Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Mixology Monday, September 2014: The Unknown

Welcome back, peeps! Mixology Monday has rolled around yet again and it seems like between today's recipe and last week's HAL 9000 Goes South for the Winter in a Pink Tutu, this is the month to Remember the Hell Kitten (you'll see), 2 years from its origin at MxMo 65, the first under the auspices of head kitty wrangler Fred Yarm.

This month our fine host is Chris of A Bar Above, an inexhaustible source for cocktail know-how, with the theme, The Unknown.
(Cue dramatic music)

Ok, ok… It’s not quite as dramatic as I make it out to be.

Basically the idea is to try something new, an ingredient or technique that you’ve never had experience with before and create a cocktail around it.
Here are a few ideas to get the creative juices flowing:
  • Use a spirit that you’ve never used before. It could be a base spirit, modifier or that Belgian Ale that rings in at 15% alcohol.
  • Use an ingredient that has always captured your imagination in the supermarket. Maybe that weird looking fruit that you always walk by at Whole Foods, or that unusual looking vegetable that you can’t even pronounce.
  • Use a new technique that you’ve never tried, but have always wanted to. Have you been dying to make your own vermouth, amaro, or martini glass made completely out of flavored sugar.
Scamper down the rabbit hole when this link is active to know The Unknown. Don't say I didn't warn you!

Friday night, MoD's lair, planning session

MoD: Ok, my little research buddy, what've you got for me?
Boomer: You need to give me more walnuts. And mulled cider, yeah that's the ticket.
..because it's fall, or..?
Lady, have you taken a look at your ingredients rollcall lately? Have you perhaps considered doing tamer recipes for a year instead of something new and adventurous at every turn? Maybe cut down on the special orders of clitoria from Thailand?
Well I have to learn somehow.... Running into difficulties with ideas?
Let me put it this way: I've compiled a short list of things you haven't done yet.
Ok, this ought to be interesting. Shoot.
Not really a fan of shrooms..
Ok. Mustard.
Ooh, that's one I really wanna do. Just don't know if the idea's there yet.
Vodka?! In this house?!
(have you seen the liquor cabinet?) No, potatoes. Fry us up some!
Let's get serious, babe.
Gefilte fish.
Twitter already ruled that one out for MxMo Preserves.
Dish soap.
Uh, honey..
Just making sure you were paying attention. Marmite and/or Vegemite.
That's more for sandwiches.
You're a fruitcake.
Oh I am!? Isn't that marvellous? Studded with candied fruit they could stop-motion CGI me.. I'd like to thank the academy..
You are indeed, little one.
Ok, the piece de resistance, you know this one would kick tail: fish eyeball!
*facepalm* Morimoto-san has a restaurant right in town, hon. It'd steal his thunder.
Well ok then, here. Try seeing things from my perspective.
Your seed mix? I don't think distilled millet would go over. Oh Boomer..

Sunday night, MoD's returned from the grocery store

Boomer: Any luck at the store?
MoD: Eh, nothing really called out to me. We've got cassoulet ingredients,
but I guess I'll have to come up with something around here.
Dang it. Sounds like an all-nighter. Did you at least re-up on salsa?
Alas, no. Selection was weak and the only thing that sounded interesting was a peach-pineapple salsa.
But you don't like peach.
Right, so I got a pomegranate for a red-fruit contrast and some other things: make it fresh and all.
Ooh, n.......
*eyes meet*
I'll get the shaker.

What's that? Salsa? In a cocktail? Wait, what fresh hell is this?

Pineapple-Pomegranate Salsa (inspired by this recipe)
1 cup fine diced plum or cherry tomatoes
1 cup chopped pineapple
3/4 cup pomegranate arils
1/2 cup small dice green bell pepper
2 T minced red onion
1-2 minced serrano peppers
1 t minced fresh spearmint
1 t minced fresh ginger
1/8 t ground cloves
2 T white balsamic vinegar
1 T lime juice
1/8 t sea salt

Combine all, cover, let rest in the fridge overnight.

Ok, right. But how do you put it in a cocktail? Like this!

Maria Dances to Tito Puente
4 oz (liquid) juiced pomegranate-pineapple salsa
1 oz habanero-infused blanco tequila
1 dash orange bitters (Angostura)

Shake all without ice to combine, then pour into a Collins glass with a few cubes of ice. Garnish wildly with salsa ingredients - mint is especially nice.

Despite the smaller ratio of the tomatoes, you still get a good tomato-ey body and flavor, just with lots of other flavors poking through. Bright pineapple to start, with a tinge of citrus, vegetal green to keep things savory, ginger rounding and a fabulous mint nose with delectable heat on the back of your tongue. You can almost taste the corn chips with which you would scoop the salsa. The bitters also add a savory dimension (kinda like Worcestershire sauce) which helps your palate recognize the drink as being in the Bloody Mary family.

Now granted, you could just skip the salsa step and go straight to juicing the ingredients for a large batch, but it is interesting to taste how a fresh salsa could be transmuted into a Bloody Mary style cocktail.

Boomer: Wait wait wait, so what was the new thing? You've done tomatoes before (even if one was ketchup). The tequila's not new. And you know you've done similar compote-y stuff already.

MoD: Right, but one was cooked and and I never put the fruited guacamole in a drink.

Boomer: But what then?

MoD: Pomegranate, salsa, Bloody Mary style. That should be enough for one night.

G'night everyone! Thanks to Chris for hosting a devious devious theme and to Fred for rounding up all the hellcats and hellchillins - mind the spicy tequila - woo doggy!