Sunday, 23 April 2017

Katana cocktail

This blog was started almost precisely a quarter of my life ago. Quite a lot has changed in my circumstances since then, but mostly I am the same person, with the same tastes and dreams.

I revisit very few of my old blog posts, but a couple are worth sharing occasionally - including the recipe for one of my all-time favourite cocktails. It's one thing to love something for a year or two, but this has stood the test of nearly a decade, so it's worth restating, and expanding on.

This is simply delicious, never failing to bring me great pleasure. It's the most complex of my top three or five cocktails, but its basis is the same as e.g. the caipirinha - sugar, lime, and alcohol in perfect balance.

I tasted this in a cocktail bar I visited at random with a friend in London back in 2009. I recreated the recipe at home, keeping the name, and tweaked it until it was perfect. This is not the easiest cocktail to make as you really need a juicer, but if you have one, it's straightforward and well worth trying. I'll give a few ideas below if you don't have a juicer.


to make a medium-sized jug (about 800ml).
2-4 apples (2 very large, 4 small, etc)
1/2 a cucumber (Long green English-style, as sold in the salad section of supermarkets)
1 1/2 large, or 2 1/2 small limes
A small bunch of mint
Sugar syrup (buy or make at home by combining equal volumes of white sugar and water)

  • Juice the apples, cucumber, limes, and mint. Not all juicers will process mint well - ideally you need a masticating (augur/screw) juicer, rather than a centrifugal one, but check the device's manual for details. If you can't juice the mint, then see below.
  • Strain the juice through a fine sieve - if you want really clear juice, then one or two layers of kitchen paper will help, although it may take a while, and this can lead to the juice discolouring due to oxidation.
  • Add gin and sugar syrup to taste - approximately 300ml and 100ml respectively. The aim is, as with all good cocktails, a balance between sourness, sweetness, and alcohol. Stir.
  • This mix can be refrigerated for a few hours, though it may settle and separate. Otherwise, shake each serving over ice. Serve in a martini glass or large champagne coupe.

Note - there are a few options for the mint other than juicing. You can purée in a blender with the sugar syrup or gin, then strain. Or you can steep crushed or "muddled" mint in the sugar syrup for a few hours or overnight, before making the cocktail. It might be possible to substitute ready-made mint cordial, but I've never tried this.

Shop-bought cucumbers tend to be very bland. If you use homegrown, they should be much more fragrant, in which case reduce the quantity. This should not taste strongly of any one ingredient, but rather be a fresh, bright-tasting combination of them all.

The variety of apple or mint you use will affect the finished cocktail, so experiment. I've used garden mint (I guess peppermint) and apple mint to good effect. Sour apples may require more sugar/less lime, and vice versa. Crisp apples juice more easily than soft or floury ones.

Freshly made, this cocktail is a vibrant green. However, with time and air, it will turn brownish, the one downside to using such fresh ingredients. It will still taste great, either way. There are many options for a garnish, if you're so inclined. Something with a contrasting colour (red or pink) has visual impact - a strawberry (plain or skewered with mint), a rose or peony petal; or simply a slice of cucumber.

Delicious at any time, this is especially good in spring and summer, served outdoors on a sunny day - it tastes of that season, fresh, bright, and juicy.

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