Tuxedos optional

Some things are just hard to swallow.

And occasionally, very occasionally, a cocktail may be one of those things.

But we don’t shy away from talking about tough things here at Shake, Stir, Muddle, so yes, this week’s Cocktail Shakedown is one we made, tasted, tinkered with and eventually poured down the sink as a lost cocktail cause.*

Tuxedo .jpg
I know. It looks delicious.


The Tuxedo.

I was excited about The Tuxedo. Any cousin of the Martini is a cousin of mine. But somehow, this gin, dry vermouth, absinthe, orange bitters and maraschino liqueur cocktail just doesn’t work. It’s a bit off.

No you weirdo, it’s not like kissing your sister, it’s more like, um, cough mixture.

So I’d suggest not bothering with this IBA Unforgettable. Or if you do fancy yourself a bit of a Tuxedo, maybe make like George Clooney and loosen it up a bit, probably by dropping the Absinthe. And the maraschino. And probably the bitters too.

Image result for george clooney tuxedo


Yes, that’s a Martini, but what the hell did you expect from me?

If you’re still not convinced that you should WALK AWAY from this cocktail, let me tell you a little about its history.

It’s named after the placed it was invented – The Tuxedo Club, which since 1886 has operated as a private, members-only club in New York State.

Here’s little snippet from their website:

Members embrace a shared tradition of congeniality, high standards of personal conduct and continuity of family association. The celebrated traditions of sport, civility and a commitment to excellent facilities and services will always be the hallmarks of The Tuxedo Club.


Hmmm, there’s something about that language that tells me The Tuxedo Club may be even more difficult to swallow than a goon-bag full of Tuxedos (and if you’re not familiar with a goon-bag, read on and prepare to be delighted).

No, I’m not getting the sense that The Tuxedo Club is a particularly welcoming place. Maybe if you’re Brett Kavanaugh, but not if you’re, you know, not white.

But to hell with them, we don’t want to go there anyway (although I would quite like to meet a real middle-aged woman happy to go by the moniker Muffy and I suspect I could readily fulfil this ambition at The Tux).

So The Tuxedo Club is difficult to stomach, but here’s the good news. There are thousands of bars around the world that will welcome us with open arms.

Much easier to swallow.

So here’s a list of other things you might find hard to swallow, as well as an alternative you might like to occupy your mind with instead.


Marketing 101

  1. We’ve learned in the past week that there actually is NO idea too trashy for some marketer to try to push. Yes, wankers put a horse race on the Sydney Opera House. That’s hard to swallow.
  2. Easier to swallow is that the Cleveland Indians sponsorship team proposed a 10 cent beer night for a game against the Texas Rangers on a Tuesday night in June 1974. Who could possibly have seen this coming, but everyone got so shit-faced that the game had to be called off. Brilliant.

Image result for cleveland indians ten cent beer night

Australian ideas

  1. Back in the day (October 1859), a genius named Thomas Austin wrote to his brother in England asking him to send 24 rabbits for his guests to do some game hunting on his estate near Melbourne, an idea that’s still causing millions of dollars of crop damage every year.
  2. A MUCH better Australian idea is the plastic wine cask – aka the goon-bag – that we all know and love from our teens and twenties.
Image result for goon bag
Not to scale (ABC: Emma Wynne)

Nominations for worst song ever

  1. Journalist Luke Williams once nominated Spandau Ballet’s True as the worst song ever. How very dare he?
  2. Michael Musto in The Village Voice said that Phil Collins’ annoying and pointless and mystifying Sussudio “could have been the theme song for the Third Reich, it was that insidious and evil”. Much easier to swallow.


Sarah Jessica Parker movies

  1. Sex and the City (1 and 2). Both very difficult to swallow.
  2. Instead watch 1985’s super-cheesy romantic comedy dance film Girls Just Want to Have Fun which matched SJP with Helen Hunt AND Shannen Doherty. It’s not very good. But it’s GREAT.



Nicolas Cage rumours – everyone knows a crazy theory (most true) about the creative genius who made Face Off, Con-Air, Raising Arizona, bought a pet octopus to help him act better (costing him $0.5% million in aquarium costs with no apparent improvement in his acting skills), did mushrooms with his cat…

  1. Reportedly very nearly made a Magnum PI movie. But didn’t. That’s hard to swallow.
  2. May actually be a vampire (something he denies)

Nicolas Cage vampire

Some blokes will get away with it

  1. Brett Kavanaugh, now a Supreme Court Justice, would be welcome at The Tuxedo Club
  2. But Bill Cosby – well he appears to have been hit in the face with a piece of chicken by a fellow inmate recently. So that’s good.


Swap your lens (or your cocktail), there’s usually a better way to serve up most things.



*After this we opened a bottle of wine, so the story does have a happy ending

A Ramble, 2 Brambles, 7 cycles and a Wibble

Spring is springing in Sydney so thoughts invariably turn to cocktails.

This week, another Dick Bradsell classic, the Bramble.

Bartender extraordinaire Dick grew up in England and had fond memories of his childhood on the Isle of Wight where apparently one can hardly turn around without being snagged by a blackberry bush in the “warmer” months.

Despite a largely blackberry-free childhood, I now know – thanks primarily to Peppa Pig – that blackberry bushes are thorny and reaching the berries requires care.

Peppa Pig
From an actual book in my house. Sigh.

Fast forward to sometime in the late 1980s and Dick was running the bar at wanky a swanky Soho private members’ club frequented by the likes of Boy George (fun fact: Culture Club’s Jon Moss was my choice of husband before I discovered George Michael – it was also never going to work out), Neneh Cherry, Naomi Campbell (of course) and Siouxsie and many of her Banshees.

Jon moss boy george

Anyhoo, Dick wanted to create a truly British cocktail and invented the Bramble (one of more than 30 cocktails he invented before his untimely death in 2016).

Shake 60mLs of gin, 30mLs of fresh lemon juice and 15mLs of sugar syrup and pour over a glass full of crushed ice (definitely crushed, which we know is not my favourite, but must be crushed – you can use a rolling pin to bash some ice cubes in a clean tea-towel to make it at home), then trickle 15mLs of crème de mure over the top.

It’ll wend its way slowly down through the ice in a manner that will allegedly remind you of dodging through brambles – that’s why it’s gotta be crushed.

Garnish with fresh blackberries and enjoy.

©Yauhani Labanau dreamstime.com


If you prefer, you can mix up a Wibble (so named by Bradsell after the 1970s toy, the Weebles, because he said “a Wibble might make you wobble, but you won’t fall down.”)

For that you’ll need London Dry Gin, Sloe Gin, fresh pink grapefruit juice, fresh lemon juice, crème de mure and sugar syrup.

Quick info break 1: Sloe gin is a red liqueur made with gin and sloe (blackthorn) drupes, which are a small fruit relative of the plum. A drupe is a stonefruit. You soak the fruit in the gin. It’s nice and gives you an excuse to sing The Pointer Sisters Slow Hand as you serve it. Who doesn’t want a lover with some Sloe Gin?

Slow Hand

Quick info break 2: Crème de mure is a crème liqueur. Crème liqueurs contain no cream. Liqueurs with cream (Bailey’s Irish Cream, Amarula and the like) are called Cream Liqueurs. Crème liqueurs contain LOTS of additional sugar which makes them syrupy. Serving one gives you an excuse to sing the UK’s longest running One Hit Wonder, which tomorrow turns 49, The Archies’ Sugar Sugar (no, that’s not me on keyboards, that’s Veronica).

There are lots of crème liqueurs, and if blackberry ain’t your thing, you can substitute Chambord – a French raspberry liqueur – and hey presto, you’ve made yourself a Ramble instead of a Bramble.

Then, of course, you can sing Ramblin’ Guy and sort out your guests by seeing who knows what you’re talking about when you try to get them whistling.


Or, just to prove that Dick wasn’t as much of a wanker as the patrons of some of the places he worked in, he said you can quite effectively substitute Ribena for the crème de mure and still call it a Bramble. I’m a little conflicted by this since I don’t like wankers or Ribena, but you make up your own minds.

In fact I’ve recently been saved from having to think too much about that decision by the Chief Distiller at Sydney’s Buffalo Vale (makers of this very good gin which I paid for and can therefore say whatever I please about), when he served me a Korean Bramble which although not Australian, seems more appropriate since it’s from our neck of the woods.

It’s a Bramble, with the crème de mure substituted for Bokbunjaju, or black raspberry wine.