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Distilled – Cocktail making for all occasions

Our latest round-up of trends from the top shelf, including a new book to expand your cocktail portfolio, an overview of distillation stills and the recipe for a classic El Presidente.

Make cocktails in minutes

Published in October, 60-Second Cocktails is the fourth book from Joel Harrison and Decanter contributor Neil Ridley. The duo have compiled an easy-to-make selection of drinks in three sections: ‘No Shake, Sherlock’ (very easy), ‘Shake It Up’ (slightly more prep) and ‘Magnificent Mixes’ (cocktails to impress). With tips on cocktail kit, glassware and how to create your home bar, this book is ideal for anyone who enjoys making cocktails, but lacks confidence or only sticks to one or two mixes they know. Each illustrated recipe is simple to follow, with step-by-step instructions: start with a Quick Sloe Gin & Soda, then work your way up to an elegant Sage Martini. This is a cocktail book that you’ll reach for time and time again.
Available through Amazon UK

What’s the difference… between pot and column stills?

Two types of distillation can be used to produce spirits: pot and column. Pot stills, which came into use first, have a spherical chamber, hence the name. They work by heating a fermented alcohol base liquid to release ethanol vapour, which is then cooled to produce the liquid spirit. The column still was invented in 1830 and works like a series of pot stills on top of each other. Its series of chambers heat the base liquid, which evaporates and condenses back to liquid repeatedly. This process creates a purer spirit and can operate continuously, so it produces much larger volumes of spirit.

What to drink now… El Presidente

This rum and vermouth mix hails from Cuba and is assumed to be named in honour of Mario García Menocal, the country’s president from 1913 to 1921. Most sources attribute its invention to legendary bartender Constantino Ribalaigua of Havana’s El Floridita bar, who also created the Papa Doble or Hemingway Special Daiquiri. The recipe, which first appeared in print in the Manual del cantinero published by John B Escalante in 1915, calls for a sweet white vermouth (not dry) such as Martini Bianco (Alc 15%, £10/75cl available through Amazon UK), alongside grenadine pomegranate syrup and bitter orange curaçao liqueur. I like to use a Cuban rum: Havana Club Original Añejo 3 Años (Alc 40%, £18.50/70cl Waitrose).

El Presidente

Ingredients: 45ml white rum, 45ml sweet white vermouth, 5ml grenadine, 5ml orange curaçao liqueur

Glass: Coupe

Garnish: Orange twist and cherry

Method: Add all of the ingredients to a cocktail mixing glass with ice. Stir to mix and chill, then strain into a coupe and garnish. Serve straight up (no ice).

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