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September 7th, 2013
Metro New York Mixology
It’s snowing again and with this latest blast of winter comes the desire to perk up our palates. Most foods and drinks that we sup during the winter months are too heavy from over-cooking and our palates numbed from the relentless cold.
Then why, pray tell are the best and the most aromatic oranges available only during the winter months? Perhaps this is because with the fifty shades of winter outside, our palates scream for awakening and citrus fruits do this with alacrity!
Blood Oranges are flooding the store shelves right now. This unique style of citrus fruit has forced us to reckon with their oily, zesty aromatics and lip smacking acidity. Their color of crimson “blood”(the juice) adds to the attractiveness of your creative mixed drinks. The awakening spark of this citrus is just gorgeous when mixed with barrel aged spirits such as the new “Old Tom” from Caledonia Spirits in Vermont. Old Tom is a style of gin that makes its way from the earliest days of the Jerry Thomas era when gin was aged in an oak whiskey barrel- taking on the aromatics and sweetness from the charred wood.
Caledonia Spirits in Vermont is taking whiskey barrels and treats their already aromatic and flavor driven, fermented raw honey gin to an extended aging session. The oils and flavor compounds that come from the charred wood gives the gin a toasty, sweet and creamy texture that is quite unique. Old Tom styled gin is quite aromatic and inviting in a mixed drink. For this combination of sweet to acidic, I suggest using a couple ounces of blood orange juice. Keeping it simple is the mantra of the winter months. You don’t need to overly complicate drinks to make them memorable!
A Curious Conundrum
I’ve recently discovered that aged Balsamic Vinegar is the perfect liaison of summer to the colder months in a compact and delicious, winter cocktail. I’ve also added slow cooked stone fruits to the mix along with a dose of Bitter Truth Aromatic bitters. Good hand cut ice is essential here, as is a generous portion of the abovementioned blood orange juice.
- 2 oz. Barr Hill Old Tom
- 3 oz. Or two heaping tablespoons of roasted fruit puree (roast plums, peaches, nectarines and blood oranges, for an hour or two at 300 degrees, cool, and then roughly puree)
- 2 oz. Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral water – lemon essence
- 5 drops aged Balsamic Vinegar (the thicker and older, the better!)
- Bitter Truth Aromatic bitters
- Add all ingredients EXCEPT for the sparkling mineral water to a Boston Shaker filled ¾ with ice
- Shake hard for 20 or so seconds
- Pour into two rocks glasses with one large hand cut cube of ice in each glass
- Top with the Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral Water and the bitters
- Garnish with a slice of blood orange and two bar straws in each glass
Variation in the Winds of Camille
Another cocktail that enlightens and enlivens your palate is the “Variation in the Winds of Camille” cocktail. This drink takes brandy from Catoctin Creek in Virginia and twists it up like the cocktail known as a Sidecar. A Sidecar for all who don’t know is a lovely little slurp that combines Brandy or Cognac along with lemon juice and Cointreau Orange Liqueur. My Sidecar uses the usual ingredients along with freshly squeezed grapefruit juice and a dose of the marvelous “Figgy Pudding” bitters from Arizona Bitters Lab. The extra smack of fresh citrus in my Sidecar gives greater depth to an already flavor-driven cocktail.
- 2 oz. Catoctin Creek 1757 Distillers Reserve Virginia Brandy
- 1 oz. Freshly Squeezed Grapefruit Juice
- ½ oz. Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice
- 1 oz. Cointreau Orange Liqueur
- 3-4 drops Arizona Bitters Lab- Figgy Pudding Bitters
- In a Cocktail Mixing Glass filled ¾ with ice, add all the ingredients EXCEPT for the Figgy Pudding Bitters
- Mix thirty times with a long cocktail spoon
- Strain with your Hawthorne strainer into two coupe glasses
- Drip the Figgy Pudding Bitters over the top of the cocktails and garnish with long, thick slices of grapefruit zest, pinched over the top extracting essential and potent oils of the fresh citrus fruit
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