Inside the Unripe Cocktail Machine. Return to the machine.
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 .
True cocktails orginated in the early 1800s as a morning pick-me-up. The term "cocktail" comes from the practice, when selling an old horse, of sticking a piece of ginger up the horse’s backside to make it cock its tail and appear younger and friskier that it really was. Cocktails 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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
This category of liqueur includes: benedictine, chartreuse, ginger liqueur, kummel, pastis, swedish punsch.
The citrus liqueurs include: orange curacao, cointreau, grand marnier.
The fruit liqueurs most commonly used in cocktails include: apricot brandy, blackberry brandy, cherry heering, kirsch, maraschino, peach brandy, raspberry liqueur.
Creme liqueurs are really sweet. Creme de cafe, creme de cacao, creme de cassis, creme de menthe, creme de violette.
The two whisky liqueurs used in cocktails are southern comfort and drambuie.
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.
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.
Various fruit juices are used to top-up tall drinks. Cranberry juice, apple juice, pineapple juice, tomato juice.
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.
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.
Other miscellaneous cocktail ingredients include: Egg, mint, coconut, tabasco sauce, worcestershire sauce, cloves.
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.
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.
Prices current as of October 2012
|gin||Sipsmith London dry Gin||70 cl||£26.30||Ocado|
|Jensen's Old Tom Gin||70 cl||£25.75||Whisky Exchange|
|vodka||Chase English Potato Vodka||70 cl||£30.49||Whisky Exchange|
|white rum||Green Island Light||70 cl||£23.50||Gerry's|
|Flor de Cana 4yr Old Extra Dry||70 cl||£21.95||Whisky Exchange|
|dark rum||Flor de Cana 4yr Old Gold||70 cl||£21.95||Whisky Exchange|
|Mount Gay Eclipse||70 cl||£15.95||Whisky Exchange|
|spiced rum||The Kraken Dark Spiced Rum||75 cl||£21.95||Whisky Exchange|
|cachaca||Sagatiba Pura Cachaca||70 cl||£17.95||Ocado|
|tequila blanco||Gran Centenario Plata||70 cl||£23.99||Soho Wine Supply|
|AquaRiva Bar Blanco||70 cl||£21.95||Amathus|
|tequila reposado||Gran Centenario Reposado||70 cl||£27.50||Soho Wine Supply|
|AquaRiva Bar Reposado||70 cl||£22.99||Amathus|
|brandy||Hennessey VS Cognac||70 cl||£26.49||Whisky Exchange|
|calvados||Chateau De Breuil Fine||70 cl||£23.50||Gerry's|
|bourbon whiskey||Maker's Mark||70 cl||£21.49||Whisky Exchange|
|Buffalo Trace||70 cl||£23.50||Soho Wine Supply|
|rye whiskey||Sazerac||70 cl||£33.90||Soho Wine Supply|
|Pikesville Supreme||70 cl||£22.49||Whisky Exchange|
|scotch whisky||Highland Park||70 cl||£24.49||Whisky Exchange|
|canadian whisky||Canadian Club||70 cl||£18.95||Gerry's|
|champagne||Perrier Jouet Grand Brut||75cl||£24.91||Amathus|
|port||King's Port Blanc||75 cl||£11.50||Nicolas|
|Ramos Pinto - White Port||75cl||£13.50||Soho Wine Supply|
|sherry||Tio Pepe Fino Sherry||75 cl||£10.75||Whisky Exchange|
|pimm's no. 1||Pimm's No. 1||70 cl||£13.19||Whisky Exchange|
|ginger wine||Stones Ginger Wine||70 cl||£6.25||Gerry's|
|dry vermouth||Dolin Chambery Dry||75 cl||£7.49||Ocado|
|Noilly Prat Dry||75 cl||£9.00||Ocado|
|vermouth rosso||Carpano Antica Formula||1 Ltr||£30.95||Whisky Exchange|
|Dolin Chambery Rouge||75 cl||£12.25||Gerry's|
|vermouth bianco||Cinzano Bianco||75 cl||£5.69||Ocado|
|lillet blanc||Lillet Blanc||75 cl||£15.49||Whisky Exchange|
|angostura bitters||Angostura Bitters||200 ml||£6.25||Whisky Exchange|
|orange bitters||Regan's Orange Bitters||148ml||£8.50||Whisky Exchange|
|peychaud's bitters||Peychaud's Bitters||148ml||£7.75||Whisky Exchange|
|amer picon||Amer Picon||1 Ltr||£22.75||Whisky Exchange|
|fernet branca||Fernet Branca||70cl||£22.25||Gerry's|
|pastis||Henri Bardouin Pastis||70 cl||£24.95||Gerry's|
|amaretto||Amaretto Di Saronno||70 cl||£17.95||Whisky Exchange|
|orange curacao||Monin Orange Curacao||70 cl||£13.95||Gerry's|
|cointreau / triple sec||Cointreau||70 cl||£18.95||Whisky Exchange|
|grand marnier||Grand Marnier Liqueur||70 cl||£21.99||Nicolas|
|kirschwasser||Luxardo Kirsch||50cl||£12.50||Soho Wine Supply|
|cherry brandy||Cherry Heering||70 cl||£20.95||Whisky Exchange|
|raspberry liqueur||Chambord Raspberry Liqueur||70 cl||£18.95||Whisky Exchange|
|apricot brandy||Cartron Apricot Brandy||70 cl||£19.95||Whisky Exchange|
|peach brandy||Monin Creme de Peche||70 cl||£13.95||Gerry's|
|creme de cacao||Monin Creme de Cacao White||70 cl||£13.95||Gerry's|
|creme de cassis||Monin Creme de Cassis||70 cl||£10.50||Gerry's|
|maraschino liqueur||Luxardo Maraschino||50 cl||£19.49||Whisky Exchange|
|chartreuse yellow||Chartreuse Yellow||70 cl||£30.49||Whisky Exchange|
|chartreuse green||Chartreuse Green||70 cl||£25.89||Ocado|
|parfait amour||Cartron Parfait Amour||50cl||£13.50||Soho Wine Supply|
|simple syrup||Funkin Sugar Cane Syup||70 cl||£4.95||Gerry's|
|grenadine||Monin Pomegranate Sirop||70 cl||£5.95||Whisky Exchange|
|agave nectar||AquaRiva Organic Agave Syrup||25 cl||£3.95||Whisky Exchange|
|strawberry syrup||Monin Fraise Sirop||70 cl||£7.00||Soho Wine Supply|
|raspberry syrup||Monin Framboise Sirop||70 cl||£5.95||Whisky Exchange|
|orgeat syrup||Monin Orgeat Sirop||70 cl||£5.95||Whisky Exchange|
|passion fruit syrup||Monin Passion Sirop||70 cl||£5.95||Whisky Exchange|
For when you are too lazy to mix your own cocktails there are some great cocktail bars in London: