Finding something original for this month’s Mixology Monday Challenge, “almost, but not quite, a Martini“, was somewhat of a difficult task. The Martini is such a popular cocktail that it already inspired hundreds of variations (and I am not talking about the abominations that don’t bear much resemblance to the gin and dry vermouth classic, other than the glass they are served in). For example, The Savoy Cocktail Book contains endless variations on this theme that only differ by dashes of various ingredients, from bitters to curaçao, grenadine, or absinthe… Continue reading
This month’s Mixology Monday challenge, Perfect Symmetry, explores a way to create cocktails which consists of taking one element in an existing recipe and splitting it into two related elements, in equal parts. The most famous example is probably the Perfect Manhattan, where the vermouth is divided into sweet and dry. This concept is nothing new, and as I was sipping on a rye and armagnac Sazerac earlier this week, I realized that it already met the requirements of the challenge.
Strawberries in cocktails, I know what you think, it just brings back memories of awful strawberry “daiquiris” or other sickly sweet concoctions. But sometimes (most times) it’s good to keep an open mind.
I recently bought a bottle of Dorothy Parker gin at the recommendation of a cocktailian friend. This gin, in addition to its Juniper backbone, has floral notes including hibiscus and elderberries that got me a bit stuck at first. But why not look to classics for inspiration… In the Savoy Cocktail Book, there always seem to be pearls hidden between endless Martini variations. Case in point, the Bloodhound, which is actually a “perfect” Martini, incorporating both sweet and dry vermouths. The particularity of the Bloodhound is that it adds fresh strawberries to the mix. Strawberries are in season and grown locally here in San Diego, and pairing them with the hibiscus notes from the gin sounded like a good idea.
For the sweet vermouth, I did not want aything too sweet, so I opted for Punt e Mes which combines dark berry flavors with an underlying bitterness. I did not bother muddling the strawberries, so the taste ended up on the subtle side. It’s probably best to muddle them a bit, unless your shake is especially energetic and your strawberries super ripe.
The resulting cocktail is is very much anchored in Martini territory, with the bonus of strawberry undertones and a beautiful color. The sweet vermouth and strawberry pairing is a very nice one that also works well in desserts – think strawberries macerated in red wine. Also the Dorothy Parker gin was especially well suited for this cocktail which allowed its unique flavor to shine.
We are getting to the official end of winter, so it’s my last opportunity for a while to talk about the Alaska, an icy cold and crisp Martini alternative.
When considering smoke, two ingredients came to my mind immediately: mezcal and Laphroaig. I decided to focus on Laphroaig as I don’t use it very often. I bought a bottle after falling in love with Sam Ross’s Penicillin, a new classic that pairs blended scotch with ginger, lemon, and a touch of smoke from the Laphroaig. Sam seems to play with Laphroaig quite a bit; his Fitzroy is a great Rob Roy variation where Laphroaig makes a great impact.