donderdag 15 september 2022

Spirits from the garden of Eden


A couple of weeks ago, while attending our local spirits festival, I got in touch with Jeroen Aerts, owner and master distiller at “Het Aerts Paradijs” (which translates more or less as “Garden of Eden”). After the festival, I made an appointment to visit the distillery, a less-than-7-minutes-drive from my office. 

In 2014 Jos Aerts (Jeroen’s father) started a small craft beer brewery in a refurbished stable, located in the back of his (huge!) garden. Jeroen was helping out with the brewing, but as he was more interested in the distilling process, he finished a distilling course at Syntra PXL

In 2019 the brewery had grown to the limits that Jeroen’s father, who still had another day job, could handle. That’s when he handed the brewery over to Jeroen, who decided to manage the brewery full-time. One of the first things he did, was adding a spirit still next to the beer brewing equipment. Today they produce and sell apple juice, several craft beers and a small range of spirits.

His very first distilled product was “Appelstook”, which is a young Calvados-style brandy, produced with a variety of apples from their orchards. This brandy is still very young. You get all the sours and fresh fruitiness of the apples, but in my opinion, the sweeter notes still need more time to develop. 

They also added two gins to their portfolio. They started with “Gloria”, a winter-style gin with apple, cinnamon, orange and star anise. New in the range is “Eden”, a summer-style gin with elderflower, lemon zest and lemon verbena.

The most interesting product in his warehouse… a barrel of whisky, distilled in April of this year. On the mash bill, a mix of light-peated and unpeated barley. This product is still ageing, we’re not allowed to call it "whisky" just yet. But I managed to get a sip from the ex-bourbon barrel and … wow, what a taste explosion. I’m very curious to taste this again when it’s fully matured. I sipped the new make spirit at cask strength (63%), but even the higher level of alcohol couldn’t mask the intense bouquet of flavours. Jeroen is certainly on the right track with this spirit. 

Jeroen’s ambition is to uplift his “Appelstook” into a commercially interesting product, and he is also keen to experiment with more varieties of whisky. In the next weeks, more barrels will be added to the warehouse. 

In the warehouse, I also detected a barrel with distilled beer from another local brewery (Koolputter). Because of COVID19-lockdowns, this was a barrel with outdated beer. Instead of just throwing it away, Jeroen decided to distil it and let the spirit age in a barrel. Is it any good? Still to be discovered in the future… 

Also very interesting: In collaboration with Beau Marais Winery, they will soon start producing a local Marc/Grappa. 

Lots of ambition in this former pig stable. I’m really curious to see where this leads in 5 or 10 years. This summer they organized a pop-up bar in the orchard, something they will probably repeat next year. Their products are always available at the brewery and in several local shops.

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 13 september 2022

Negroniweek 2022

If you browse through the boozy pages on Instagram, you will notice it’s #negroniweek again. This is the very first year I don’t fully participate, due to a lack of time and resources. In the past years, I’ve always posted a full week of Negroni-style drinks, which are still online for you to enjoy. 

Of course, I will raise my glass to the cause and hope you’ll visit lots of participating bars and restaurants, which will raise some money for their selected causes this week. When venues register to participate, they will donate a small contribution to the ‘slow food’ movement, but most bars will also donate one dollar or euro for each glass of Negroni sold, to a local cause. Think global, act local.

I also promise that next month, I will create a special Negroni version for my friends at Paal 26 Grand Café. They are participating in this edition of #Negroniweek, this means you can support a local cause by ordering a ‘regular’ Negroni right now. 

The Negroni is one of the easiest cocktails to stir at home, because of the even parts of Campari, gin and sweet vermouth. It’s also one of the most adapted recipes.

  • Campari? Sure, but why not try any other kind of bitter/amaro?
  • Gin? Sure, but why not try any other kind of spirit? 
  • Sweet vermouth? Sure, but why not try any other kind of vermouth or fortified wine? 

You can go even further and break it down into four even parts. The fourth part can be for example espresso or cold brew coffee.

I could go on and on about the possible variations, but why not try out some variations yourself? 

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 5 september 2022

Spirits Inn Beringen 2022


I live in Beringen (Belgium). Each year in September, our local whisky club organises the “Spirits Inn Beringen” Festival. It’s a rather small festival, but people join us from all around the country, to sample rare and special spirits. Each year the members of the club build up the tension and tease us with pictures of very old or rare bottles that will be available for tasting. At last year’s edition, I managed to sample a spirit from the year of my birth, 1968. 

Of course, as a spiritsblogger, I already know several importers and distributors. When I visit this festival, they will have me taste a few new and exciting bottlings. This year, on the 5th edition of the event, I intended to search for the two most special bottles at the festival. 

Wine4you, represented this year by Jos Mertens, brought a Cognac Prunier Lot 40 (55%), distilled in 1940. That’s a whopping 81 years ago, at the very start of the Second World War. Cask strength Cognac from just one single barrel. Only 168 bottles could be filled, the angels already had a large share. Rated at 91/100 by Whiskyfun, 92/100 by Whiskynotes. 
81 years... You really need a moment to take this in. Even my parents (both already deceased) weren’t even born in 1940. What a great discovery. 

But… at the same table I saw another bottle, Cognac Mauxion Selection Borderies, distilled at the very start of the first World War in 1914… 108 years ago. That was two years before my eldest grandfather was born. This is absolutely the first bottle I wanted to taste. These very old bottles are not always a treasure, but this one sure is. Cognac and brandy often have very strong alcohol “burn”, which makes it almost impossible to detect their fantastic flavours and aromas. This one doesn’t. The balance of this bottle is extremely close to perfection. All the fruity flavours and aromas are present. It’s been a while since I’ve tasted something like this. What a discovery. A very old cask, at a certain point bottled and stored in “Dame-Jeanne” bottles (=large balloon bottles), which functioned as time capsules to preserve this great spirit. Now bottled again by Ivo Drabs and his team, for us to explore and enjoy.

A few booths to the right, Pieter from Malternative had me sample his latest discovery, another Cognac, distilled in 1975. Great story, he was hunting for casks in the Grand Champagne region, when he walked into a Boulangerie. They told him the neighbour across the road had some old casks ageing in his basement, they were even handed down from a former generation. One of those casks is now bottled and presented at this festival. Lots of flavours, but also still pretty “kick in the face” on alcohol. I think this is a great find for the real Cognac afficionado.  

At the Cinoco-booth, I tried Indri whisky from India, distilled near the Himalayan foothills. A blend of three kinds of casks (ex-Bourbon, ex-PX Sherry and ex-wine). Very interesting taste profile. Halfway through your sip, you’ll detect the typical slightly tart grape skin popping up. Very nice bottle to share with friends.  

Very tempting, but I really wanted something different. For my second “find of the year”, I’m going to promise you a “part 2” to this story. At the booth of “Het Aerts Paradijs”, I discovered a local producer of beer, apple juice, gin, apple brandy (Let’s call it a young Calvados) and… a soon-to-be-whisky. I already arranged to visit the distillery somewhere in the next few weeks. I think this is very interesting and I will write another article about their products. Interesting fact, the distillery is only a 7-minute drive from my office… 

Conclusion: Spirits Inn Beringen is still THE festival for old and rare spirits. This festival never disappoints, you’ll always be amazed by the bottles you’ll find and the spirits you’ll taste. See you next year!

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 29 augustus 2022

"First Blood" Martini


I’m always looking for interesting recipes to simplify. To strip them down to a maximum of 3 to 4 ingredients, without losing too much flavour. 

For this recipe, I changed the combination of vodka and grape juice into “Grape vodka”. One less ingredient, but still the same flavour profile. The original was called the Blood Martini because the colour is very dark red. It’s often served at Halloween parties. Because of the combination of liqueur and syrup, it’s a rather sweet drink. Balance with care! 

"First Blood" Martini

Ingredients
60 ml Grape Vodka
30 ml Ginger Liqueur
5 ml Blackberry syrup

Method
Add all ingredients to a shaker with lots of ice. Shake for 15 seconds, fine strain in a Martini glass. Garnish with a fresh blackberry.

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 24 augustus 2022

Peat, smoke and a kick of ginger


For me, cocktails based on dark spirits really connect to autumn and winter. But what if you are very passionate about peated whisky and aren’t really into highballs? I think real classics like a whisky sour are recipes for all seasons, and probably the most adapted recipes around. 

Let’s do something with whisky and ginger. Let’s revisit that magical and powerful combination of peat, smoke and ginger. This drink is not for everyone, but if you like peated whisky, this is certainly yours!

This time we picked Dzjing Classic for the ginger touch. It’s a 100% organic mix of ginger, lime and herbs. You can just add soda to create ginger lemonade or add hot water for a healthy tea. 

The spirit of choice for this drink is Big Peat. This is a blend by Douglas Laing, combining the best malt-flavours from Islay. In the mix you’ll taste great malts from Ardbeg, Coal Ila, Bowmore and even the legendary Port Ellen. 

Is Big Peat a true ginger? Taste this drink and find out for yourself…

Peat, smoke and a kick of ginger

Ingredients
50 ml Big Peat
20 ml Dzjing Classic
10 ml Lemon juice
10 ml Simple syrup 
1 egg white

Method
For this drink, I’m trying a new technique I recently picked up from my friend Hannah van Ongevalle. It’s certainly faster than the technique I used before. 

We add all ingredients to a shaker with lots of ice. Give it a good shake for 15 seconds. Remove the ice from the shaker (if you use a Boston shaker, you can just strain the drink into the other half, through a strainer). Give it another hard shake without the ice. Serve in a tumbler with fresh ice. Garnish with a dehydrated slice of orange or a slice of candied ginger.

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 juli 2022

Pink Russian - Happy Tequila Day !!!


Happy #NationalTequilaDay !!! 

I have to admit that I was a bit puzzled when I received this bottle of Tequila Rose

Just to be clear, this is NOT a bottle of Tequila, but a creamy liqueur which might remind you of Baileys Irish Cream. But completely different. This is a very fruity mix of Tequila and strawberries. Lots of strawberries, you only get a slight hint of Tequila in the tail. Perfect for low-alcohol shots, perfect for visitors and friends who don’t like “real” cocktails. 

But of course, I intend to use it in a cocktail anyway. (Ok, we did some shots too 😉. That’s when we experienced the ‘blooper’ we’ll post in the stories on Facebook and Instagram)
On the website of Tequila Rose I discovered several recipes, but… no. I don’t intend to create a liquid dessert, I want a real cocktail. A boozy cocktail. Google told me lots of people already tried to mix this, not always successful… but in a few cases the result seemed to head in the right direction. I decided to experiment with one of those ideas, but with slightly more respect for ‘The Dude’. 

Pink Russian

Ingredients
45 ml Vodka (Any cheap bottle will be just fine, the mix of coffee and strawberry flavours will be dominant anyway)
40 ml Tequila Rose
25 ml Kahlua Coffee Liqueur
Heavy cream or whipped cream

Method
You could throw all ingredients in a shaker or blender and strain over fresh ice. The result will be a “Fristi”-style drink for adults. 

But that’s absolutely not what I’m looking for. With slightly more respect for “the Dude” (Yes, I’m a fan!), I’m building my drink directly in a tumbler with ice. It has to look a bit messy. It needs the cream on top. And yes, this is much more difficult because whatever you do, the drink still might end up looking like the “adult Fristi”. Just have a try and follow my lead…

Add the coffee liqueur to a tumbler with lots of ice. Next, add the vodka. Top with a mixture of whipped cream and Tequila rose. Don’t stir, don’t garnish. 

For the best result, I whipped up the cream and carefully added it on top of the drink, next I gently coated the whipped cream with (ice cold!) Tequila rose. It looked good and the taste was exactly what I had in mind. The flavours will partly blend, but you will experience the different taste sensations one after the other while enjoying the drink. 

I do recommend trying the drink this way because the taste experience is completely different from the “adult-Fristi”. This is MUCH better!!!

Eat your strawberries with a glass of good quality Prosecco, but keep them away from this drink. “Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, my opinion, man.”

(*) Several references made to the movie ‘The Big Lebowski’, where the ‘White Russian’ drink is present throughout the entire movie. 

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 22 juli 2022

Carribean Journey (with Larimar rum)


The fun part of the Daiquiri recipe is that you can vary on the ingredients… almost endlessly. Each alteration on any of the ingredients will change the result in your glass. By picking another brand of spirit, another juice or syrup… you basically create a new cocktail. 

Today I’m just playing with the juices, while testing this Ron Larimar… excellent rum from the Dominican Republic, aged in Pedro Ximenez sherry barrels… in Scotland. I always love experiments where barrels are aged on other continents. 

I have tasted several rums in the past months, but this is a bottle that really surprised me. Great taste and aroma. Packed with fruity flavours. 

Caribbean Journey

Ingredients
50 ml Ron Larimar Pedro Ximenez sherry cask finish
30 ml Pineapple juice
10 ml Lemon juice
7 ml Simple syrup

Method
Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice. Shake for 15 seconds and strain in a longdrink with fresh ice cubes. Garnish with orange. 

Tip
If you want to upgrade the drink even more, add a splash of Campari. 

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 juli 2022

Black Vodka Smash (with Kombucha)


I don’t think I’ve ever mixed up a drink with kombucha, so let’s do that. We have a huge blackberry bush (in Dutch: “Braambessen”) in our garden and my better half just made some nice marmalade with those tasty berries. I knew this would work extremely well in a cocktail.

Using kombucha in a cocktail sounds more difficult than it actually is. You can try to substitute Ginger Beer with kombucha, just make sure your kombucha has a nice ginger taste. In lots of drinks, this will work just fine. The bottle of kombucha I used is labelled gluten-, alcohol- and sugar-free, the sugar which is added during production has been “eaten” during fermentation.

If you don’t have blackberry marmalade, you could also prepare this drink by muddling fresh blackberries. The resulting serve would be messier.  

Black Vodka Smash

Ingredients
50 ml Vodka
2 barspoons of homemade blackberry marmalade
Remedy Kombucha “Ginger and lemon” 

Method
Add the marmalade to your favourite tumbler. Add the vodka and use the backside of a barspoon to dissolve the marmalade. Add ice. Top off with kombucha and give it a few gentle stirs. Garnish with fresh blackberries. 

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 juli 2022

Egg Cream Martini


Egg liqueur (in Dutch, “advocaat”) is a yellow, rich and creamy drink with a smooth, custard-like consistency. It’s often used as a kind of extravagant little dessert to accompany your coffee. 

You could use egg liqueur in cocktails, but there aren’t that many options available due to its consistency. I would rather call it a liquid dessert instead of a cocktail.

My friends at Presentda.be have sent me a few tasters of t Geel Genot, locally produced egg liqueur by Christophe and Anne. They launched a whole range of products with tastes like cappuccino, amaretto, limoncello, chocolate and banana, … to give you new taste experiences with each jar. 

My favourite? The egg liqueur with banana. The aroma and taste throw me back in time to my teenage years, sipping Pisang Ambon longdrinks 😉 

Egg Cream Martini

Ingredients
30 ml ‘t Geel Genot Advocaat Cappuccino 
30 ml Vodka
30 ml Bailey’s Irish Cream

Method
Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice. Shake like your life depends on it for 20 seconds. Strain into a chilled Martini glass. Garnish is optional, I would rather serve it as a dessert, paired with fresh baked cookies.

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 11 juli 2022

Bel'Uva Summerdrinks

When creating recipes with gin and vermouth, in most cases we just grab a bottle of white or dry vermouth and start experimenting. This time, we’re doing it a bit different. I was asked to try and create a couple of drinks with gin and vermouth of Bel’Uva. These products are created with grapes, sourced from Belgian wineries and mixed with botanical extracts. 

I created two drinks, you could consider them alternative recipes for the Martini and Negroni. But not really, they do taste very different. 

The Classy Bel'Uva is an excellent aperitif, while the Bella Bel'Uva is a delicious cocktail to enjoy on a sunny terrace. This summer both drinks are on the menu at Paal 26 Grand-Café.

Classy Bel’Uva 

Ingredients
50 ml Bel’Uva Gin Pinot Blanc
10 ml Bel’Uva Humulus Red vermouth
10 ml Medium sherry
5 ml Simple syrup
2 dashes Angostura cacao bitters

Method
Add everything to a mixing glass with lots of ice. Stir for 15 seconds. Strain in a coupe. 

Bella Bel’Uva 

Ingredients
50 ml Bel’Uva Gin Pinot Blanc
20 ml Bel’Uva Humulus Red Vermouth
20 ml Aperol
5 ml Simple syrup
Schweppes Tonic Pink Pepper

Method
Add gin, vermouth, Aperol and sugar to a mixing glass with lots of ice. Stir for 12 seconds, strain in a tumbler with fresh ice. Top with a bit of tonic. 

(Photo: Paal26)

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 8 juli 2022

Honey Old Fashioned

My first blogpost without a picture??? Just visit the Facebook or Instagram page and you’ll find a reel/video of me mixing this delicious drink.

The best recipe to use when testing a spirit is the Old Fashioned. This recipe puts the spirit in the spotlight, mildly softened with a bit of bitters and sugar. I often swap the cane sugar(syrup) for honey(syrup). I love the touch of honey that appears in the tail of your degustation. 

The hardest part is getting decent honey. In supermarkets, all of the available honeys are mixes of local and foreign honeys, discarding all the goodness that you really want. Best option is to find local beekeepers and buying honey directly from them. Second best option is buying from a local cooperation. 

For my aperitif today, I picked a bottle of Glencadam American Oak Reserve, matured in Ex-Bourbon barrels. Handpicked and blended by Glencadam’s Master Distiller. The sweet vanilla in the nose matches perfectly with the fresh organic honey of Byeboere Maastricht. Together with a fruity palate of apple and pear and a finish of red fruit, this is a perfect match. 

Honey Old Fashioned

Ingredients
60 ml Glencadam American Oak Reserve
1 barspoon of fresh organic honey
1 dash of Angostura Aromatical bitters
1 dash of Angostura Orange bitters

Method
Add all ingredients directly to a tumbler with ice. Stir for 15 seconds. Garnish with orange. Drinks don’t have to be complicated. Just enjoy. 

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 6 juli 2022

Ready-to-shake cocktails


It’s not the first time I’m talking about bottled cocktails. In the past we tested similar good quality drinks (e.g. Belroy’s bottled cocktails) and each year for Negroniweek, I try to find a good quality bottled Negroni.

Bacardi-Martini is a pretty large company with a large brand-portfolio. This summer they really put their cards on the table and use that portfolio to the max. This summer Bacardi-Martini launches a range of “ready-to-shake” cocktails, available at your local supermarket. Let me explain what this means. We’re talking about bottled cocktails. You just pour the drink into a shaker (or any other closed jar or container) with lots of ice. Give it a good shake for about 15 seconds and strain it into your glass of choice. Garnish if you like. Enjoy in good company. 

Each bottle has a QR-code on the label that will take you to a video, showing how to do a perfect serve for the cocktail. I also recorded my own reel/video which I already shared on Instagram and Facebook.

In Belgium I discovered this range of “Tails Cocktails” at Delhaize. These 500 ml bottles hold four big (125 ml) or five moderate (100 ml) drinks. Tails Cocktails was originally started in 2010 by Nick Wall in London. 

These are the drinks: 
  • Whisky Sour (Dewar’s Scotch whisky, lemon juice, simple syrup)
  • Rum Daiquiri (Bacardi Rum, Simple Syrup, lime juice)
  • Gin Gimlet (Bombay Sapphire Gin, Elderflower liqueur, lime juice)
  • Passion Fruit Martini (42Below vodka, vanilla syrup, passion fruit puree, lime juice)
  • Espresso Martini (42Below Vodka, Coffee liqueur, Premium espresso coffee)
You’re allowed to giggle, we all know the Passion Fruit Martini really has another name, and no, “Maverick Martini” is also NOT what you’ll find on the menu in most cocktail bars 😉 

I suspect they are not releasing all their secrets on the label, because the Whisky Sour and Espresso Martini come with a very nice foam layer, which doesn’t appear out of thin air. 

I enjoyed some of these drinks while I was getting some fresh air at Roompot Beach Resort in Zeeland. In local supermarkets I discovered another premium range of Bacardi cocktails. The bottles were half the size (200 ml, good for two drinks) and indicated that you could cool-and-serve them over fresh ice, I guess we’re talking about more of less the same concept. 

The cocktails I discovered in the Netherlands were different, more tiki style. The range is called “Bacardi Aged Rum Cocktails” with recipes created by three top-bartenders: Chelsie Bailey, Georgie Radev and Belgium’s own Ran Van Ongevalle. You will find this range of bottled cocktails in larger supermarkets like Albert Heijn and Jumbo


These are the drinks:  
  • Caribbean Espresso Rumtini
  • Roasted Pineapple Rum Punch
  • Toasted Coconut Colada
And now, the big question: Are they any good? 
These drinks are extremely easy to serve and they are a very handy solution that will slip into many suitcases on their way to a holiday. To my surprise the quality was indeed bar-quality. And by that I mean “decent cocktail bar” quality. So yes, I’m very happy that these drinks are available and I really enjoyed them. Cheers!

Tip: We discovered that the Gin Gimlet pairs very well with fresh oysters.

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 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.