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Cocktail cool at home

By MONIQUE TODA, The Philippine STAR Published Nov 04, 2020 4:00 pm

It seems to me that many have become cocktail-obsessed, especially during the lengthy time spent at home lately. Happy Hour can now be any hour. I have always thought that cocktail culture evokes sophistication and downright coolness. Think of James Bond and his beloved martini: shaken, not stirred. It can be enjoyed by your lonesome, in a romantic rendezvous, or at a party with friends.

From the classics, classics with a twist and mocktails, to the absolutely creative and crazy, cocktails are liquid pleasure. It appeals to different palates with its unlimited variations. It is no wonder that these tipples continue to be popular and well-loved. Cocktails are forever.

We asked these cocktail connoisseurs—who are also the star mixologists in their homes—about their preferred concoctions and to share their special recipes. Cheers!

Hemmingway nostalgia. Nando and his Dark Run Daiquiri

NANDO COJUANGCO: Dark Rum Daiquiri

I enjoy making Dark Rum Daiquiris at home because it is very simple to make. You only need three ingredients: rum, of course, fresh lime and simple syrup. The key is to use really good rum and then try to balance the sweetness of the syrup with the tartness of the lime. I then sit back and imagine having a chat with Ernest Hemingway at the El Floridita Café in Havana, Cuba.

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounces Luisita Dark Rum (or any dark rum of high quality that you would drink as a sipper)
  • 1 ounce simple syrup (I make my own: 1 part water to 1 part sugar; boil until sugar is dissolved)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice

Procedure:

In a cocktail shaker (this is the fun part!), mix rum, lime juice and simple syrup. Add ice and shake until very cold. Strain into a chilled coupette.

Jim Araneta's Spicy G&T includes red hot chilli pepper and garnish from his backyard. 

JIM ARANETA: Spicy Gin & Tonic

My go-to mixed drink when I have guests would be the good, old gin and tonic. It's ideal for entertaining at home as it is easy to make, refreshing, and appeals to almost everyone. The G&T is also my practical choice, as I am able to choose a variety of garnishes from my backyard. 

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounces London dry gin
  • 4 ounces Schweppes tonic water
  • Tarragon
  • Cucumber, sliced
  • Chili peppers (siling labuyo), sliced in the center

Procedure:

Fill a highball glass with ice cubes then add London dry-style gin and Schweppes tonic water. Stir gently, then garnish. After stirring, insert the tarragon in the center of the glass. Then top off with two slices of cucumber and four pieces of the siling labuyo (red-hot chili pepper), which should be sliced to add a little spice to the drink. 

Schweppes is my preferred tonic water with chili, as it is sweeter than most tonic waters and thus a complement to the spice. If not garnishing with something spicy, the likes of Fever Tree is recommended. 

Art aficionado Raul Francisco and a classic Old Fashioned.

RAUL FRANCISCO: Old Fashioned

My drink is a classic: the Old Fashioned. It’s a fairly uncomplicated cocktail to prepare; plus it works any time of day or season. I lean toward drinks that aren’t too sweet and have bold flavors, so an Old Fashioned or a Negroni always fit the bill.

Ingredients:

  • 1 jigger of bourbon 
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1 sugar cube or 2 teaspoons syrup
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • Orange 
  • Ice 
  • Maraschino cherry (optional)

Procedure:

Start by putting a sugar cube into an Old Fashioned glass; saturate with bitters then add a dash of water. Muddle and mash it up until it’s dissolved then follow by adding some ice cubes. Add the bourbon, an orange slice, and you’re good to go. Garnish with a cocktail cherry if you like.

Restaurateur Elbert Cuenca and his preferred at-home cocktail, the classic Negroni.

ELBERT CUENCA: Negroni

At home, I prefer to make the classic Italian cocktail Negroni because it’s very easy to make and very hard to get wrong, and it tastes just like it would in any swanky bar in the world.  

Ingredients:

  • 30 ml or 1 ounce Campari
  • 30 ml or 1 ounce Mancino Red vermouth 
  • 30 ml or 1ounce London dry gin
  • Ice
  • Orange zest

Procedure:

In a rock glass, combine all three spirits over ice. Use a mixing spoon or a stirrer and swirl ice at least 20 times. With a paring knife, peel a strip of orange rind and squeeze it above the glass. Rub the rind around the rim of the glass and then insert into the cocktail as a garnish. Drink cocktail and then repeat. 

San Francisco-based Bobby del Rosario prepares a Boulevardier, his cocktail of choice.

BOBBY DEL ROSARIO: Boulevardier

Unwinding from the day with a cocktail at home has become routine these days. My concoction of choice? The Boulevardier. Savoring the depths of caramel, oak, and the warmth of the bourbon, the base spirit of this “equal-parts-cocktail, push through the bitters and sweet vermouth” simply soothes. It’s easy to mix and because bourbon holds up to the modifiers, you can chase different flavor profiles and personalities.

Plus, it pairs well with Chinese food! Over dinner at a Szechuan restaurant-cum-cocktail bar in Boston, their mixologist served me five variations on the classic. Being sloshed notwithstanding, that experience stirred my affection for the Boulevardier.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 ounce bourbon (I love Jos. A. Magnus, a straight bourbon whiskey finished in sherry and cognac casks)
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth (Antica Formula Carpano is the classic, but I often use Lustau Vermut Rojo)
  • 1 ounce Campari (or play around and go with an Amaro Nonino)
  • Orange peel for garnish (I prefer a skewer of Amarena cherries)

Procedure:

Chill a cocktail glass by putting it in the freezer for about five minutes. Fill mixing glass 2/3 full of ice. Pour the liquid ingredients into the mixing glass and stir until chilled, about 30 seconds. Strain into cocktail glass. Garnish.