Cause » cocktails


It’s been a while since I’ve mixed something up in the monthly cocktail party that is Mixology Monday and I’m well and truly past the deadline. But I’m hoping that Kevin over at Beers In The Shower (one of my all time favourite pastimes along with shower pow-wows) will accept the submission.

The concept of the “Money Drink” is one I’m so familiar with, a friend comes over, sees your bar and asks you to whip them up a tastey cocktail. They aren’t sure what they like, and you want to blow their socks right out of the water. Where do you turn? There’s a few decisions you have to make, do they want something hard or something smooth? Sweet or perhaps dry? The answers all of course depend on your punter. Old Fashioned, Manhattan or a Negroni are my favourites, the beauties that I turn to when I want to impress myself. But when I want to impress someone else, the best place to start is with a Mojito.


  • 45ml rum. I think any lighter, unnaged rum is good. Traditionally of course it is Cuban, illegal in the US. Here in Australia we don’t have a problem with that so Havana Club is a cheap option, but Matusalem Platino is amazing.
  • 30-45ml lime juice. This depends on how tangy the lime is. I usually use around 1 1/2 limes.
  • 1 barspoon brown sugar. This is supposed to be cane sugar but I  use brown sugar. Palm sugar is a good option also, it gives the drink a slightly cleaner taste.
  • Mint. Go out to the garden and grab a handful of mint, leave the stalks on there is a heap of flavour hiding in there.


Put the lime juice (and the shells if you like), sugar and mint in an old fashioned glass and gently muddle it. Add the rum, and then top the glass up to the top with crushed ice. Add a splash of soda water (or not.) Clap a sprig of mint nice and hard and garnish.

The Russian Pirate

Now, I’m not much of a vodka drinker. I don’t hate it, like many of the people involved in this internet cocktail malarky. Though, the last time I bought a bottle of vodka, it was a bottle of 42 Below Feijoa and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t opened. Sad really, Feijoa and Apple juice is a great summer drink and I’m quite fond of that bizarre flavour. But I digress.

Today is Mixology Monday and the theme is “Vodka”. The first thing that comes to my mind when I think about vodka is russians. Not the kind that invented it, but the kinda that the dude drinks. White Russian. Caucasians. It just so happens that I’ve already posted about the White Russian (one of the first posts on this blog) so that ruled that out. Pity I’d already bought a bottle of the necessary coffee liqueur, hired the Big Lebowsky and settled in on the couch.

SBad photo of a White Russiano I set about making some improvements on one of my favourite drinks. The sad thing was, that any improvements I thought of, and call me uncreative, involved taking the vodka out of the drink (I swear I don’t have anything against vodka.) I certainly hope I don’t offend Amelia by taking the vodka out of the cocktail.

Gin would be the first thing to try, but we are out. Sadly, there is actually 5 empty bottles of gin in the bar. 5 bottles, 5 brands and I’m sure I only bought a new one a few days ago. Who knows what happened there.

Finally, rum was it.

  • 30ml of Mount Gay XO.
  • 30 ml of Kahlua
  • 60ml of Milk.

Shake (cause we want the foam on top) and serve in a dodgy tumbler as though you are really poor imitation of the Dude. Grate some chocolate over the top.

Negroni – Gin, Campari, Sweet Vermouth

This tasty cocktail isn’t to everyone’s liking. Unlike the Jasmine cocktail it is very dry, but if that’s your thing, this is for you. The vermouth and gin work against the campari to bring out the usually masked orange flavour of the campari. A great pre-dinner cocktail but not the sort drink you can suck back all night. I suspect Jess might argue with that.

To take the edge off slightly a squeeze of lemon juice will make it a little bit sweeter.

Negroni Ingredients

  • 30ml Campari
  • 30ml Gin
  • 22ml Sweet Vermouth
  • Optionally add a squeeze of lemon juice to reduce the dryness

Shake over plenty of ice and serve in an old-fashioned glass with a burnt orange garnish.

Gingerino: Mixology Monday – Ginger Cocktails

I have a particular affinity to ginger. Whether it is in a drink or food, the not-quite-bitter flavour makes me salivate at the very thought of it. I have even been to the world’s biggest ginger factory. My favourite combination with ginger however is rum. Ginger beer, ginger syrup, or even just a finger of ginger floating in my Matuselum is fine. Fitting I suppose that Rumdood is this month’s Mixology Monday host.

Now, I have already made a ginger based drink for Mixology Monday so, the old faithful dark and stormy was off the cards. I have also been tempted by the combination of dry vermouth and rum in the past and thought this was a perfect opportunity. I’m also a big fan of ginger and coriander together so wanted to combine these in a drink. So without further rambling I present the Gingerino, inspired by the El Presidente and the Dark and Stormy.

  • Gingerino 45ml rum of your choice. I’ve used Mount Gay.
  • 15ml dry vermouth
  • 15ml simple syrup
  • 3 slices of ginger
  • 5ml Campari

Muddle the ginger with the syrup and then shake the remaining ingredients with plenty of ice. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with star of ginger and coriander leaf. Be sure to clap the coriander before serving to release the unique scent.

Jasmine Cocktail – Campari, Gin, Cointreau and Lemon Juice

The theme for this month’s Mixology Monday is the style of italian bitters known as Amaro. Having recently picked up a bottle of Campari I had an idea of what I was going to make. I had mixed Negronis a couple of times and a few variations on them but hadn’t quite fallen for them, the bitterness was overpowering but the flavours interesting. A few recipes I read balanced the bitterness with champagne and fresh orange but not having them I kept searching.

Jasmine Cocktail Finally I stumbled upon the Jasmine cocktail. I love cocktails mixed with lemon juice, the flavour is so crisp and so fresh and surprisingly it seems bring out the orange in the campari (or maybe thats the triple sec.) The other thing about this cocktail is how it takes on a new flavour, bigger than any of the individual flavours.

The Jasmine

  • 1 1/2 ounces of gin
  • 1 ounce cointreau
  • 3/4 ounce campari
  • 1/2 ounce lemon juice

Traditionally shaken and strained into a cocktail glass, I prefer to shake quickly and serve in a old fashioned glass. Garnish with a lemon wheel and an olive.

Cheap and Dirty Martini Recipe

As my housemates will attest I drink a lot of gin. It doesn’t really matter, if it is Gin and Tonics, Martinis, Negronis or Gin Gimlets they all have their place on the drink menu. This becomes a problem because going through a bottle of gin a week takes a massive toll on your bank account (not to mention kidneys and liver.) Luckily, this is a problem that has solutions, earning more money, drinking less, buying gin by the container, or, and this is my current solution, drinking cheaper gin. Don’t get me wrong, I would drink Tanq 10, Hendricks (maybe not in a Martini), or Martins every day of the week, but I can’t. Gordon’s London Dry is my regular poison and I buy it by the litre.

I’m not a fan of dry martinis at the best of times but they really don’t appeal to me when made with such a harsh gin. There are 2 solutions that go hand in hand. Wet martinis and bitters. Vermouth is an amazing flavour and I’ve never figured out why people hide all of that herby goodness in their martinis. Bitters add a good dose of whatever their flavour to the libation and are brilliant at tempering the harshness and add a level of interestingness that a regular martini doesn’t posess.

Dirti Martini with BittersRecipe

  • 45ml Gordon’s London Dry Gin
  • 15ml Dry Vermouth (Cinzano is really cheap and not altogether bad)
  • Bitters
  • 1 or 3 olives

The bitters depends on your taste, orange bitters is quite mild in flavour and I recommend a few dashes of orange bitters in the glass before you add the drink as well as a dash of Peychauds. Peychauds is great by itself, the tart works well with the botanicals of the gin. Angostura is a curious flavour and more than 2 dashes is too much.

Finally, the olive flavour of a dirty martini is sufficient to mask the burn and asperity of the low quality ingredients. To some extent olive brine is similar to bitters in that it is a concentrated flavour, but they don’t quite hold the same intensity of bitters. an extremely dirty martini consists of a further 15ml of olive brine.

Cocktail Bitters in Melbourne

As any good cocktail enthusiast or bar tender knows, the difference between a good cocktail and a great one can all come down to one ingredient. Bitters. Each bottle is packed with more bitter flavour than anything else known to man (this may or may not be true) a dash or 2 of this and a dash or 2 of that can really take that Manhattan to the next level. Finding these little bottles of joy can be a challenge, but in Melbourne, luckily they are available.

There are a variety of different flavours of bitters, Angostura is the most common has a dark brown colour and is perhaps the most bitter. Peychauds is next on the list of commonality with a reddy-pink hue and a tarty almost-sweet flavour. Following these 2 brands there are a variety of different brands, Fee Brothers and The Bitter Truth are worthy of mentions. The bitters these 2 companies produce come in a variety of flavours, Orange, Old Fashioned, Peach. Mint, Lemon, Grapefruit, Whiskey Barrel Aged, Celery and Jerry Thomas’s own pretty much cover the list. These flavours are not as intense as the 2 former brands but they certainly add a unique flavour to cocktails.

All this is well and good, but if you are in Melbourne, actually getting your shaking little hands on a bottle of anything but Angostura is nearly impossible. Nearly being the operative words, as the staff here at My Aching Head have wandered long and wide in the windy city to tell you of 2 outlets of these necessary ingredients.

Wigs Cellar, 172 Queen St.

Wigs Cellar is the best bottle shop in the CBD. The prices are a bit high (especially compared to Dan Murphy’s) but the range is without compare. They stocks Peychauds and Fee Brothers bitters as well as a myriad of absinthes, whiskeys and rums. The old bloke who runs the place will love to have a chat about whatever you are buying, he might even have a recipe or 2 of his own.

Melbourne Temperance Society, Der Raum

The Melbourne  Temperance Society is a cocktail club with benefits at the bar Der Raum. Der Raum itself has probably the biggest range of alcohol of any bar in Australia and through the Melbourne Temperance Society they make some of it available to buy. The website doesn’t seem to have any information about it, but last time I was in the bar I’m quite sure they had The Bitter Truth bitters for sale as well as some home made Der Raum bitters. The only problem is, there is a $40 membership fee for the Temperance Society and the bottle shop is only available to members.