maandag 6 juli 2020

Catch up on those lost apero-moments #inhaalzomer

 
The COVID19 virus has disabled the economy and our lives worldwide for several months. It’s interesting to see how organisations and companies handle this situation.

Supermarket Delhaize launched a great campaign, motivating us to ‘catch up’ on all those lost apero-moments during the lockdown. Let’s spend this summer having several great apero-moments with our small bubbles of friends and family in our homes and gardens. How could you ever disagree on that ๐Ÿ˜Š

A few weeks ago they have sent me a totebag with a few nice surprises : A bottle of gin, a few mixers and a bottled cocktail and mocktail, mixed by Star-tender Hannah Van Ongevalle. They also added some coupons for snacks, to pick up at the local supermarket.

I decided to create a fun apero-moment with our neighbours, followed by a tasty BBQ.

For your inspiration, I’ll share what was in the bottles :

Apero Sur L’Herbe (Cocktail)

Ingredients
Gin
Lemon Juice
Peach-Cherry-Vanilla syrup
Fever Tree Elderflower Tonic


Crispy Carole (Mocktail)


Ingredients
Lemon juice
Non-alcoholic gin-style spirit
Camomille-star anise syrup
Fever Tree Ginger Beer


Spread the idea : Catch up on your lost apero-moments too !


#ecobelgisch #inhaalzomer


Disclaimer : All pictures and texts are copyrighted by Geert Conard and Esito Management & Communications unless stated otherwise in the article. While some items might have been gifted by the producer or distributor, these are in no way paid promotions or recommendations.

zaterdag 4 juli 2020

Easy & tasty summer cocktail : Summer Sour

 
Each summer I try to create a new tasty summercocktail. Last year it was the Sunshine Lover, which also made it to the menu of cocktailbar Coaster.

This year I created a summer drink in the style of the Caipirinha de Jerez 
I posted earlier, but added some blood orange juice for a complete makeover. Let’s say it’s a delicious crossover between a Caipirinha and a Daiquiri, with a big splash of sunshine ๐Ÿ˜‰ 

Summer Sour


Ingredients
25 ml Angostura 1824 Rum
25 ml Pitรบ Cachaรงa
15 ml Fresh lime juice
15 ml Blood orange juice
15 ml simple syrup


Method
Shake with lots of ice. Double strain in a cocktail glass with a big block of ice. Garnish with a dried piece of orange or a cocktail cherry. Pick your choice. Enjoy on a hot sunny terrace. Works pretty good with insalata caprese bites.


Disclaimer : All pictures and texts are copyrighted by Geert Conard and Esito Management & Communications unless stated otherwise in the article. While some items might have been gifted by the producer or distributor, these are in no way paid promotions or recommendations.

vrijdag 26 juni 2020

Scallywag - The Stray Dog goes to Italy

 
It’s hot, I would love to be in Italy right now and I really love this Douglas Laing Speyside malt blend. That’s three excuses to mix up one more cocktail based on Scallywag ๐Ÿ˜‰

This whisky has a very recognizable flavour from the sherry casks and I just want to enhance this a little bit more. Some people add a tiny bit of tonic to Negroni-style drinks to take the sharp edge off the bitterness. I did the same with some dry fino sherry. The result is a Boulevardier with a nice sherry-touch.


The Stray Dog goes to Italy


Ingredients
30 ml Campari
45 ml Scallywag Blended Malt Whisky
30 ml Cinzano sweet vermouth
10 ml Tio Pepe Fino sherry


Method
Stir everything together in a large mixglass with lots of ice. Strain into a tumbler with a big block of ice. Add a piece of orange (fresh or dried). Salute !


Tip
I paired this tasty cocktail with a piece of ‘Dorรฉ de Lathuy’ Bio-cheese. This is cheese from the Ardennes, made from raw cow milk. This pairing was suggested by cheese master Peter Verbruggen


Disclaimer : All pictures and texts are copyrighted by Geert Conard and Esito Management & Communications unless stated otherwise in the article. While some items might have been gifted by the producer or distributor, these are in no way paid promotions or recommendations.

dinsdag 23 juni 2020

The Stray Dog Returns - Scallywag

 
It’s more or less a year ago that I first played around with Douglas Laing’s Speyside blended malt. Since Speyside is my favourite Scottish Whisky region, I really need to use this great blend more often in tasty cocktails.

Scallywag is a blended malt whisky on 46% alcohol. With casks retrieved from Macallan, Mortlach, Glenrothes, and a few more distilleries. They have a tasty combination of ex-Bourbon and ex-Sherry casks. The color, taste and flavour of this whisky do give the impression that lots of sherry casks were used.

  • Color : Rich and dark
  • Nose : Richly spiced, vanilla, sherry, oak
  • Mouth : Strong whisky with herbs, warm red fruits, Christmas pudding and dark chocolate
  • Finish : Orange peel, apple, pear, tobacco and fruitcake


Last year I have sent the Stray Dog to the Big Apple, in a tasty variation on the Manhattan which I paired with some great cheese. It’s about time to take the next step and bring the Stray Dog back to Scotland for another variation on the Manhattan, adding even more flavours.

The Stray Dog returns

Ingredients
45 ml Scallywag Speyside Blended Malt
20 ml Cinzano sweet vermouth
15 ml Conker Cold Brew Coffee liqueur
20 ml Lemon juice
1 dash Angostura bitters


Method
Add all ingredients in your shaker with lots of ice. Shake for 20 seconds and double strain into a pre-chilled coupe. Add a cocktail cherry. Enjoy it out in the rain, don’t forget your umbrella ๐Ÿ˜‰


Disclaimer : All pictures and texts are copyrighted by Geert Conard and Esito Management & Communications unless stated otherwise in the article. While some items might have been gifted by the producer or distributor, these are in no way paid promotions or recommendations.

maandag 15 juni 2020

(FAIL!!!) The Iceberg

 
Let me reveal one of the hidden secrets of booze-blogging. When we publish a recipe for a cocktail, do we always create or reshake the drink in just one go? Of course not.

I only publish a recipe (and the photos) when I’m satisfied with the result, even when only the taste needs a bit of tweaking and the problem doesn’t really show on the Instagram photo. If I’m not happy, it’s not posted online.

 
When I’m not satisfied, it’s because something just isn’t right. Maybe the cocktail isn’t perfectly balanced and I need to tweak the recipe. Or maybe I’m not really convinced by one of the ingredients and want to swap it for another ingredient and try again (recently I did this with a bottle of rum)
. Or maybe (not that often, stop laughing!) I made a stupid mistake in the execution making the cocktail.

Sometimes it's not possible to have another try… A while back I already made a list of reasons why bloggers don’t like small samples. 
Let me repeat it shortly, because the former article was in Dutch :
  • Small samples are often only 20 or 30 ml, while you need at least 45 to 50 ml as a base for a cocktail. 
  • When we are creating a cocktail based on a new spirit, sometimes we need multiple takes to just ‘get it right’. If we only have 30 or even 50 ml of the new spirit, we only have one single shot to get it right. If we fail, there is no second chance and no article or post. 
  • Last but not least, a sample tube or mini-bottle is not really sexy on our Instagram photo. For the same reason we hate photographing ‘almost empty’ bottles. A normal size and almost full bottle is always sexy and very recognizable for our followers.
Earlier this week I tried to reshake a more or less classic German cocktail : The Iceberg. This tasty ‘bitter forward’ cocktail is not difficult to make at all, still I succeeded in screwing it up big time.
 
Recently I bought a new mini-blender for my homebar. I was looking for a nice and easy recipe to test the blender. The even parts cocktail “The Iceberg” would be just perfect. Problem: My new blender seems to be A LOT better than the old one. The crushed ice didn’t know what hit it.. in just 4 or 5 seconds the ice was completely vanished. The result was a nice and tasty creamy drink, but no iceberg at all. I added some extra icecubes to the Margarita glass to make it an acceptable drink, but my perfect Instagram photo was completely ruined. And I couldn’t go for a second try because my bottle of tequila was empty and it was the only reposado Tequila in my homebar. Yes, I know that’s a shame. I decided to use this experience for a FAIL-article ๐Ÿ˜‰
 
My advice : if your blender can handle crushing icecubes, the result will be much better. I’ve made lots of Frozen Daiquiris and Frozen Margaritas in the past summers, always using small icecubes with a perfect crushed result.
 
The Iceberg
 
Ingredients
30 ml Tequila reposado (Medium-aged tequila)
30 ml Orgeat Syrup
1 mini-bottle of Underberg
25 ml lemon juice
 
Method
All ingredients in your blender with 1 cup of crushed ice. But I would REALLY recommend icecubes instead, unless you also want to risk screwing up the drink. Blend until it’s smooth as a slushy. Serve in a Margarita- or Martini-glass. Add a metal straw and the empty Underberg-bottle. Cheers !
 
Disclaimer : All pictures and texts are copyrighted by Geert Conard and Esito Management & Communications unless stated otherwise in the article. While some items might have been gifted by the producer or distributor, these are in no way paid promotions or recommendations.

vrijdag 12 juni 2020

Ardbeg Sour

 
In the past weeks we joined two great online Ardbeg events : Ardbeg Day and Ardbeg Hour (=whisky tasting). During the last event Brendan McCarron also shared his favourite Ardbeg cocktail recipe. Brendan calls it his own version of the Daiquiri, but for me that name really connects to rum. I’ll just call it the Ardbeg Sour.   

Ardbeg Sour

Ingredients
50 ml Ardbeg 10
20 ml cloudy apple juice
20 ml lime juice
10 ml Vanilla syrup

Method
All ingredients into the shaker with lots of ice. Shake for 30 seconds and strain into a tumbler with a big block of ice. Slainte !

Disclaimer : All pictures and texts are copyrighted by Geert Conard and Esito Management & Communications unless stated otherwise in the article. While some items might have been gifted by the producer or distributor, these are in no way paid promotions or recommendations.

dinsdag 9 juni 2020

Martini on the rocks

 
Warning : If you are a die-hard Martini-enthusiast and you already freak out completely when you hear James Bond order a Martini “shaken, not stirred” (*), you might need to take a pill to calm down before reading on.

In this article I’m talking about a new trend in American bars, or at least a revived trend: Martinis served on ice in a tumbler. Yes, read that again. On the positive side, your drink will stay cool much longer, on the negative side it will water down a little bit because ice will always do that. I tried it and actually liked it. I do like my drinks really cool.

I started from a Dry Martini recipe, because I also wanted to keep the color as transparent as possible. White vermouths often are a bit yellow. The result is a very clear drink in which the block of clear ice completely disappears. 

Martini on the rocks

Ingredients
60 ml Beefeater Gin
20 ml Forest Dry vermouth


Method
Stir the gin and vermouth in a mixglass with lots of ice until perfectly chilled. Strain into a tumbler with a big chunk of ice. Add an olive if you want. I kept it on the side to display the clearness of the drink.


(*) In my opinion James Bond likes his Martinis “shaken, not stirred” because he really wants more dilution. He needs to lower the alcohol to keep his mind clear to combat the villains.

Disclaimer : All pictures and texts are copyrighted by Geert Conard and Esito Management & Communications unless stated otherwise in the article. While some items might have been gifted by the producer or distributor, these are in no way paid promotions or recommendations.

woensdag 3 juni 2020

Verhofstede Edelweiss Gin + 2 cocktails

 
This is our second blog in the series we do together with Foodbelgium.com – Links with promo’s and FREE items at the bottom of this article.

Are there still well-known classics that haven’t really been featured on this blog yet? How about this cool and refreshing Tom Collins with a nice base of Edelweiss gin ?
This gin by Verhofstede 
holds 20 botanicals and is produced with water from the Edelweiss source. The gin has floral and citrus notes and a nice and sweet finish. It received the silver medal on the Concours Mondial in Brussels.

Tom Collins


Ingredients
5 cl Verhofstede Edelweiss Gin
3 cl lemon juice
1,5 cl Simple Syrup
Perrier


Method
Shake the gin, lemon and sugar with lots of ice. Strain into a highball glass with fresh ice. Add soda water. I really like Perrier for this because it has just the right amount of bubbles. Garnish with fresh or dried lemon. Perfect drink to cool down on a hot day ๐Ÿ˜‰


And even more !!!
At our home we really like all things vintage and retro. That’s probably what I also like most about the Verhofstede spirits. They use old family recipes to create modern day drinks. Another Belgian company who does this is Ritchie
They have a range of vintage lemonades, which are very enjoyable and can now be found in several supermarkets.

The original lemonades dropped off the market in the 70s. Jan Verlinden, son of the former brewer, quit his marketing job in 2016, refreshed the old recipes (less sugar etc.) and brought them back to the market. They even have a natural coke without caramel or phosphor acid. Jan is the 4th generation running the brewery in Lubbeek, near Leuven.

The coke and the grapefruit lemonade both mix excellent with rum. I wanted to sample the orange lemonade and also give it a spike. This time it’s not a Gin Ricky, but a Gin Ritchie ๐Ÿ˜‰


Gin Ritchie


Ingredients
5 cl Verhofstede Edelweiss Gin
1 bottle of Ritchie Orange


Method
Add your gin to a tumbler with ice. Top up with Ritchie lemonade. Give it a single stir. Garnish with a dried orange slice. Cheers !


Buy now
Verhofstede Promopage 
  
Edelweiss Gin 20 CL (+ FREE apero mix)
 
Edelweiss Gin 50 CL (+ FREE Gimber)

 
Disclaimer : All pictures and texts are copyrighted by Geert Conard and Esito Management & Communications unless stated otherwise in the article. While some items might have been gifted by the producer or distributor, these are in no way paid promotions or recommendations. Affiliate links present in this article.

maandag 1 juni 2020

Negroniweek postponed to september - Can we serve a tikidrink in Italian style ?

 
Normally the Negroniweek 2020 would have started today. Because of the COVID19 pandemic and the big challenges bars all around the world have to face when they reopen, the Negroniweek has been postponed.

Negroniweek 2020 will now take place September 14-20.
But just for fun and to keep spirits up, let’s do a Negroni-style drink with Campari, a nice spirit and a tastemaker ๐Ÿ˜‰

Why not try to do a crossover between a tikidrink and a traditional Italian aperitivo?
Is that even possible? Most tikidrinks are slightly messy, often served by ‘dirty dumping’ the content of the shaker into a large glass or tiki-mug. What if we create a very simple tikidrink, but serve it like a clean Italian aperitivo?


For the base of this drink I selected Bacardi Cuatro. First I had another try with World’s End Tiki rum, but I wasn’t 100% convinced by the result. I do however use some World’s End Falernum and finish with Campari.


By the way: Italians do love their tikidrinks too. The best tikibar I have visited until today, was probably an Italian bar, Nu Lounge Bar in Bologna. The totally crazy pirates of Tortuga Bar in Durbuy are pretty high on my personal list too.

Tiki in Italia

Ingredients
50 ml Bacardi Cuatro
20 ml World’s End Falernum
20 ml Campari
10 ml Simple syrup
Tonic


Method
Add rum, falernum, sugar and Campari to a shaker with lots of ice. Shake for 20 seconds and strain into your favourite tumbler with a clean block of ice.
Top off with a few dashes of tonic to take the edge off. Add a single amareno cherry.


Disclaimer : All pictures and texts are copyrighted by Geert Conard and Esito Management & Communications unless stated otherwise in the article. While some items might have been gifted by the producer or distributor, these are in no way paid promotions or recommendations.

donderdag 28 mei 2020

Are you ready for Ardbeg Day 2020 ?

 
This morning we welcomed a very special visitor at our offices. Maria Papadopoulou, brand manager for Glenmorangie and Ardbegcame by to drop off a few bottles and invite us to participate in Ardbeg Day 2020.

Do you like Ardbeg? In one of the bistros I frequently visit, I usually drink a cocktail with a strong base of Ardbeg, which is described in the menu with “It’s like licking an ashtray” ๐Ÿ˜‰. So yes, Ardbeg is peated whisky from Islay. 


Usually held on the final Saturday of Islay’s Festival of Music and Malt (Fรจis รŒle), Ardbeg Day is a global, annual celebration of all things Ardbeg. This year, with the festival sadly cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Ardbeg is taking its celebrations online, and inviting malt whisky lovers everywhere to join them as they toast two incredible decades of the Ardbeg Committee. They are all set for the biggest day in their virtual whisky calendar as the team prepares to beam the party right into the living rooms, studies, spare bedrooms and garages of Ardbeggians everywhere. Tune in to the Ardbeg Facebook page next Saturday, 30th May at 20h. It will be a two hour event and we expect a lot !!!


And after the event ?

Just one week later, Saturday 6th June, we will participate in Ardbeg Hour, the online whisky-tasting which will be broadcasted live on YouTube. Hense the bottles which were delivered today ๐Ÿ˜‰.

Brendan Mc Carron, Head of Maturing Whisky Stocks will guide us through these Ardbeg expressions:
  • Ardbeg 10Y Old
  • Ardbeg An Oa
  • Ardbeg Corryvreckan
  • Ardbeg Blaaack (=feisty Limited Edition bottled in celebration of the Ardbeg Committee’s 20th Anniversary)
After the event we will post a link to the recorded session on our Facebook page. Looking forward to both these events !

Disclaimer : All pictures and texts are copyrighted by Geert Conard and Esito Management & Communications unless stated otherwise in the article. While some items might have been gifted by the producer or distributor, these are in no way paid promotions or recommendations.

Verhofstede Hop Jenever - Dry Gibson

 
Great news !!! I have teamed up with foodbelgium.com – This is a webshop with authentic Belgian food and drinks. They have asked me to test some of the bottles on their “Jenever, liqueur and distillates” pages. All products we will be testing in the next weeks and months can be purchased through direct links in the articles, often with free extra’s or specials promotions for our followers.

In this first article we got to play around with Verhofstede Hop Jenever. This local distiller 
started creating this product in 1961 by an old family recipe, based on the wild hops growing around their property. The hops create a silky finish for this traditional jenever. Did you know that jenever existed 200 years before the first mentioning of cognac… and that jenever is the more complex predecessor of gin?

To highlight the silky finish, we didn’t want to mask it too much with other flavours. Our first thought was a Dry Martini, but I was afraid the umami taste of the olive would change the taste too much. I picked a Dry Gibson instead, swapping the olive for a pickled onion. I used a can of pickled onions, pickled with barrel aged apple vinegar.


Pickled Martinis are real bartenders’ drinks. Very complex taste. The Dry Gibson just might be the easiest first babysteps toward this ‘pickled’ direction. It’s a fresh and silky Martini-style cocktail that will be loved by most spirit-forward enthusiasts.


Dry Gibson


Ingredients
6 cl Verhofstede Hop Jenever
2 cl Forest Dry vermouth


Method
Add the Jenever and vermouth to a mixglass with lots of ice. Stir for 20 seconds and strain into a chilled Martiniglass. Add a pickled onion.


Buy Now
Verhofstede Promopage 
  
Hop Jenever 20 CL (+ FREE apero mix) 
 
Hop Jenever 70 CL (+ FREE Gimber)

 
Disclaimer : All pictures and texts are copyrighted by Geert Conard and Esito Management & Communications unless stated otherwise in the article. While some items might have been gifted by the producer or distributor, these are in no way paid promotions or recommendations.

maandag 25 mei 2020

Kiss My Hand Sanitizer

 
Big shoutout to all distillers on this planet who stepped up to the plate and produced sanitizing alcohol for hospitals in the past weeks. From Jack Daniel’s in Tennessee to Filliers in Deinze, from very large companies like Diageo to small local distillers like Massy in Houthalen. Thank you.

Today I want to highlight just one of many great initiatives by another small producer.
Kiss My Drinks 
is a local producer of ‘out of the box’ vermouts, two brothers who are reviving old recipes from their grandparents. Their vermouts are used in several Michelin star restaurants and to be honest, the restaurant and bar businesses are the largest part of their customers. Needless to say that COVID19 also hit very hard on their business.

While trying to keep their business alive, they also wanted to do something to help others who were also hit very hard by this crisis. Many distillers have produced alcohol for hospitals at extreme low prices, to help combat COVID19. The Kiss My brothers know that bars and restaurants will also face very big difficulties when they are finally allowed to restart their business. So they created their own help-plan.

Kiss My launches their own hand sanitizer, with a great bonus. For each bottle sold, one bottle is going to a local Belgian bar or restaurant for FREE. You can buy a 500 ml bottle at their webshop 
#redhoreca #savethebars #savetherestaurants

Disclaimer : All pictures and texts are copyrighted by Geert Conard and Esito Management & Communications unless stated otherwise in the article. While some items might have been gifted by the producer or distributor, these are in no way paid promotions or recommendations.

zondag 24 mei 2020

The Bicicletta, the older kind of Spritz

 
The Spritz is still one of the most popular summer-cocktails and I’m sure doing my best to support that position by enjoying lots of them during the long hot summer. It’s one of the most refreshing drinks, served on lots of ice. And at the same time it’s a perfect bittersweet aperitif.

Last year I wrote a pretty long article (in dutch) 
on the origin of the Spritz, mentioning that the recipe changed in the beginning of last era. Originally the Spritz was made with still wine and sparkling water. The Select Spritz, originated in Venice, was probably the first which used Prosecco instead of white wine. The Aperol Spritz which is the most popular Spritz today also uses Prosecco, but only became popular after the second Word War.

The ‘Bicicletta’ is another Italian name for the Spritz. The story says this drink was named after the men who swerved all over the road on their bikes, driving home after too many afternoon drinks at the cafรฉ.


In the early 1900s the quality and balance of cocktails was probably not what we are used to today. In the US moonshine was served illegally in speakeasy bars, using lots of sugar to mask the bad alcohol.  Drinks were rougher and more in one direction. The Bicicletta is a bitter-forward drink, made with typical Italian aperitifs. It’s an even part mix of Campari, dry Italian wine from the Veneto region and soda water. Do yourself a favour and use Italian wine and water to get the right feel for this drink.


San Pellegrino is produced in Bergamo, a region which has been hit very hard by the COVID19 virus and can use all our support. The first Campari production plant is located near Milano. All three products are produced in the north of Italy, between Milano and Venice.


 
The Bicicletta


Ingredients
6 cl Campari
6 cl Pinot Grigio delle Venezie (dry white wine)
6 cl San Pellegrino (soda water)


Method
For this drink we use a wineglass, not the rounder coppa glass which is used for your typical Aperol Spritz. Add the Campari and white wine to your glass. Fill up with icecubes and give it a stir. Add the soda water and give it one last stir. Garnish with a dried slice of orange.


Disclaimer : All pictures and texts are copyrighted by Geert Conard and Esito Management & Communications unless stated otherwise in the article. While some items might have been gifted by the producer or distributor, these are in no way paid promotions or recommendations.

zaterdag 16 mei 2020

Man O'War - Is there a hidden bar on a battleship ?

 
I really love to use old classic recipes and give them a modern boost with new and exciting spirits.

The Man O’War is a cocktail named after one of the very best racehorses in the American racing history. In the years 1919-1920 this horse competed in 21 races and won 20 times. Man O’War also refers to a warship, which sparked my curiosity ๐Ÿ˜‰


The original recipe is prepared with bourbon, but I chose a more herbal touch with Knob Creek Rye Whiskey. The home-made orange liqueur is actually arancello. We used an old Italian (secret) family-recipe for limoncello, but swapped the lemons for oranges. Nobody got killed. That last remark is for Godfather-fans only ๐Ÿ˜‰

Is there a hidden bar on a battleship ?

Ingredients
5 cl Knob Creek Rye Whiskey
3 cl Home-made Orange Liqueur (You can also use Cointreau or Triple Sec, but it will change the color of the drink)
1 cl Sweet Vermouth
1 cl Fresh lemon juice

Method
There’s juice in it, so it needs to be shaken. Add everything to your shaker with lots of ice. Shake for 20 seconds and double strain in a large cognac glass. Garnish with a sweet cocktail cherry.

Disclaimer : All pictures and texts are copyrighted by Geert Conard and Esito Management & Communications unless stated otherwise in the article. While some items might have been gifted by the producer or distributor, these are in no way paid promotions or recommendations.

woensdag 13 mei 2020

Happy World Cocktail Day !!! - Comb that beach

Today is ‘World Cocktail Day’ and at lunchtime we had our own little cocktail-moment to celebrate.

My cocktail for today is an easy variation on the Beachcomber, which has really nothing to do with Don the Beachcomber, the famous Tiki-bartender.


The Beachcomber is more or less the Martini of Tiki cocktails.

The other drinks on the group picture are a classic Americano and two fruity pineapple mocktails.
 


Comb that beach

Ingredients
60 ml Bacardi Carta Blanca
10 ml Clement Creole Shrub
7,5 ml Fresh limejuice
A few dashes of maraschino liqueur


Method
Bring everything together in a shaker with enough ice. Shake for 20 seconds and double strain in a Martiniglass.

Garnish with a fresh strawberry.

Disclaimer : All pictures and texts are copyrighted by Geert Conard and Esito Management & Communications unless stated otherwise in the article. While some items might have been gifted by the producer or distributor, these are in no way paid promotions or recommendations.


dinsdag 12 mei 2020

Cocktails in a box by Belroy's

 
During this lockdown lots of webshop-projects are really thriving. We can now order gourmet meals from Michelin Star restaurants ‘in a box’, delivered to our doorstep. So why not order high quality, handcrafted cocktails the same way? I’m not talking about bottled cocktails that you can also buy in the supermarket or liqueur store. No, I’m talking about the real deal, hand crafted cocktails prepared by a bartender in your favourite cocktailbar, sealed in a plastic bag and sent directly to your home ‘in a box’, together with the garnish and instructions on how to serve the drink.

Cocktails in a box are not exactly new, but they became ‘the new normal’ for cocktail enthusiasts since the start of the coronacrisis. A few years ago I already wrote about the SIPSNSODA cocktailboxes, which were probably among the very first in Europe. Today lots of cocktailbars all around the country are selling their weekly offer through a webshop.
I even spotted some local restaurants in my neighbourhood (e.g. Barnaba)
, offering complete take-away or home delivered meals, including good quality cocktails for a great start. Fight the crisis by enjoying your perfect aperitif-moment at home.


Probably the first premium cocktailbar who jumpstarted this new trend in Belgium was Belroy’s
, the well-known Antwerp based company of Ben Belmans and Dieter Van Roy. Next to their cocktail catering activities they have two popular cocktailbars: Belroy’s Bijou (Graaf Van Egmontstraat 20) and Belroy’s MAS (Godefriduskaai 14). They already sold their own range of bottled spirits and cocktails (available at the better liqueur shops), but recently they also started a new webshop with a weekly range of crafted cocktails. Let’s try this. Is this really the same cocktail-experience you get in their bar?

You will miss the cosy atmosphere of the bar and the jokes made by Dieter while preparing your drink, but the drinks are definitely the real deal. Easy to serve and packed with of flavour. Dieter sent us a box with 4 drinks, which we could sample:

 
  • El Presidente : A rum-based cocktail with Belroy’s Rum, vermouth, dry Curacao and pomegranate. This cocktail is also available in their bottled range. 
  • Boulevardier : This Negroni variation is a very tasty mix of Michter’s whiskey, Italian vermouth and bitter. 
  • Ipanema Swizzle : A very fruity cocktail with Belroy’s Rum, passionfruit, white vermouth, pomegranate, ginger and lemon. 
  • Virgin Mojito : Some days are better without alcohol, this mocktail is a sweet lime mix with mint, served in a mix with Perrier.


We decided to use these drinks for a high quality aperitif moment, so we also made sure to get some matching snacks for each drink. We really enjoyed our aperotime. The drinks were extremely close to what we would get in the bar, so maximum points for quality.


Let’s hope most bars will keep this service also after the coronacrisis, it can come in handy when you’re entertaining friends at home and don’t want to spend too much time preparing drinks. Not everyone has the same bartending skills as Tom Cruise ๐Ÿ˜‰


Personally, I think it’s a great service which will work perfectly for a lot of people, but I’d still enjoy the drinks a little bit more sitting at the bar in Antwerp, chatting with Ben or Dieter.


Disclaimer : All pictures and texts are copyrighted by Geert Conard and Esito Management & Communications unless stated otherwise in the article. While some items might have been gifted by the producer or distributor, these are in no way paid promotions or recommendations.

zaterdag 9 mei 2020

Solar Gin, distilled by the sun

 
When I write about new spirits, there are three things that can really add quality to the article: The quality of the spirit, the story behind the bottle and the marketing that promotes the whole thing.

It doesn’t happen often that I’m a big fan of all three. This time it comes very close.
One of my networking contacts told me she connected to a guy that makes his own gin in a very special way. She told him about my blog and we got in touch. Thanks Yoke ๐Ÿ˜‰, this story is really great.


Kevin van de Merlen has created a pretty good gin, which is distilled by the sun. Yes, read that again. It’s distilled by the sun and that’s why it’s called Solar Gin.


During a long hot summer Kevin decided to build a complete solar-distilling process from scratch. A very bold and impressive idea. On a sunny day, this solar unit creates three times more energy than the average solar panel on your roof. To distil the gin it only uses direct sun warmth. The electricity for the pumps and the controls connected to the still are also fed by the solar unit.

This hand-built project is a very nice example of true sustainability. There is no use of fossil fuel and there is absolutely no loss in the conversion. The electricity saved for the production of one bottle of Solar Gin will light your living room for three days.

The gin is distilled slowly on a low temperature in a copper still. It has a very soft mouthfeel, a floral nose with fresh lemon, cardamom in the finish. You can use it with neutral or floral tonics. I wanted to keep some more sun in my glass, so I combined it with Fever Tree Aromatic Tonic.


For my personal taste this gin is pretty good. I really enjoyed my refreshing Gin & Tonic with citrus notes. I also really love the story of the hand-crafted distilling unit powered by the sun. Now what about the third aspect for my article, the marketing?

This bottle is probably one of the prettiest gin-bottles I have seen in years and it has a very fun gimmick. There is a small light hidden in the bottom of the bottle. Switch it on and you have the sun glowing in your bottle. Love it.
 
Disclaimer : All pictures and texts are copyrighted by Geert Conard and Esito Management & Communications unless stated otherwise in the article. While some items might have been gifted by the producer or distributor, these are in no way paid promotions or recommendations. The pics with Solar logo are copyrighted by Solar Gin.

donderdag 7 mei 2020

Rye Sazerac - An all-time classic

 
No special story or bottle test, just a nice drink because I was craving for this one. The Sazerac is the official cocktail of New Orleans and without any doubt one of my favourite Old Fashioned cocktails. You can make it with brandy or Rye whiskey. The best cocktail I ever tasted was a Sazerac created with super-premium cognac.

It’s very easy to prepare, just like an Old Fashioned recipe should be: You only need your spirit, sugar, bitters and ice.

This time I really wanted to make one with Rye. I also used Absinthe bitters instead of Peychaud’s bitters.


Rye Sazerac


Ingredients
6 cl Sunken Still Rye whisky
1 cl simple syrup
2 dashes Absinthe bitters
Absinthe (for the rinse)


Method
Start by giving your glass a nice Absinthe rinse. Put all other ingredients in a mixglass with lots of ice. Stir for 20 seconds and strain in your glass. Garnish with a peel or a dehydrated slice of lemon.


Disclaimer : All pictures and texts are copyrighted by Geert Conard and Esito Management & Communications unless stated otherwise in the article. While some items might have been gifted by the producer or distributor, these are in no way paid promotions or recommendations.

dinsdag 5 mei 2020

Cinco de Mayo Margarita

 
Cinco de Mayo is an annual celebration in Mexico, held on May 5. This date is to commemorate their Army’s victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla in 1862, under the leadership of General Zaragoza. The victory of the smaller Mexican force against a larger French force was a boost to morale for the Mexicans.

A nice and tasty drink with a strong base of Tequila can help us celebrate this day ๐Ÿ˜‰


A Margarita is a sour-style cocktail and normally mixes Tequila with Cointreau (something sweet and fruity) and fresh lime juice (something sour). In our “special of the day” we choose for Amaro instead of the orange liqueur. We do add a little extra orange bitterness to compensate.

Note : Always taste and adjust while preparing your cocktail. Example : Limes can be very different in acidity and when you use another brand of amaro, the taste can also be very different. At my home, we are used to pretty sour cocktails, since my wife is diabetic. If this drink is a bit to sour for you, just add a half barspoon of agave syrup.


May 5 Margarita

Ingredients
5 cl Tequila Blanco
2 cl Amaro Montenegro
2 cl Fresh lime juice
½ bs Orange bitters


Method
Add everything into a shaker with lots of ice. Shake vigorously for 20 seconds and double strain into a nice coupe. No garnish, just get some nachos and cheese to accompany this drink.


Disclaimer : All pictures and texts are copyrighted by Geert Conard and Esito Management & Communications unless stated otherwise in the article. While some items might have been gifted by the producer or distributor, these are in no way paid promotions or recommendations.

zaterdag 2 mei 2020

Gimber + When Penicillin just isn't enough

 
Last week I received a very nice sample pack of Gimber, a non-alcoholic product that’s basically a concentrate of ginger juice, made from Peruvian ginger, mixed with lemon and herbs. The perfect serve is 30 ml Gimber topped with 200 ml of Perrier soda. But you can also use 20 ml in warm water (or in your tea), excellent when having a cold. It’s a fresh product without alcohol or preservatives. This means it does have a limited lifespan, it will last 60 days in the refrigerator.

As always, I started with a neat sip, followed by the perfect serve. It sure does have a spicy ginger-bite, definitely stronger than what we’re used from the average ginger-ale or even ginger beer. The first thing that comes to mind is using it in cocktails which normally have ginger-ale or ginger beer in them. And of course I’m going for that strong kick. And when it coms to whisky, peat and ginger go very well together.


When Penicillin just isn’t enough

Ingredients
50 ml Port Charlotte 10y Heavily peated whisky
20 ml Gimber
20 ml fresh lemon juice
10 ml simple syrup


Method
Put everything in a shaker with enough ice. Shake for 20 seconds and double strain into a tumbler with a big block of ice. Garnish with ginger. Candied ginger would be nice, dried ginger also does the trick.


Tip : You don’t have candied ginger, but you do have some fresh ginger in your fridge ? Cut off a fresh slice (very thin) and dip it in sugar. The sugar will stick to the juicy sides. Burn with your kitchen torch. Not as good as properly made (boiled) candied ginger, but a good second best.

 
Disclaimer : All pictures and texts are copyrighted by Geert Conard and Esito Management & Communications unless stated otherwise in the article. While some items might have been gifted by the producer or distributor, these are in no way paid promotions or recommendations.

donderdag 30 april 2020

Gin & Vylmer

 
If you want to enjoy a tasty cocktail at home, it’s always easy to have a few “even parts” recipes at hand. Almost impossible to make a mistake and mostly very flavourful drinks.

Today I’m making another unusual combination with fino sherry. We add the boozy layer of the gin, with a lot of citrus notes, and the herbal and fruity notes of the Vylmer Apรฉritif. You do need a little bit of tonic to blend it together and add that ‘zesty’ extra.

Gin & Vylmer

Ingredients
30 ml HTK Gin (or another gin with fresh lemon flavour)
30 ml Tio Pepe Fino sherry
30 ml Vylmer Apรฉritif
Tonic


Method
Stir together the gin and sherry in a mixglass with ice. Strain into a tumbler with a big block of ice. Top off with a little bit of tonic. Give it one more gentle stir. Garnish with a fresh strawberry.


Disclaimer : All pictures and texts are copyrighted by Geert Conard and Esito Management & Communications unless stated otherwise in the article. While some items might have been gifted by the producer or distributor, these are in no way paid promotions or recommendations.

dinsdag 28 april 2020

Scotch & Fino

 
Sherry is one of my favourite ingredients to lift a cocktail to the next level. It really adds this extra silky layer to your drink. I have used amontillado and PX sherry in several cocktails, but these days I’m experimenting with fino sherry.

Fino sherry is probably the most dry wine on this planet, but packed with flavour and it works very well in several combinations.

And of course, we’ll keep it very simple !


Scotch & Fino

Ingredients
60 ml The Balvenie DoubleWood
30 ml Tio Pepe fino sherry
7 ml Simple syrup
7 ml Maraschino liqueur


Method
Stir everything together in a mixglass with lots of ice. Strain in a tumbler with a big block of ice. Add a dehydrated lemon slice.


Disclaimer : All pictures and texts are copyrighted by Geert Conard and Esito Management & Communications unless stated otherwise in the article. While some items might have been gifted by the producer or distributor, these are in no way paid promotions or recommendations.

zaterdag 25 april 2020

Hemingway Breakfast

 
Orange marmalade is an ingredient which is commonly used in a range of cocktails. I have used it before in Negroni-style drinks and of course in the all-time classic, Salvatore Calabrese’s Breakfast Martini. Today I’m using it in a rum-cocktail.

Again, nothing is home-made, all bottles bought at the local liqueur store. You can replicate this at home too. 


Hemingway Breakfast


Ingredients
50 ml Bacardi Carta Blanca
20 ml Fresh lime juice
10 ml Falernum
½ bs Orange marmalade
3 dashes Angostura bitters
Absinthe


Method
Select a nice coupe for this drink and give your glass a rinse with the Absinthe. Put all ingredients (except the Absinthe of course) in a shaker with lots of ice. Shake well and double strain in the coupe.


You could add a piece of orange peel for garnish, but I was out of oranges ๐Ÿ˜‰


Disclaimer : All pictures and texts are copyrighted by Geert Conard and Esito Management & Communications unless stated otherwise in the article. While some items might have been gifted by the producer or distributor, these are in no way paid promotions or recommendations.

donderdag 23 april 2020

Dessert Cobbler

 
Two years ago I spent a week at the bodega of Gonzalez Byass in Jerez. In those days I learned everything there is to know about sherry from the godfather of sherry himself, Antonio Flores.

Back home I started using sherry in cocktails more often. I absolutely love a Velvet old Fashioned with PX sherry, but also learned that whisky and Amontillado sherry are a pretty good mix. Some days I couldn’t be bothered and just poured myself a cool glass of fino. The only thing I had never done before was mix a real sherry cocktail. It was about time to do that.

The most classic sherry cocktail is probably the Sherry Cobbler. This is a pre-prohibition cocktail which has changed a lot through the years. In my oldest cocktailbooks they just take a glass with crushed ice, dust some sugar over it and add a few shots of sherry. Garnish with berries. That’s it. Today it’s a slightly more complex sherry-cocktail, still served with berries on top.

“Sherry, sugar and citrus, shaken, poured over crushed ice and slurped through a straw, the Cobbler is thought to have originated sometime in the 1820s or early 1830s” (Punch)

It’s also a cocktail for bartenders to alter and create their own version of it. I have tasted some really fantastic rum cobblers in Belgium’s best cocktailbars. For my home-version I also had to play with the recipe because normally the base is oloroso-sherry, which I didn’t have at home. So I searched my liqueur-cabinet for the next best thing. I was also out of crushed ice, so had to settle for ugly small cubes. The result was what I would call a “Dessert Cobbler”, slightly sweeter than the original, but nevertheless pretty good ๐Ÿ˜‰

Dessert Cobbler

Ingredients
60 ml Gonzalez Byass Cristina (Medium Sherry)
15 ml Gonzalez Byass Nectar (PX Sherry)
5 ml Maraschino liqueur
5 ml Sugar syrup
7,5 ml pineapple juice
7,5 ml orange juice

Method
Shake with lots of ice. Strain in a glass with small icecubes or shaved ice. Garnish with mint, strawberries and blueberries. Use a metal straw, it will also get chilled by the ice.

Disclaimer
: All pictures and texts are copyrighted by Geert Conard and Esito Management & Communications unless stated otherwise in the article. While some items might have been gifted by the producer or distributor, these are in no way paid promotions or recommendations.