Discerning Drinking, Chapter Ten.

Originally posted 20th May 2012

My housemate and I will celebrate one year at Chez Carmines on the 21st May.  Since then, the bar has gone from strength to strength and plenty of drinks have been served up- some bad, some bleedin’ awful; but a few have been fantastic.  But none have been blended.

Until today…

As a ‘first anniversary present’ I invested in a blender for the apartment which has – in the space of one hour – opened up a whole new world of tasty liquid opportunities.  Last week was a right old killer at work (‘Associate Appreciation Week’ is fun times for the whole hotel, apart for the HR office) so I thought I would kick off the odyssey of blended awesomeness by some hedonism – dusting off a bit of a classic – TGI  Friday’s Barnamint.

The Barnamint is more excessive than Roman Abramovich- especially when it is not made to measure like last night.  This drink is named after the Barnum & Bailey Circus- whose red and white striped branding inspired the very first TGI’s on 63rd and 1st in NYC.  The Barnamint was probably the first cocktail I ever tried, at the Cheltenham TGI Fridays on one of my birthdays.  I remember that I abandoned it halfway through, coming back to the table to find out that the drink had turned to concrete.

Actually, now that I think about it, it was probably the second cocktail I ever tried; following a sickening attempt at Tequila and Coke, concocted by my schoolmates and me one afternoon after finishing our exams.  Said Tequila and Coke was served in a pint glass (oh yes) and as none of us had no concept of measurement or ABV, the ratio was literally 1:1.

So you can imagine the effect half a pint of tequila would have on school kids; trying to cover up that disastrous afternoon from the parents was a nightmare.

Anyway, I digress; here is what *should* go into a Barnamint:

  • 2 shots Baileys
  • 1.5 shot Crème de Menthe (Green)
  • 1 shot Double Cream
  • 1 shot Milk
  • 2 scoops Vanilla Ice Cream
  • 3 Oreo Cookies plus one more to garnish

Making the thing is surprisingly easy; fling everything in a blender, add a handful of crushed ice and away you go.  Crushed ice doesn’t necessarily call for an ice crusher; I just grabbed some cubes and banged the shit out of them in a freezer bag using a rolling pin.

Mike’s Barnamint:

So as I said earlier, I had to deviate from the Diffords recipe for a few reasons.  Firstly, although my bar is well-equipped, I don’t have Baileys!  Perhaps I should get some.  Secondly, Tesco had run out of vanilla ice cream so I used Viennetta.  That was like the best decision of my life, and as a friend mentioned last night, ‘fate’.  I like that.  Thirdly, I was just so excited about using a blender I really just started chucking ingredients in.

Instead of Baileys I added 1 shot of Scotch and 1 shot of Kahlúa.  I debated additional sweetener but figured that the chocolate in the Viennetta would compensate.  Anyhow, I added an extra half shot of Crème de Cacao just to be sure.

All these measures are for one serving, and to be honest it was pretty spot on- I doubled everything as I was making two (obviously) and there was more than enough to fill two laaaarge wineglasses.  I garnished the drink using one more whole Oreo.  Because we’re worth it.

Serve with straws.  My god, you need straws for this one.

The Viennetta harks back to the good old school days where we made a similar drink using this wonderful log of ice cream and Kahlúa.  Looking back on these adventures, it was a bloody miracle I got through school at all but here I am.  I also just found out that Viennetta was originally conceived in Gloucester so there is a pretty cool West Country connection to the whole thing there.

So, the verdict?

My Barnamint may have been slightly different but it tastes exactly like it did on that cold December night at TGI’s in Cheltenham.  Minty, chocolately, warming yet freezing, the drink is rich and can only be described as a ‘dessert in a glass’.

The Barnamint is probably my favourite cocktail – it is a show-stopper and an entertainer – and that is what cocktails should be about.   It certainly livened up the Champions League Final.  Get a Viennetta and try it today.

So here’s to Barnamint, to one year at Carmine Wharf and to plenty more damn great (blended) drinks to come!

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