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Our Ultimate Cocktail Guide

by Charly Thieme on

The base for all successful cocktails is a simple concept: find a balance of sweet, bitter, sour, and strong (the spirit). 

Making cocktails at home can seem daunting but once you’ve got the above formula in your head and done a bit of practice, you can start experimenting. 

All you need to start your cocktail journey are a few basic ingredients such as a couple of spirits (Brighton Gin of course, plus perhaps  a brandy or whisky), fruits, something bitter and some syrups which are easily made at home as shown below. Sparkling wine, eggs and chickpea water are useful, too, but more later. If you’re feeling fancy, you could even look at investing in sherry, vermouth or triple sec which we'll come back to in a bit.

A lot of really nice drinks can be made from just 3-4 ingredients. Let’s start at the beginning: get a couple of clean former jam or honey jars ready (or a Boston shaker if you have one!), plus find a small strainer (like a mini sieve). 

Go buy a few limes, a mint plant/grab some leaves from your garden, a bottle of Brighton Gin, and sugar.

 

When you’re home, start with the SUGAR SYRUP, it’s super easy: 

  • Add sugar and just-boiled water to a clean jar/bottle - 2:1 ratio (sugar:water, for example 100g sugar to 50ml water). Stir to mix until the sugar has dissolved, let cool down/put in the fridge. Any sugar will do although we haven’t tried icing sugar so use caster, brown, or granulated.

 

Next, we want some garnishes - peel the limes and put the peel in the freezer so you can use them whenever you fancy. 

Let’s make a cocktail! We will start with the classic Southside (we made a riff on it, see our Bletchley 8000)

RECIPE

  • Juice one of your “naked” limes. The sizes vary but you usually get between 15ml and 25 ml out of half a lime. 
  • Add cubed ice, 50ml Brighton Gin Seaside Strength, a few mint leaves, 20 ml fresh lime juice, and 10 ml sugar syrup to your second jar, screw tight.
  • Shake for ca. 10-15 seconds, then strain into a smallish glass. Perhaps a martini glass, or a nice flute. This is a short cocktail and is therefore served without ice. Add a mint leaf as garnish. 
  • You could jazz it up by adding some English sparkling wine - that’s called a Southside Royale! (or a Southside Fizz if you use soda water instead)
  •  

    How about something fruity? Get a pack of raspberries (or perhaps you are lucky enough to have some growing in your garden), a lemon, and an egg - or if you’re vegan, get a can of chickpeas ready. We are making a Clover Club!

    RECIPE

  • As before, peel the lemon so you can put the peels in the freezer for other drinks/G & Ts later. Juice your lemon.
  • If you’re vegan, or if you just want to try it out, drain a can of chickpeas and catch the juice in a bowl. Otherwise, get an egg ready.
  • Add 50ml Brighton Gin Pavilion Strength, 20 ml fresh lemon juice, 15 ml sugar syrup, 2-3 raspberries and an egg white or 15ml of aquafaba to your jar, screw tight.
  • Shake for about 10-15 seconds, then add some ice cubes.
  • Shake again for 10 seconds, you will hear the ice cubes being smashed into smaller and smaller pieces. This causes foaming and will make your cocktail super smooth and pretty!
  • Strain into a coupe glass or perhaps a short tumbler. Garnish with a couple of raspberries. 
  •  

    Still have some lemon juice left over and feeling confident? Super, I’m thinking Bee’s Knees. We will also need one of your “naked” oranges, and honey syrup which goes like this:

    RECIPE

  • Add honey and just boiled water to (yet another) jar, ratio is 3:1 honey to water. Let it cool down and put it in the fridge for the time being. Juice your orange and another lemon.
  • Add 50ml Brighton Gin Pavilion Strength, 25ml lemon juice, 20 ml honey syrup, and 15ml orange juice to your cocktail jar with ice. Shake for ca. 10-15 seconds. 
  • Strain into a couple glass, again this is a short cocktail - or if you’re feeling like a longer, fresher version, strain it into a highball with ice, and add some craft IPA beer. We call this the Beer’s Knees!
  •  

    Please do ag us on Instagram @brightonginstergram or Twitter @Brighton Gin and show us your progress!

    RIGHT, I think you’re ready for something special: our own Pink Sussex 75. This is a tribute to the classic French 75 cocktail but with a Sussex and seasonal twist. You will need rhubarb, Ridgeview sparkling wine (we love these guys, you should definitely check them out), sugar syrup, Brighton Gin and some fresh lime juice.

     

    First, let’s make some rhubarb syrup with 300g chopped rhubarb, 85 g sugar and 75ml water:

    • Put the caster sugar in a saucepan with 75ml water. Heat very gently, so the sugar disappears but the water doesn’t bubble. Tip in the chopped rhubarb, cover with a tight-fitting lid (use tin foil to make it extra tight) and increase the heat a little so it begins to boil. Simmer, covered, for about 7-8 mins until the rhubarb is very tender but not disintegrating.
      Turn off the heat, and tip the pan’s contents into a fine sieve over a bowl. Use a wooden spoon to gently squeeze the rhubarb so that you get all the juices, but no pulp. Tip back into the pan and boil rapidly for a few mins until just syrupy. Pour into a jug – you should have about 125ml. Leave to cool.
    • Add 50ml Brighton Gin Pavilion Strength, 20ml fresh lime juice, 20ml rhubarb syrup, and 5ml sugar syrup to a jar/cocktail shaker. 
    • Add ice and shake for ca. 10-15 seconds. 
    • Strain into any glass, really - top up slowly with Ridgeview sparkling wine - it will foam so be careful. It should have a cute pink hue!

     

    Now, let's use a dark spirit and make a Sidecar, another classic cocktail - we will need (French) brandy here. I personally prefer Armagnac to Cognac, but there is also Brandy de Jerez and South African brandy - those are all spirits made from grapes, then aged in casks. Remember I mentioned triple sec earlier? It’s an orange-flavoured liqueur and you have definitely come across it - ever heard of curacao or Cointreau? They’re both triple secs.

    • Juice more lemon. Put a coupe glass in the fridge.
    • Add 50ml brandy, 30ml triple sec, and 20ml lemon juice in your cocktail jar/shaker. 
    • Add ice and shake for ca. 10-15 sec. Again, you’ll hear the ice being smashed in smaller and smaller pieces which is a good sign. 
    • Strain into your chilled glass. Garnish with a twist of lemon zest from earlier. Cheers!
      

    Finally, we’ll be making the ultimate and first ever cocktail: a gimlet. This one’s a creative (and super easy) one - it contains equal parts gin and lime cordial which we will be making ourselves. The cordial can be infused with anything! Thyme, rosemary, I even made a winter-y version with star anis, clove and cinnamon for Christmas. Super versatile!

    For the cordial recipe you’ll need 5 limes which will yield around 200ml fresh lime juice. Again, peel them beforehand but this time we’re actually going to use the peel. 


  • Bring 200ml water to the boil (i.e. matching the amount of lime juice) and add 150g of sugar, stir to help it dissolve. Give it another minute or so until it thickens a bit. 
  • Take off the heat, and add the lime juice and lime peel. Bring it back to a low heat but make sure it doesn’t boil again. Leave on for 5 minutes, then take off the heat and strain into a sterilised container (bottle, more jars, perhaps you have a Kilner?). Leave to cool. You want to try and get as much pulp and bits out as possible as then it will last longer.
  • At this point you could decide to infuse the cordial so add thyme or rosemary sprigs or any herbs/flavouring you like. Perhaps mint? Or basil? Anything goes here! Refrigerate.
  • Add 60ml Brighton Gin and 60ml lime cordial to a jar with ice, shake for 10-15 seconds. 
  • Strain into a nice glass - you could top this up with English sparkling wine (I call this a Gimlet Royale) or soda water (let’s name it a Gimlet Fizz). Garnish with a rosemary/thyme sprig or whatever else you infused it with, otherwise a lime wheel will look nice as well.

  • Thanks for staying with us, we have many more cocktail ideas and would also love to hear from you! 

    Remember to tag us on Instagram @brightonginstergram or Twitter @Brighton Gin and show us your creations!

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    Brighton Gin is available in regular 700ml bottles, as well as our handy 350ml midi bottle size, perfect for any number of cocktails. And for the perfect finish, why not serve our ginspiring cocktails in our Brighton Gin glasses!
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