This summer’s top cocktails are sustainably made, fresh and creative, and best of all, easy to make, says Cape Town cocktail expert Cassandra Eichhoff.
Eichhoff, winner of the Bar Awards Mentor of the Year title, and director of the European Bartender School in Cape Town, says South Africa is catching up with international cocktail trends, which favour drinks made with sustainability in mind.
At an American themed cocktail-making session held at the European Bartending School recently, Eichhoff explained that adult spirits consumers don’t need a fully equipped bar to mix show-stopping drinks. “For home cocktails, it’s not really necessary to have a variety of tools. You could shake up a cocktail in a Consol jar, or muddle limes with a kitchen spoon,” she says.
She recommends experimenting with spirits, paying attention to their heritage and flavour profile, before deciding what ingredients to mix with them. “Be creative. There are no limits – as long as the drink tastes good and looks good. But it’s important to use quality ingredients and fresh produce wherever possible,” she says.
Fine American distilled spirits, many of them still relatively unknown to South Africans, are ideal for summer cocktails, she says. American Whiskeys, for example, have some unique flavour profiles that work really well in cocktails.
Eichhoff demonstrated fresh summer cocktails blended with Wild Turkey Bourbon and Whistling Andy gin, and guests sampled a range of U.S. distilled spirits from brands well-established in the SA market, such as Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, Jack Daniel’s and Bulleit Bourbon, as well as several new products including Dad’s Hat Rye whiskey, Golden Moon Kümmel, Jim Beam Straight Bourbon whiskey, Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Whiskey, Sagamore Spirit Cask Strength Rye whiskey, Koval Dry Gin and Vodquila.
Try one of Cassandra’s American summer cocktail recipes at home:
25ml Summer Cordial
Top with Fever Tree Indian Tonic
Garnish: Mint Sprig & Strawberry Slice
250ml Mango Juice
1/2 tsp Citric Acid
Combine Mango Juice and Strawberries in a pot and simmer at medium heat. Add sugar until dissolved and allow to reduce to syrup viscosity. Take off heat and pulse blend three times, strain off solids and allow to cool. Stir in citric acid, bottle and refrigerate.
25ml Martini Bianco Vermouth
20ml Watermelon & Ginger Syrup
15ml Fresh Lime Juice
Top with splash of MCC Brut
Garnish: Orange Coral Tuile & Basil leaf
Hunters Ice Tea
Method: Shake & Strain
35ml American Bourbon
15ml Orange Liqueur/Cointreau
25ml Fresh Lemon Juice
20ml Milk Stout Maple Syrup
Top with Soda Water
Garnish: Citrus Dust & Lemon Zest