world according to sam

Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first. Mark Twain

Category: DRINK

Qbic Hotel … Whitechapel … Form an orderly Q

  

I don’t know what it is about these new boutique essentials hotel chains malingering around the nether regions of the alphabet … First Z and now Q(bic) but whatever the reasoning behind the names, the end results are impressive.

Dutch owned, the quirkily decorated rooms offer a budget stay on the cool East side of London.  Rooms are offered on three price/size bands. We opted for the cheapest … After all this was a stop off for a late night out in London followed by a hearty brunch at Dirty Burger/Chicken Shop. All we required was cleanliness, a comfortable bed and a decent shower.  Qbic delivers on all three … The buxom Mrs Mop presiding over our bed in the form of a large graphic is less daunting after a few cocktails and is an amusing welcome to the room on check-in. 
  
    
For an inexpensive overnight stay with a little more soul and tongue-in-cheek humour than your average Premier Inn, Qbic is a great find!

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Limoncello šŸ‹ Recipe

When life gives you lemons …. Grab some vodka and make Limoncello!

I love giving gifts of food I have made to friends and family at Christmas time and each year promise myself thatĀ I will make some Sloe Gin, but of course Sloe Gin needs to steep for about 12 weeks which means by the time the sloes are ripe there is insufficient time to prepare for Christmas. Ā  Sloe Gin is the long game but Limoncello on the other hand is quick and easy and takes only a couple of weeks until it is drinkable. The recipe below has worked perfectly and mine is ready to bottle and give as gifts over the coming weeks.


Recipe
6 Unwaxed Lemons (avoid waxed lemons as you want the natural flavour of lemon)

1Litre Vodka (Supermarket own brand will do)

750g Caster Sugar

750ml Water
Zest the 6 lemons, avoiding the pith as this will make your Limoncello Ā bitter
Place the zest in the bottom of a 2 litre jar that you can seal tightly ( I used the Kilner jar from their Sloe Gin making set)
You may like to use the juice from the lemons to make a sorbet, a great dessert standby to keep in the freezer (for up to one month – recipe to follow)
Add the vodka and leave to steep for one week. Turn the jar each day.

At the end of one week, make a simple syrup by dissolving the sugar and water in a pan. Bring to boiling point but do not allow the syrup to turn a caramel colour as this will spoil the look of your Limoncello.

When cool, add to your lemon vodka mix and leave for another week. Again turning each day.

When you are ready to bottle, strain through a fine sieve or muslin and pour into your bottles. Label and gift to those deserving friends on Santa’s Nice not Naughty list.

Add instructions to the labels as follows

Keep refrigeratedĀ 

This sweet lemony syrup is delicious over ice, in iced tea, in cocktails or drizzled over ice cream or sorbet!
šŸ‹

You can also add a recipe for a Limoncello Prosecco Cocktail

šŸ‹

6 sprigs Mint, fresh

1 measure Raspberries, frozen

1 measure Limoncello liqueur

3 measures Prosecco

šŸ‹

Serve chilled in a glass

SALUTI!

Cocktail Masterclass Harvey Nichols 5th Floor


So my #FortyTen celebrations entered their fifth month (spoilt, moi?) Ā and what with holidays etc this celebration had been scheduled as a post-holiday-blues-pick-me-up.

When I was 18, my first legal drink was a sweet, creamy Pina Colada at Peppermint Park in Covent Garden. I feverishly knocked backĀ the delicious and intoxicating nectar without one care for sophistication nor that this had cost someone other than me a small fortune …. And so began a love of cocktails. There is something decadent about cocktails, studying the menu, choosing which creation it will be, watching the artful performance of the mixologist as they add the spirits and mixers, with the brave twirling bottles and slamming them back onto neatly lined shelves. The rattle of ice cubes as your barman flamboyantly shakes the cobbler* (not a tawdry euphemism – but the professional name for a shaker)Ā and the final flourish as your concoction is poured into the appropriate glass, whether the retro styling of a martini glass, a tall hi-ball or a champagne flute …
Cocktails fell out of fashion for a while, seeing a brief resurgence when Carrie Bradshaw and the SATC girls drank Cosmopolitans at the Carlyle in NY but now they are back, with not only the traditional but new flavours and infusions. Mixology has become an art form and to learn about it is fascinating. Ā We are not talking the syrupy happy hourĀ version of cocktails here. This is an altogether more refinedĀ drinking practice.

The choice of victual you drink from is almost as important as what goes into the mix. Teapots, teacups, copper beaker, crystal stubby, jam jars, schooners.Ā The Harvey Nichols Cocktail Masterclass is the perfect girls day out, though boys will love it too (as did Mr H and his brother) and would be a great Hen celebration for those looking for something entertaining, educating and a little intoxicating. Be warned, I think phallic deely-boppers would not be welcomed at the Ć¼ber cool and sophisticated 5th Floor champagne bar at HN.

The day starts at 9.30 with a breakfast buffet of pastries, yoghurt and granola and fresh fruit with plenty of tea or coffee. 9.30 on a Saturday or Sunday morning seems an ungodly hour to even think about Ā imbibing alcohol but it doesn’t take long to Ā get into the swing of things.
There are several choices of class themes, Italy, Cuba, US, French and British each with three cocktails to be instructed on.

The class opens with a run through of all the equipment required to create the perfect cocktail. A muddler, strainer, cobbler, jiggerĀ … Each element has a crucial part to play in the making of your cocktail.
First spirits are added into the shaker (never ice first for fear of diluting your precious alcohol too soon, nevertheless essential to ‘soften’ the alcohol) and finally your mixers, bitters or essences. An elaborate shake, with the length of time and ferocity dictated by the type of cocktail and your own personal choice inĀ ostentation, you can keep it ‘tight’ and snake hipped or go all out Carmen Miranda. For example a Martini Espresso requires a LOT of quite enthusiastic shaking to also emulsify the ingredients and create a slight froth at the top – pour into aĀ glass shaker to check all is well and the correct texture has been achieved before pouring into a chilled Martini glass and finishing with a couple of coffee beans.
We chose the Italian influence for our masterclass so not only were we tutored in making the delicious Espresso Martini we learned to make a Breakfast Negroni; ( a traditional Negroni with a HN twist of the addition of a little marmalade to add texture and bitter-sweet finish to this Florentine classic and La Dolce Vita; an Aperol and TequilaĀ cocktail again served in a chilled MartiniĀ glass.
Following the instruction and tastings from our Italian selection we were given the opportunity to make our own cocktail from a list of favourites … Mr H made a delicious Mojito with lashings of fresh mint, his brother made a Ginny Hendricks – gin based deliciousness, the lovely Sue made a Cosmopolitan and I made a Sky Cruiser known in less salubrious surroundings as a Pornstar Martini … Vanilla Vodka, passion fruit and champagne – heavenly!

Two and a half hours after starting the masterclass you are taken back to the restaurant with the effects of your imbibery making the path perhaps not quite as straight as your entrance, Ā to enjoy a two-course lunch served with red or white wine.
The masterclasses run on Saturday and Sunday throughout the year and can be booked here.

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