zaterdag 25 juni 2022

Nomad Velvet Sazerac


It’s no secret that I really love a dram of Nomad Outland Whisky. This Scottish blend of over 30 Speyside whisky’s, created by ‘The Nose’ Richard Paterson, is a great and tasty sip. The casks containing the blend are aged for 3 more years in Scotland, before they are shipped to Jerez in the south of Spain. In that Mediterranean climate, the whisky gets an additional aging for a minimum of 12 months in old Pedro Ximenes sherry casks. 

When Nomad shared a recipe for a cross-over between a Velvet Old Fashioned and a Sazerac on their Facebook page, I wanted to take it a step further. 

I decided to use the recipe with the Nomad Outland Reserve 10 years instead of the “normal” Nomad whisky. More flavour, more dept. What a drink!!!

Nomad Velvet Sazerac

Ingredients
60 ml Nomad Outland Reserve 10 years
1 bs Gonzalez Byass Nectar (PX sherry)
3 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
Absinthe

Method
Give your tumbler a rinse with the Absinthe and add some icecubes. Give it a good stir to cool the glass. Add the rest of the ingredients and give it another good stir. Garnish with lemon zest or a dehydrated blood orange wheel.

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 21 juni 2022

La Vie en Rosé


From the very start of this blog, wine has always been the “ugly duckling” in my posts. Sparkling wines are often used to top off a drink, so they still pop up regularly in a French 75 or Negroni Sbagliato. Red wine is only necessary for a fruity float on a New York Sour. And then I got this question to do something with a very nice rosé wine. 

Mouton Cadet Organic Rosé is the second organic wine, launched by Baron Philippe de Rothschild. Earlier he already launched a red organic wine. You drink this wine chilled on a summer evening, maybe try to squeeze a citrus zest over the surface. Or use it in a cocktail like I did. 

This was – by the way – the second cocktail that I’ve tried with shaved ice. Next up, I’ll try the KitchenAid Ice shaver with a frozen drink. 

La Vie en Rosé

Ingredients
60 ml Mouton Cadet Rosé wine
30 ml Aperol
30 ml lemon juice
7 ml Simple syrup

Method
Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice. Give it a good shake and strain into a wineglass with a big scoop of crushed/shaved ice. Garnish with orange. 

P.S. Please do use a reusable straw. 

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 17 juni 2022

Anguria Sour


Most years my wife (Italian roots!!!) produces home-made limoncello and arancello. But have you ever heard of anguriacello? The guys from ‘The Natural Limoncello’ have sent me a bottle. It’s more or less the same thing, but made from watermelon. Now, that’s a fruity flavour we can work with. 

Anguria Sour

Ingredients
50 ml Hendrick’s Gin
20 ml The Natural Anguriacello
20 ml lemon juice
10 ml Simple Syrup

Method
Add all ingredients to a shaker with lots of ice. Give it a good shake and strain over fresh ice in a tumbler. Garnish with a dehydrated blood Orange 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.

woensdag 15 juni 2022

La Bienvenida

Summer is just around the corner and we can use a drink that smooths us into that sunshine. This one sure does. 

The name was chosen, refering to the pineapple as symbol of hospitality. 

(Photo: Paal 26).

La Bienvenida

Ingredients
50 ml Havana Club Golden Rum
20 ml Lemon juice
10 ml Simple Syrup
30 ml Pineapple juice

Method
Shake with ice. Strain over fresh ice in a tumbler. Garnish with basil and/or fresh pineapple. 

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 10 juni 2022

Sugar and spice


This ‘Sugar & Spice’ is a spicy alternative for a classic Rum Old Fashioned. 

With a base of Mexican Sol Tarasco Charanda Rum, I started this drink as a Rum Old Fashioned, with some sugar and Angostura aromatical bitters. Then I added a shot of Ambr. After some balancing, this ended in a tasty, but spicy drink. 

Ambr is a non-alcoholic drink, created by 'Ghost in a bottle' and based on curcuma and ginger. You can drink it mixed with soda or added in your tea. You could even drink it neat as a digestive shot or use it in the kitchen to spice up your desserts. It doesn’t have a strong and pure ginger taste like other similar brands, it's a very clever marriage between ginger and curcuma. 

In cocktails, this drink works more or less like a liqueur, but it’s no liqueur. It doesn’t contain any alcohol and even the sugar level is almost nothing. This is about spices and taste. I have used ginger mainly in sour-style drinks before, but never in Old Fashioned-style drinks. Ok, I might have used ginger syrup before, but no similar products. I was surprised by the result. 

Sugar & Spice

Ingredients
50 ml Charanda Rum or Rum Agricole
20 ml Ambr Curcuma & Ginger
10 ml Simple syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Method
Add everything to your shaker with ice. Give it a good shake and serve over fresh ice in a tumbler. Garnish with dehydrated 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.

woensdag 8 juni 2022

Frontera


Can an Old Fashioned recipe inspire me to create a totally different sour-style drink? Apparently, it can. When I saw this recipe online with Japanese whisky mixed with rum agricole, I just needed to try this with some pineapple. The result was interesting. It’s a cocktail with complex flavours, which you don’t expect. 

If your palate is more “bartender-like”, try it without the sugar, to experience the true profile of this drink. Including the sugar, this drink is ready for an audience that wants something more than a simple Whisky Sour. 

For this drink, I used Mexican Sol Tarasco Charanda Rum, aged for 4 years. Charanda is a regional product from the state of Michoacàn. It’s distilled from sugar cane, and harvested 1300 metres above sea level, using traditional production methods and a slow distillation process. The Pacheco family has been making Charanda (also known as Guarapo) for more than 11 years. The distillery is located in Uruapan.

Frontera

Ingredients
25 ml Japanese blended whisky
(I used ‘The Tottori’)
25 ml Sol Tarasco Charanda Rum 4y
25 ml Gonzalez Byass Amontillado sherry
25 ml Pineapple juice
7 ml Simple Syrup

Method
Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice. Give it a good shake and strain over fresh ice in a tumbler. Garnish with a cocktail sherry. 

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 27 mei 2022

School Blues Smash


This could be one of my weirdest articles, posted on the Double Strainger cocktail blog. I was challenged to turn a book into a cocktail, taking lots of different aspects of the book into account. The book is “School Blues” by Daniel Pennac. I have read the book in English, but it’s actually a translation from the French original “Chagrin d’école”. The book talks about the life of Daniel as a teacher and more specific, about how he paid special attention to the dunces in his classroom. Daniel started out as a dunce himself, so he knows that every pupil can thrive when given the right care and attention. 

The reason why a pupil is a dunce could be anything from a range of reasons. Some pupils have trouble understanding what’s taught and need extra instruction. Others might be challenged by stuff going on at home, or might even be bullied at school. And let’s not forget gifted children, who are often overlooked and bored out. 

Daniel invests the time needed to pick up those children. I also have to invest time to create a tasty cocktail. I have to plan my actions to make sure the drink I serve to my guests or spouse will be delicious. For this “School Blues” drink, I want to work with a base of London Dry Gin. And when this idea was thrown in my lap, I knew from the first second that this drink had to be a smash. I need to smash something as a metaphor, to show that this ingredient will still add its flavours to the result. Even more, a smashed ingredient adds much more flavour.

Because of the title of this book, I add a slight bit of Blue Curacao, which is a liqueur based on orange peels. I also add a tiny splash of absinthe, to honour the French origin of the book and make a link to mental health. Absinthe, in the past, was linked to hallucinations and other mental issues. Pennac talks about mental issues and how he worked with pupils to make them escape from their zeros. 

School Blues Smash

Ingredients
50 ml London Dry Gin
30 ml Lemon juice
10 ml Simple Syrup
10 ml Blue Curacao
Rinse of absinthe.
Fresh mint leaves

Method
Add 6 to 10 mint leaves (depending on size) to a shaker, together with the lemon juice.


Muddle to extract more flavour. Add the rest of the ingredients (except the Absinthe). Add ice and give it a good shake. Give your cocktail glass a rinse with absinthe and add fresh ice. Fine strain your drink into your cocktail glass. Garnish with a few mint leaves. 

P.S. You could also serve this drink on shaved ice. Have a look at the reel I posted on Instagram, you’ll see how I made some fresh shaved ice with my new KitchenAid Ice Shaver. 

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 23 mei 2022

New York Sour - The Capian Edition


The New York Sour is a semi-classic variation on the Whisky Sour (or Bourbon Sour). It’s basically a normal whisky sour with egg white foam, with an extra float of red wine which settles more or less below the foam layer. 

I have tried several New York Sour recipes in the past years, but often for me, it’s slightly too bitter. That of course depends on the red wine used for the float. When my friends at PresentDa launched a campaign for Château Prieuré Sainte Anne, I was immediately intrigued. Could this 90% Merlot wine be the perfect wine for my New York Sour float? 

Château Prieuré Sainte Anne is full of red fruits, the 10% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes add more tannins and a slight smokiness. The wine had aged for a year in oak barrels to add that slight note of wood. Château Prieuré Sainte Anne is served at several Michelin star restaurants. 

New York Sour – The Capian Edition

Ingredients
50 ml Whisky / Bourbon
30 ml Lemon juice
10 ml Honey Syrup
Egg white (or aquafaba)
Château Prieuré Sainte Anne (Merlot wine)

Method
Add the egg white, whisky, lemon juice and syrup to a shaker without ice. I recommend adding the spring of a hawthorn strainer (it works like a whisk). Give it a good shake for 10 seconds. Open the shaker and add a few ice cubes. Shake again for 12 to 14 seconds. Strain over fresh ice in a tumbler. Hold your barspoon just above the foam layer and carefully add some red wine. Garnish with dehydrated 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.

dinsdag 10 mei 2022

Sea you after dinner


Most herbal liqueurs and Amari will help your digestion. Probably this will also be the case for liqueurs based on sea buckthorn. Clinical studies state that the oils of sea buckthorn “may improve digestion”, so let’s work with that. 

Our friends at Seaberry Liqueurs have sent us a bottle of Duno liqueur, together with a jar of seaberry marmalade. This screams for a nice after-dinner serving. And as it happens to be, my 11y old daughter just baked some fresh cupcakes today…

Sea you after dinner

Ingredients
30 ml Duno Liqueur
30 ml Campari
30 ml London Dry Gin

Method
Add all ingredients to your tumbler with ice. Stir for 15 seconds. Garnish with dehydrated orange. 

Serve with a fresh-baked cupcake, halved and spread with Duno sea buckthorn marmalade. This is sooooooooo good… 

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 5 mei 2022

Play that Cello


My wife has Italian roots. That means she also inherited all the typical Italian characteristics. What does that mean? A lot of cursing behind the wheel, lots of black coffee, she loves to cook and... each year she brews her own limoncello and arancello.

So, whenever I have to test any kind of ‘cello’, she is always interested and in the end she always decides her old family recipe, handed down from generation to generation is the best. That last part is certainly true. It’s fantastic.

Now, how about these three bottles I received for a test last week. Limoncello based on lemons from Sorrento (Amalfi coast), orancello (In Italy they normally call this arancello?) made from organic South-African oranges. And last but not least, something I had never tasted before, Anguriacello. Same kind of product, but made from watermelon. The Naturals is a Belgian brand owned by Albatross Liqueurs. 

First things first, a neat sip. Flavours are certainly present, alcohol is less than what I’m used to at home. This might be tricky when I start mixing. The first thing I tried was a shot of ‘cello’ topped with good quality Prosecco. Nope, this didn’t work. I either need more alcohol or much more ‘cello’. Let’s try something completely different…. And yes, this was a hit. 

Play that Cello

Ingredients
60 ml Natural ‘Cello’ of your choice
30 ml Vodka
15 ml Fresh lemon juice
10 ml simple syrup

Method
Add everything to a shaker with lots of ice. Give it a good shake and strain over fresh ice in a tumbler. Garnish with citrus.

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 2 mei 2022

Duno Cosmo


It’s always interesting to discover variations on old recipes, that really add something new and exciting. Let’s talk about the Cosmopolitan, the pink drink that became extremely popular due to the SATC sitcom on TV. How can we improve this drink. I’ve already done some variations with other juices, but this time I’ve tasted something interesting.

Duno liqueur is a brand new Belgian product, a liqueur made from 100% organic seaberries. Duno contains 25% of alcohol and is very easy to mix. You could also have a shot as a digestif after your meal. Let’s put this liqueur in the spotlight of a new style of Cosmo. 

In this recipe I have used Triple Sec from Social Club, you really need to check their webshop for great apero boxes. 

Duno Cosmo

Ingredients
30 ml Duno liqueur
20 ml vodka
20 ml Triple sec
30 ml cranberry juice
20 ml Lime juice

Method
Add everything to a shaker with ice. Shake for 10 seconds, strain into a nice coupe. Garnish with a lime zest or 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. 

zondag 1 mei 2022

Cherry Corn

Some days I just scan through my leftovers and try to find a combination that might work. This time I discovered a jar with a bottom of moonshine in the back of my homebar. You could also use a young bourbon for this recipe. It’s an unusual and very fruity combination, but the result was pretty tasty. 

Cherry Corn

Ingredients
50 ml Ole Smoky Moonshine
10 ml Cherry syrup
1 dash of piment bitters

Method
Add everything to a tumbler with ice. Stir for 10 seconds and add a cocktail cherry and a 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. 

woensdag 27 april 2022

Julia "The Hive"


Aperitifs exist in all styles and beverages. A good aperitif prepares the stomach for the meal and activates your taste-buds. A glass of good quality Champagne or a simple Gin and tonic are both examples of excellent aperitifs. But that doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself. In Italy for example, people drink lots of aperitifs based on Aperol and Campari such as the spritz, Americano and Negroni. But if you’re a beer enthusiast, a nice pilsner can also be a pretty good aperitif. 

Today I want to show you a different kind of drink, that has the same roots as the popular Mexican Michelada cocktails. It’s a beertail, a cocktail that basically uses beer as a mixer. 

I didn’t pick just any kind of pilsner for the mixer, I got myself a Julia Belgium aperitif. 

Is this a beer? You won’t find the word “beer” anywhere in their marketing. They promote Julia as a brewed aperitif and they already have two flavours available: 

  • Julia “The Birth” - This is a double fermented blond aperitif with a fresh and balanced palate with hints of fruit. Only a slight bitterness and a velvety taste.  This brewed aperitif is infused with cascade and Amarillo hops. It’s a cloudy ‘brew’ because of the production process with malted barley and wheat. 
  • Julia “Sunny Joy” - A mixture of tropical citrus aromas, generated by the combination of Simcoe and Citra hops. 

I decided to use Julia “The Birth” for my drink. The malted barley of course sent my mind in the direction of whisky. But flavour-wise, I thought Bourbon would be a better match. 
Larceny is a "wheated Bourbon" which uses wheat instead of rye, so that must be a perfect match. This Bourbon 
is produced with 68% corn, 20% wheat and 12% malted barley. Other “wheated Bourbons” on the market have a maximum of 16% wheat in the mashbill.

Julia “The Hive”

Ingredients
30 ml Larceny Wheated Bourbon
22 ml Fresh lemon juice
22 ml Honey syrup
Top with Julia “The Birth” brewed aperitif

Method
First add Bourbon, lemon juice and honey syrup to a shaker with ice. Give it a good shake and strain it into your cocktail glass. You can use a highball or any kind of beer glass for this drink. I decided to use the original Julia Belgium glass. Top with the brewed aperitif and give it just a gentle stir. Enjoy!!!

TIP: If you’re still in doubt about mixing Bourbon and pilsner beer, I’ve also created a similar drink for Paal26 Grand Café, which will be available on the next suggestions menu. 

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 18 april 2022

Aikan Easter Old Fashioned

Last day of the extended Easter weekend. As always I had too much chocolate, but I also started thinking of a nice cocktail to pair with those delicious chocolate eggs. When I think of chocolate, I automatically think of rum. But maybe, there are other options…

Aikan whisky is not your average Scotch. After a first maturation of 3 years in Scotland, this whisky is shipped to Martinique, for an extra year of maturation in the tropical climate of the West-Indies. This extra maturation is done in “highly aromatic rhum barrels”. Taste wise, one year in the tropics is the same as 4 years in the UK, with an angel share of 10% instead of 1,5%. 

Aikan means “marriage” in the original language of Martinique. A marriage blending together the best of two worlds.

  • Nose: Fresh, baba au rhum, banana, lime, vanilla, liquerice. 
  • Palate: Fruity tones, mango, brioche, almond, honey, black and green olives.
  • Finish: Long and extensive finish with cherry, vanilla, herbs, overripe tropical fruit. 

Aikan Easter Old Fashioned

Ingredients
60ml Aikan Intense Rhum barrels
10ml Vanilla syrup
2 dashes Angostura cacao bitters

Method
Stir together in a tumbler with ice cubes. Add a 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. 

zaterdag 16 april 2022

Tokyo Martini


With the “Golden Martini” still on my mind, I was wondering how to implement that subtle sweetness in other ways to this great classic drink. When a bottle of Japanese gin landed on our homebar, I knew this would be the opportunity to create an Asian-style Martini. Instead of vermouth, I decided to use a medium sherry, which has a slight sweetness from Pedro Ximenez grapes, mixed in with the Palomino Fino sherry. 

But then again, Tokyo Nights is also no ordinary gin. This gin is distilled from sugar cane molasses… just like rum. It’s made with a secret recipe that uses numerous local plants, such as yuzu bark and matcha powder. Mixed with juniper berries, coriander seeds and liquorice roots you end up with a pretty decent gin. It doesn’t surprise me at all that in this distillery they also produce rum and vodka. 

  • Nose: Strong juniper berries.
  • Palate: Full, fresh yuzu notes.
  • Finish: Long and savoury.

Tokyo Martini

Ingredients
50ml Tokyo Nights Gin
20ml Gonzalez Byass Cristina (Medium Sherry)
1 dash of orange bitters

Method
Stir everything together in a mixing glass with lots of ice. Strain into a chilled Martini glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

Discount code
I was playing around with my brand new Nakano Japanese Chef’s knife for cutting the garnish. You can find a reel on Instagram where you see me cutting three different orange garnishes. If you’re interested in these great knives, visit the Nakano website and enter DOUBLESTRAINGER on checkout as a 20% discount code.

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 14 april 2022

Gloria

I’m always scrolling through recipes shared on social media. Whenever I see something that looks appealing, I want to try it. This is one of those tasty combinations. 

You’ll find different recipes for this drink on the internet, I like the result from this one… It’s a Negroni-style drink, edges rounded and slightly sweeter.

Gloria

Ingredients
50ml Drebbel London Dry Gin
15 ml Campari
15 ml Leonce vermouth
15 ml Triple Sec

Method
Add everything to a mixing glass with lots of ice. Stir for 15 seconds and strain in a chilled coupe. Garnish with a lemon twist. 

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 april 2022

Tio Pepe Challenge Belgian Finals 2022


How much did we miss this? For over two years, due to the corona-pandemic, there were just a few online cocktail competitions, leaving not much excitement for the audience. Finally, this week we attended our first live competition, the Belgian Finals of the Tio Pepe Challenge

Bartenders could enter their cocktail recipe for a first selection. The finalists were invited to compete at the Belgian Finals, hosted by Cinoco Spirits Headquarters in Nivelles. 

The judges for this edition: Boris Ivan (Gonzalez Byass), Stephan De Bolle (Cinoco) and Matthias Soberon (Cocktail- and spiritsblogger, last year’s winner of the competition)

The Tio Pepe Challenge is not your ordinary cocktail competition, because it has three rounds of testing the finalists for different skills: 

Round 1 – Blind Tasting (20pts, 5 pts for each sherry which is correct)

The finalists need to identify 4 Gonzalez Byass sherry’s in a blind tasting. 

Round 2 – Venencia skills (10pts for flair,10 pts for the amount of liquid in the glass)

The finalists need to show their talent for handling the venencia, a traditional tool that is used to sample sherry from the casks. 

Round 3 – Create a sherry cocktail (60pts)

The finalist mixes a sherry cocktail and shares the story of this drink. 

All three rounds took place last Monday and these were the finalists that were selected to compete: 

  1. Bjorn Dewulf (Rocktailz)
  2. Alex De Backer (Belroy’s MAS, Antwerp)
  3. Donald Simons (Black Smoke, Antwerp)
  4. Lize Rombaut (Bar Ran, Bruges)
  5. Jorijn Vandenweghe (Rocktailz)
  6. Jules Verlinden (De Nieuwe Haan, Diest)
  7. Clarisse Herbinaux (L’Antidote, Namur)
  8. Mathias Schaffer (Bar Ran, Bruges)
  9. Joeri Visser (Belroy’s Bijou, Antwerp)

We gathered around lunchtime at the brand new and very impressive bottle-shaped building of Cinoco Spirits in Nivelles. After a quick lunch, we went for a tour of the massive warehouse. Next, the finalists sat down in the meeting room for the first round of the competition. The four Gonzalez Byass sherry variations they had to (blind!) identify were: 

  • Nectar (PX)
  • Tio Pepe (Palomino fino)
  • Cristina (Medium)
  • Alfonso (Oloroso)

I think the fino and PX were pretty obvious as they are the far-left (most dry) and far-right (most sweet) of the Gonzalez Byass “standard” sherry range. The medium and oloroso are both in the middle of the range and have more or less the same colour. Sherry enthusiasts should however know that Cristina is a bit sweeter because it contains some PX. There was no amontillado, cream or Palo Cortado sherry in the blind line-up. 

While the judges were grading this first round, the finalists could have some practice with the venencia-tool. Next, under the burning sun on the patio, the finalists demonstrated their skills in round 2. For this round, two extra prices were up for a win. Clarisse Herbinaux won the “First Lady” bottle, Jules Verlinden won the “First Man” bottle. Both bottles were variations of Mom Gin.

Back to the “battle room” for the third and last round. Each finalist had the opportunity to present his or her sherry cocktail, spiced with a matching story, dazzling us with their bartending skills.

After tough deliberation, the judges returned with the ranking. I’ll share the ranking of the final podium, together with the recipe for their cocktails: 

Third: Donald Simons, head bartender at Black Smoke (Antwerp)

Cocktail: Pepelona

5 cl Tio Pepe Fino Muy Seco
3cl Pineapple cordial
12 cl clarified burned grapefruit soda
pinch of nutmeg

Second: Mathias Schaffer, bartender at Bar Ran (Bruges)

Cocktail: God Highball

35ml Noé Pedro Ximenez VORS
15ml Tio Pepe Palomino Fino
30ml Verjus
5ml Manzanilla Olive Brine
Top POMM. Appelchampagne

Winner: Joeri Visser, bartender at Belroy’s Cocktailbars (Antwerp)

Cocktail: Golden Cortès

50ml Amontillado González Byass
30ml gin infused with cacao
10ml Amaro Montenegro 
20ml basil cordial
15ml aquafaba


Joeri Visser is the winner of the Belgian Finals and will soon be representing our country at the Tio Pepe Challenge Global finals in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain. He received a brand new suitcase to pack for the trip.

All finalists got Tio Pepe magnums and a goody bag, The podium finalists also received additional cases of top quality cava. 

Big “thank you” to all finalists, judges, supporters, Gonzalez Byass and the Cinoco team for hosting this competition. 

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 7 april 2022

Fuyu Tonic


When we talk about whisky and mixers, the first mixers that come to mind are cola, soda, ginger-ale and ginger beer. But what about tonic? I recently saw a social media post of one of my favourite Scottish brands, launching ready to drink highballs, mixing their whisky with tonic. Interesting. 

You won’t have the sweetness of cola or ginger-ale, but it will have more actual taste than soda. Tonic has this slight lemon touch. Let’s try to mix up a Japanese style highball, the Fuyu Tonic.
I added 50 ml of Fuyu Small batch blended Japanese whisky to a highball glass with a big rock of clear ice. Then I added Schweppes Premium tonic and gave it a gentle stir. 

What about the result?
This was probably the very first time I tasted whisky and tonic. I would probably add a pinch of lime next time and maybe use a bolder whisky. It is definitely interesting to try and explore. 

Fuyu is a blended whisky made from malted grain and mash corn on the island of Honshu, aged for 3 years in oak barrels. This handcrafted whisky uses distillates from several distilleries, carefully selected by producer BBC, which is actually located in Bordeaux, France. It’s a powerful blend in a typical Japanese style. 

COLOUR : dark amber
NOSE : floral and youthful aromas with caramel and spicy notes
PALATE : Generous oak and cooked fruit
FINISH : Hint of smoke

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 23 maart 2022

Mocktails with SirUp


It seems that we are all very busy in this period. Spring has kicked off and lots of things are happening. I’m driving around at least twice as much compared to other periods. That also means I’ll be mixing mocktails more often… because we don’t drink and drive. 

A few weeks ago I received four bottles of SirUp, very fruity syrups to use in cocktails and mocktails. In short, the flavour is awesome. I love to use them. On the downside, the cost is still a bit steep compared to other commercial syrups, but I really like their taste. Also, the vintage bottles are very nice and you might want to keep them to use for other stuff. 

I’ll share two tasty mocktail mixes, but to be honest, I’ve used them as flavour agents in many other cocktails too… 

Asian Lemon

Ingredients
20 ml SirUp Zesty Lemon
10 ml fresh lime juice
Soda water

Method
Add the syrup and juice to a tumbler with ice cubes. Give it a good stir. Add soda water and mix gently. 

You can add coriander and lemon grass to give it a real Asian touch. 

Strawberry Mint

Ingredients
20 ml SirUp Strawberry & Mint
10 ml Lemon juice
Ginger-Ale or Ginger Beer

Method
Add the syrup and juice to a tumbler with ice cubes. Give it a good stir. Add Ginger-Ale or Ginger Beer and mix gently. 

You can add some mint leaves to emphasize the flavour. 

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 21 maart 2022

Cucielo Vermouth Day


Sometimes I regret not living in a more southern country. I absolutely love the aperitivo culture that’s all around in Italy, Spain and even in the south of France. One of the most used bottles in aperitivo-bars is vermouth. In Spain, they even call some of those bars “vermuterias”. 

A good vermouth is probably the most versatile bottle in your bar. You can drink it neat, on ice, with a mixer or as a spice-adding ingredient in lots of classic (and not-so-classic) cocktails. Original classics like the Manhattan, Martini or Negroni all call for decent quality vermouth. 

This should give you reason enough to taste the vermouth before you pour it into any longdrink or cocktail. A cocktail is only as good as the sum of the quality of its ingredients. Read that again and think about it. You can find low budget vermouth in supermarkets, cheap as chips. But will that low-quality bottle add the desired spicy touch to your Martini? Probably not. 

One of the better brands for good quality vermouth is Cucielo, which we’ve already spotlighted before on this blog. 

March 21 is #NationalVermouthDay, a perfect opportunity to taste and sample some of their bottles. I would recommend tasting vermouths with a few ice cubes because neat vermouths are often slightly syrupy. Next, try the vermouths with a mixer. A neutral tonic is perfect, but if you like it slightly sweeter, why not use a lemonade. My friends at the official distributor of Cucielo have sent me a bottle of both the Rosso and Bianco, but I also made a mix of both. Why? Because in some cocktails you need a mix of dry and sweet vermouth or a mix of white and sweet vermouth. Once you have tasted the vermouths this way, you can go on to using them for a deliciously crafted cocktail. 

Cucielo Bianco is mostly influenced by artemisia, pink pepper, cardamom, green apple, elderflower and pomegranate. Cucielo Rosso is mostly influenced by artemisia, yarrow, Chinese gentian, Sicilian bitter oranges, vanilla pods and cloves.

I hope I could inspire you to have a go yourself. I finished my tasting with a Golden Martini, stirred to perfection.

Golden Martini

Ingredients
50 ml London Dry Gin
25 ml Cucielo Bianco vermouth
1 barspoon Maraschino liqueur
3 dashes Angostura Orange bitters

Method
Add all ingredients to a mixing glass with lots of ice. Stir and strain in a chilled Martini or Nick & Nora glass. I think it also looks stunning in a nice antique port glass. Pinch an Orange zest on top to express the oils. No garnish, keep it clean. 

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 17 maart 2022

Saint Patrick's Day - Green Whiskey


Most followers will probably remember I might have a few drops of Irish blood running through my veins. Today is Saint Patrick’s Day, no way I was ever going to miss that.
I’m shaking up a variation on the Whisky Sour, and of course, I'll make sure the colour will be greenish.

Green Whisky

Ingredients
60 ml Orange juice
15 ml Blue Curacao
2 dashes of orange bitters

Method
Add everything to your shaker with ice. Shake for 15 seconds and strain in a tumbler with fresh ice. Garnish with 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.

woensdag 16 maart 2022

Ti'Punch Day


Sometimes it can be pretty easy to blog about drinks. Last week I received a parcel from Clément Rhum with all the ingredients and tools I needed to stir (or swizzle) a nice Ti’Punch cocktail. The Ti’Punch is a classic sour cocktail from Martinique that’s related to the Daiquiri, but with lime in a spotlight role. March 16 is International Ti’Punch Day, a perfect excuses for all of you to mix one of these yourself.

I know that some people are not very fond of Rhum Agricole, but the Ti’Punch is absolutely the perfect recipe to try this kind of rum. I can tell you the taste is somewhere in between a Daiquiri and a Caipirinha (when made with a good quality Cachaça) and leaning much more in the direction of the Caipirinha. 

Ti’Punch

Ingredients
60 ml Rhum Clément White Rhum Agricole
5 grams of cane sugar
Fresh Lime (or 20 ml of lime juice)

Method
Normally the Ti’Punch is always stirred directly in the glass. Add a tablespoon of sugar to a tumbler. Add the Clement Rhum. Squeeze a lime wedge (or add 20 ml of lime juice). Add ice and stir or swizzle to perfection. Garnish with some extra lime wedges.

Remark
For this drink ice is optional. Lots of people like the Ti’Punch neat, I prefer some 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. 

zaterdag 12 maart 2022

Cherry-T, powered by Engine Gin


It’s always great to see how a brand doesn’t stop by just picking a funky name for their product. If they do it right, they include a whole story or lifestyle. This week I received a small oil can with a new Italian gin, Engine.

Engine is a distilled gin by Master Distillers in the north-west of Italy. It’s made with 100% organic products: alcohol from wheat, juniper, Piedmont sage, lemon from the Amalfi coast, liquorice roots from Calabria, damask rose and water from the Alps.

I really love the way they link this gin to the world of car races all over their branding and marketing. When you mix a GT with this gin, it’s of course a Gin & Tonic, but also a referral to Gran Turismo. If you stir up a Negroni, the N also stand for NOS, the nitrous oxide systems made famous by the movie Fast and Furious

I decided to play along and opened the hood of our own Italian car, the iconic Fiat 500.

Cherry-T

Ingredients
50 ml Engine Gin
12 ml Cherry syrup
30 ml Lime juice
7-Up

Method
Add the gin, syrup and juice to a shaker with lots of ice. Give it a good shake and dump it into a mason jar. Top with 7-Up lemonade. Garnish with a few wedges of lime. This drink isn’t supposed to look ‘too clean’ 😉

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 5 maart 2022

Delmonico Special


Today I’m stirring another take on the classic Martini. A couple of days ago I saw a posting of another drinksblogger who added a splash of brandy to a Martini to add some fruity flavours. That’s interesting and actually the base of another classic recipe: The Delmonico Special, a spirit-forward slow-sipping variation on a “very wet Martini” packed with power. This is already a variation on the classic Delmonico, which is basically a Manhattan with cognac instead of whiskey. Just to show you that variations can move in all directions.

I’m mixing up my version with a focus on the grape flavours.

Delmonico Special

Ingredients
45 ml Sorgin (Gin based on grapes)
7,5 ml Rémy Martin 1738 Cognac
22,5 ml Leonce Dry vermouth
22,5 ml Gonzalez Byass La Coppa Sweet vermouth
A dash of Angostura aromatic bitters

Method
Add all ingredients to a mixing glass with lots of ice. Stir for 15 seconds and strain into a chilled Martini glass. Garnish with a nice 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.

zaterdag 26 februari 2022

70s Retro Banana Daiquiri


So, I really loved the Daiquiri with a shot of Amaro added to the recipe. What if we exchange this herbal bitter with any other liqueur? Would that work? I just had to try. 

Of course, I had to go completely crazy and try the oddest things first. 

What was the result? A crazy drink that was actually awesome. I swallowed this tasty drink almost as fast as a Brit drinks his pint. So, go raid your grandma’s liqueur cabinet, I’m sure you’ll find a bottle of Pisang somewhere in the back 😉

70s Retro Banana Daiquiri

Ingredients
50 ml Angostura Reserva Rum 3y 
20 ml Pisang Ambon
25 ml Lemon juice
10 ml Simple Syrup

Method
Add everything to a shaker with lots of ice. Give it a good shake and strain into a chilled tumbler with fresh ice. I garnished with a cocktail cherry and a slice of blood orange, but banana would have been so much better.

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 25 februari 2022

Daiquiri Corretto


This week is the House of Angostura Tiki and Daiquiri week. I’m very happy to put the spotlight on this great classic drink and play around with the recipe. Most bartenders add a dash of Angostura bitters to bring the flavours together, but today I’m using a bit of amaro to boost the flavours. The result was absolutely delicious.

Daiquiri Corretto 

Ingredients
50 ml Angostura 5 years Gold Rum
20 ml Amaro di Angostura
30 ml Lime juice
10 ml Orgeat syrup

Method
Add everything to a shaker with lots of ice. Shake for 15 seconds and fine strain in a chilled coupe. 

If you have another lime left, add a twist of lime peel. 

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 14 februari 2022

No Rum Required (mocktail)


You know a cocktail is a success when people ask for a second glass. The same goes for mocktails. This time I wanted to create a mocktail which would give you a slight hint of a rum-cocktail, but without alcohol and without an actual rum-replacement. Just playing with flavours.

No Rum Required

Ingredients
30 ml lemon juice
10 ml Orgeat syrup (almond)
a splash of agave syrup
60 ml Maracuja juice (passion fruit)

Method
Add everything to a shaker with ice. Give it a good shake and strain in a tumbler with fresh ice. Garnish with orange. 

And if your Uncle Fester absolutely wants some alcohol, just add a shot of his favourite aged rum to the recipe 😉 

TIP 
When mixing mocktails never stir or shake too long, because they will water down easily. 

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.