Cocktails can be so tasty! Photo: Mikey Harris

It’s summer - let’s talk cocktails

In the last few weeks we had World Cocktail Day as well as World Gin Day – two days that are important dates in my diary (at least from now on).

For World Cocktail Day, I asked the local Blarney Castle Hotel for a Blarney cocktail and barman Graham came up with a tasty creation called the Blarney Loco. It’s a mix of Malibu, vodka, barcardi, lime juice, tropical and orange Juice. I think Blarney is the only village to have their very own cocktail now! Next time you are in Blarney, why not pop into the Castle Hotel (red building at the square) and try it.

For World Gin Day I raided my ‘bar’ – it’s a shelf above my fridge. I used Bertha’s Revenge Gin, Bols Cherry Brandy, grenadine and tonic water – the result was way too tasty and I treated myself to a ‘few’ glasses.

As I love gin, I decided to give my wonderful sister-in-law a set of gin glasses, Irish gin, tonic water and I made syrups of rosemary (try rosemary in gin, it’s tasty) and lemon balm in nice bottles.

When we went over, Eileen decided to pour me a glass. Talk about generosity. The normal ratio is one part gin, three parts tonic (or mixer) but she decided to free-pour – let’s just say, I had to go to bed early that day.

I had the pleasure of introducing Andy Ferreira to PJ Coogan who was looking for someone to talk about how to stock a housebar. Andy is manager/partner in Cask, the wonderful bar at Greene’s and creates his own bitters and tinctures so he was the perfect person to talk about the subject.

My first ever cocktail was a pina colada in the Dominican Republic when I was 18 (it’s a long story). The barman was called Theo and looked like a dark-skinned Kojac (whose name in the show was Theo).

My first evening in the hotel I went into the hotel bar and when asked what I wanted, just looked at the cocktail menu and picked the first drink (hard to believe but at 18 I didn’t have a clue about anything) on the list.

I loved it. Fresh pineapple juice and coconut water and Caribbean rum – I started a love affair with cocktails that continues to this day.

Sometimes I raid my herb garden and create wonderful syrups like the rosemary one I made for Eileen. My next idea is to make a syrup from lemon thyme and make a rum-based cocktail.

There’s a different between long drinks and cocktails – a long drink is a liquor based drink with a mixer (tonic water, coke etc.) added. A cocktail has more than two ingredients.

I love the beauty of cocktails and the shape of the different glasses. There is a shop in Toronto which caters for cocktails – you can buy any tool you might want, tinctures, syrups and bitters, decorations from the little umbrella to more elaborate but it was the glasses I loved.

The focus was on vintage glasses and I could imagine myself at a party in the 30s with a long black dress, leaning against a piano while holding a cocktail and saying ‘Play it again Sam’.