Hello sunshine, sultry evenings and holiday living! December is around the corner which calls for a well-deserved break after this disastrous year in lockdown, are we right?
Let your hair down, raise your fresh and fab cocktail-filled glass and let’s celebrate the return of summer and sing hallelujah for surviving this year!
As always, we like to do things in style while staying on trend – so whether you like to dress them up with cute swivel sticks and serve them in quirky jars for some poolside sippin’ fun or prefer them in sophisticated tumblers, savouring the carefully crafted perfection – we’ve got the lowdown on all things cocktail-loving from the master himself.
We caught up with bartender extraordinaire from Lucky Shaker – the sexiest cocktail bar in Umhlanga – Michael Stephenson to get some expert advice about the hottest drinks this summer and sneaky tips to take your cocktail skills to the next level.
From botanical-infused craft luxuries to straight up, old fashioned Gordons, gin has been on everyone’s lips and the top of the trend list for a while now.
Will this trusty, versatile drink maintain its popularity or does it have some competition coming up?
Gin is definitely still a popular choice amongst many cocktail enthusiasts and bartenders alike, as the host of botanicals give a great range of flavours to work with.
There has also been a big shift recently towards the lower alcohol by volume (ABV) drinks, like Spritzers, as they allow the drinker to still enjoy something tasty but with a little more control over their alcohol intake.
Aesthetics are becoming more important too. Guests are part of a social culture connected by visual stories shared across various platforms, so beautiful drinks are a big hit. From the flamboyant Tiki-style drinks in ceramic mugs to the refreshing Aperol Spritz and its scarlet hue – this is what guests are getting excited about.
People are definitely becoming more aware of how much alcohol they are drinking.
How do you feel about the move to lower ABV drinks? Is 0% wine still wine?
I think the availability of options is a good thing. At least consumers have choices now which make responsible drinking a much easier and more inclusive experience.
I think there is still quite a bit of work to do to figure out how to refine it and make the products both delicious and priced correctly.
I’m definitely not one to judge whether a wine is still a wine without alcohol, but if the name makes guests more comfortable with the concept, then why not?
Making cocktails at home like a pro…which tips and tricks are you willing to reveal to give those DIY cocktails a professional touch?
For me, making cocktails at home is all about ease.
Take the time to prep properly in advance and look for options that can be batched or made in a jug so, when it comes time to look after your guests you can mingle around with a cocktail in your hand instead of being stuck in the kitchen squeezing limes.
Freshly-pressed juices are much more accessible these days with many people having juicers in their kitchen – and the difference is notable. It will also make it easier for you to control the level of sweetness in your drinks.
Setting up your home bar – what are some of the must-haves?
My number one must have would be a few decent ice cube moulds. Most homeware stores these days will offer the silicone ones that range in size from a 1-inch to 3-inch cube.
These come in really handy, as the ice they produce melts much slower and allows for a more consistent drinking experience. Most equipment can be improvised with kitchen tools like a protein shaker instead of a cocktail shaker.
A bottle of Angostura bitters and a soda stream machine will also help make many of the classics much more accessible and easy to prepare.
Let’s get mixing!
Make sure to be spotted sippin’ on these swoon-worthy cocktail recipes straight from the master’s little black book.
Meet Paradiso – a chic, sparkling and oh-so-lovely drink that will keep you company all day… and evening…and the Mango Mule – tropical bliss shaken and chilled to keep you cool and vibin’.
Glass: Wine glass
Garnish: Grapefruit slice & mint sprig
Method: Shake first 3 ingredients with ice and strain into ice-filled glass. Top with sparkling wine.
- 37.5 ml Aperol
- 60 ml Fresh ruby grapefruit juice
- 20 ml Honey syrup (Honey diluted with a little warm water to make it easier to pour)
- 75ml Dry sparkling wine
Garnish: Ginger slice
Method: Shake first 4 ingredients with ice and strain into an ice-filled glass. Top with Soda water.
- 50 ml Vodka
- 25 ml Ginger syrup*
- 15 ml Lime juice
- 35 ml Mango Puree
- 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
- 100 ml Soda Water
*Made by blending equal parts of castor sugar and water as well as a few pieces of ginger until the sugar is dissolved. Strain through a fine sieve to remove ginger pulp and store in a clean bottle in the fridge.
Photos: Chris Allan