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.

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.
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.
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.
Eastern Sin
Scotch Whisky - 2/3 oz
Cherry Brandy - 2/3 oz
Cointreau - 1/3 oz
Sweet Vermouth - 1/3 oz
Pineapple - 1 chunk
Muddle the pineapple in the shaker with everything else and shake with ice cubes, strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
From “Café Royal Cocktail Book”, invented by J. Stoneham. Here is a drink that exceeded my expectation. Not overly sweet, thanks to my pineapple having a slight sourness; upfront cherry and pineapple flavour, very subtle smoky bitterness in the background.
Mr. Manhattan
Gin - 2 oz
Lemon Juice - 1/4 tsp
Orange Juice - 1 tsp
Gum Syrup - 1/2 tsp
Mint - 4 leaves
Press the mint in the bottom of the shaker, add everything else and shake with ice cubes. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
From “The Savoy Cocktail Book”.
Definitely not a bad drink, if you are a gin lover. This is a Julep-ish mixed drink with gin as the base, sweetened up a little, mixed with some mint leaves, and lightly flavoured with orange and lemon. I’ve translated it slightly, turned all the “dashes” into “fractions of a teaspoon”; changed “one lump of sugar”, that’s as much as I can handle in a cocktail composed mostly of a spirit served up.
Sea Breeze Cooler
Dry Gin - 1 oz
Apricot Brandy - 1 oz
Grenadine - 1/2 tsp
Lemon Juice - 3/4 oz
Soda Water - 3 oz
Build everything in a long tumbler filled with a few lumps of ice. Garnish with 2 sprigs of mint.
From “The Savoy Cocktail Book”. This has nothing to do with the modern day Sea Breeze (thankfully). Another great summer time thirst-quencher, soft, fruity, and refreshing.
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?