Experimental cocktails to spice up your weekend

One of the best presents I got for Christmas this year was an experimental cocktail recipe book from my sister. 

I LOVE cocktails, and now that we can't go out, opportunities to try new ones - and really good ones  - are few and far between. We all know the classics - the Margarita, the Mojito, Sex on the Beach - but this book is full of recipes that are like nothing you can get in your local bar. 'The Experimental Cocktail Club' is a collective dreamed up by childhood friends, Romée, Pierre-Charles and Olivier who left university with the desire to start a high end cocktail bar. This recipe book details their inventions and discoveries, now that their collective has bars in the hottest areas of London, Paris, New York and Ibiza. 

Chronicling the journey of cocktail, from the American prohibition to the glittering European 1920s right up to modern concoctions, they tell their story through the drinks that they put fresh twists on and entirely invent themselves. Here are some of their cocktails that have a) slightly easier to source ingredients and b) taste seriously delicious.

'Experience No. 1'

One of the first cocktails they had on their list, this cocktail premiered in their Paris bar and still appears as one of their originals on menus all over the world. Light, refreshing and cool, it's the perfect zesty treat for starting off the night.

Ingredients

  • 2 basil leaves
  • 1 lemongrass stem torn into pieces
  • 50ml vodka
  • 20ml fresh lemon juice
  • 20ml elderflower cordial
  • ice

Put lemongrass and basil into the shaker and lightly muddle.

Add lemon juice, vodka, cordial and ice and then shake well until combined. 

Strain the combination into a shallow or coupette glass and garnish with lemon grass.

Tete de Mule

This is also another Paris original from their early years of experimentation and is a salty, spicy flavour with hints of ginger throughout. It's also known as the 'Kind of Stubborn'.

Ingredients

  • 50ml tequila
  • 20ml fresh orange juice
  • 20ml fresh tomato juice
  • 10ml agave syrup
  • ginger beer
  • ice

Fill a tall glass with ice cubes and then add in the ingredients, leaving the ginger beer til last. 

Garnish with a lime wedge and a dusting of salt.

Lavender Ramos

This cocktail was invented once one of their bars opened up in London's Chinatown. Their collective there became more international, as bartenders from Australia, Sweden, Canada, Italy and many more places joined the team, their ideas and concepts mixing to create a new menu. As service needed to be faster in London, their cocktails had to become easier and faster to make to serve the impatient London crowds. The Lavender Ramos is inspired by the Ramos Gin Fizz and has a distinctly citrus-y summery feel to it, with light floral fizz in a creamy texture. 

Ingredients

  • 25ml llavender-infused gin (2tsp lavender petals into a bottle of gin for 3 hours, strained)
  • 15ml fresh lime juice
  • 15ml fresh lemon juice
  • 20ml double cream
  • 30ml sugar syrup (1 part sugar, 1 part water in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring until dissolved)
  • 1 dash orange flower water
  • 1 egg white
  • ice
  • soda water

Place all the ingredients, except the soda water and ice into the shaker and mix vigorously.

Add ice and shake again and strain into a tall cold glass, preferably a pilsner. 

Top up with soda to add a little fizz. 

Madame Reve

This fresh and fruity cocktail is part of their ballroom collection, and is bursting with spices, acidic fruits and sparkles with champagne. 

Ingredients

  • 1 large strawberry
  • 20ml fresh lemon juice
  • 50ml spice infused Aperol ( 1 star anise, 1 vanilla pod, 1 cinnamon stick infused in a bottle of Aperol)
  • ice
  • Champagne

Place the strawberry in the shaker and muddle well.

Add the lemon juice and Aperol on top and add ice.Shake vigorously. 

Strain into a chilled, shallow glass like a coupette and top up with champagne. 

Salt Fashioned

The Salt fashioned is one of their New York ventures, when they were out to impress with daring new ideas. A great choice for fans of a smoky whiskey, its savoury taste is offset by a touch of sweetness that perfectly balances the palette.

Ingredients

  • 60ml Laphroaig whiskey
  • 5ml salted maple syrup (1tsp sea salt in 120 ml maple syrup
  • 3 dashes apple bitters
  • ice

Place all the ingredients into a mixing glass filled with ice cubes. 

Stir with a long spoon. 

Strain into a rocks glass with ice and a pared lemon rind garnish.

Super East Side

This cocktail comes from the classics section of the menu. Although their menus change every 6 to 8 weeks, there are often repeating patterns, taste combos and ideas that people will always just love, even if the bartenders have put their own creative twist on them; these are the classics. The Super East Side is one such twist, adding elements of elderflower and spice to add an extra layer of flavour that is light and complex to the classic East Side recipe.

Ingredients

  • 40ml Citadelle gin (botanically infused gin)
  • 20ml elderflower liqueur
  • 2 dashes spice tincture (200g red chilli infused in white rum for 72 hours)
  • 3 cucumber slices
  • 1 mint leaf
  • 20ml elderflower cordial
  • 20ml lime juice
  • ice

Put all the ingredients except the ice into a blender and combine until frothy. 

Place crushed ice into a large wine glass and pour the mixture on tip, garnishing with another cucumber slice.

Moscow Mule

The Moscow Mule is another twist on a classic that adds a whole new level. With the infusion of cardamom pods, an Indian influence is introduced to the drink that creates a fresh and spicy aperitif. 

Ingredients

  • 50ml vodka
  • 20ml fresh lime juice
  • 15ml ginger syrup (75g brown sugar, 50ml water, 150ml ginger juice)
  • 5ml sugar syrup (1 part water, 1 part sugar over medium heat until sigar is dissolved)
  • ice
  • ginger beer

Place all the ingredients except the ginger beer into the shaker and fill it with ice cubes.

Shakes and double strain it into a highball glass filled with fresh ice.

Top off with ginger beer and garnish with a lime wedge. 

Fiona Murphy is a freelance writer, specialising in book-related content, fiction and poetry. She can be found drinking tea, craving tapas or attempting to finish her never-ending-novel.

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