full ounce of it… The sweetness is not the only problem, neither the spirit nor the mixer is heavy enough to compete with the liqueur: the Puerto Rican rum, being nearly flavourless, died in the background; the pineapple juice doesn’t feel like it should be there at all.
But, that’s only my opinion. I’m sure for a vodka highball drinker, this drink probably won’t be half bad.
Alabama Slammer
Amaretto - 1 oz
Southern Comfort - 1 oz
Sloe Gin - 1 oz
Orange Juice - 2 oz
Shake everything with ice and strain into an ice-filled highball glass.
Famous for being in the movie “Cocktail” starring Tom Cruise, I know… not a great advert.
The Alabama Slammer is one of those modern concoctions with a catchy and easy-to-remember name but without a definite recipe, others like Sex on the Beach, Woo Woo and Fuzzy Navel. Without sounding nasty, let’s just say it’s not a “serious” drink. But then why should it be? Sometimes cocktails can be relaxing and fun. The drink is actually not bad, with a nice blend of fruits and nuts flavour, for people who love sweet highballs.
Like I said, it is impossible to find the “original” or “absolute” recipe for this drink, because well, there isn’t one. Amaretto, Southern Comfort, sloe gin and orange juice are the four ingredients that should always be there, and other variations may include some or all of the following: vodka, lemon juice, grenadine etc.
The drink can be built instead of shaken. The recipe above was taken from Gary Regan’s The Joy of Mixology, he used equal measures of all three liqueurs but they don’t have to be. Other versions of Alabama Slammer were shaken and poured into six shot glasses, to be taken in one gulp, still it’s not much of a “slammer” despite containing three liqueurs.
Sloe gin is a liqueur traditionally made from macerating sloe berries with gin and sugar, but many cheap commercial brands substitute neutral grain spirits for gin, just make sure you pick up a good quality bottle, it really is worth the pounds. Finally the garnish is not required (and certainly not for the shooter version), but I thought the classic orange and cherry combo serves the purpose.

Alabama Slammer

Amaretto - 1 oz

Southern Comfort - 1 oz

Sloe Gin - 1 oz

Orange Juice - 2 oz

Shake everything with ice and strain into an ice-filled highball glass.

Famous for being in the movie “Cocktail” starring Tom Cruise, I know… not a great advert.

The Alabama Slammer is one of those modern concoctions with a catchy and easy-to-remember name but without a definite recipe, others like Sex on the Beach, Woo Woo and Fuzzy Navel. Without sounding nasty, let’s just say it’s not a “serious” drink. But then why should it be? Sometimes cocktails can be relaxing and fun. The drink is actually not bad, with a nice blend of fruits and nuts flavour, for people who love sweet highballs.

Like I said, it is impossible to find the “original” or “absolute” recipe for this drink, because well, there isn’t one. Amaretto, Southern Comfort, sloe gin and orange juice are the four ingredients that should always be there, and other variations may include some or all of the following: vodka, lemon juice, grenadine etc.

The drink can be built instead of shaken. The recipe above was taken from Gary Regan’s The Joy of Mixology, he used equal measures of all three liqueurs but they don’t have to be. Other versions of Alabama Slammer were shaken and poured into six shot glasses, to be taken in one gulp, still it’s not much of a “slammer” despite containing three liqueurs.

Sloe gin is a liqueur traditionally made from macerating sloe berries with gin and sugar, but many cheap commercial brands substitute neutral grain spirits for gin, just make sure you pick up a good quality bottle, it really is worth the pounds. Finally the garnish is not required (and certainly not for the shooter version), but I thought the classic orange and cherry combo serves the purpose.

Pimm’s Cup
Pimm’s No. 1 - 2 oz
Lemonade - 5 oz
Strawberry Slices - 4
Apple Slices - 2
Orange Slices - 2
Lemon Slices - 2
Cucumber Slices - 2
Mint Sprig - 1
Build everything in a large ice-filled highball or collins glass.
If you’ve never had a Pimm’s Cup during the summer, you are missing out; if you have had one of these but it looked totally different from the picture above, you were drinking in the wrong bars mate.
Fruit Cups are a style of traditional English summer drinks, usually contain a base spirit flavoured with various herbs and fruits, topped off with a soft beverage. Pimm’s Cup is no doubt the most popular one of all, invented by James Pimm, he made a series of base liqueurs from Pimm’s No. 1 all the way up to No. 7, each liqueur contains a different spirit: No. 1 is made with gin, No. 2 with scotch, No. 3 with brandy and so on… Only No. 1, 3 and 6 are still available, with No. 1 being the most accessible.
I remember the first time I drank in Guangzhou in the summer, it was a pretty classy hotel bar. I ordered a Pimm’s Cup expecting a glass of fresh fruits, all I got was a glass of brown liquid with 3 slices of apple stuck on top. It was pathetic. However in most bars today, particularly if you’re drinking in any countries other than UK, this is the kind of rubbish you will get. “Pimm’s No. 1 topped off with ginger ale, garnish with a slice of apple and a slice of cucumber” somehow became the standard recipe, what a disgrace.
Here is the real Pimm’s Cup. When correctly made, it’s a fresh fruit salad in a glass. A few slices of fruits in season: orange, lemon, strawberry, apples… these are traditionally available during English summer. Borage was used back then, but it is pretty difficult to find hence cucumbers were its replacement, some consider it tastelss, but to me cucumbers adds that lovely freshness to the drink, you may not notice it when it’s there, but if it’s not there, it’s obvious that something is missing. Mint is commonly the last step of garnish, clap it to release some of the oil on the surface. mix all these with your choice of Pimm’s in a large glass, it doesn’t matter what glassware you use, it can be highball, collins or even red wine glass… as long as they are big, ideally more than 14 oz in volume. Add ice and top with lemonade. Lemonade in England refers to lemon soda, things like Sprite and 7 Up are all appropriate, I prefer Schweppes Lemonade. And there you have it, it is as simple as that! One thing you need to be aware is not to add any untraditional fruits in there, for example all of the tropical fruits should not be in there, and things like the blueberries wasn’t found in England back in the 19th century, it also has no place in it. That’s it. Sit back, pour yourself a glass, light and refreshing, perfect drink on a summer day.

Pimm’s Cup

Pimm’s No. 1 - 2 oz

Lemonade - 5 oz

Strawberry Slices - 4

Apple Slices - 2

Orange Slices - 2

Lemon Slices - 2

Cucumber Slices - 2

Mint Sprig - 1

Build everything in a large ice-filled highball or collins glass.

If you’ve never had a Pimm’s Cup during the summer, you are missing out; if you have had one of these but it looked totally different from the picture above, you were drinking in the wrong bars mate.

Fruit Cups are a style of traditional English summer drinks, usually contain a base spirit flavoured with various herbs and fruits, topped off with a soft beverage. Pimm’s Cup is no doubt the most popular one of all, invented by James Pimm, he made a series of base liqueurs from Pimm’s No. 1 all the way up to No. 7, each liqueur contains a different spirit: No. 1 is made with gin, No. 2 with scotch, No. 3 with brandy and so on… Only No. 1, 3 and 6 are still available, with No. 1 being the most accessible.

I remember the first time I drank in Guangzhou in the summer, it was a pretty classy hotel bar. I ordered a Pimm’s Cup expecting a glass of fresh fruits, all I got was a glass of brown liquid with 3 slices of apple stuck on top. It was pathetic. However in most bars today, particularly if you’re drinking in any countries other than UK, this is the kind of rubbish you will get. “Pimm’s No. 1 topped off with ginger ale, garnish with a slice of apple and a slice of cucumber” somehow became the standard recipe, what a disgrace.

Here is the real Pimm’s Cup. When correctly made, it’s a fresh fruit salad in a glass. A few slices of fruits in season: orange, lemon, strawberry, apples… these are traditionally available during English summer. Borage was used back then, but it is pretty difficult to find hence cucumbers were its replacement, some consider it tastelss, but to me cucumbers adds that lovely freshness to the drink, you may not notice it when it’s there, but if it’s not there, it’s obvious that something is missing. Mint is commonly the last step of garnish, clap it to release some of the oil on the surface. mix all these with your choice of Pimm’s in a large glass, it doesn’t matter what glassware you use, it can be highball, collins or even red wine glass… as long as they are big, ideally more than 14 oz in volume. Add ice and top with lemonade. Lemonade in England refers to lemon soda, things like Sprite and 7 Up are all appropriate, I prefer Schweppes Lemonade. And there you have it, it is as simple as that! One thing you need to be aware is not to add any untraditional fruits in there, for example all of the tropical fruits should not be in there, and things like the blueberries wasn’t found in England back in the 19th century, it also has no place in it. That’s it. Sit back, pour yourself a glass, light and refreshing, perfect drink on a summer day.

Cuba Libre
White Rum - 2 oz
Cola - 3 1/2 oz
Squeeze a lime wedge into a highball glass filled with ice. Build the rum and cola into the glass. Garnish with a lime wedge.
Some would say this drink is too simple, but this is one of the most popular classic rum cocktail today, along with the Mojito and Daiquiri. The Cuba Libre which is Spanish for “Free Cuba” was invented during the Spanish-American War, and after Cuba was freed from the Spanish control, the Americans brought their Coca-Colas and mixed them with the local Cuban rum. On the face of it, this may look merely like a Rum and Coke, but there is a subtle yet significant difference: Cuba Libre has to contain lime juice, while Rum & Coke only may or may not use lime as a garnish only. Yes, it makes all the difference.
Now this drink doesn’t have to be a boring Highball with only 3 ingredients, there is a whole lot which you can play with. Excluding the obvious choice of using spiced rum, that we all know taste amazing, here is my own way of enjoying a good Cuba Libre:
Gold Rum - 2 oz
Lime Juice - 1/2 oz
Angostura Bitters - 2 dashes
Vanilla Extract - 1 dash
Cola - top up
Build everything in a 12 oz highball or collins glass filled with ice, and give it a brisk stir. Garnish with a lime wedge.
Normally the juice of one lime wedge equals to a teaspoon, but it tastes far more refreshing when half a lime is used, that gives roughly 1/2 oz aka 1 tablespoon. Unless I prefer no sugar, substituting the common Coca-Cola with Coca-Cola Zero or Pepsi Max (my preference), then I would have to decrease the amount of sour ingredient. In many recipes Angostura Bitters are included, why? Because it’s so bloody good! It gives those wonderful flavours of spices without having to use spiced rum, and this is also the key of separating superiority from mediocrity. One last secret component is the vanilla, if you realised how well vanilla complements the cola, you’re one step ahead of the rest. Using vanilla pods is perhaps a little too uneconomical, so the vanilla extract is no doubt the perfect choice. Try this out and see what you think, then experiment with something new in your own Cuba Libre.

Cuba Libre

White Rum - 2 oz

Cola - 3 1/2 oz

Squeeze a lime wedge into a highball glass filled with ice. Build the rum and cola into the glass. Garnish with a lime wedge.

Some would say this drink is too simple, but this is one of the most popular classic rum cocktail today, along with the Mojito and Daiquiri. The Cuba Libre which is Spanish for “Free Cuba” was invented during the Spanish-American War, and after Cuba was freed from the Spanish control, the Americans brought their Coca-Colas and mixed them with the local Cuban rum. On the face of it, this may look merely like a Rum and Coke, but there is a subtle yet significant difference: Cuba Libre has to contain lime juice, while Rum & Coke only may or may not use lime as a garnish only. Yes, it makes all the difference.

Now this drink doesn’t have to be a boring Highball with only 3 ingredients, there is a whole lot which you can play with. Excluding the obvious choice of using spiced rum, that we all know taste amazing, here is my own way of enjoying a good Cuba Libre:

Gold Rum - 2 oz

Lime Juice - 1/2 oz

Angostura Bitters - 2 dashes

Vanilla Extract - 1 dash

Cola - top up

Build everything in a 12 oz highball or collins glass filled with ice, and give it a brisk stir. Garnish with a lime wedge.

Normally the juice of one lime wedge equals to a teaspoon, but it tastes far more refreshing when half a lime is used, that gives roughly 1/2 oz aka 1 tablespoon. Unless I prefer no sugar, substituting the common Coca-Cola with Coca-Cola Zero or Pepsi Max (my preference), then I would have to decrease the amount of sour ingredient. In many recipes Angostura Bitters are included, why? Because it’s so bloody good! It gives those wonderful flavours of spices without having to use spiced rum, and this is also the key of separating superiority from mediocrity. One last secret component is the vanilla, if you realised how well vanilla complements the cola, you’re one step ahead of the rest. Using vanilla pods is perhaps a little too uneconomical, so the vanilla extract is no doubt the perfect choice. Try this out and see what you think, then experiment with something new in your own Cuba Libre.