Saturday, March 17, 2012

Spanish Lady

[We interrupt our previous slow-as-molasses blog roll-out to bring you a modest recipe for St. Patty's Day today. We will continue our previous slow-as-molasses blog roll-out Monday, now that we've found some darn mini-roses!]


Spanish Lady 
 
As I came down through Dublin City
At the hour of twelve at night
Who should I see but the Spanish lady
Washing her feet by candlelight
First she washed them, then she dried them
Over a fire of amber coal
In all my life I ne'er did see
A maid so sweet about the sole

Whack for the toora loora laddy
Whack for the toora loora lay
Whack for the toora loora laddy
Whack for the toora loora lay

As I came back through Dublin City
At the hour of half past eight
Who should I spy but the Spanish lady
Brushing her hair in the broad daylight
First she tossed it, then she brushed it
On her lap was a silver comb
In all my life I ne'er did see
A maid so fair since I did roam

Whack for the toora loora laddy
Whack for the toora loora lay
Whack for the toora loora laddy
Whack for the toora loora lay

As I went back through Dublin City
As the sun began to set
Who should I spy but the Spanish lady
Catching a moth in a golden net
When she saw me, then she fled me
Lifting her petticoat over her knee
In all my life I ne'er did see
A maid so shy as the Spanish lady

Whack for the toora loora laddy
Whack for the toora loora lay
Whack for the toora loora laddy
Whack for the toora loora lay


In Ireland, silver combs were often regarded as tokens of the Banshee. Never pick one up that you see lying in the road, because you'll be swept away, never to be seen again. In the case of the Spanish Lady, with a silver comb in her lap, surely she must be a Banshee in disguise! (don't call her Shirley - she'll scream)

Of course, there's another type of Banshee*, but I didn't realize that until recently. [The train of thought went: Irish Rose-Spanish Rose-Spanish Lady (whack for the toora loora laddy!)-hey that'd be a nice cocktail name for St. Paddy's Day-Google Spanish Lady cocktail-Google Banshee cocktail]
*popularized but not created by Nick Castrogiovanni of Nick's Big Train Bar in New Orleans

But anyway, right there the cocktail practically makes itself. A Banshee with a Spanish twist? Either sub out the cacao or the banana liqueur for Licor 43. Ok, but what's the character of the Banshee, then? Which sub is going to going to preserve its character? Without the banana, you're looking at a Brandy Alexander or Grasshopper set-up with the cream/cacao, and it's much more generic. The banana clearly has a part to play, so au revoir crème de cacao, bienvenido Licor 43.

But a moment more before the recipe. To overthink things - and just put some ideas out there - it still feels like the banana character could use some exploration. It probably is as simple as the Banana/Banshee name similarity, that's certainly common enough practice. Most of the online research I've done points to that. Wikipedia will even ask if, on searching for "Banshee cocktail", you meant "banane cocktail." My own reflection suggests there's something to the way (cold) banana flavor hits the back of the mouth and throat, emphasizing sensation there not unlike the feel of screaming like a banshee. And also, it has been noted that Irish whiskey in general has a "telltale banana character", suggested due to aging in ex-bourbon barrels [hat-tip: @intoxicologist]. How ideal.


 
Spanish Lady
 
1 part banana liqueur
1 part Licor 43
1 part cream or half-and-half


Shake ferociously on ice (a nice frothy white head will form to contrast the cream-colored drink). 

Strain into frosty, misty rocks glass. 

Garnish with, what else? A silver comb.



The Banshee in disguise.





Notes:
  • Licor 43's citrus and vanilla dance quite naturally with banana. In testing, using Jacquin's, both liqueurs are somewhat syrupy, but neither overpowers the other and you can get distinct notes from both as they weave in and out.
  • To lengthen the drink: add an extra part dairy, milk if you prefer to manage the milkfat.
  • To kick up the recipe: add an extra part Irish whiskey. In testing, Tullamore Dew goes well with the banana, though I'm sure Jameson and other brands will work just as well.
  • Fittingly, given this is a dessert drink, Spanish Lady is also a song typically used for encores in Celtic Woman concerts.