Cocktail Time: Valencian Orange

Summer is here! Warm sunny days, late nights, relaxing by the pool. Paddling pool, that is, as travel is still something out of reach for most of us at the moment. But never fear: Platinum Al is here with the perfect cocktail to enjoy on a balmy evening as you watch the sun go down.

The Valencian Orange cocktail can be a potent concoction, as you can tell from the ingredients. It should, of course, be made with freshly squeezed Valencian oranges, but as that’s a bit impossible at the moment, regular freshly squeeezed will have to do.

Valencian Orange Cocktail

  • Vodka
  • Gin
  • Sugar
  • Cava
  • Freshly squeezed orange juice

You’ll need a large glass (see the big wine glass in the picture for reference). Add one measure of vodka, one measure of gin, and a teaspoonful of sugar.

Next, pour in a generous amount of Cava. There’s no specified measure for this, so play around with it to your taste. I’d aim for a small glass of wine’s worth for starters. You can play around with all of these measures to get your preferred taste.

Finally, top up with the freshly squeezed orange juice, et voila – one Valencian Orange cocktail.

TIP: The cava and the orange juice both need to be chilled (or ice cold) – as ice cubes will melt and water down the taste.

In the accompanying photo, you’ll notice that the glasses feature a sugared rim. This is really just for appearances. You can recreate this with grenadine and sugar, mixed on a plate – which you then place the rim of the glass into, upside down. Obviously, do this part of the creation before you put the liquid in the glass…

Now you’re free to enjoy this great cocktail. It’s refreshing, fruity and potentially heady, all in one drink. Enjoy!

Soundtrack: Spanish Caravan by The Doors, Gipsy Kings, Rodrigo y Gabriela.

Disclaimer: I’ve never been to Valencia. I stole this recipe from an episode of Travel Man, starring one of my heroes, Richard Ayoade.

Cocktail Time: Blue Hawaiian

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It’s that time again!  Time to chill in the Virtual Hot Tub with a refreshing cocktail, letting the week’s stresses flow away.  And what a great cocktail I have to share with you this time!

The Blue Hawaiian is a classic cocktail, simply delicious and full of summer excitement.  There’s plenty of time till summer, so get your kit together and practice making this tipple ready for those warm evenings.  I highly recommend a blender is used for this recipe, rather than just shaking. IMG_20160213_180025383

Blue Hawaiian

  • White rum
  • Blue curacao
  • Coconut cream
  • Pineapple juice
  • Ice

First of all, get that blender prepped and ready.  Pour in 2 measures of the white rum and one measure of the blue curacao (for one person).  Add 3 tablespoons of the coconut milk and a few ice cubes.  Give the mixture a quick 30 second mix in the blender, to get the colour even.

Then pour in the pineapple juice.  The recommended amount is 3 tablespoons, but I would experiment here and add a more if required.  Now give the mixture a full blitz in the blender until it’s frothy, man.

Now you can pour the mixture into your glass, and garnish the hell out of it.  Umbrellas, straws, slices of pineapple – go for it with whatever you can find. IMG_20160213_181643659

The result is a beautifully fruity cocktail that is ideal to sip and chill out with.  I highly recommend some Hawaiian music (on wax, of course) to complete the mood.

Enjoy!

Soundtrack: Hawaiian tunes (see photo); Arthur Lyman’s “Hawaiian Nights”; Les Baxter; Martin Denny; Elvis.

Seasonal drink: Snowball

If you’re still in a party mood – and who isn’t, with New Year’s Eve on the way? – here’s a recipe for a seasonal cocktail that I’m sure you’ll enjoy.  The festive season may be coming to an end, but this tipple is still a top recommendation.

The Snowball is well known, and can be made to your particular taste.  You may know the ingredients already, so consider this a reminder of a winter classic.

Why not pull up a chair at the Virtual Tiki Bar and ask Veronica, our Virtual Bar Attendant, to concoct one of these for you?  Made just how you like it. IMG_2740

Snowball

  • Advocaat
  • Vodka
  • Lime juice (cordial)
  • Lemonade
  • Ice

The amounts required for this drink depend on the drinker’s taste, and the size of glass used.  Experiment and adjust to your preference.

Add ice at first, then pour a small amount of lime cordial.  Throw in a shot of vodka – this can be substituted by brandy, if desired.

Pour in a big old dose of the Advocaat, then top up with lemonade.  Veronica was a bit sketchy on the measures, so just play around.  Mix with a stirrer and enjoy.

Drink responsibly!

Soundtrack: Christmas with the Rat Pack, or Ultra Lounge Christmas Cocktails (Vol I and II).

Drink of the Week: Monkey Wrench

Better hurry and mix this drink while you can – it’s an ideal summer refresher and there ain’t much summer left…

The Monkey Wrench is a popular warm weather tipple here at the Virtual Hot Tub.  Ask Veronica, the Virtual Barmaid, to throw one of these together for you – and join me in the tub for a soak. IMG_3137

Monkey Wrench

  • White rum
  • Grapefruit juice
  • Lemonade
  • Ice

Crush the ice and add to a tall glass.  Add two measures of white rum, then pour in the grapefruit juice.  Finally top up with lemonade and give it a stir.

Grapefruit juice can be a little sharp, but don’t worry if you’re not a fan – the lemonade can take the edge off.  Experiment with the quantities to achieve a taste you like.

Enjoy!

Soundtrack: “Monkey Wrench” by Foo Fighters.

Santa Cruz Snowskate

Well we’ve not had any snow round these parts (so far).  And the Winter Olympics are over.  So my timing with this post is pretty off.  Never the less, I thought I’d share this item from my board collection with you.

This here board is a Santa Cruz snowskate.  Slightly bigger than a typical double kick skateboard, the snowskate is made of solid, tough plastic.  It’s designed to be ridden in the snow like you would a skateboard – ideally on the sort of urban obstacles (rails, walls etc) that you would ordinarily skate in the summer. IMG_2763

Where there would be grip tape on the top of a wooden skate deck, this board has a rubber surface.  It’s slightly spongy to provide grip, and nicely waterproof.  You wouldn’t want your grip tape getting all messy now, would you?  This makes much more sense.  Underneath the plastic is ridged, to help provide some control and a better riding surface.

Control is certainly crucial here – remember, unlike a snowboard, there are no bindings to keep your feet strapped in and attached.  Instead, you ride the snowskate exactly like a skateboard.  This requires balance, self confidence and fair old bit of craziness.  The result is a fun board that can easily be carted around the hills or local spots when the snow falls.

I’ve had some cool times riding this snowskate – the best thing about it is that it feels slightly different from both skateboarding and snowboarding – so you’re learning a new skill.  That said, the snowskate is similar enough to both disciplines to mean that fans of either will appreciate it.  Personally I’ve not mastered any tricks on this board, though I can ride it pretty well.  The problem is the snow usually disappears too quick around here…

A snowskate is worth picking up for those days when you’re snowed in and the local park is calling.  It makes a nice change from a sledge.  All I need now is some snow.

Admittedly, this isn’t a skateboard as such – though I’m publishing this in the skateboard section of the Virtual Hot tub anyway.  There’s enough common ground here for me to get away with that.  Don’t like it?  Write your own blog.

Technical Specifications:

  • Length: 35.5″
  • Width (widest): 92
  • Width (slimmest): 8.5″

Soundtrack: some frozen Scandinavian metal, like Kvelertak.

Check out Santa Cruz snowskates here.  Nowadays they’re being made with some cool graphics, if that helps convince you.  I like the sugar skull best!

Drink of the Week #2

Shirley Temple

Are you being good after indulging during Christmas?  Have you sworn off alcohol for a while, maybe even the whole of January?  If you have, but you’re after something more than a cup of tea, this one’s for you.

The Shirley Temple is a non-alcoholic cocktail, or mocktail, if you will.  The legend is that it was concocted in a Hollywood hotel for the then child star, and of course is alcohol free.  It’s a great drink to enjoy if you’re staying off the booze – the ritual of mixing a drink makes it seem special.  Plus it’s easy to make.

Shirley Temple IMG_2583

  • Grenadine
  • Sprite or 7Up
  • Ice

Pour a small measure of grenadine syrup into a glass.  Think of it as if you were making a cordial drink: the grenadine is the cordial which you will add to.  Of course you can experiment with the amount of grenadine to achieve the taste you like.  Add ice and pour in the Sprite/7Up.

Don’t forget – you could use diet versions of the Sprite or 7Up if you want a slightly healthier version…

Grenadine is easily available in supermarkets.  It’s not expensive and is a common ingredient in many other cocktails, so useful to have in your cupboard.

Soundtrack: The Aquabats! – “Hi-Five Soup!”

Christmas Drink of the Week

Chocolate Smarties

Also known as “Chocolate Orange” or “Christmas Smarties”, for some reason this great drink has become linked to the festive season for me.  I can’t remember now how I was first introduced to this tipple (if it was you, and you’re reading this, please remind me); but I’m sure you’ll love it if you try it.

Basically, what we have here is an alcoholic drink that tastes like chocolate orange.  If for some reason that doesn’t entice you, give this a go anyway – you may be pleasantly surprised. IMG_2721

Chocolate Smarties

  • Tia Maria
  • Orange juice
  • Ice

Take a standard tumbler (the glass in the picture is a typical pub half pint glass).  Pour in two measures of Tia Maria.  Add a few ice cubes, then top up with fresh orange juice (the carton type or some good old Britvic).  Enjoy!

Play around with the measure to get a taste you prefer.  You may like a single measure of Tia Maria, you may want more or less orange juice.  Feel free to experiment till you get the desired flavour.

Soundtrack: “Merry Christmas Everybody” – Slade.

Drink of the Week

I refuse to accept the summer is over.  With some warm weather over the last few days, it’s been quite easy to pretend that summer will go on.  Here’s a drink that’s great for warm evenings, with a melon taste that oozes mellow.  

Midori & leomonade

Midori & lemonade

And what a fantastic colour!

Come on over to the Virtual Hot Tub, take a dip in the virtual water and don’t forget to pick up one of these drinks from the Virtual Tiki Bar.

Midori & Lemonade

  • Midori
  • Lemonade
  • Ice

I don’t really need to tell you how to make this, do I?  Take your glass, add midori, ice and top up with lemonade.  Enjoy.

Soundtrack: “Green Hell” by The Misfits.