My my my . . . another month has come and gone and another Mixology Monday jumps up and scares the crap out of me. This month the theme is variations and hosted by Jimmy over at Jimmy’s Cocktail Hour. Thanks Jimmy!
Variations as a theme got me pretty excited, as I love to play with ingredients and flavors using established recipes as a springboard. But what to make . . .
There is so much you can do with variations. You can alter the ratios of ingredients. You can substitute ingredients. But can you alter a drink so much that you take away it’s fundamental character and still call it a variation? I think you can my friends. This was my starting point for my first variation.
One drink that I think everybody has either had or at a minimum knows about is a Tequila Sunrise. The ingredients in the modern version (itself a variation) are pretty straight forward - tequila, orange juice and a drizzle of grenadine to give it that “sunrise” effect. I think a lot of people order this drink because it’s pretty, it’s fruity and if you’re in the right kind of bar, the sorority girls may dance on the table after enough tequila . . . remind me again why I left college . . .
Anyway, where was I after that deep-thought provoking statement. . . ah yes, a tequila sunrise.
What I wanted to do was take the tequila sunrise, put a more sophisticated spin on it (at least to my palette) and still have it look as pretty as can be. What I came up with is:
1.5 oz Gin
1.5 oz Orange Juice
0.5 oz Lemon Juice
0.5 oz Honey-Jasmine Syrup
2 shakes Fees Orange Bitters
Drizzle of homemade grenadine.
Shake gin, OJ, lemon juice, bitters and syrup with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Drizzle grenadine into the cocktail slowly to form a red puddle in the bottom of the glass (do not stir).
In the Honey-Jasmine Sunrise, I kept the orange juice but mixed it with Plymouth (Tanquery No. 10 would work as well), a little tart lemon juice and sweetned the whole thing up with honey-jasmine syrup. To make the syrup, I mixed about a cup of honey with a cup of water and heated until combined and stirred in about a fourth of a cup of jasmine flowers. Let the mixture cool and then strain and bottle. I tamed the sweetness just a touch with the Fee’s Orange Bitters which also gave an extra orange punch to the cocktail. A, ahem, variation could use peach, grapefruit or lemon bitters, all of which would be pretty interesting. Using homemade grenadine also amps the flavor up about 100 times better than the Roses stuff most bars use in a tequila sunrise.
The first thing I wanted to do is use a spirit that I’m much more familiar with and one I feel other would be more likely to drink - gin. Face it, even though there are a lot of high end tequilas out there, a lot of people will not drink a tequila drink because of some bad past experience. And I know that you may say you know just as many people who won’t drink gin for the same reason, I would argue that gin, as a spirit, is much more malleable a product to mix with, making it easier for the haters to overcome. Does that make sense? No? Well it did to me . . .
As you can see, it has the same look as a tequila sunrise but has a much more interesting flavor.
Variation #2 (because I know you want more!)
My next variation was based on my desire to try out a new ingredient. On one of our trips to the venerable Schnieder’s, I purchased a bottle of Massenez Crème de Cassis. Quite honestly it is the best cassis I’ve ever had. I also noted that they sell a Crème de Peche. Now I love peach. When I was a kid I used to get peach bubble gum. Absolutely love the stuff. So you guessed it, next time I went, I got a bottle of the Crème de Peche.
When I got home, I opened the bottle and took in a deep breath. It was like smelling a fresh cut peach. Upon tasting, it was pretty sweet, but had that unmistakable flavor of a ripe peach. This was basically a very high quality peach schnapps. And boy o boy was I ready to try it.
I was trying to decide what to use it in . . . and while thinking I fixed myself a Corpse Reviver #2. The original recipe is equal parts gin, Lillet Blanc, lemon juice and Cointreau with a dash of pastis (or other absinthe substitute . . . or hell Absinthe!) What I did was replaced the Cointreau with the Creme de Peche. Yeah, it was pretty good. But it wasn't great. The lemon juice didn't play that well with the peach and the herbaceous quality that sit just on the back of your tongue with a Corpse Reviver #2 wasn't really there. Back to the drawing board.
The first thing I changed was the type of gin. This drink needed something that screamed GIN! So I pulled down the Junipero . . . now we were getting somewhere. I added the lemon juice and Lillet Blanc and decided to try lime juice. Now normally my lime juice is super tart, and much more potent than lemon juice, so I only used half the amount of lime juice. Because I was worried that the absinthe would get lost in the mix again I added four extra drops. [Yeah, I bought a medicine dropper bottle and measured how many drops equaled a dash of Agnostura bitters . . . now you know the extent of my compulsions to make fantastic cocktails.]
I took a drink and was blown away. It was sweet but not cloying. The combination of the tart lime, lush peach and herbaceous absinthe was a transcendant experience. Luckily I had my friend Luke over while I was fixing these. I made him one of each (lime and lemon with the creme de peche) and an original corpse reviver #2. He agreed that the lemon was was too tart. He said that it smacked of lemon and overpowers everything. With the lime he was amazed. He said, "With the original and the lemon, while they are good, you know you're drinking something. The lemon just seems to acentuate that aspect of the drinks. But this one [holding up the lime version] goes down easy like sunday morning."
And with that, I bring you my second variation;
Easy Like Sunday Morning
1 oz Gin (a very assertive gin is key here, Junipero or Blue Coat are my suggestions)
1 oz Lillet Blanc
1 oz Massenez Creme de Peche
0.5 oz lime juice
1.5 dashes absinthe (or pastis) (for me this is 12 drops from a medicine dropper)
Shake everything vigorously with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish is unnecessary . . .
Alright folks, that's my variations for this month's Mixology Monday. I want to thank Jimmy again for hosting. Hope ya'll enjoy these two drinks, and as always, if you like them, or don't, feel free to leave us a comment here on the Scofflaw's Den.