Wednesday 21 March 2018

Shake it up - perfect summer cocktails


Cocktails at House on Leeson Street. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Cocktails at House on Leeson Street. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Cocktail accompaniment. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Ken Herlihy, a finalist in the 2015 World Class cocktail-making championships. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Ruby Rose. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Forget Me Knot Cocktail. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Cocktail expert Ken Herlihy of House Dublin mixes up five super refreshing summer drinks and suggests the perfect nibbles to pair with them

Ken Herlihy loves classic cocktails but he's never happier than when he's concocting an exciting new drink for long summer evenings. The Dubliner is involved with World Class - the most prestigious and respected mixology programme - which is committed to celebrating and elevating the craft of bartending.

We asked Ken - a finalist in the 2015 World Class cocktail-making championships - to create five unusual cocktails for Weekend, and to suggest accompanying nibbles that truly enhance the flavours because, as nice as olives are, they don't always add to the experience.

Ken styled our shoot at House Dublin on Leeson Street, where he is bar manager. He used the Diageo Reserve portfolio of fine spirits including Ketel One vodka, Tanqueray No Ten gin, Don Julio tequila and Roe & Co Irish whiskey.

Ken Herlihy, a finalist in the 2015 World Class cocktail-making championships. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Ken Herlihy, a finalist in the 2015 World Class cocktail-making championships. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Ken says, "Starting out in the business and making cocktails at home, I often found it difficult to make great cocktails and wondered why. So here are a few secrets for Weekend readers to get it right."

1. Use a measure

Cocktails are all about balance. Measure everything. It is about precision and not something you do by eye, so use a small measuring jug if you don't have a cocktail jigger.

2. Make your own ice

If possible, try not to use store-bought ice. Invest in a few silicone ice moulds and freeze your own speciality ice cubes. You can pick them up in any good baking store and they now come in all shapes and sizes.

3. A bad craftsman blames his tools

A great place to get cocktail equipment is Cocktail Kingdom online ( They also have a great selection of unusual glassware. Start with a cocktail mixing glass and slowly build your collection.

4. Master the classics

Daiquiris and Old Fashioneds are a good place to start. They will also help you understand what makes a great cocktail and are a bridge for you to start creating your own.


If you have a group of friends coming over, why not make an Aqua Fresca punch for hassle-free entertaining? For a simple, yet flavoursome experience, I have created a drink based on Don Julio Blanco tequila, with a Velvet Falernum liqueur made with sugar cane, lime, almond and cloves. The oleo-saccharum may sound daunting but it's actually a very simple ingredient you can make at home; it will provide an extra dimension to mixed drinks and packs a whole lot of flavour.


5ml oleo-saccharum

50ml tequila

15ml Taylor's Velvet Falernum

3 tbsp caster sugar

20ml lime juice


To make 25ml oleo-saccharum, enough for 5 cocktails, carefully peel 9 lemons using a vegetable peeler. You only want the outer peel, not the white pith. Add the zest to a sealable bag and coat with the sugar. Leave to sit for 24 hours at room temperature and you will have the most amazing syrup. It's as easy as that: the skins do the work for you.

To make the cocktail, add all of the ingredients to a cocktail shaker and shake. Fine-strain into a chilled glass and serve.

Garnish: Lime, and if you have a dehydrator, you can also dehydrate lime wheels

Glass: Copper vessel

Accompaniment: In keeping with the Mexican theme, I’m serving Don Julio-infused guacamole and tortilla chips - the perfect sharing dish for a tequila-based cocktail


I had the privilege of being involved with the team from Roe & Co in creating the whiskey from early on, so making a cocktail with it, for me, is quite easy, as it is created for mixed drinks. The delicious notes of pear from the whiskey sit perfectly with a crisp apple and a little spice. The Granny Smith gives the cocktail a freshness, which is balanced out with a little honey. I think it's a modern alternative to the classic Mint Julep.


3g fresh ginger

35ml Granny Smith apple juice

50ml Roe & Co

1 clove

Pinch of cinnamon

1 tsp lavender honey


Add the ginger to your julep cup and give it a good press to release its spice. The apple has a lovely citrusy bite to it so if you don't have a juice extractor, put your apple in a blender and then extract the juice from the pulp using a cheesecloth. Follow that with all your other bits and pieces. Fill with crushed ice and gently stir the liquid with a bar spoon to dilute. Then top up with more crushed ice to create an ice cap.

Garnish: Apple, mint and a cinnamon stick

Glass: Bespoke julep vessel

Accompaniment: Maple-soaked nuts and dates

A selection of nuts is the ultimate bar snack; however, this time we have given them a little dip in Roe & Co and maple syrup and popped them in the oven for a few minutes. They taste sensational!


IW COCKTAI (2).jpg
Ruby Rose. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Everybody needs to drink one martini in their lifetime. I guess it's finding the right occasion when you're all dressed up. I don't get to make enough martinis, which is peculiar, as everybody at the moment loves gin and, in the hands of a skilled bartender, there isn't a better cocktail. This is why I wanted to create a martini that is a little more accessible. Our cocktail Ruby Rose gets its name and colour from Lillet Rose, a light and fruity vermouth. I've also added some Irish strawberries, which are absolutely delicious this time of year.

As we are simply teasing the gin with strawberry, the Tuscan juniper in the gin bursts through the delicate flavours but doesn't dominate - in fact, it all works perfectly. It is almost the opposite of a dirty martini. The grapefruit bitters amplify the citrus notes.

For extra depth of flavour, you can also add a dash of Darjeeling Tea and Chamomile Aroma, which is available from


1 lightly pressed strawberry

50ml gin

10ml Lillet Rose

3 dashes grapefruit bitters


Add a strawberry to a mixing glass and bruise gently. Add the remaining ingredients and fill the mixing glass with good-quality ice. Stir until the desired temperature and dilution is reached. Then fine-strain into a chilled glass and finish with the zest of your favourite citrus.

Accompaniment: Strawberries and cream

Few can resist fresh, juicy strawberries this time of year. They work particularly well with Tanqueray's spice and fresh lime citrus.


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Forget Me Knot Cocktail. Photo: Steve Humphreys

I decided to pair the clean citrus and black pepper spice of Ketel One with delicate flavours and herbal notes. The orangey bittersweet qualities of the kumquat play nicely with the rhubarb, which doesn't overpower the vodka.

Rhubarb is in season right now and makes a really nice syrup. It also reminds me of my childhood, bringing back memories of rhubarb and custard, and rhubarb pie. I still have a sweet tooth so I'm going to suggest serving the Forget Me Knot with some delicious fresh fruit tartlets.


4 kumquats

3 medium-sized basil leaves

50ml vodka

40ml rhubarb syrup

25ml lemon juice

1 cup water

1 cup caster sugar

Vanilla pod, optional


Halve 2 kumquats and pop them into a cocktail shaker. Give them a press to release the juices.

To make the syrup, add 2 cups of rhubarb to 1 cup of water and cover with the caster sugar. Stir over a low heat until the sugar dissolves.

Feel free to add a little bit of vanilla to the mixture if you like.

Pick 3 medium-sized basil leaves and add them to the shaker, followed by the remaining ingredients.

Fill the shaker with ice, shake and fine-strain into a Collins glass. Top up with good-quality ice.

Finally, slice the remaining 2 kumquats and add them to the drink, then serve.

Garnish: Basil and orange twist

Glass: Collins

Accompaniment: Selection of fruit tartlets


Fresh peach nectar is quite sharp this time of year so I'm softening it with yellow chartreuse, which is a herbal liqueur that is milder and sweeter than its big brother. We're also using a French brand of peach liqueur, not a crème. The flavour combinations are all quite delicate, which helps to enhance the star of the show - the gin. For extra flavour, add three dashes of Orange Blossom Honey Aroma, available from


50ml gin

5ml yellow chartreuse

5ml apricot liqueur

35ml fresh peach nectar


Add all of the ingredients to your cocktail shaker. Fill with ice and shake for a few moments. Then fine-strain into a chilled coupe and garnish.

Garnish: Champagne-infused grapes, orange oil

Glass: Vintage coupe

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