Booze and elderflowers

After making a cordial from wild elderflowers, for my first drink I decided to make a Far Eastern Gimlet. It’s a very simple cocktail based on the classic Gimlet where Rose’s lime juice is replaced with lemon juice and elderflower cordial, plus a dash of Angostura bitters (another well-known bartender ketchup…! I know, I know…). Originally the drink was created at the Merchant Hotel in Belfast, and it was later tweaked by Maks Pazuniak (including the dash of bitters). It has a typical Gimlet profile with a subtle elderflower flavor. It’s nice but may be a little too simple. It’s not quite unforgettable, but if you are a Gimlet fan you will like this version for sure. Trying different gins would be a good idea since the flavor is already subtle, although I would stay with a gin that is juniper-light.

Far Eastern Gimlet: gin, lemon juice, homemade elderflower cordial, angostura bitters
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You only live twice

mxmologo

This month for MxMo LXXV, Fred Yarm from cocktail virgin slut selected the theme Flip Flop!
The mission was summarized as follows:

Find a recipe, either new or old, and switch around at least two of the ingredients to sister or cousin ingredients but holding the proportions and some of the ingredients the same. The new recipe should be recognizable as a morph of the old one when viewed side by side.

I knew right away that I wanted to use Harry Craddock’s Corpse Reviver No. 2 as my inspiration. Since it’s an equal-parts cocktail (with a rinse), I figured that it would be easy to experiment. In the past I had tried making subtle changes to ingredients in the CR2, evaluating the influence of using Cocchi Americano vs. Lillet or Cointreau vs. Pierre Ferrand dry curaçao, but I had never tried switching ingredients.

My first thought was to use a white rum instead of gin, but then I remembered the excellent Paddington from PDT. Although altering the original ratios, it is clearly based on the CR2 and cleverly switches Cointreau for a spoonful of orange marmalade. The Savoy Cocktail book also has the Culross which is rum based and uses apricot liqueur instead of Cointreau.

I considered using tequila for my CR2 variation, but soon realized that someone at Rickhouse already had the same brilliant idea (and with the original ratios too!) resulting in the Corpse Reviver No. 5 with tequila blanco, Cocchi Americano (instead of Lillet), pineapple gum syrup (instead of Cointreau), lemon juice and absinthe.

So tequila and rum were out. Moving on to dark spirits; cognac had been covered in the Hurly Burly (the other switch being Montenegro for the Cointreau), itself a riff on another Savoy cocktail the Hoop La! (aka Frank Sullivan cocktail) which is identical to the CR2 with cognac and no absinthe rinse. I finally settled on rye…

With rye as the base spirit, I decided to switch the Lillet for Bonal gentiane quina. Like Lillet, Bonal is a quinquina (a fortified aromatized aperitif wine with cinchona bark), although the quinine is much more pronounced compared to Lillet. Bonal being close to a vermouth, pairing it with rye made sense. For the other ingredients kept the lemon juice, I used dry curaçao instead of Cointreau and kept the rinse (I used pastis).

So here are the original and the twist side by side.

CR2 variation

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Okolehao and the Halekulani cocktail

Trying to find an idea for last night’s cocktail was like solving a riddle. I wanted something tiki – I’ve been blogging for a few days already but there has not been a single tiki or tartine in sight! Clearly, this sad situation could not last any longer. I had just received my CSA with a generous amount of fresh fruit and vegetable including plenty of citrus: grapefruit, oranges, and lemons. It looked like I was all set for a nice tiki cocktail when I realized that I only had half a lime left. Of course all my favorite tiki recipes include generous amounts of fresh lime juice, so I was stumped for a few minutes.

Looking through the various books by Jeff Berry and his very handy Tiki+ app, I soon realized that there are only very few tiki recipes that don’t require lime juice. The Halekulani cocktail caught my eye because it uses okolehao as the base spirit. Okolehao is a traditional Hawaiian spirit that is made from the root of the ti plant. It is more or less the local moonshine. After being almost impossible to find for a very long time, it was re-created by Jim Sargent at Haleakala Distillers. The taste is funky, earthy and vegetal. You can detect tropical notes but it’s not for the faint of heart – it is quite powerful.

From an article in Honolulu Magazine (June 2010):

To make the Maui Okolehao, Haleakala Distillers takes the starch of East Maui-grown ti root, converts it into sugar, ferments it with evaporated cane juice and then distills it. What results tastes like a cross between rum and tequila, with hints of honey and a coconut finish, which, Sargent says, “is a distinctly Hawaiian flavor [that] doesn’t taste like any other spirit.”

The recipe for the Halekulani cocktail does not have a lot of sweetener (just a little bit of grenadine). But that was fine because the okolehao liqueur is a little sweet on its own. The final cocktail ended up being daiquiri-like, slightly tart with a complex exotic flavor.

Halekulani cocktail: okolehao, pineapple juice, lemon, orange, grenadine, angostura bitters
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The Milano Swizzle, Bitter Giuseppe, and the Search for Delicious

Most nights I make cocktails for two, but when my husband is out of town I almost always reach for the amari (he is not a bitter lover and that is an understatement). Campari, Cynar, Fernet-Branca – it’s all fair game, and the more bitter the better as far as I am concerned (I wonder, is there such a thing as a bitterness scale for amari, similar to IBUs for beer?).

Last night, I decided to try a riff on a Cynar + sweet vermouth combination, Christian Siglin’s Milano Swizzle.

Milano Swizzle (Christian Siglin): cynar, sweet vermouth, gin, lemon juice, salt
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