Jason Littrell’s Almond Brother in the Death & Co Cocktail Book has good things going for it. The combination of a base spirit (aged tequila) with lime and orgeat reminds me of one of my favorite drinks, the Army & Navy. Also I happen to have obscene amounts of coconut orgeat that I made a few weeks ago and love using whenever I have a chance to. Its coconut flavor is subtle enough that it works well in cocktails calling for regular almond orgeat, while adding something a bit different.
The cocktail ingredients also include apricot liqueur and amaretto, which gave me pause and some concern (I use amaretto very rarely, and am not a big fan of apricot liqueur in general). Add maple syrup to the mix, and I was really skeptical. Too much going on on the sweet end of things, maybe? So I ended up only mixing a 1/2 size cocktail, which is my typical procedure for testing new cocktails I am not sure about.
I was so terrified that this might be too sweet that I reduced all the sweet elements very slightly. But it was fine in the end. It felt like a fancy version of Tommy’s “Margarita” (which is really a tequila sour). It worked great with the aged tequila, and I noticed that the pepper notes in the Siete Leguas añejo were highlighted by contrast with the other ingredients.
Although the classic Improved Gin Cocktail is a favorite, gin-based Old Fashioneds are not something you see very often. So I was intrigued when I saw one in Death & Co new cocktail book. Even better, this particular one was an occasion to use my homemade orgeat (I used a coconut orgeat that I made with a fresh coconut using the same technique I normally use with almonds).
I’ve been making orgeat for several years now, as this is an essential component in some of the most important tiki cocktails like the Mai Tai. Orgeat is an almond syrup that was originally made from barley (orge in French), hence its name. If you’ve only tried the common brands of commercial orgeat (Torani and co), then you are really missing the point. These commercial syrups are essentially sugar or corn syrup mixed with a touch of flavorings, and their artificial taste, which is reminiscent of the almond-scented Cléopâtre white glue that I used in kindergarten in France, won’t do much good in cocktails.
It’s Mixology Monday today and the theme selected by Nick of the blog The Straight Up blog is anise.
For the holidays, I was invited to a Norwegian-themed party and was challenged to come up with an aquavit-based drink. I decided to bring a bottle of Jeff Berry’s Peg Leg punch. Punches are always a good idea for parties. You can pre-batch them, so you have something you can serve quickly to your guests while you enjoy the party.
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.