Happy Hardcore Halloween

Posted on: 28 October 2011 No comments

Most of my rants are usually tied back to an episode of The Sopranos, such is the limted capacity of my intellect. Halloween always reminds me of a great scene in the first series – the one where Paulie is in the Starbuck’s and gives put yards how about Italian cuisine and coffees had been hijacked by the Man and they weren’t getting their fare share:
“We invented this shit and these other cocksuckers are gettin’ rich off it. ……And it’s not just the money, it’s a pride thing. All our food. Pizza, Calzone, Buffalo Mozzarealla, Olive Oil! These fucks had nothing! They ate pootzi before we gave them the gift of our cuisine. But this? This is the worst! This espresso shit….”

And why does that remind me of Halloween? Because we fucking invented it! Our semi pagan/semi Christian sorry asses invented the whole fucking holiday and even came up with the entire trick or fucking treat thing. Not the Yanks, as most people are led to believe. Before Columbus discovered America, nobody with pink skin ever set their sights on a pumpkin. Paddies would cut turnips out and stick candles in them at their doorways and windows. But when we went to the states we brought all that shit with us.

By the looks of things, we did a sterling job of spreading it round the rest of the world too.  There are Slovakians and Venezuelans who work here with me that celebrate Halloween by getting dressed up. So that’s literally millions of people from infants to auld fellas who will be donning fancy dress at parties or going door to door – and we don’t get any kickbacks?

MY SUGGESTIONS FOR GETTING THE IRISH ECONOMY ROCKING AGAIN – NO. 346 – Anybody non Irish who wears a bit of a costume over the next 3 days must pay a €10 Halloween tax to our government. I haven’t quite figured out the mechanics of how that could work just yet, but in the meantime let’s get stuck into some Halloween themed mixed beverages. These will all be available in the back stage bar in The Sugar Club from midnight tomorrow night for The Rocky Horror Picture Show and 9pm Sunday for The Cosmic Halloween Party.



This is ABSOLUT Vodka that’s been pimped out with one of the nation’s favourite sweeties – Refresher Bars. I’ve always been mad for these fuckers. God knows how many fillings I’ve lost because of them. We’ll be lashing these out at €20 for 4.



Named after one of my favourite Dublin DJ’s who also happens to be headlining Sunday night. It’s made with ABSOLUT infused with apples and hawthorn berries and shaken with Karmine Apple juice from Tipperary, Cranberry Juice and cinnamon syrup. These will be lashed out for €7.50.



Honey and whiskey go together like Foster & Allen, Ant & Dec, Cocaine & Blowjobs, etc, etc… Any excuse to get them together works for me. This is my take on a classic Julep – I’ve replaced the bourbon with Jameson and the syrup with Galtee Irish Honey Syrup – yours for €7.50. The mint sends it over the edge.  I could drink these all day. In fact, I may well do at some point over the weekend.


Have a happy Irish Halloween – where ever the fuck you may find yourselves. Sláinte.

Backstage Cocktails

Posted on: 21 October 2011 3 comments

I have just recently returned from NY where I had the great fortune to attend the BarSmarts 5 Day Programme. It is best described as a master’s, extreme bootcamp for degenerate lovers of cocktails and spirits. So obviously, I fucking LOVED every minute of it.

It ran for 5 days in The Astor Centre which also happens to have a massive offie in the basement – that came in handy.  The lads running the course are hands down – the supreme masters/Jedi Knights of the hard liquor and mixed drinks world. People like  Dale DeGroff – a man equally well known as The Cocktail King, he was our mixology teacher. David Wondrich – the leading spirits authority and writer on the planet, he gave us all our history and craft lessons.

Unexpectedly though, most of what we went through was actually tasting. Sampling shitloads of spirits, a few liqueurs and a fair amount of cocktails. Mr. Wondrich’s count was 160. That’s a wicked amount of gargoyle. It was agonizing having to spit any of  it out.  The spirits someliers who conducted the tastings had an outstanding ability to awaken flavour detection in all of us – and there were 50 attending.

In terms of what was imparted onto me from the course  – I repeatedly find myself using religious terminology in order to articulate it all, as it was genuinely a life changing experience. And while I have no doubt that even just the simple act of tasting 160 different drinks can bring any boozehound closer to God, everything else in between also had a great effect on my outlook towards the food and drinks industry.  I won’t bore you with a litany of all the different things I was taught and was inspired by, but I would like to say that BarSmarts reminded me that you should always stick to and improve what you love within your trade.  And the reason why I was put there in the first place , was that I put together a menu of cocktails that all featured Irish ingredients.  I now want to develop that concept further by conducting a wee experiment. For a trial period, I want to turn the backstage bar of The Sugar Club into a late night cocktail room that will only sell Irish cocktails. These drinks will be made exclusively of Irish alcoholic beverages or Irish mixers and produce. It kicks off tonight from 11pm with The Burlesque & Cabaret Social Club and will be available for tomorrow’s event with The GALAS and Sunday’s Twin Peaks is 21 Party. I’ll change the menu every week and it will only feature a couple of items.

Here’s what I’ll be lashing out this weekend:



When I got home, I went on a couple of berry picking expeditions to Wicklow. This is what I did with the blackberries.  I made a couple of litres of blackberry syrup and I put all the pulp into a load of bottles of Havana Club 3 year old.  This meant that the rum could infuse with the berries and impart a lovely colour.  Each of these daiquiris will contain 50 ml of the infused rum, some fresh lime juice and a good squeeze of the house made blackberry syrup.  We will be selling them for €7.50 a pop.



My mother Emer gave me some lovely cooking apples from her garden. I think she was keen for me to make some jam. But as a great man somewhere, probably said, “Why make jam when you can make punch?”  So I chopped up the apples, stuck them in a container with ABSOLUT and a fistful of hawthorn berries for colour, so I could lash out some house infused apple vodka.  This is added to a mash of lemon rinds, orange bitters, Highbank Orchard Apple syrup from Kilkenny and topped off with Bulmer’s.  These will be sold for €20 each and it serves four.



Been picking these Elderberries up until Tuesday of this week. They are absolutely all over the shop, from Ceannt Park in Crumlin to ditches in Enniskerry.  The ones I used for this drink came from a farmer’s field near Bray.  I basically made them into a syrup that was flavoured with cloves. The leftover pulp was then put into some bottles of Cork Dry Gin for extra colour and flavour. You take 50 ml of the gin – shake it up with the elderberry and clove syrup and some lemon juice to make one of these bad boys. Now I know that a load of you will read this and say to yourselves that you don’t like gin and therefore would never give this drink a go. So heres’ a challenge borrowed from Dale DeGroff himself – taste one, if you don’t like it, you don’t have to pay the €7.50 for it.



His name is Chris McMillian, a native of New Orleans. He is a legendary bartender and founder of The Museum of The American Cocktail. Few people alive today have such an encyclopaedic knowledge of gargoyle. Yet such is his humility and love for his trade, he thought it would be still be worthwhile for him to attend the BarSmarts course.

When the time came for the class to learn more about the Mint Julep, the BarSmarts crew were quite happy to put Chris in charge as he performed this demonstration for all to see. We gave him a standing ovation. Poetry in sweet, boozy motion – the highlight of the whole course for me.

I would like to thank again the good folk in Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard for giving me the once in a lifetime opportunity of attending BarSmarts in NY. It was amazing.

Apple & Wild Berry Shortcrust Pie

Posted on: 13 October 2011 No comments

Been watching that new BBC telly chef bird a fair bit of late. It took me a few episodes before I really copped on to her whole vibe. And when I did, it was like a million eureka moments at once. “Oh I get it now – she’s like really, really sexually attractive……When’s the next Lorraine Pascale show on I wonder?”

She’s  an ex model turned baker and her producers have seemingly gone after that Nigella-esque style of getting her to give long suggestive stares to the camera as certain sequences fade out. It’s thankfully not as blatantly obvious as Lady Lovelace Lawson, who is prone to fellating anything that resembles half a mickey and whose midnight snacks attempt to give off the air of post coital munchies.  But because Nigella has never brought any energy to my loins – I never really noticed how her whole show was about getting blokes to fancy her and birds to despise her. And oddly enough, I sussed it for Lorraine’s.  The food is the excuse for you to perv at yet another fine ting on de telly.

Her new series features absolutely nothing that has not been done a billion times before.   A paella where she uses one of her favourite ingredients – chorizo – how daring!!  Then it cuts to her perfectly manicured herb garden, “I just love using fresh herbs.”  You could smell the book publishers and her management team at that point, looking to tick all the right middle class boxes for the BBC audience. I switched off then, or maybe just put it on mute – which is actually the best way to watch her show.

Having said that, she does seem to know how to bake. And on one particular occasion, I did seem to recall her showing the viewer how to make shortcrust pastry. I use it in this recipe, along with some elderberries and blackberries I picked last Saturday.  And if Lorraine Pascale has one good message, it is that baking can actually be a piece of piss with right recipe. This one worked for me.



Elderberries – pick these fuckers now while they’re in season, they’re free and tasty.


225 g of plain flour

125 g of chilled butter, not room temperature

1/2 teaspoon of salt

3 to 4 tablespoons of ice water

By the way, this if for a 23cm pie case. If you’re using a bigger one, figure out the sums first.


750 g of peeled apples

125 g of elderberries – I picked these alongside a ditch in Wicklow, but they are fucking everywhere, usually where there are blackberries.

125 g of blackberries

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1 tablespoon of icing sugar


Sift the flour into a bowl with the salt. Cut up the butter into little cubes and rub it into the flour with your hands until it is all crumb like.

Gently sprinkle 3 tablespoons of water and mix that in with a fork to combine and moisten. Then you have to press the dough into a ball and add any remaining water. You then have to wrap the ball of dough with cling film and bang it in the fridge for 30 minutes. While that’s on, peel your apples and then slice them into eighths and rub the cinnamon all round them. Sprinkle the sugar on the berries, mix them up (but not with the apples) and put aside.

After the dough has rested, dust off a dry clean space to roll it out. Roll half the pastry, until you get it nice and thin, but not too thin that it breaks when you lift it – you’ll suss it after a bit, trust me. Line your  tie pin with this and trim the bits on the side.Then press the side bits down with a fork, to give it a pattern.


Lash in the peeled apples evenly around the base.


Then you put in the berries and wet the edge of the pastry with a brush.


Roll out the other bit of pastry and cut them into  strips that you lay on top of the pie. These are what’s called lattices as far as I know. As I was a tad hungover after a Crazy P gig the night before and a little stuck for time, I just did a single strip lattice on mine – you can go apeshit on them by layering them or braiding them, look it up. Sprinkle with more sugar and throw it in the oven for about 55 minutes.

When mine came out, I drizzled it in elderberry and clove syrup – which I thought would look cool – that didn’t work,  it just made it look messy. But it gave it an extra spice which was kinda nice. I then had to put the pie into a tin to go on the Luas. I also had to gaffer tape the lid just to keep it on, which kinda made it look like a bomb. Not a good idea to bring something that looks like a bomb on public transport, but anyhoop.



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