Cocktail Invention – 1% Inspiration, 99% Intoxication!

July 12, 2012

The story of how cocktails happen is more one of variation and adaptation than raw ‘invention’, so when I’ve come up with a ‘new’ cocktail (not very often) I never know when to call it a new ‘invention’ or a variation, but I suspect 99% of cocktails are just variations of others that came before (and 1% inspiration).Perhaps it’s all in the name.

My last post was my ‘invention’ the (Return of the) Green Hornet. Here’s a few more I’ve come up with recently.

The Cherry Collins

2 oz gin

1 oz cherry syrup

1 oz lemon juice

2 dashes cherry bitters (Fees)


Shake and strain (all but the soda) into a Collins glass filled with ice. Top up with soda. Stir lightly.

This is a simple Tom Collins variation – cherry syrup instead of water and a touch of appropriate bitters. Why?

I made a big batch of rummed-up homemade cocktail cherries for my guest bartender night at the Green Hornet this Saturday. A by-product from 4 jars of cherries is one jar of a thick cherry syrup. Now I’ve actually tried a cherry fizz (almost identical to a Collins) with Cherry Brandy (which is actually a liqueur, not a brandy) and it was OK. But the actual syrup works much better and the cherry bitters ramp it up a couple more notches into an excellent refreshing drink, which is not too sweet at all, but still nicely cherry-tasting.

The name was a cinch, as variations of the Tom Collins just rely on varying the name (eg Ivan Collins for one made with vodka etc).

I am very happy with this one, and my wife loves it too. If you can get down to the Green Hornet on Saturday night, I’ll be able to serve you one.

(Apologies for the awful photo)

The Nora Ephron

2 oz dark rum

1 oz ginger syrup

1 oz lime juice


Build in a highball glass. Fill with ice. Top up with soda. Stir lightly.

Another one with ingredients I’d prepared for Saturday night – this time the ginger syrup I used for the (Return of the) Green Hornet. I used Havana Club Anejo Especial for the rum. It’s kind of a simplification of the modern classic, the Anejo Highball, created by Dale DeGroff. Or, if you like, a highball daiquiri with ginger syrup instead of sugar.

This is another great refresher, and my wife likes it enough that she just asked me for another one. It’s 31 degrees C right now, at 10PM, so I don’t blame her. Again, I can make you one at the Green Hornet this Saturday if you ask.

The name is on honour of the screenwriter who had, I discovered, passed away on the day I first made this.

The New Amsterdam

2 oz genever

1 oz sweet vermouth

2 dashes orange bitters

Stir well with ice and strain into a chilled martini glass.

This is, of course, a Manhattan with the old Dutch gin-like genever as a base rather than bourbon or rye whiskey. The earliest martinis were also a bit like this too, but by that time they were using Old Tom gin instead of genever, so it’s different again. Genever while being quite gin-like also has an earthy aged taste which makes it sort of whiskey-like too. So it’s no surprise that while I thought of this drink on my own, I was far from the first to do so. So I can hardly call it my own invention.

But how about the name! I’ve seen this online with white vermouth called a ‘White Manhattan’, but come on – this drink named itself. Dutch Manhattan … If you see a genever Manhattan served anywhere – as a ‘White Manhattan’ or under any other name – please insist that it be renamed instantly.

Sadly genever is unavailable in Taiwan, and my stocks (the bottle) are running low, otherwise I’d drink this delicious cocktail much more.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture for the next one.

The Guns of Normandy

1 – 1 1/2 oz Calvados

2 dashes Angostura Bitters

a sugar cube

Normandy Brut Cider

Put the sugar cube in a champagne flute and pour the bitters on top. Add the Calvados. Fill with ice. Top up with the cider. Don’t stir.

This one was a matter of applying the logic of a Champagne Cocktail, to Calvados and Cider. Calvados is ‘apple brandy’ made in Normandy. It’s a ‘true’ brandy in the sense that it is actually distilled from fermented apples, rather than being infused or flavoured with the fruit in the way that some ‘brandies’ (commonly cherry, apricot and peach) are.

So a common Champagne Cocktail uses Champagne and Cognac – fermented grapes strengthened with a little distilled fermented grapes. The Guns of Normandy uses fermented apples strengthened with a little distilled fermented apples.

I made this on the cheap with Carrefour’s selected ‘Reflets de France’ branded Calvados and the similarly branded Cidre Brut. I don’t know enough about Calvados to know how it compares, but it is ‘Appellation Pays d’Auge’ which should stand for something. The cider is really nice and refreshing, and very cheap at Carrefour in Taiwan.

I couldn’t help wondering if apple bitters instead of Angostura might be good to take the theme even further, or an apple slice garnish, but that would probably be overkill. Maybe a cube of apple instead of a cube of sugar? It’s something to try.

The name comes from the apparent practice in World War One of naming champagne cocktails after artillery pieces. The French 75 is the most well-known example, but I’ve seen references to at least three others. So this one is two big guns from Normandy and also a nod to George G. Blackburn, World War Two veteran and writer. The drink’s good. It really works.

That’s about the extent of my invention for now (the successes, at any rate). If anyone tries one, I’d love to know what you think of it. I don’t plan on entering any world mixology championships any time soon, but I’m quite pleased with these results. I’d also love to hear of any successful creation you’ve made.


7 Responses to “Cocktail Invention – 1% Inspiration, 99% Intoxication!”

  1. Bunnyhugs Says:

    I’ve made something along the same lines as the Guns of Normandy. It turned out quite nicely, but I guess it never made it into the regular rotation. From memory it seemed to have potential but was still a bit flat. That was probably down to the cider I used. I think I made it while I was in New Zealand and so would have used a generic Zealand cider. New Zealand ciders tend to be pretty bland compared to English and French versions.

    • theboolion Says:

      Yeah, I’m not really a cider fan (nothing against it – just too much else competing for my drinking attention) but that Normandy Brut stuff goes down a treat chilled and on the ice – pretty cheap for a full-sized bottle from Carrefour too. RT Mart also has one which may be even better.

  2. putneyfarm Says:

    The collins and the Ephron both look great…cherries are a good addition to the collins.

    I recently had a champagne cocktail with a touch of calvados and the apple bitters- the bitters were a very good addition…

  3. theboolion Says:

    Oh, good luck with making that. I’d love to try making my own bitters, but I think for any given recipe, about half the ingredients would be extremely difficult if not impossible for me to find.

  4. […] That said, I think a rum ‘Manhattan’ is great, as is a Genever ‘Manhattan’ (New Amsterdam). […]

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