A sweet kiss

Last autumn I began to get quite interested in cocktails, exploring beyond the limited confines of the ones such as Martinis and occasional Manhattans that I had previously constructed in the glass without particular thought about measuring proportions or employing any of the techniques that professional bartenders use to get consistently good results. I found a number of cocktail-related YouTube channels (my two favourites being Cara Devine’s and Anders Erickson’s, though there are plenty of other good ones out there too) to provide inspiration and tips (or “sips, tips and recipes” as Anders refers to the content of his own channel), and invested in a set of basic bartending gear (cocktail shaker and strainer, bar spoon, etc.) and a few extra bottles of booze, and set about my cocktail voyage of discovery (to borrow a catchphrase from Ciara O Doherty, another cocktail vlogger whose channel I’ve enjoyed, though she now seems to be shifting focus onto the adventure of buying a house – so I should probably stay tuned to that one, but that’s a subject for another post 🙂

Both my wallet and my liver are probably quite glad that my initial burst of enthusiasm has waned a bit, but I’m still putting my new-found skills and equipment to good, if not quite such frequent, use and keeping an eye out for new cocktail recipes.

With my latest online grocery order I got a small pot of cream in order to make a handful of cream-based cocktails I’ve previously enjoyed (such as a Grasshopper and a White Russian, though I ended up having to tweak both those recipes a bit this time round as I realised I was missing other vital ingredients). On a whim, I also decided to have a look for cocktails involving rum and cream.

A quick bit of googling turned up a recipe for a cocktail with the enticing name of a Bee’s Kiss, which I found on a blog post for National Rum Day. I’m fairly sure that the nation in question is the USA, since the bloggers themselves are apparently based in Nebraska and certainly use ounces as their basic measure whereas most of the rest of the world use metric measures. I wasn’t aware that there was such a thing as National Rum Day but I’m not very surprised as the Americans seem to have a national day for just about everything there isn’t already a international day for. Some of them are, I think, worth celebrating more widely. For instance they have a National Pie Day (23rd January), which I forgot to celebrate this year and which shouldn’t be confused with International Pi Day (14th March), which I fully intend to celebrate (probably more by eating some homophonic pie than by doing any calculations involving the mathematical constant that’s actually being celebrated).

Actually, when I googled just now to find out the date of National Rum Day (which didn’t seem to be mentioned in the blog post linked above) I discovered references both to National Rum Day and to International or World Rum Day. Either way, it seems to be celebrated on 16th August, which would be a good time of year to enjoy nice refreshing daiquiris or mojitos. I’ve now added it to my calendar and realised that it’s the same day as a friend’s daughter’s birthday, but since she’s going to be turning 13 or so this year I don’t think she’ll be celebrating with rum just yet!

To return to the Bee’s Kiss, I tried it for the first time tonight and I like it. Given the name, it’s probably no surprise that along with the rum and cream the other ingredient is honey. To me it tastes a bit like a liquid version of a rum gateau – a cake I’m very fond of (though I haven’t had one for several years); again, that’s perhaps not surprising, given the ingredients.

I made a few minor tweaks compared to the recipe linked above.

Firstly, it calls for aged rum but I didn’t have any so I used a 50:50 split of dark (Captain Morgan) and white (Kingston 62), 30ml (approx. 1oz) of each. I’m sure it would work just as well with only dark rum, and probably fine with just white rum though you wouldn’t get such a nice golden colour in the finished drink. Still, for a future occasion this could be a good excuse to get a bottle of aged rum.

Secondly, I didn’t make quite enough honey syrup so there ended up being about 20 to 25ml of that, instead of 30 (it’s meant to be 2:1 rum to honey). Also, I didn’t measure the honey and water very carefully so it probably wasn’t quite the 4:3 ratio they specified in the recipe. I just mixed a desert spoon full of honey with a scant desert spoon of boiling water and left the mixture to cool. A full tablespoon of honey would probably be about enough for one drink’s worth, or you could make a bigger batch and save what you don’t use. I expect it should last at least as well as regular sugar syrup, which is good for at least a week or so if kept refrigerated.

Finally, I used single cream, which is probably a bit lighter than the heavy cream specified in the recipe. Terms for different types of cream seem to vary quite widely from one country to the next, even within the anglophone world, and often they don’t seem to be exact matches, but I think heavy cream in the US is closer to what we call double cream over here. As I was using lighter cream I pushed the amount up slightly, from 3/4oz to 1oz (or rather 30ml).

The recipe didn’t specify whether to chill your glassware, but I decided to do so (by the simple method of leaving a few ice cubes and some cold water in it while mixing the drink), nor whether to garnish the drink (I didn’t, and it didn’t seem to need one) or to fine strain it (I did, as I generally do when shaking drinks, especially ones with cream where the thick, smooth texture would probably be spoiled by the little bits of ice that would get through the coarse strainer alone).

Just in case the link above should break in future, and to provide a handy recap in metric units, here’s a recipe for the Bee’s Kiss as I would make it next time (essentially as above, but with the full amount of honey syrup and maybe a different choice of rum):

Ingredients: 60ml aged rum (or dark, or light; or 30ml each of dark and light); 30ml honey syrup (see below); 30ml single cream.

Method: Combine the ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake well with ice for approx. 20 – 30s. (Fine) strain into a chilled cocktail glass (no garnish required).

Honey syrup: combine approx. 4 parts honey with 3 parts boiling water, stir and leave to cool. (1tbsp honey should provide about 30ml of syrup but a larger batch can be made and stored in the refrigerator for upwards of a week).


No butter… no problem

What do you do if you run out of butter and it’s not convenient to nip out to the shops to get some more?

I suppose there are probably many answers to that question, probably depending largely on why you want the butter in the first place (with apologies to anyone who is now thinking of Last Tango in Paris – if you don’t already know, I suggest you don’t google it!).

In my case, I wanted it to go on some bread-type products – more specifically in pitta bread and on crumpets, all in a savoury context.

As I was contemplating what to do in light of my rapidly diminishing butter reserve and the remaining pitta breads and crumpets I was hoping to finish over the weekend, before my next grocery delivery (including a couple of blocks of butter) arrives on Monday night, I remembered enjoying bread with olive oil on my visits to Catalonia a few years ago.

In fact, they have a regional delicacy called pa amb tomàquet, which consists of bread with tomato (and, as I recall, usually also garlic) rubbed in, then salt and olive oil sprinkled on top. This is very delicious. However, I’m fairly sure that bread with just salt and olive oil (or even just bread and olive oil with no salt) is also a thing in those parts, and even if not it’s certainly something I’ve enjoyed from time to time, preferably with nice fresh, still slightly warm bread.

I figured that this ought to work with pitta bread since that’s also a mediterranean thing (albeit from further east than Catalonia), and my guess turned out to be correct, so I decided to save my remaining butter for the crumpets I had lined up for tea tonight and instead enjoy my pitta breads (or pitta(s)?; pita breads or pita(s) for any visitors from the USA; I’ve no idea how the rest of the anglophone world spells them but according to a brief survey of Wikipedia in different languages, most seem to favour a single ‘t’) with oil and a little salt.

As it happened, I didn’t have quite enough butter for my crumpets in any case. I considered having the last couple with honey instead, but curiosity got the better of me and I decided to see what they would be like with oil and salt. The answer is, to my palette at least, “surprisingly nice”.

I think I’ll probably stick to butter (with a bit of salt and pepper – an idea I picked up from the classic Grammar of Cookery by Philip Harben, widely recognised as the first celebrity TV chef, though I’m not sure his name would be all that well-known these days) for my crumpets when I have it available, but it’s good to know that olive oil works as a fine alternative. And I’ll definitely be aiming to have pitta breads with oil from time to time in the future.