Vinegar Girl

The theme for this month’s Mixology Monday was Sours, which may be the largest cocktail category. MxMo challenges are a good opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone, so I decided not to use citrus as my source of acidity. Instead, I experimented by making my first shrub.

A shrub is a drinking vinegar made by mixing fruit with vinegar and sugar. I find this especially appealing because I am a vinegar fiend – after eating a salad, I like to drink every last bit of vinaigrette from my plate (no, I don’t do this in fine dining establishments, only in the comfort of my own home). I like vinegar so much I even own a vinegar (and beer) shampoo (which I don’t drink, although it is very tempting).

I’ve been making a lot of calvados + scotch drinks these past few months and wanted to use this as my base. Calvados is distilled from apples sometimes mixed with pears, so I went with a pear shrub. To make the shrub, I mixed equal parts mashed Bosc pear, sugar, and apple cider vinegar. I let the mixture steep in the fridge for a week before filtering out the pear. I used egg white in the cocktail to temper the shrub somewhat.

My first version of the cocktail was too vinegar-forward and the acidity masked the scotch almost completely. I corrected the course by adding simple syrup, and a couple of dashes of Peychaud’s to round up the flavors. The resulting version was much more harmonious and had a brightness evocative of pear eau de vie in the finish.

Vinegar Girl for MxMo Sours

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Winter Tiki

It’s winter, but that’s not a reason to not enjoy tiki cocktails. When the weather is colder, spice-forward cocktails are especially appropriate.

Here are a couple of tiki drinks that I have enjoyed recently. The first one is the Winter Diamonback that was created at the El Dorado lounge in San Diego. It is based on the template of Harry Craddock’s Rattlesnake, one of my favorite cocktails that combines rye with lemon, simple syrup, egg white, and a rinse of absinthe. Changing the sweetener from simple syrup to a combination of cinnamon syrup and orgeat is the basis for the Winter Diamondback. With its cinnamon and absinthe flavor, it is unmistakably a tiki drink in the vein of Don the Beachcomber’s best creations, even though it’s rye-based. The blanket of egg white softens the flavors and helps blend everything harmoniously.

Winter Diamondback: rye, lemon juice, homemade orgeat, cinnamon syrup, bitters, egg white, absinthe rinse, nutmeg
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