Liquor Inside

Inside the Unripe Cocktail Machine. Return to the machine.

Unripe

adj. not ripe; immature; green

We are Michelle & Andy Green. Mixing and researching classic cocktails is a passion of mine (Andy). Michelle shows great patience in helping to taste-test all the cocktails - good and bad - and decide which are worthy of inclusion in our listing and how many stars we give them. I created The Unripe Cocktail Machine for my own use but put it on our website so others could benefit from it too. If you have any feedback (bug reports, feature requests, cocktail suggestions, corrections etc) please contact .

Cocktails

True cocktails orginated in the early 1800s as a morning pick-me-up and were originally a mixture of spirits, sugar, water, and bitters. Bitters were the ingredient that differentiated a cocktail from a sling - a cocktail was considered a "bittered sling". Many of the cocktails that are considered classics today were first concocted in the speakeasies during prohibition in the 1920 and early '30s. The term cocktail is now used in a more general sense to mean any mixed drink - including drinks that were originally called slings, sours, flips, and fizzes.

David Embury, in his book The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, breaks cocktail ingredient into three categories: base, modifier and special flavouring & colouring agents.

Here at The Unripe Cocktail Machine we take this a step further and use a taxonomy system for cocktails (and other mixed drinks) that describes a drink in terms of the following five aspects:

  1. Form : The presentation style of the drink (type of glass, type of ice, top-up)
  2. Base : The principal ingredient of the mixed drink, typically a spirituous liquor such as gin, whisky, rum, etc
  3. Modifying agents : The ingredients that give the cocktail its character
  4. Special flavouring and colouring agents : Ingredients used sparingly, such as bitters and syrups
  5. Garnish : The decoration added to the finished drink

Machine

The trouble with almost all cocktail books is that they are an alphabetical list of cocktails by name. So they are of little use if you want to find cocktails that use a particular ingredient or cocktails that are similar to one another. Some websites let you choose one ingredient for the base and/or one or two ingredients for the modifier, but generally in a fairly restrictive way.

The Unripe Cocktail Machine offers greater flexibility by providing the means to find cocktails that:

Once you've selected one cocktail, you can choose to find more cocktails that are similar in any combination of: Form, Base, Modyfing agents, Special flavouring agents and/or Garnish.

Recipes

The Unripe Cocktail Machine doesn't set out to list thousands upon thousands of cocktails. Instead we try to list only great cocktails with a particular focus on classics.

The recipes presented here are designed for people making cocktails at home so we have standardised and simplified a little whilst trying to remain as faithful as possible to the original recipe.

As well as listing the ingredients and method for making a cocktail, the entries also contain a star rating, comments, a record of what decade the cocktail dates from (where this is known), and a list of publications that reference a cocktail of the same name. More often than not each book will have a slightly different version of the recipe, so this list of references lets you quickly find all the variations on a recipe (assuming you have the books) so you can compare and draw your own conclusions about which is best.

Glassware

Most of us don't have room in our homes for the variety of glassware typically found in cocktail bars, so these recipes only refer to 8 types of glass: Cocktail, Old Fashioned (or lowball), Highball, Champagne Flute, Wine Glass, Sherry Glass, Punch Glass & Shot Glass. Often a distinction is made between a cocktail glass and a martini glass but as they are both broad shallow glasses I don't see the point. I use the term highball for any tall glass called variously: highball, collins glass, chimney glass, goblet or hollowed out pineapple. In terms of defining the form of a cocktail, lowballs and highballs are treated as the same - i.e. tumbler style.

Form

Drinks served in cocktail, flute or sherry glasses are normally served "straight up", i.e. with no ice in the glass. Drinks served in old fashioned or highball glasses are normally served over ice. The ice can either be ice cubes or crushed ice. For crushed ice we recommend getting a manual ice crusher. When following recipes that call for blending the ingredients with ice, it's much better to shake the liquid ingredients with ice cubes and the strain over fresh crushed ice.

Shaken or stirred?

Shaking is easier, takes less ice, is faster and makes the drink colder (and slightly more dilute). In theory you are supposed to stir if all the ingredients are clear because shaking makes the drink cloudy (although it will clear up after a minute or so). If there are any opaque ingredients (such as fruit juice, or egg) there's no reason not to shake. I usually always shake - who cares if it looks cloudy when first poured? Only a bartender.

Quantities

The liquor in a drink for one person is usually between 30ml and 50ml or between 1 and 2 fluid ounces (oz). But the most important thing when measuring cocktails is the proportions rather than absolute measurements. The IBA give measurements in ml and also show "parts". I prefer to simply use ounces in cocktail recipes - which can be read as parts if you are scaling up. I like to use a glass measure that has measurements printed on the side in various units: ounces, millimeters, teaspoons, tablespoons. Alternatively you can use a jigger and spoons. A steel jigger measures 1 oz on one side and 2 oz on the other (or a British jigger measures 25ml on one side and 50ml on the other - close enough to 1 oz and 2 oz). One ounce is 30ml so for ½ oz and ¼ oz measures you can use a tablespoon (15ml) and a teaspoon (5ml) respectively. It doesn't need to be precise, just in the right ball park. The other quantitiy used as a measurement is a dash - where there are about 6 dashes to the teaspoon. In recipe books that specify the main ingredients as "parts" (for easy scaling) those specified as dashes will usually mean per-drink.

Don't be afraid to experiment and adjust the proportions to your taste. If you compare the recipe for any given classic cocktail from multiple sources you will find they are all slightly different.

Ingredients

I prefer to refer to types of liquors and liqueurs rather than specific brands. Unless there is one particular brand which is really the only option - such as Cointreau for triple sec (Cointreau bottles originally had "triple sec" on the label until imitators started using the term). Or where there is only one brand typically available.

To simpify searching I have standardised on the following ingredient names in the recipes:

The Unripe Cocktail Machine divides ingredients into categories that are used by the "more like this" feature: liquors, fortified wine, aperitif wine, bitters, aromatic liqueur, citrus liqueur, fruit liqueur/brandy, creme liqueur, whisky liqueur, syrup, citrus juice, fruit juice, fruit, top-up and miscellaneous

Gin

There are various styles of gin: london dry gin, dry gin, plymouth gin, old tom gin, genever. London gin gets it's flavour exclusively through distillation. Plymouth gin is less dry. Old Tom gin is slightly sweetened. Genver (or holland gin) is the original juniper flavoured liquor and the least dry.

Unless otherwise specified when a recipe calls for gin use dry gin, preferably london gin.

Our favourite london dry gin is Sipsmith. Other good london dry gins include Tanqueray 10 and Beefeater 24.

A good dry gin is Hendrick's, which is not a london dry gin because the cucumber flavour is added after distillation - try a Hendrick's martini garnished with a slice of cucumber. Marks and Spencer's have their own brand of dry gin called Spirit of London which is very nice if light on flavour. There are lots of new small batch gins appearing on the market these days, experiment to find one you like best.

Old tom gin was hard to come by until recently. A good brand is Jensens. Other brands include Hayman's and the Dorchester Hotel have their own brand.


Rum

There are many styles of rum, but ignoring the spiced and flavoured varieties the two main types are: white and dark/gold.

There are lots of good dark and gold rums easily available. For use in cocktails, we like Flor de Cana 4yr, Bacardi 8yr and Chairman's Reserve.

Good white rum, unfortunately, is harder to come by. Most places only sell Bacardi, but Bacardi white rum is not good. Try Green Island superior light rum from Mauritius. Flor de Cana make a nice white rum which is simply their 4yr old gold rum filtered through charcoal to remove the colour.


Tequila

There are five catgegories of tequila - depending on how long it is aged. The two main ones used in cocktails are blanco (aged less than 2 months) and reposado (aged a minimum of 2 months but less than 12). Unlike other liquors, where the longer the aging the better the drink, Mexicans think the best tequila is unaged.

Blanco (or silver) tequila, as the name suggests, is clear, whereas reposado has some colour. The default tequila to use in cocktails is the silver variety - unless reposado is specifically called for.

As with white rum, it is hard to find good tequila. Supermarkets usually only stock Jose Cuervo or Sauza - both of which are mixtos, which means they are only 51% made from agave. The thing to look for is "100% blue agave" tequila. Good brands include: AquaRiva, Centenario (both blanco and reposado make an excellent margarita), Herradura, El Jimador, Tapatio & 1800 Cuervo. The house tequila at Cafe Pacifico is a reasonably priced 100% agave tequila called Ocho that makes a great margarita.

For more information on tequila visit The Tequila Society.


Brandy

Brandy is made by distilling wine. The default brandy to use in cocktails is grape brandy such as cognac. Brandy can also be made from other fruit, such as apple brandy. American apple brandy is called applejack because it was originally made by jacking cider, which is a distillation process that involves leaving cider outside to freeze and removing the chunks of ice. Calvados is a European apple brandy from France. In England you'll find Cider Brandy.


Whisky

There are several styles of whisky from various countries. The cocktail is a very American invention so no surprise that the whisky most commonly used in cocktails is bourbon. The second most commonly called for is rye whisky, but rye whisky is harder to find - so you can use bourbon as a substitute.

For bourbon, we like Maker's Mark, Buffalo Trace, Bulliet and Woodford Reserve. For rye, Sazerac is brilliant, if a bit expensive, and Pikesville is good. Rittenhouse rye is acceptable, but don't waste your money on Jim Beam.

Maker's Mark is an excellent bourbon but is made from a corn and wheat mash where most bourbons are made from a corn and rye mash. When using Maker's Mark in a cocktail I like to mix it with straight rye.

Scotch whisky, to my mind, doesn't work well in most cocktails and is better drunk neat. Most cocktails calling for Scotch are just variations on a bourbon cocktail (e.g. the Rob Roy is the Scotch variant of a Manhattan). A good scotch malt whisky to use in cocktails is Highland Park. Interestingly, David Embury says the best Scotch is blended! For cocktails, maybe he is right.


Vodka

Grain Vodka is flavourless alcohol with no character of it's own and so vodka cocktails rely entirely on the other ingredients for flavour. For best results, keep it in the freezer.

We've discovered a really smooth English potato vodka called Chase. A good grain vodka is Snow Leopard, but it's not that much better than a standard cheap vodka like Absolut to justify paying twice as much for it.


Bitters

Bitters is an important ingredient in many cocktails. Angostura bitters is the most widely used bitters but a couple of others worth having are peychaud's bitters and orange bitters. A good brand of orange bitters is Regan's.

Other bitters include: peach bitters, xocolatl mole (chocolate flavoured) & celery bitters.

There are now several brands of cocktail bitters: The Bitter Truth, Fee Brothers, Bittermans, Bob's Bitters. Some are reviving some acient recipes like boker's bitters and jerry thomas bitters.

The Bitter Truth sell a traveller's set which is a set of five different bitters in small (20ml) bottles. The aromatic bitters included is an acceptable alternative to Angostura, and you can substitute the creole bitters for peychaud's bitters.

Less commonly used as bitters in cocktails are some digestive bitters: campari (which is very bitter indeed), amer picon which is a French bitters traditionally added to blonde beer & fernet branca.


Aperitif Wine

A key ingredient in aromatic cocktails is vermouth. Vermouth is wine - so, once opened, has a limited life and should be kept in the fridge.

Dry (or French) vermouth is what makes a dry martini "dry". Try Dolin Chambery, Noilly Prat or Lillet Blanc.

Sweet (or Italian) vermouth is what makes a manhattan "sweet". The original and best is Carpano Antica. Also try Dolin Chambery Rouge, Lillet Rouge or Byrrh. Vya is an interesting sweet vermouth from california that has distinctive oaky overtones.

A third kind of vermouth, less commonly used in cocktails, is bianco - a sweet but clear vermouth. Try Cinzano Bianco.


Fortified Wine

Some cocktail recipes use fortified wine, such as sherry and port as the modifier or even the base. A good style of port to use in cocktails is white port. When cocktail recipes call for sherry they generally mean dry sherry.


Aromatic Liqueur

This category of liqueur includes: benedictine, chartreuse, ginger liqueur, kummel, pastis, swedish punsch.


Citrus Liqueur

The citrus liqueurs include: orange curacao, cointreau, grand marnier.


Fruit Liqueur

The fruit liqueurs most commonly used in cocktails include: apricot brandy, blackberry brandy, cherry heering, kirsch, maraschino, peach brandy, raspberry liqueur.


Creme Liqueur

Creme liqueurs are really sweet. Creme de cafe, creme de cacao, creme de cassis, creme de menthe, creme de violette.


Whisky Liqueur

The two whisky liqueurs used in cocktails are southern comfort and drambuie.


Syrups

You can make your own simple syrup by gently warming equal quantities (say 1 cup) of water and caster sugar until the sugar disolves. This will keep for about three weeks. You can add a teaspoon or so of overproof vodka as a preservative. Or you can buy simple syrup quite cheaply.

Grenadine is supposed to be pomegranate syrup, but the stuff general available as "grenadine" is just simple syrup with red food colouring and vanilla(!) flavouring. Again, you can make your own grenadine by substituting 100% pomegranate juice for water in the simple syrup recipe. Alternatively buy pomegranate syrup.

For the perfect margariti a good agave syrup, such as AquaRiva, is a must have.


Citrus Juice

A key ingredient in sour cocktails is citrus. Try to find unwaxed lemons and oranges so you can use the peel for "twists". It doesn't matter so much with limes if they are waxed or not because you usually only use the juice - unless the recipe calls for muddled lime wedges/slices.


Fruit Juice

Various fruit juices are used to top-up tall drinks. Cranberry juice, apple juice, pineapple juice, tomato juice.


Fruit

Whole pieces of fruit can be blended or muddled with the liquid ingredients or pieces of fruit can be added as garnish. Banana, strawberries, raspberries, kiwi, lemon wedges, lime wedges, orange wedges, pineapple, watermelon.


Top-up

Various carbonated or naturally fizzy ingredients can be used to top-up highball drinks. Soda water, tonic water, cola, ginger ale, lemonade, champagne, other wine, beer, cider.


Miscellaneous

Other miscellaneous cocktail ingredients include: Egg, mint, coconut, tabasco sauce, worcestershire sauce, cloves.


Ganish

The most common garnishes used for cocktails are: twist of lemon, twist of orange, sugar rim, salt rim, citrus fruit, cherry, other fruit, mint, olive, pickled onion, chilli, cocoa, rose, grated nutmeg.


Where to shop

The best places to shop for cocktail ingredients in London are:

All of the above have online stores. You can also order online from a wide selection of ingredients from The Whisky Exchange.

Supermarkets like Sainbury's and Ocado have very little choice but will always be the cheapest option. Local off-licences are usually far more expensive than anywhere else.

Prices current as of October 2012

IngredientRecommendationSizeBest priceWhere?
ginSipsmith London dry Gin70 cl£26.30Ocado
 Jensen's Old Tom Gin70 cl£25.75Whisky Exchange
vodkaChase English Potato Vodka70 cl£30.49Whisky Exchange
white rumGreen Island Light70 cl£23.50Gerry's
 Flor de Cana 4yr Old Extra Dry70 cl£21.95Whisky Exchange
dark rumFlor de Cana 4yr Old Gold70 cl£21.95Whisky Exchange
 Mount Gay Eclipse70 cl£15.95Whisky Exchange
spiced rumThe Kraken Dark Spiced Rum75 cl£21.95Whisky Exchange
cachacaSagatiba Pura Cachaca70 cl£17.95Ocado
tequila blancoGran Centenario Plata70 cl£23.99Soho Wine Supply
 AquaRiva Bar Blanco70 cl£21.95Amathus
tequila reposadoGran Centenario Reposado70 cl£27.50Soho Wine Supply
 AquaRiva Bar Reposado70 cl£22.99Amathus
brandyHennessey VS Cognac70 cl£26.49Whisky Exchange
calvadosChateau De Breuil Fine70 cl£23.50Gerry's
bourbon whiskeyMaker's Mark70 cl£21.49Whisky Exchange
 Buffalo Trace70 cl£23.50Soho Wine Supply
rye whiskeySazerac70 cl£33.90Soho Wine Supply
 Pikesville Supreme70 cl£22.49Whisky Exchange
scotch whiskyHighland Park70 cl£24.49Whisky Exchange
canadian whiskyCanadian Club70 cl£18.95Gerry's
 
champagnePerrier Jouet Grand Brut75cl£24.91Amathus
portKing's Port Blanc75 cl£11.50Nicolas
 Ramos Pinto - White Port75cl£13.50Soho Wine Supply
sherryTio Pepe Fino Sherry75 cl£10.75Whisky Exchange
pimm's no. 1Pimm's No. 170 cl£13.19Whisky Exchange
ginger wineStones Ginger Wine70 cl£6.25Gerry's
dry vermouthDolin Chambery Dry75 cl£7.49Ocado
 Noilly Prat Dry75 cl£9.00Ocado
vermouth rossoCarpano Antica Formula1 Ltr£30.95Whisky Exchange
 Dolin Chambery Rouge75 cl£12.25Gerry's
vermouth biancoCinzano Bianco75 cl£5.69Ocado
lillet blancLillet Blanc75 cl£15.49Whisky Exchange
dubonnetDubonnet75 cl£9.15Gerry's
IngredientRecommendationSizeBest priceWhere?
angostura bittersAngostura Bitters200 ml£6.25Whisky Exchange
orange bittersRegan's Orange Bitters148ml£8.50Whisky Exchange
peychaud's bittersPeychaud's Bitters148ml£7.75Whisky Exchange
campariCampari70 cl£13.80Ocado
amer piconAmer Picon1 Ltr£22.75Whisky Exchange
fernet brancaFernet Branca70cl£22.25Gerry's
 
pastisHenri Bardouin Pastis70 cl£24.95Gerry's
amarettoAmaretto Di Saronno70 cl£17.95Whisky Exchange
kahluaKahlua70 cl£15.80Amathus
orange curacaoMonin Orange Curacao70 cl£13.95Gerry's
benedictineBenedictine70 cl£23.95Gerry's
cointreau / triple secCointreau70 cl£18.95Whisky Exchange
grand marnierGrand Marnier Liqueur70 cl£21.99Nicolas
kirschwasserLuxardo Kirsch50cl£12.50Soho Wine Supply
cherry brandyCherry Heering70 cl£20.95Whisky Exchange
raspberry liqueurChambord Raspberry Liqueur70 cl£18.95Whisky Exchange
apricot brandyCartron Apricot Brandy70 cl£19.95Whisky Exchange
peach brandyMonin Creme de Peche70 cl£13.95Gerry's
creme de cacaoMonin Creme de Cacao White70 cl£13.95Gerry's
creme de cassisMonin Creme de Cassis70 cl£10.50Gerry's
maraschino liqueurLuxardo Maraschino50 cl£19.49Whisky Exchange
chartreuse yellowChartreuse Yellow70 cl£30.49Whisky Exchange
chartreuse greenChartreuse Green70 cl£25.89Ocado
parfait amourCartron Parfait Amour50cl£13.50Soho Wine Supply
 
simple syrupFunkin Sugar Cane Syup70 cl£4.95Gerry's
grenadineMonin Pomegranate Sirop70 cl£5.95Whisky Exchange
agave nectarAquaRiva Organic Agave Syrup25 cl£3.95Whisky Exchange
strawberry syrupMonin Fraise Sirop70 cl£7.00Soho Wine Supply
raspberry syrupMonin Framboise Sirop70 cl£5.95Whisky Exchange
orgeat syrupMonin Orgeat Sirop70 cl£5.95Whisky Exchange
passion fruit syrupMonin Passion Sirop70 cl£5.95Whisky Exchange

Where to drink out

For when you are too lazy to mix your own cocktails there are some great cocktail bars in London:

Central London bar map

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Copyright © Michelle & Andy Green

unripe adj. not ripe; immature; green