Thursday, 20 April 2017

Cosmic Cosmopolitan

Now its no lie that i love a good cosmopolitan, anyone that knows me knows how much i enjoy drinking them and the good news is that they are so easy to make! The Cosmopolitan just screams New York to me... maybe its because i have seen too many episodes of Sex And The City? I personally love Cosmopolitans because they give off a plethora of different tastes and scents with its sharp lime and orange undertones and crisp cranberry juice finish. The funny thing is that i don't like cranberry juice but could never drink too many Cosmo's.

37.5ml Citrus Vodka
12.5ml Cointreau
50ml Cranberry Juice
25ml Lime (freshly squeezed)
12.5ml Sugar Syrup
2 dashes of Orange Bitters


  1. Fill Boston Tin 3/4 full of ice. 
  2. In Boston Glass pour in all ingredients.
  3. Shake.
  4. Strain into a chilled Martini glass.

  1. Take your fruit zester and peel thin ribbons of orange peel.
  2. Twist the ribbon onto a spiral and hold in a tight spiral for about 5 seconds.
  3. Balance spiral on side of glass. 
Now there are many ways you can garnish a Cosmo, i tend to go with the orange twists because they are simple and look great. You could do an orange wheel for example or place a few cocktail cherries on a stick and balance that on the rim of the glass... the possibilities are endless. You can also increase the amount of sugar syrup in your Cosmo if you like them sweeter although i should stress that there is supposed to be more lime than sugar if you are looking to make a more traditional Cosmo. I included orange bitters in my recipe because i tend to add a few drops into the mix as i feel it gives it that little bit extra but you could also use cranberry bitters if you like or even some aromatic bitters although bitters are not a necessity in a Cosmopolitan. 

Until next time
Peace out!!
'The Honest Bartender' 

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

(I Wanna Have) Sex On The Beach

Woooaaaooooaaaooohh I wanna have sex on the beach, come on move your body!!

So as it turns out its not just a hit song from the late 1990's... its a simple yet tasty cocktail and yes, i hope that song is now stuck in your heads! The Sex On The Beach is one of them great cocktails that you almost always have the ingredients for in your booze cabinet and if you don't all the components are so cheap. Simple and delicious, i challenge you to just have one especially on a nice summers day! The ultimate camp retro favourite... proper 'Del Boy' and i'm not ashamed to say this cocktail is one of my guilty pleasures as its a drink that is very difficult to mess up, i mean virtually impossible. You can order a decent one in any bar and they never disappoint because they are so easy to make. I thought i would include a Sex On The Beach because they are very popular; i have lost count on how many i have sold over the years. The best thing is that they don't require any shaking you can make so many in a short period of time making them ideal for summer parties or BBQ's.


25ml Vodka
25ml Peach Schnapps
Orange Juice
10ml Grenadine


  1. Fill desired glass with ice.
  2. Add spirits and orange juice.
  3. Stir
  4. Drizzle on grenadine.

You can use near enough any fruit to top this cocktail with... think summer.

  1. Slice an orange into wheels.
  2. Cut a tiny slit into the side of the orange about 1cm long.
  3. Place the orange wheel onto the rim of the glass.
  4. Take a strawberry and slice it in half (removing the leaves too)
  5. Cut a slit into bottom of strawberry then rest on glass in front of orange wheel. 
Another good point to mention about the Sex On The Beach is that you don't need to use the most expensive ingredients... you don't have to use premium vodkas or branded peach schnapps and if you don't have any grenadine at home the good news is you can get a big bottle of the stuff from your local supermarket for as little as £4! You could even add a few dashes of Orange or Cranberry bitters to give it a bit more 'ooomph' if you wished but i wouldn't buy them in especially for this cocktail if you don't have them already. 

Also i wouldn't advise that you have actual sex on the beach as i have heard the sand gets in all the cracks... quite the painful obstruction. 

Until next time
Peace out!!! 
'The Honest Bartender' 

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

A Taste Of The 'Old Fashioned'

I remember having a love hate relationship with the 'Old Fashioned' as i used to hate whiskey, it wasn't until i tried my first Manhattan that and fell in love with bourbons and thus gave this legendary cocktail a second chance. So lets take a trip to the 'Old West', pull out your pistols and bring all your swag!
The great thing to know when making this drink is that there is no right or wrong way when it comes to sugar ratio, it is entirely preference. The Old fashioned is a short but strong cocktail so beware drinking too many will result in embarrassing behaviour, lack of good judgement, memory loss and a BAD hangover.

60ml Bourbon Whiskey
20ml Sugar Syrup
3 Dashes Angostura Bitters
3 Dashes Orange Bitters


  1. In a rocks glass pour in the desired amount of sugar syrup and add bitters 
  2. gently rotate roll the glass around so the mixture spreads around the glass avoiding any spillage.
  3. Add 3 ice cubes, pour in 20ml of the bourbon and stir for about 60 seconds. 
  4. Add 3 more ice cubes and a further 20ml of bourbon then stir for a further 60 seconds.
  5. Add 3 more ice cubes and the remaining 20ml of bourbon and stir again for 60 seconds.

  1. Take an orange and peel of some of the zest so its about 2-3cm long 
  2. Rub the zest around the rim of the glass.
  3. Place the zest in the drink and serve. 
I can hear the backlash from you all already probably accusing me of my lazy methods for not using granulated brown sugar but it takes a lot longer and in my opinion makes no difference to the overall taste but if you want to use brown sugar feel free just beware that it will take a lot longer to dissolve into the cold mixture properly and if you don't dissolve it properly then you will be swallowing grains of sugar which isn't pleasant. Personally i use my own homemade sugar syrup made with brown sugar so i would advise you use the same... regular sugar syrup is more than sufficient as well. To make your own syrup simply add sugar to boiling water and simmer whilst continually stirring. I have no exact proportions so just do it by eye and use your own judgement, you will need to be aware that as it cools it will thicken so don't make it like a caramel as it will crystalise and won't pour. Now, i mentioned previously that the amount of sugar you put into your old fashioned is completely down to your personal preference and its true... you may not want any but i think it needs a bit. If unsure start off with a small amount and slowly add more to taste until you get the amount you are happy with. With the garnish i also like the flame the orange above the drink so you get an extra hit of orange in the drink which adds more dimension (in my opinion). In terms of bitters i use orange but Aromatic and Jerry Thomas bitters also work amazingly in an old fashioned so feel free to variate like i said it is all down to what you enjoy i simply wanted to provide a template for you all which you can all tweak. Don't feel intimidated by making this drink like many are... i did not enjoy having an Old Fashioned as a 'frenemy'. At the end of the day its all about having fun, experimenting and drinking delicious cocktails... Go get 'em!!

Until next time
Peace out!!
'The Honest Bartender'

Pornstar Martini

The Pornstar Martini was named after me because of all my antics in my early 20's... joke! Although my bedroom door did resemble a revolving door i can not stake any claim in its name. This fabulous and tasty cocktail is a favourite all over the globe and there are many ways in which you can make one. My recipe is one i was taught when i first started making cocktails and it has stayed with me as i have yet to try one that tastes as good.

37.5ml Vanilla Vodka
12.5ml Butterscotch Schnapps
50ml Pineapple Juice
25ml Passion Fruit Sugar Syrup
15ml Lemon (freshly squeezed)
12.5ml Egg White


  1. Fill Boston glass with all the ingredients (including egg white).
  2. Give the mixture a 'dry shake' (without ice, this helps to emulsify the egg and bind the mixture. whilst ensuring the cocktail will have a decent amount of foam on top of the finished cocktail).
  3. Add ice (full) and shake again.
  4. Strain the finished cocktail into a Martini or coupe glass. 
  1. Slice a passion fruit in half and gently place it into the top of the cocktail. 
  2. Take a Shot glass and pour in 25ml of prosecco and serve. 
*37.5ml = 1.5 shots)*

So let me explain my methods here as i can hear some of you cringing about the idea of adding egg white to the mixture.. it is completely safe as the ice eliminates any possible danger (although small) that the egg may cause. The egg whites help bind the mixture and give it a nice substantial head. If you still are not convinced feel free to leave it out but you will notice the difference in your martini presentation wise. I love serving these because it makes me laugh that when people order them they get very excited that they get an extra bit of booze with the prosecco garnish... this is a traditional thing and it serves as a bit of an aperitif, this is because the Pornstar Martini is a sweet cocktail and the prosecco provides balance because it is very dry. You can either choose to pour the prosecco into the martini or you can sip it alongside it, personally i like the martini as is so i just neck the prosecco as im a bit of a heathen like the majority of punters i serve them to and there is nothing wrong with that... or am i just a savage in denial? Stop judging me! I should also add that if you don't have any access to buttercotch schnapps and don't fancy forking out for a bottle you could always just up the amount of vanilla vodka to 50ml or add a passionfruit liquor instead e.g. Passoa (37.5ml vanilla vodka 12.5ml Passoa). I used Monin passion fruit syrup for my Pornstar Martini as it is a very reliable and easy to find brand, i appreciate that not everyone will have a bottle of it at home. I got my bottle from Amazon for about £8 and i use it a lot not just for Pornstar Martinis but for a number of rum based tiki cocktails. I think it is great to have in for when you fancy a cocktail so i would definitely invest in a bottle just beware that there are a lot of Monin syrups out there so try and avoid developing a obsession for collecting lots of various flavours like i have although they are great... Its too late for me! I hope to see you all channeling your inner pornstsars and drinking a lot more of these bad boys.  

Until next time,
Peace out!!
'The Honest Bartender'

Friday, 14 April 2017

The Perfect Pina Colada

The Pina Colada or strained pineapple if translated from Spanish is a tiki inspired Latin American cocktail. Whenever somebody says Pina Colada i always get a smile on my face purely because my year four primary school teacher used to call me 'Mr Pina Colada' as i would always be swinging back on my chair, had a laid back attitude and was usually daydreaming... not much has changed since then let me assure you!
There are a lot of ways you can make a delicious Pina Colada some people like to blend them others have different opinions on what sort of rum to use, the simple answer is that it is all down to preference. Below is my recipe on how to make one that is top notch.

25ml Bacardi
25ml Havana Especial
15ml Lime (freshly squeezed)
75ml Coconut Milk
75ml Pineapple Juice
2-3 dashes Angostura bitters
2-3 dashes of Tabasco (preference)


  1. Fill Boston tin 3/4 full of ice then in the Boston glass add spirits, lime, pineapple juice, coconut milk and bitters (plus tabasco if desired)
  2. Shake cocktail for around 11-15 seconds so the cocktail is mixed thoroughly and the drink is chilled.
  3. Take a tall glass and fill 3/4 full of ice.
  4. Strain cocktail into the glass 
  5. Top cocktail with garnish and serve

*To save on ice consumption you can also pour the shaken mixture directly into the desired glassware using the ice it was shaken with*

feel free to play around with whatever garnish you like. Below i will instruct you on how i created the one in the picture above, its simple and easy and utilises all of the pineapple.

  1. Place a pineapple on its side and slice vertically in 1cm intervals just below the head.
  2.  Cut each pineapple ring into four slices. 
  3. Take a cocktail pick and skewer the pineapple wedge so it is side facing (see image) then place one maraschino cherry on either side of the pineapple wedge.
  4. Take two pineaple leaves and place them in the Pina Colada at the side of the glass.

Now i just wanted to add that if you were going to use coconut flavoured rums then i would tone down the amount of coconut milk to 50ml as it would overpower the cocktail with coconut. Similarly if you were using a very potent or strong tasting coconut milk or coconut sugar syrup i would tone down the volume of the coconut milk. Koko Kanu coconut rum for example would make a delicious Pina colada but i would balance it with another rum i wouldn't suggest using a 50ml measure of just coconut rum (25ml Koko Kanu + 25ml Bacardi or spiced rum.)

Anyway you have plenty of time to practice your Pina Colada making before summer hits us so get making and creating! I apologise if you live in the U.K. like me because you probably wont get a summer... Im pretty sure there is a famous song about Pina Coladas and being caught in the rain so at least you will be able to say you will know the feeling.

Until next time
Peace out!!
'The Honest Bartender' 

Honest Cocktail Recipes

Its a 'BITTER-sweet' symphony

Cocktail bitters are an essential part of a well put together cocktail. Serving a cocktail without bitters would be like baking a cake without the sugar… bland! Saying this there are one or two exceptions to the rule where bitters aren’t that necessary like a Pornstar Martini for example doesn’t traditionally contain bitters, you could also get away with serving something like a Cosmopolitan or Sex On The Beach without bitters too. I remember when i first learned what cocktail bitters were and feeling a sense of impending doom on how and where to use them correctly but fear not i will shed some light on the situation. In this post i hope to make you feel comfortable and confident in using bitters and therefore upping your cocktail game. Bitters do provide balance to your drink if in doubt I would recommend making two of the same cocktails and adding bitters to one and comparing, you will be amazed by the difference a few dashes of these mystery bitters will make.
Just to confuse you all more there are so many variants of cocktail bitters out there ranging from Angostura or aromatic that work well in nearly every cocktail to more niche flavours like cardamom, olive and celery. The brilliant news is that you can pick up a bottle or set of bitters at a price that won’t break the bank and will go a long way. So lets review;

Angostura Bitters (44.7% ABV)
Originally used as a medicinal ‘cure all’ remedy these bitters give off notes of clove, cinnamon and tamarind. Angostura bitters work amazingly well with most cocktails. Whiskey cocktails such as an old fashioned or a Manhattan or Rum-based cocktails like mojitos, daiquiris or zombies simply would not fit the bill without a couple of dashes of these bitters. Simple drinks such as a good old Gin and Tonic can be ‘tarted up’ with the addition of Angostura bitters, they are a must have for any aspiring mixologists purely because they are so versatile.

Aromatic Bitters (39% ABV)
Ideal for whiskey based cocktails (I can’t have a Manhattan without a few dashes of aromatic bitters) they contain notes of gingerbread and clove with an anise, cardamom and cinnamon flavouring.

Orange Bitters (39% ABV)
Orange bitters work amazingly well in a lot of different cocktails especially when there are already elements of orange flavourings like when triple sec (Cointreau / Gran Marnier) is an ingredient for example. Cocktails where they work exceptionally well are Margaritas, Cosmopolitans, Long Island Iced Teas and a classic Old Fashioned.

Jerry Thomas (30% ABV)
Jerry Thomas bitters are named surprisingly after a man called Jerry Thomas who published the first ever book of cocktail recipes. These bitters are very widely used as, like Angostura bitters they work in a lot of different cocktails. Whiskey, rum and gin cocktails are very nicely complimented by the addition of these bitters. They contain notes of ginger, orange, almond, and dried fruit.

Just for fun I will list a few more bitters that are available below along with what cocktail I would best pair with them.
Cherry Bitters – Singapore Sling
Chocolate Bitters -  White Russian
Coffee Bitters – Espresso Martini
Cranberry Bitters – Cosmopolitan
Olive Bitters – Dirty Martini
Wood Bitters – Old Fashioned
Celery Bitters – Bloody Mary

I matched those bitters with these specific cocktails as i feel they would bring an extra dimension to the cocktails. A White Russian for example contains coffee liquor and as we all know coffee and chocolate compliment each other famously. As we also know gin contains many botanicals so in a cocktail where gin is the predominant base spirit a more herbal or earthy bitter would be best suited. Some bitters also work well collaboratively for instance when making an Old Fashioned I would use both Angostura and Orange bitters, if in doubt try a few combinations but use your head… mixology is all about experimenting.
I could literally talk about bitters all day but I fear I’m losing you all already, Like I said there are many different variants of bitters out there, I have listed the ones above because they can be used in so many different cocktails from martinis and sours to daiquiris and negronis. I hope some of you have found this post useful and informative and have enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it. Just remember guys cocktail bitters are an essential part of a well-balanced cocktail and like i said previously they are quite inexpensive ranging from about £8-12 per bottle. You can also pick up sets of four for around £17-22.

Until next time
Peace Out!!
‘The Honest Bartender’

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Where it all began.

I will always look back at The Peacock pub in Nottingham fondly, not only because it was where i first became a barman but also because of the memories that were made and friendships that were formed. In fact it is still my first choice for a meeting point when i'm back in my hometown of Nottingham and catching up with friends. The funny thing is i never set out to be a barman, i certainly enjoyed being on the punters side but could never imagine anything worse than having to serve drinks to the drunken masses... how naive i was. I have honestly never looked back. I have found a love for the connection between server and customer, the sights, sounds and even the smell of a good old pub or bar makes me feel at home. Beyond that i have developed a huge interest in the science of it all; how to create a perfectly balanced cocktail, how all the human senses come into play and how to modify century old recipes to the preference of the drinker. Its amusing to me that i was once nervous about the prospect of pulling a pint of real ale and now i am creating this 'how to' blog to inspire the inner mixologists in you all.

Now i am by no means the best cocktail bartender out there but i am not half bad, I am very confident in my ability to serve a beautifully tasting well presented cocktail and it is now wish to share with you some of the cocktails i have learned throughout my journey, some classic recipes and some amazing signature cocktails. I will also be conducting some reviews of the bars in and around Manchester providing you all with my honest and unbiased opinion, sampling what the city has to offer in terms of great cocktails.

until next time,
peace out!!
'The Honest Bartender'

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