In the shaker: Getting creative with cocktails


What to try… how to mix… where to go… what to buy… creative Viagra for the bar professional…

Resist the temptation to get too fiddly, says The Hide’s Paul Mathew, and start rediscovering the joy of tinkering with two-part drinks

The variety of products on offer, combined with a desire to produce something unique and unusual, means we’re all sometimes guilty of overcomplicating our drinks a little. That’s why I like two-part drinks. Often surprisingly difficult to balance, I find them some of the most satisfying to perfect. They’re also interesting to sell as the choice of brand can make all the difference, giving you a chance to show off your knowledge of the back bar and make recommendations. So here are four classics from the 1920s and two new recipes to play around with.

Paul Mathew

Mixing tips

  • The quality and style of ingredients is much more obvious, so experiment with different brands to give very differing drinks.
  • As you only have two spirit ingredients to play with, the third ingredient, the water, becomes more important. Experiment with stirring duration and intensity of shake to get the right dilution and texture.
  • Open straining (hawthorn with the ‘gate’ open) allows the fragments of shaken ice to sit on the drink keeping the underlying liquid chilled and slowly increasing dilution in the manner of stirring an Old Fashioned.
  • A few millilitres here and there can drastically change the drink, so a set of measuring spoons can come in very handy.

Vermouth Cassis

Glass: Cocktail
Garnish: None
Method: Stir and strain into a chilled glass

50ml Carpano Antica Formula (sweet) vermouth
25ml crème de cassis

Savoy Tango Cocktail

Glass: Cocktail
Garnish: Traditionally none, but green apple works well
Method: Shake well and open strain (see mixing tips)

25ml sloe gin (preferably home-made, but otherwise not too sweet e.g. Plymouth Sloe)
25ml calvados


Glass: Old-fashioned
Garnish: Lemon twist
Method: Build whilst stirring in the ingredients slowly

50ml cognac
10ml Pedro Ximénez sherry


Glass: Old-fashioned
Garnish: Mint sprig
Method: Shake and fine strain over crushed ice

40ml cognac
20ml white crème de menthe

Violet Disregard

Glass: Flute
Garnish: Washed flower petal
Method: Build as a Kir Royale

20ml Briottet Liqueur de Violette
Top with champagne

Ping-Pong (simple)

Glass: Cocktail
Garnish: Small orange twist
Method: Stir and strain into a chilled glass

50ml sloe gin
12.5ml Punt e Mes

Jamie Stephenson honeymoons with Bellinis at Harry’s Bar and lays his hands on the original mugs for a Moscow Mule

Return to the sauce

I don’t know why, but very often having a famous drink in its place of origin is almost anti-climactic – I have heard so many comments, particularly about the Singapore Sling at Raffles not being all that enjoyable (especially for the cost). Why is this? Do we over-imagine what the drink can possibly deliver through our anticipation? Maybe you’ve desired a certain drink for over a decade, and then brought it slowly to your lips only to wonder… IS THAT IT?

But I managed to sample a drink recently that exceeded my expectations. Following my recent nuptials, my wife and I honeymooned in Venice and our first port of cal
l was, of course, Harry’s Bar, opened by Giuseppe Cipriani in 1931.

The Bellini managed to be exactly as I thought it should and yet be completely different at the same time. I didn’t realise the drink would be served in a highball glass, but instead of feeling cheated, I felt it gave the drink an identity of its own, especially as all the glassware in Harry’s is Cipriani branded.

The drink was famously named for Venetian painter Giovanni Bellini because it resembled a shade of pink (see left) Giuseppe loved in one of the artist’s paintings. Looking deep into the golden pink, I could see how Giuseppe would choose a classical Renaissance painter as his inspiration.

A lovely mug

Another famous drink is the Moscow Mule, which not only has an association to a bar, it also comes in a special mug.

For those of you who don’t know, the Moscow Mule pretty much introduced vodka to America. Legend has it that Messrs Morgan and Martin of Heublein and the Cock ‘n’ Bull saloon in LA came up with this drink to stimulate sales in products neither of them could shift – Smirnoff Vodka and ginger beer. They mixed the two together with a squeeze of fresh lime and served them in engraved copper mugs.

Thanks to the wonders of eBay, I’ve also got some of the original copper mugs adorning my back-bar. Plenty of them are available on online auctions now because so many of them were taken from the bar during the 1940s. Perfect for toasting the Golden Age of Hollywood.

Flower power

Like the judging panel for last issue’s ICE Awards, I have been impressed with No.209 gin from San Francisco. No.209 uses lavender as one of its botanicals, and it gave me the inspiration to remake one of my most beloved drinks using Atkins and Potts’ Lavender Syrup (available from This drink is very light and crisp with a delicate flowery undercurrent which belies the hidden strength of the gin – delicious! It was invented and popularised at Jamie’s Bar in Salford so if anybody wants to add this to their pilgrimage list, come on round, I can guarantee you will not be disappointed.

Lavender Aviation

35ml No.209 gin

15ml Luxardo Maraschino

20ml Lemon Juice

10ml Atkins & Potts Lavender Syrup

Shake well and fine strain into a chilled goblet and garnish with lavender flowers.

Jamie Stephenson

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