I just received my copy of Tony Conigliaro’s Cocktail Lab, the American edition of Drinks that just came out a few days ago. Tony Conigliaro’s bars, 69 Colebrooke Row in London and le Coq in Paris, are known for their avant-garde approach to cocktails, many of them developed in a laboratory setting. The book contains a wide array of drinks, from twists on classics to more complex recipes, some involving homemade distillates requiring laboratory equipment. Just flipping through the book, it was interesting to see that his sources of inspiration for new drinks even included perfumes. It is the kind of book that is not just a collection of recipes but also a stepping stone for new creations. It is great that he is sharing his creative process with us.
I decided to make the first thing that caught my eye. It was The Wink, a gin-based riff on the Sazerac. To the foundation of the classic drink with the base spirit, simple syrup, Peychaud’s bitters, an absinthe rinse, and the (discarded) citrus peel garnish, he adds triple sec. With almost an ounce of sweetener, it could have been on the sweet side, but it turned out to be just right. I was a little surprised to see no detail on the recommended gin so I used Beefeater which is my baseline brand for new experiments. It was a great fit; I think that the drink would also be great with a more juniper-forward gin such as Tanqueray or even Junipero.
Even though the drink structure was based on the Sazerac, its taste did not evoke one but rather was a completely new experience. This is a gin-forward drink that can be a good alternative to a Martini for example. Nicely done.
I paired it with a locally-made wild boar salami. Some cured sausages use juniper in the spice mix and I don’t know if this one did, but I like to nibble on cured meats or cheese when enjoying a good cocktail. Bought at Ariccia, a small Italian gourmet shop in La Jolla, it was perfectly cured and with a distinctive boar flavor that some may call “strong” (it’s a good thing) and that evokes the essence of pork for me. They say that it is actually made with genuine wild boar sourced in Southern Europe. It reminded me of the charcuterie I tasted in Corsica many years ago. I am very excited to have found a new source of high quality charcuterie with distinctive products.
The drink is shaken (although it does not contain any citrus), which gives it a slightly lighter texture and a pink blush (thanks Rafa).