i never worked behind a bar in my university days, much preferring to be propped up on the other side nursing a cocktail that hopefully received a nice mates rate discount from one of the many friends i knew that did bartend part-time.
a buddy of mine is an extraordinary mixologist, even winning bartender of the year in london a few years back. i could spend hours gazing in awe as he pours, shakes, flairs and creates extraordinary flavours in front of my eyes. and last week, i finally got my chance to channel my inner tom cruise when sarah and i visited taste of london. (see her mouth-watering post on the food here).
en route to our four-course meal by theo randall, we stopped for a quick refreshment in the cocktail house by first drinks brands. we got chatting to lovely aussie bartender glen, who said he’d let us try some of his finest cocktails on the house… on the condition that we worked for it. i was about to get a little lesson in mixology.
we chose a muddled raspberry cocktail as my first attempt. glen showed us how to count out a second of pouring per shot of spirits. i managed to splash half the bar while trying to somewhat elegantly pour out my vodka, sugar syrup and lemon juice quantities, eventually giving up the fancy way of holding the bottle by the neck after drenching one unlucky scotsman in vodka.
i was instructed to muddle my raspberries and measure out two parts spirit to one part sweet and one part sour, followed by soda water for fizz. we taste tested and perfected the flavour, finishing off the pretty pink cocktail with a few raspberries and a slice of lime to garnish.
next was a gorgeous rum cocktail, made with grapefruit juice, sugar syrup and ginger ale. this time i even got to do the fun cocktail shaker thing – can you see the absolute glee on my face in sarah’s pictures? i was having fun.
glen explained that we drink with our noses as well as our tastebuds, so showed us how to rub the oil of a citrus peel (grapefruit, in our case) around the rim of the glass, and even the outside of the glass so the cocktail’s aroma is present on the drinker’s hands, leaving them with the memory of the flavours long after the drink has vanished. a final spritz of citrus oil over the cocktail has the scent wafting towards your nose even before that first taste.
sarah judged that my cocktails passed the taste test, and we walked away with our hard-earned drinks in hand. the soaked bar and bystanders perhaps hinted that fancy flairing is not my thing, but i now have a couple of delicious and easy cocktail recipes in my repertoire to impress guests with. i predict a cocktail party in the very near future. cheers!
i adore anything shiny. gold, silver, bronze, metallic… and as fun as last week’s scary ghetto nails were, this week’s far more demure take on the metal look is more my style.
this shimmering style is a subtle take on the gradient manicure currently taking the nail art tribe by storm. following this step-by-step tutorial from brilliant nails blog the nailasaurus, i also tried this out last week in blue to mint green (and forgot to take pictures, well done me).
using sparkly gold and silver polish makes the gradient far more subtle, but just as beautiful, as the gold-to-silver progression catches the light and draws the eye. using block colours achieves a very different result – bright and fun – but you have to take even more care with your sponge application. this more forgiving style is best for your first attempt.
you can use any household or make-up sponge (i cut up one of those big yellow ones), just make sure the side you are using is flat. paint on your first colour (gold for me), a few coats to get the best contrast with the second colour.
then, using a plastic sheet or baking paper, pour your first and second (silver) colours in a litle puddle next to each other, and mix slightly at the edge with a toothpick or cuticle stick (the larger the mix area, the longer the graduation on your nail). dab your sponge in and press on to your nail. you can repeat a few times to achieve the exact gradient you want, just make sure you let the previous coat dry.
you’ll have a big old mess around your nail bed, so clean that up with a cotton wool bud and tidy up the edges with a corrector pen. finish off with a few layers of top coat to smooth things out, as the texture will be smudgy from the sponge.
this is a littly fiddly, so don’t try to do it in a rush. the result is metallic, shimmering nails (that are damn hard to capture on camera thanks to their sheen, even with my fancy pants new toy, so apologies for the picture quality!)
once you’ve mastered this look, be brave and try it with brighter block colours to really show off the look to its full potential. i’ll be trying hot pink to pale pink, turquoise to aqua, and black to grey. what colours will you try? send us your pictures!