Sympathy for the strawberry

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.

 

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Fire!

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This weekend was Tiki Oasis in San Diego, the 13th edition of an annual gathering that brings together tiki fans from all over the world. Four days of tiki music, creative tiki outfits, a super relaxed atmosphere, and of course fabulous tiki drinks. These included a couple of cocktails at the Bali Hai opening night party with a classic Navy Grog and their take on the Zombie. We had a few drinks at the vendors’ booths: an excellent ti punch riff at the rhum Clement booth, as well as a refreshing punch at the Denizen booth with grapefruit and Aperol. We also sampled three delicious drinks featuring Boy Drinks World cocktail bitters at a preview of the BDW room party (disclaimer – he is a friend). Lastly, we had a chance to attend a seminar by Martin Cate during which he served several cocktails by Stephen Crane, who was not only one of Lana Turner’s many husbands (he actually married her not once but twice!), but also the owner of Polynesian-theme restaurant the Luau in Beverly Hills, and the Kon Tiki chain of restaurants.

After attending Martin Cate’s lively seminar about this unsung hero of tikiness, I could not wait to dust off my Kon Tiki bowl and prepare something for this month’s MxMo theme, Fire. Sometimes a solid classic is best, and I selected Don the Beachcomber’s Volcano Bowl. Four different rums, with a refreshing mix of grapefruit juice and lime juice, and maple syrup as the sweetener. For my rum mix I went with El Dorado 5 for the Demerara rum, Appleton 12 for the gold Jamaican rum, and Plantation 5 Barbados as a substitute for the gold Puerto Rican rum. I also used a touch of Lemon Hart 151 for my fire element, which I extinguished after the photo to enjoy the rum with the rest of the drink. A wonderful way to conclude a fun weekend.

Volcano Bowl
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Oh Gosh

Continuing with my exploration of Tony Conigliaro’s Cocktail Lab, last night I tried the Oh Gosh, a daiquiri variation with triple sec. The recipe calls for a 3-year old rum which I thought was strangely specific and understood as code for Havana Club Añejo white. I wonder if the brand is specified in the British edition? I used Cointreau for the triple sec.

Oh Gosh (Tony Conigliaro): Havana Club 3 years, lime, triple sec, simple syrup, lemon twist
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