Skip to main content

Ellie's drinks shelf

Hi Ellie!


I am by no means a bartender, although I spent most of my 20s behind a bar, I had no quest to be the creative. My only talent was that I could work fast and if I didn’t know a cocktail recipe a colleague would yell the ingredients and what it was supposed to taste, like I would be able to figure out pretty quickly the balance of everything.

I think the drinks world can feel a little intimidating. It can feel in accessible because of the technicality of making the product or mixing a drink – like cooking, there are recipes to these things, unlike food, most of the ingredients are not readily available at your supermarket and whip-up-able on a Saturday afternoon. The drinks world can feel like a private party with secret words and handshakes.

But, most people I know in the drink’s worlds are hugely creative, pretty nerdy, and really just want you to enjoy, revel in, take pleasure in, what they make. Just like food, drinks are personal.

Therefore, I like to approach booze like ingredients, something to play around with, to experiment with. This also means that I think booze - and the conversation around booze - is, and can be, a site for identity. Brewing, distilling, fermenting to make drinks were part of a harvest and farming cycle, often to use up leftover produce, and became part of rituals and celebrations. But maybe this is another discussion – or to be furthered at a later stage!

Drinks are part of our social fabric, and your booze cabinet is yours. It is an integral part of your (living room) society, now more than ever! So, I think now is a nice time to think about what all those bottles mean to you, develop your own rituals and celebrations.

I’m enjoying doing my Instagram booze reviews because I have to stop and think about the flavour and I am surprised with what my conclusions are, drinks I thought were horrible, on reflection have merit and I actually might even enjoy!

So, if we think about drinks as ingredients with flavour, I guess the first thing to do is to think about what flavours you like, what drinks you like and why?

Taste thoughts, what I think about is: how does the drink pass over my tongue, where does the sweetness hit (at the beginning of the sip, later?), is it acidic, perfumed, what is the texture?

Structure: I usually think about building a drink as four parts, with a dash of something to give it a bit of jazz – and bitters is perfect for this, but so is a lot of things, including pepper or ginger. I also like to sometimes put a smoky whisky in at the end, to give a bit of depth to a drink, if I want something heartier.

The experiment: Take four things you like, and a one you’re not sure about. Line them up, taste, smell – write notes! By notes I mean “hmmm yummy!” and “ooo a bit bittery, like a lemon peel at the end”, so real technical ;) but things that mean very specific things to you.

Your favourite flavour (e.g a gin) should be the predominant booze, e.g 30% or even 50%.
Discard one of the bottles entirely. And don’t be afraid to switch one bottle out for another, after you’ve tasted.

And really trust your own palate.

Then shake it with ice. Or stir it with ice. Try both, find your favourite.
For glam, put your glasses in the freeze.

The great things about your gins, is that you have a selection of very different types, so just tasting through them will give you an idea of what profiles they have and what flavours you’d like to bring out – or subdued. And, when you come up with a recipe you like, you can substitute the different gins and see how it all changes.

I find this part super fun.

And there are basics that you can be inspired by, these are three that I kind of mirror what I have in the booze cabinet on.
Negroni: 1part dry botanicals (gin), 1 part bitter (Campari), 1 part sweet (vermouth rosso)
Gin Fizz: Mostly dry botanicals (gin), topped up with sparkling (water, but why not just go with bubbles!) and a squeeze of acidity (lemon)
Manhattan: 2 parts sweet/oak/caramel (Kentucky bourbon), 1 part fragrant sweet (French vermouth) 1 part sweet (sweet Italian vermouth)

But first
, pour yourself a wee tipple of the amazing Japanese plum wine, one ice cube.


These are just my thoughts, and the way I approach my slightly ridiculous booze cabinet that seems to have the gambit from whisky to herbaceous French mountain liquors and every flavour profile in between! By no means a professional, just titted about in the food and drinks world for 20years, serving, and now writing about it.




Comments

Popular posts from this blog

How do we decolonise? A series of questions

I have been thinking a lot recently about how we decolonise our thinking, especially around food and drink and to be honest I have no answers but I do have a series of questions. I have a some specific streams of thinking. I am also concerned with the indigenous identity, and how it is one that sits within many other spaces. “Commonly held beliefs of the white culture attack commonly held bliefs of the Mexican culture, and both attack commonly held beliefs of the indigenous culture. […] she learns to be an Indian in Mexican culture, to be Mexican from an Angle point of view.” Gloria Anzaldua, Towards a new consciousness. Because to me this is the essential strip back we need to get to, to understand what colonialism means, and how we untangle that. But how do we engage with that language in the UK where indigenous narratives is not a known language, because ‘native’ does not mean difference? How do we connect globally with the understanding of indigeneity? There is the

Rice, and everything else

I want to tell a story about journeys. Journeys that are circular, that fold back on themselves. For Gawai this year I had a conversation with my dad about rice, and about celebrations, and on Instagram I told a story from a Gawai. It also made me think about my name – the journey my name has gone on, and how I have moulded myself to others, to audiences I meet on my migration and how I fit into what feels comfortable for others. To be complicated means having to explain myself a lot, which is both ok and annoying. I sit with both those feelings. The story of rice is complicated too, its about farming and eating, it's about gods, it's sacred but also it's everyday.  This piece is a journey too; it is a snap shot of different things that to me, make up a whole. This is my history. My name is Anna Sulan Masing. [I haven't edited my dad's words, because these are from back and forth chats, and I like imperfection that modern technology of rushed emails and

The world for some spice

This is a bit of a rant, it was going to be a twitter thread but I realised I had more to say that a few posts so thought I would take the liberty of this space - after all, that is what it is here for. But, the editing - typos, spelling, phrasing etc - will all be a bit off, as I write this in rant and in rush. Two things happened yesterday that are connected, and another thing this morning that is adjacent to the same thinking.  Firstly -  I listened to Take A Bao podcast (which I am going to write about more Kavey Eats blog for next week), and I was reminded how it is pitched for a global audience, it is talking about global food trends, but what makes is so great is that it completely takes out a western-centric narrative.  This isn't a food podcast that explores politics, it is a gentle, interesting look at various interesting foods and drinks. It just takes the assumption that Asian foods are interesting to all, and that to talk about it we don't have to exotic