Boo-oo-ooze! 3 Gothic Cocktails to drink at Halloween

Halloween is more and more a part of New Zealand life, but what to drink when you are slightly disdainful of everything commercial and yet still consider October your High Holy season?  Laura Macfehin gives you some spooky yet sophisticated drinks options!

The Bride wore Black

Despite its somewhat sinister sound the Merry Widow Cocktail is named after the rather jolly operetta of the same name that was popular in the first decade of the twentieth century.

Even so, I consider this to be a very goth cocktail, partly because of the somewhat complex mix of aromatic ingredients and partly because Lily Elsie who became famous in the English version of the production is such an Edwardian Goth inspiration to me with her big hats and lace!

 

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Lily Elsie in The Merry Widow

 

The Merry Widow Cocktail

1 ½ Dry Gin

1 ½ French (Dry) Vermouth

1 Dash of Peychaud’s Bitters

2 Dashes Absinthe, Pernod, or Herbsaint (I used Pernod)

2 Dashes Benedictine

Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Tastes– like aniseed and well laid plans.

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The Original Vamp

Theda Bara was one of the silent screen’s earliest sex symbols and a super favourite at Eclectic Ladyland!  Her on-screen dominatrix-persona gave rise to her nick name The Vamp (short for vampire– which in context was a woman who demoralised men and took their money rather than a blood sucking fiend!)

Despite being marketed as an exotic destroyer of men, by all accounts in real life Theda Bara (or Theodosia Burr Goodman, as she was baptised) was a regular old sweetie, living in a normal apartment with her mother and designing and making most of her own wigs and costumes.

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Theda Bara ‘The Vamp’

The Theda Bara Cocktail

2oz gin

1oz Raspberry liqueur (like Chambord)

Juice of half a lemon

Mix gently in an ice filled shaker and strain into a glass.

Tastes– sweet but with a dangerous edge.

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Unholy Orders

Written by a teenage Matthew Lewis and published at the end of the eighteenth century The Monk is considered one of the prototypes for Gothic literature.  Its convoluted plot involves murder and seduction within a Catholic monastery, with elements which became common Gothic tropes.

What better way to honour this venerable tome than with a liqueur reputedly based on a secret formula by monks at a Benedictine monastery in Normandy.  I love Benedictine– it smells like a liniment your great-grandfather might have used and it tastes great as a toddy or cut with citrus.  The obvious choice for this drink was blood orange, of course!

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The Monk

2oz Benedictine

4oz blood orange juice

a dash of Peychauds bitters

Shake briefly in an ice-filled shaker and strain into a glass or other unconsecrated vessel.

Tastes– like bad habits and citrus, with a hint of the blood of your enemies.

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What will be drinking as the veil thins?  Let me know!

The Handmade’s Tale: An interview with Audrey Moorehead from Tee-ki Togs

Welcome to a fresh installment of the Handmade’s Tale–a regular series in which we celebrate crafty ladies! This week Natasha meets international jetsetter, DJ and jewellery designer Audrey Morehead from Tee-ki Togs.

Audrey Moorehead might hail from California but her work takes her anywhere the tiki winds blow.

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Born to be wild: Teeki-Togs designer Audrey Moorehead.

Raised in Downey, California, her childhood was a whirlwind of luau parties, lava fountains and trips to local alohawear store, Peg’s Tiki Togs. She even grew up in a Polynesian-themed apartment complex!

“I’ve been interested in loud and vibrant clothing since birth, she says. “My mother was quite the fashion plate and always wore the coolest clothes.

“Rudi Gernreich was her favourite. She also loved ‘Fumi’s’ [a vintage Hawaiian clothing company] because of the great colours and styles they made.”

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This is me wearing a Bosko Pendant and my model Sharon [Pinup Little Bit] wearing a Tiki Tony pendant

So when the time came to create her own business it felt natural to take the Tiki Togs moniker, tweak the spelling… and her jewellery line Tee-ki togs was born!

Inspired by the outrageous jewellery worn by 60s icons such as Edie Sedgwick, Audrey crafts her pieces using a variety of chains, beads, resin and acrylic parts, glass, ceramics, plastic and wood.

Her mantra is ’round, shiny and plastic’ and nothing is too wild or crazy in her book.

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Punk icon Jello Biafra wearing one of Teeki Togs’ collaboration pieces- a Bosko cat

It was in the 1980s that Audrey experienced the first wave tiki revival while working on a 1960s -style TV show with her longtime friend Domenic Price.

Together they’d sit in his bedroom surrounded by his tiki mug collection, listening to exotica masters such as Les Baxter and Martin Denny while they worked on the show.

Price then introduced Audrey to none other than tiki archivist and urban archeologist Sven A Kirsten and  it’s been one long cocktail party ever since!

Read on to find out all about Audrey and her handcrafted jewellery line Tee-ki Togs!

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What is it about tiki style that appeals to your particular aesthetic?

For me it’s the boldness of the colors and patterns! Like my mother, I am drawn to the pure design and colors of the Aloha wear. I’ve been wearing it forever because it was the loudest most psychedelic clothing I could find here in California.

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How did you come to be making your jewelry range?

My jewelry role model is Edie Sedgwick, she had the most outrageous earrings ever, and also Paco Rabanne. My mantra is “Round, Shiny, Plastic” I just love those elements! I used to make my own earrings and then repaired many of my vintage items and often elaborated on them to make them wilder.

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I have a background in Graphic and Interior Design. I also took jewelry design but that was completely useless because I wanted to repair things not cast things in gold and silver.

I wanted to work with plastic! Over time my styles have evolved to BLEND with the Aloha wear that my friends wear but I would love to make mod jewelry again.

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Tell me about the process involved in making your pieces.
 
So many things I see inspire me. I get an idea, then start looking for the right hardware for it, how much I can manufacture myself, or search for vintage jewelry that needs to be reworked into a more wearable design.

Some pieces are hand painted, some are found, other artists make some pieces and some are designed by me and manufactured by someone else, like my acrylic parts.

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What materials do you use? And how long does each piece take to make?

I use a variety of chains, beads, resin and acrylic parts, glass, ceramic, plastic, wood. Each piece varies in the time it takes to make it just right. Some pieces take 10 minutes, some take hours.

It’s a labor of love with some pieces that I cannot charge enough for the amount of work that went into it but the pride I get from seeing someone wear my jewelry outweighs the time and money I put into it.

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Tee-ki Togs model Pinup Little Bit.

 
What do you enjoy most about what you do? 

The freedom to go where I want, that I am able to make something people love, but mainly the joy of seeing customers wearing my designs. I was at a party and there was 8 ladies dancing and they were all wearing my earrings!! I got a little emotional from that.  I felt so loved.

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Tee-ki Togs model Pinup Little Bit.

How has your technique evolved over time? 

With time you become more discerning, find better quality materials and of course you become more skilled in your assembly and production.

 

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Tiki Tony shows off a collaboration piece created in conjunction  with Teeki Togs

I notice you’ve done some great collaboration with fellow Tiki artists. Can you tell us about some of them and which has been your favorite collaboration? 

I started making jewelry for BigToe and then Tiki Tony, both wonderful artists, of course they all are or else I wouldn’t work with them! Odd Rodney has even put my logo on the back of his Moai for me!

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Buzzy Meeker and Bosko make some great stuff that I love to work with. GoGo Tiki makes me wonderful ceramic pieces and so does Mikel Parton. I can’t say any of them are my favorites because I am honored to work with all these talented artists and feel grateful that they allow me to use their creations in my work!

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Collaboration with artist GoGo Tiki

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Any plans to branch out into other areas/ products besides jewellery?

I originally was going to make cute summer dresses and hats, along with men’s jackets. I still may get back to that! 

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Tee-ki Togs model Pinup Little Bit.

  
What are your creative inspirations? 

LIFE! I love to watch people and nature, I see what my friends are wearing and I think to myself, now what’s missing from that outfit is some outrageous earrings! Many of the Hawaiian dresses are very high necked so I sell mainly earrings that add that pop of color and compliment the dress. For men, I usually make natural colored pendants to pop on their colorful shirts. Lately men have wanted really bright stuff too and I love that!

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Have you always been a vintage jewelry lover/ collector? 

Yes! My aunt Candy said I would always play with her plastic jewelry when I was a baby. I was drawn to that instead of the silver stuff. My father was a plastics engineer so I think it runs in my blood!

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Reagan Foy wearing my Floats

Were you always crafty/ creative as a youngster? 

I loved to draw and thought I would become an artist growing up, but I was more into my motorcycle and my dogs as a kid.

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Tee-ki Togs model Pinup Little Bit.

Do you have a favorite piece you’ve created?  

I do love most of what I make because it is an extension of what I am feeling when I make it. Usually when I make something really special for myself, someone falls in love with it and I sell it to him or her. I don’t regret it because it will bring that person so much joy and I can make something else!

I do love my Tiki Tony “Markesan Sun” pendants, I will be making more soon. I also really loved how my collaboration with Mikel Parton (MP / Thrift Emporium) came out.

His mid-century ceramic fish with my “bubble chain” works perfectly with his pieces. My customers loved them too so much that I sold out the first time I showed them! I will be making more of those soon.

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Mikel Parton ceramic fish

 
Where can people learn more about your work and purchase their own pieces?
 
Come see me at events such as Tiki Oasis, Tikiland Trading Company, Tiki Trader, Shipwrecked, The Hukilau, even out at the new “Malihini” in Kansas City. I bring my newest and most unique pieces to shows to ensure that my customers get first choice for coming to see me. If you can’t see me at a show, I have an Instagram page where I post everything (@teekitogs), as well as a Facebook business page (facebook.com/teekitogs). 

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If my followers see pieces on my Instagram feed that they want, I am happy to make custom pieces to sell direct or post in my Etsy shop. Business has picked up and I am often away selling at shows, so sometimes I don’t have time to list the newest things in the shop. But I am always happy to do so if an item is requested. It’s a pleasure to create for my customers!

Thanks for reading!  Go and follow Audrey on Facebook  or Instagram now!

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Three classic drinks you have to try

In this latest installment of What’s Shaking? Laura Macfehin suggests three classic cocktails for you to try as the nights get cooler

In summer my taste in drinks tends towards the crisp and dry– and as a result I’d rather have a beer or a Gibson than anything too fruity.  But as the nights get earlier and cooler my tooth gets sweeter; and suddenly the idea of something a little extra little seems tempting.  Not that these drinks can’t be enjoyed any time of year if the mood strikes you!

Here are three classic drinks from the dawn of cocktails that are always worth revisiting.

Cherry Bomb

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The Martinez is one of those cocktails that sometimes gets described as the ‘original’ cocktail or as the precursor to the martini.  Those credentials are lost in time and kind of beside the point, but it is an old recipe– it was recorded in the 1884 book The Modern Bartender so its lineage extends at least to the 19th century.

Martinez recipes often call for maraschino liquor or cherry brandy; I like to use Cherry Herring because I feel like it has a bit of a more natural taste than a lot of other cherry ‘flavoured’ beverages.

The Sweet vermouth I used in this and in the Blood and Sand is Carpano Antica Formula, which is delicious.  There are more and more local Vermouths being produced though– and the end of this month Reid+Reid are launching a Sweet Vermouth, which if half as delightful as their Dry Vermouth promises great things!

Martinez

12 oz Gin

12 oz Sweet vermouth

14 oz Cherry liqueur

2 dashes Angostura bitters

Garnish: Orange twist

Stir in a chilled shaker half-filled with ice and pour into a chilled glass.  Garnish with and orange twist if desired!

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Martinez cocktail

 

Be my Valentino

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In 1922 Paramount Pictures mixed up a fruity little movie featuring steamy lovers Rudolph Valentino and Nita Naldi, with Lila Lee thrown in for sweetness.  The film was a hit (it has been remade twice since) and a clever bar-keep mixed up this sweet little number in homage.

Whiskey cocktails are far less common than their gin counterparts– this is an easy one to master being essentially equal measures of its four contiuent parts.  You don’t need a fancy scotch for this either– any blended whiskey will do, but fresh orange juice does make a power of difference– kind of like Valentino wth kohl pencil or without.

Blood and Sand

3/4 oz whiskey

3/4 oz Cherry Herring

3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth

3/4 oz orange juice

Shake in a chilled shaker with ice and pour into a cocktail glass.

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A Blood and Sand

Absinthe-minded

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Another contender for oldest cocktail, this New Orleans staple has a lot of lore surrounding it, but it is one of the simplest drinks to make.  Unlike the other drinks I’ve listed, you kind of want to use the right ingredients in your Sazerac.  It makes a Sazerac what it is.

While you can tip any kind of scotch into a Blood and Sand and come up smiling, a nice Rye is what you really want for a Sazerac.  Try Bulleit Rye Whiskey or Overholt and you will have a very delicious drink.

Sazerac

1 teaspoon sugar

3 or 4 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters

a few drops water

2 oz rye whiskey

1 teaspoon absinthe

lemon peel

Put a tumbler in the freezer to chill.  In a mixing glass or shaker put the sugar and water and muddle or swirl to dissolve.  Add ice cubes, the whiskey and bitters and stir.  Add the absinthe to the chilled tumbler and swirl to coat the inside of the glass– tipping out the excess.  Strain the whiskey mix into the glass and garnish with a little lemon peel if you like!

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Sazerac, with Peychauds in the background.  Candle by Nick Rule

If you are new to cocktail mixing or skint and you don’t want to commit to a large bottle of something don’t forget about those nifty little singles one the counter of the bottle shop.  Cocktail drinking is really playing– they only way you can do it wrong is by not having fun.  Or find a bartender and get them to mix you a Martinez or the like– then if it tickles your fancy you can fill your liquor cabinet at home!

 

What is your favourite winter tipple? Do you mix it at home or is there a bartender with a deft hand near you?  I’d love to hear about it!

All Kooped Up: An interview with lounge lothario Koop Kooper

Natasha Francois chats to Cocktail Nation radio host and arbiter of all things swank, Koop Kooper.

Koop Kooper vividly recalls visiting his grandparent’s home as a child and being dazzled by the mid-century furniture inside. He would lie on the couch watching old movies from the ’50s and ’60s while his mother and grandmother sipped tea.

Sometimes he would take his mother’s old Bluebird wooden tennis racket outside and hit balls against his grandparent’s wall imagining he was playing [Australian tennis pros] Rod Laver or Ken Rosewall. “It was like my own little portal to the past, he says. “Even as a kid, the mid-century appealed to me.”

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“I had quite an active imagination for a 10-year-old. Also, I remember little things like the fact that it was a very old neighbourhood and to me, it felt like ’50s America. Add to this the fact that my mother also used to like listening to old music, I guess it tends to get into your head.”

At 14, Koop discovered the rockabilly subculture. He remembers sitting in a ’50s style milkbar with a friend, watching the local greasers with their vintage clothes and slicked back hair, and thinking they were so brave and he could never do that.

“A year later and I had my hair piled high in a pompadour and was dressed head to toe in vintage 1950s clothes,” he says.

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By the late ’90s he’d drifted away from rockabilly towards jazz and swing. A girl he was seeing introduced him to the Ultra Lounge series which he began collecting and fell in love with all things swank.

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25 years later, and the 40-year-old radio host is still wearing clothes from the era. Granted, it’s a more adult style, but still mid-century to the core. “I have several shirts and jackets I picked up in the early days and I am pleased to say they still fit!” he says.

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Describing his distinctive sartorial style as “vintage 50s/ 60s Cary Grant meets Don Draper meets George Clooney,” Koop favours skinny ties, single breasted thin lapels suits and stingy brim hats. For casual wear, he loves jack shirts and gab pants.

“I wear vintage every day of the year. Same with my hair, royal crown pomaded pompadour.”

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“Too many people play at a lifestyle and don’t actually live it day in and day out. From wearing vintage clothing or vintage-inspired clothing every day, to driving a classic car everywhere (his current ride is a 64 Austin Healey Sprite), I don’t just dress up for the weekend out.”

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“This is how I look all the time, says the one-time pro tennis chair umpire, “I don’t listen to modern music, I constantly read books written about the past or written in the mid-century. I’m not interested in the latest viral sensation, To me it’s just another fad that will disappear faster than you can say Jack Robinson.”

“This lifestyle is 100 per cent for me. It’s not just about physical things but also thoughts, attitudes and manners.”

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However, unlike many vintage fans Koop doesn’t consider himself a collector. “I bought all my furniture and brick-a-brac with the intention that I actually use everything I buy. I don’t want to live in a museum.”

His favourite era is the late 1950s to mid 60s. To him it “epitomises the zenith of style where design and love of technology started to come together.”

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These days he hosts the internationally syndicated weekly lounge music podcast Cocktail Nation which he broadcasts from his Sydney penthouse to an audience across the globe. The hour-long show, which first aired in 2006, fuses interviews, commentary and advice with an eclectic mix of neo and classic tunes.

The music runs the gamut from lounge to exotica, with detours into many other sub genres, but the smooth-talking Aussie is in his element when it omes to interviewing luminaries and pioneers from the world of cocktail culture such as The Martini Kings, Marina the fire-eating mermaid, mid century bongo master Jack Constanzo and tiki cocktail guru Jeff “Beachbum” Berry.

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Tiki cocktail guru Jeff “Beachbum” Berry.

Having worked as a radio announcer on commerical Australian radio for years, and as a professional voiceover artist, Koop felt that there was a gap in the market for a show which combined music along with interviews, a gig guide and news from the world of lounge.

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“I wanted a late-night feel of a show that had a feeling of exclusivity about it. This wasn’t meant to be something that was readily accessible to the public, it’s always meant to be slightly alternative. Certainly this is something which has come up when dealing with potential syndicate stations who want a cutesy pie top 40 of the 50s, we ain’t that.”

Koop’s top five neo-lounge tunes

Check out the show at: www.cocktailnation.net

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The Cocktail Nation is a radio show and podcast broadcast across the world via various radio stations. Every Saturday night, host Koop Kooper talks to the movers and shakers of the lounge and Exotica scene while mixing it up with the very best in swingin’ tunes from the 50s and 60s.

 

What’s shaking: A Rum Do

Laura Macfehin whips up three rum cocktails to banish the mid-winter blues!

Because of its Caribbean heritage rum has an understandable association with warm weather and island life. People think of it as a summer drink.

Which is perhaps why in the middle of a chilly, drizzly, drab New Zealand winter I start to get a rum craving.

Whether it is some kind of sympathetic magic type invocation of sunnier weather or a simple desire to warm up I am going to go on record and say that rum makes a fine mid-winter drink.

Apart from the good old rum and cola combo (it is just a good combination, don’t fight it) here are my three favourite rum drinks made how I like them right now (sitting inside by the wood burner in a barkcloth dress and parka ensemble).

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The daiquiri – Hemingway you like it

The daiquiri has probably been around as long as rum has—it just makes sense to cut your rum with citrus and sugar.

There is an origin myth though, which co-opts its invention and places its conception in the soft white hands of Jennings S. Cox.

He was a mining engineer who with a lot of other American industrialists, engineers and farmers moved in on Cuba after the Spanish-American war.

The original recipe featured white rum, lemon juice and sugar. Ernest Hemingway famously loved them (one of the few things in his favour in my opinion) and the recipe eventually settled into a white rum/lime juice/simple syrup groove.

Perhaps because of the advent and propagation of its frozen cousin, the daiquiri has acquired a somewhat tacky reputation which is undeserved. In its pure form it is just as sophisticated as a manhattan or a martini and deserves classic status.

After saying that I am going to give my recipe which totally messes with the accepted classic form! I will justify that by saying this is a winter daiquiri.

Ok, whatever—it tastes good! The main difference is a return to plain old lemon juice, and a rich syrup made from demerara sugar, which makes it almost a ‘tiki toddy’.

In a chilled shaker dump a whole lot of ice and add:

2oz white rum

1oz lemon juice

3/4oz rich syrup

Shake it up until your hands are cold and strain into a glass!

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My ‘winter’ daiquiri made with the delicious New Zealand-made Murderer’s Bay rum

(I love it when we’re) Cruzan together…

Corn n’Oil was first made for me by a beautiful lady who ran one of the friendliest music venues in Auckland. Thank you Karyn—miss you and your shaker!

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When first in its thrall I would have insisted that it be made with an alcoholic velvet falernum like John D. Taylors.

These days, because I am older, and frankly, wussier, I am happy to use a non-alcoholic falernum syrup like that made by Fees Brothers.

Falernum has the ginger, lime and spices that are essential to this drink.

The drink gets its name from the heavy blackstrap rum that is used and sits like oil in the bottom of the glass.

This combo of molasses and ginger makes it a perfect summer-in-winter drink for me!

I make it like this:

Put some ice in a glass and add

2oz blackstrap rum (like Cruzan)

½ oz Falernum

1/2 oz lime juice

3 dashes Angostura bitters

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The Combination

Rum punch might seem at its essential level to be a summer drink—but really, when do you need high levels of vitamin c and a reason to get up in the morning more than in darkest mid-winter?

This punch provides both! Fresh orange juice really does make a huge difference to the overall taste, so squeeze your own or buy the best you can!

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When making punch I believe in using what you have on hand. If you are unsure of quantities the old rhyme helps as a guide—“one of sour, two of sweet, three of strong, four of weak”.

This recipe roughly follows this outline! To make my rum punch in a mixing glass add ice and:

1oz lime juice

2oz sugar syrup

1 oz blackstrap rum

2oz white or golden rum

2oz orange juice

2oz pineapple juice

Add some orange slices for a cheerful decoration then close the curtains, get the fire roaring and put some calypso on the turntable.

Only a few more months until summertime!

What’s your favourite wintertime drink?  Let me know if you have a favourite!

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What’s Shaking: Genever Juniper

Laura Macfehin tries three different New Zealand gins in three classic cocktails— the Gimlet, the Gibson and the dangerously coy Orange Blossom!

After being almost completely replaced by vodka in the late sixties, gin has had a real upswing in popularity in the last decade. Crafty folks in distilleries around the globe have brought gin back into favour with small batch runs using old methods and new interesting botanicals. Not one to be left out of the party New Zealand has been producing some fine gins using some of our own native flora to give it a distinctly antipodean flair.

Here’s looking at you…

I was first introduced to gimlets by Philip Marlowe, who, in The Long Goodbye, bonds with the sad and unreliable Terry Lennox at Victor’s bar over the correct way the cocktail should be prepared. Lennox complains to Marlowe that “they don’t know how to make them here… [w]hat they call a gimlet is just some lime or lemon juice and gin with a dash of sugar and bitters. A real gimlet is half gin and half Rose’s Lime Juice and nothing else.” And that melancholic reflection on the state of their drinks stands in for a lament for a lost code of conduct amongst men; one that has left Marlowe and Lennox adrift as throwbacks out of step with the time they are living in.

 

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Obviously reading Chandler 40 years after it came out and in the maudlin atmosphere of the late 90s I could identify with melancholic throwbacks; and so buoyed by the two-ingredient ease of achieving something so evocatively authentic I threw my arms around the gimlet and did not look back. Their simplicity made them easy to order even in bars not versed in cocktail culture, and after many iterations over the years I agree with Lennox that the 1:1 recipe of gin to Roses Lime is still supreme. If you do ever want to get fancy on it the best way I think is just to get a really nice gin and make your own cordial.

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Reid-ing you loud and clear

Reid+Reid is a really nice gin. Actually it is a really, really nice gin. So nice that after buying a bottle on a Friday by Monday (and with help from my very game family as testers) there was only about 2oz left in the bottle. Still that is enough for a gimlet so I tipped it in a shaker with some ice-cubes, added the required cordial , stirred briskly and strained into a glass. Reid+Reid gin is not the only New Zealand gin using native botanicals but (and please correct me if I’m wrong) it is the only one using three—horopito, manuka and kawakawa. The manuka has an almost medicinal herbiness that plays very nicely with the standard gin flavours of juniper and coriander, while the horopito and kawakawa add a  peppery punchiness. It is a very sophisticated drink and makes a gimlet that is not so much ‘jaded-detective-in-a-dive-bar’ as ‘newly-single-Betty-Draper-in-Manhattan’.  Very good.

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January Jones as Betty Draper in season two of Mad Men

Gibson girl

Okay—there are people who will say that putting a pickled onion in your drink is uncouth and makes you some kind of monster. There may also be some significant overlap in the people who say this and people who will be up against the wall after the revolution. Because I contest that the Gibson is one of the very finest cocktail creations of last century. As with most early 20th century cocktails there is debate over how this came about but quite possibly it was named after the illustrator Charles Dana Gibson who asked his bartender for something a little different and had an onion instead of an olive plopped in his martini. Because that is what a Gibson is really—a martini with an onion in it. A statement which belies how incredibly yum this drink is!

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Exhibit A: Cary Grant demonstrates the extreme ‘couthity’ of putting an onion in your drink in North by Northwest (1959)

To get this drink right you do need to follow a few simple rules. As with a martini everything needs to be very cold. Your vermouth should be in the fridge already, but put your shaker, glass and even your gin in the freezer until everything is nice and chilly. Because I like being able to taste the vermouth I make my Gibsons a little ‘wetter’ than I make my martinis. Rogue Society is an extremely smooth gin just right for Gibson mixing—the mix of botanicals is strong enough to stand up to the higher quantity of vermouth without fighting with it. It comes in a very appealing bottle—easily achieving Cary Grant levels of suavity while having a heft that could come in handy should the night get too bumpy.

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Celeste Holm and Bette Davis hold on to their gibsons in All About Eve (1950)

 

My perfect mix for Gibsons is 1 ¾ oz gin to 1 ½oz vermouth—almost a 1:1 ratio. Stir in your cold shaker with a couple of ice-cubes and strain into your chilled glass. Finally, skewer 1 or 2 tiny, perfectly crunchy cocktail onions and drop them in. This is not the moment for your big, mushy pickled onions. They have to be crisp and zingy like Bette Davis delivering a barbed one liner. Seriously I love Gibsons so much they might even be my desert island cocktail.  So unless you have a serious aversion to onions I ask you not to knock ’em till you’ve tried ’em.

gibson

 

Laid back… (with my mind on my money and my money on my mind)

Last but by no means least on the list is the flapper favourite- the Orange Blossom! Well before Snoop got in on the act Americans were sippin’ on gin and juice prohibition style. The Orange Blossom has a somewhat notorious part in popular culture—despite the innocent name the orange blossom has been present in some less than lugubrious circumstances—perhaps simply because it was such a go to in the 1920s. Legend has it that Zelda Fitzgerald was found wandering lost on a golf course after drinking a thermos of orange blossoms. Zelda was singing “You can throw a silver dollar upon ground, And it’ll roll, because it’s round…” which you can’t really argue with.  This actually happened to me with a thermos of orange blossoms many years ago—although it was my own living room not a golf course. Zelda was singing “You can throw a Silver dollar upon ground, And it’ll roll, because it’s round…” which you can’t really argue with.

 

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Zelda in the flowers

 

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The beautiful Virginia Rappe

Orange blossoms were also what Virginia Rappe reportedly got drunk on before her scandalous death in the room of Fatty Arbuckle in 1921, and what director William Desmond Taylor drank with Mabel Normand just hours before his (to this day unsolved) murder in 1922. Recipes abound for this seemingly simple drink—from a basic gin and orange juice combo to mixtures involving triple sec, orange blossom water, simple syrup, vermouth, lime juice and grenadine. My favourite falls somewhere in the middle—the only addition I like to make is vermouth (yeah I know—I always like to add vermouth).  The main way in which to elevate this drink is with the juice component.  This is one of those situations where fresh is best- freshly squeezed orange juice somehow sends this drink through the stratosphere – to the point where it becomes a different drink altogether.

Freshly squeezed

Personally I think this drink is already sweet enough and pretty enough without the addition of simple syrup or grenadine. Instead, squeeze yourself 1 ½ oz orange (mandarin is also yummy) juice. Add to an ice filled shaker or mixing glass with 1 ½ oz gin and 1 ½ oz vermouth. Lighthouse Gin is perfect for orange blossoms—with naval orange and lemon notes it is has a wonderful citrussy base already. One of New Zealand’s original small batch gins Lighthouse is a fabulous all-rounder; something that early Hollywood innovators would have approved of I am sure! Swizzle your orange blossom, strain into a glass, and try not to get into any trouble.

orange blossom

Disclaimer!  I have no affiliation with any of these companies and bought all my own booze myself.  I will always tell when goods reviewed have been gifted and my opinions are always my own!

Let me know what you think- have any New Zealand made spirits impressed you recently?  What is your favourite classic cocktail?

For more info on the gins mentioned here, check out

http://www.reidbrothersdistilling.com/gin

http://roguesocietygin.com/

http://lighthousegin.co.nz/

If you are interested in the William Desmond Taylor case I can recommend the book on King Vidor’s investigation into his murder ‘A Cast of Killers‘ by Sidney Kirkpatrick as a starting point.