Enjoying a nice cocktail is undoubtedly one of the more fun ways to have a drink. Who can deny that sense of wonderment and excitement when you are presented with a new cocktail, with colourful ingredients and hopefully a colourful taste. More of a drinking experience then simply having some beers in the pub, we all enjoy trying each other’s cocktails, and also laughing at the friend who made the wrong choice and ended up with a whipped cream abomination!
A brightly coloured cocktail made with a combination of local exotic fruits and familiar liquor from back home was a hallmark of colonial life for over a hundred years. Cocktails seemed to have lived on beyond the Empire to feature as part of many an expat’s weekend relaxation ritual.
Most common cocktails are known the world over, the sours family, the long island ice tea, the mojitos, etc. If you are reading this then chances are that you are a globe-trotting expat, in which case you may be interested in some of the different cocktails that are available in expat hotpots, so let’s take a look at some of the best, how to make them and where to find them.
Firstly we travel to Tokyo, specifically to a place called Star Bar Ginza. The owner of Star Bar is a man who goes by the name of Hisashi Kishi, and he takes mixology very, very seriously. A research director for the Nippon Bar Association Mr Kishi is also a previous world champion of the International Bar Association and is the youngest ever man to win the Scotch cocktail competition.
Mr. Kishi’s signature cocktail is called the Sidecar. His method of making the cocktail is simple yet stylised: firstly cognac and triple sec are melded together into a foamy froth, so that the flavours and subtleties of the liqueurs can infuse. Then comes Mr Kishi’s trademark hard shake, he vigorously shakes in the motion of a figure-of-eight and then finally releases the concoction over one, gigantically hand-carved ice cube, voila, the sidecar!
Over in Singapore there is a sumptuous cocktail that was created by a man named Ngiam Tong Boon. He was a bartender in the Singapore Raffles Hotel during the early parts of the 19TH century and his creation was called the Singapore Sling. Now the Singapore Sling can be found in a number of evolved forms but the original recipe was comprised of Cherry Heering, Bénédictine, gin and very fresh pineapple juice, the juice adding a delightful frothy top. As mentioned the cocktail recipe has since been handed around often leading to variations, however the original recipe is still the stuff of lore, with a scribbled note found framed in the Raffles Hotel Museum.
Our next stop is in China where we learn the story of the mythical Nine Dragon Cocktails. Legend says that in China mystical dragons often descend onto the land from their mountain homes, once on the land they would pass ghostly through the Hong Kong Intercontinental, which the mountain overlooks. To commemorate this legend the hotel invented the Nine Dragon Cocktails.
The Blushing Dragon is one of the highlights of this nine cocktail collection, made from vodka, Cointreau, lemon juice and a medley of fresh strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and mangoes.
In England, upmarket restaurant, The Hawksmoor, has actually devoted a large part of its drinks menu to pay homage to favoured expatriate cocktails from around the globe. They attribute a large part of our love for cocktails down to the American Prohibition in 1920, the menu states “When Prohibition hit America on Jan 17th 1920 it brought to a close a golden era of cocktail making within the U.S. Throughout the States legitimate bars and restaurants closed down, bartenders lost their jobs and the drinking public were forced to continue their habit in speakeasies. While the picture was bad at home, many American bartenders sought employment in other countries, further spreading cocktail culture and setting up American bars globally. Furthermore many of the more affluent U.S. citizens were willing to travel abroad to enjoy a drink. This fuelled a global cocktail revolution epitomised by the cocktails below.”
The selection includes worldwide creations such as The Artists Special, a Parisian drink using manzanilla sherry, that was created in the 1930s, and the Eureka, a very rare cocktail that was developed in Havana and is made of Calvados and Sloe Gin shaken with lime and sugar.
Cocktails also bring with them an air of status, some of the world’s most exclusive bars and clubs often have a piece de resistance, a mighty cocktail that blows away everything else on the menu, cost-wise. These cocktails are often very decadent, with special ingredients not found in normal beverages, rare stones!
In the Paris Ritz, provided you have the necessary funds, you will be able to sample a drink that is nearing extinction, the Ritz Sidecar. The Ritz Sidecar uses a traditional combination of brandy, Cointreau and lemon juice mixed together with an 1830 cognac of which but few bottles exist, this cognac is made from a selection of grapes that were obliterated by the phylloxera pest of the 60s and is now unavailable to grow anywhere.
The Marchant Hotel in Dublin has a very rare version of the MaI Tai, they use Jamaican rum that only has six bottles made all year, the bottle they have is very valuable and some say it is heavily guarded in a vault in the hotel.
In London the Piano Bar offers the Diamond Cocktail, made from bitters, sugar, a thousand pound cognac and of course the diamond of the title. The diamond in question comes in varying sizes, either you pick it or if you are bold the bartender picks one of his choosing and plonks it into the glass, affecting the price massively.
Finally, the most lavish cocktail on our list is the Martini on the Rock, and yes the ‘S’ is missing for a reason. This martini comes with a remarkable half-carat diamond pyramid sitting at the bottom, costing a whopping $10,000 at the New York Algonquin Hotel, buy this for a lady and surely you will be her best friend forever.