Monday, December 1, 2014

Not Quite Mixology Monday, November 2014: Shims!

Ah, 2014, what a hell of a year you've been. 2 months of missing the MxMo deadline due to work-related head-numbness, even the very generous one extended by Bibulo.us for November's theme of Shims (btw, go read Dinah's work - she literally wrote the book on the subject!).
This month’s topic is near and dear to our hearts as it is our favorite type of lower-proof cocktails: shims! These drinks contain no more than half an ounce of strong spirits (i.e. those containing 40% ABV or above).

Heavy-hitters are fun to drink, sure, but it’s way too easy to over-consume and under-enjoy when you’re playing hardball. Let’s stretch out our evenings and get to sample a bigger variety by lowering the proof without lowering our standards. Shims don’t require giving up on flavor, complexity, or—interestingly enough—even your favorite ingredients. Get a new understanding of your favorite high-proof spirit by using just a half or quarter ounce of it along with a milder leading player. Or take a low-proof character actor that usually supplements the main show and see if it can take the lead.

This is a chance to get back in touch with the full spectrum of drink strength which defined mixed drinks in their first century or so. There’s a reason the Sherry Cobbler was insanely popular, dear friends. Or you can take this opportunity to invent new drinks in the latest style. Low-alcohol cocktails, particularly in restaurants, are still beginning their popularity climb this century. By their nature, lower alcohol drinks, especially those using wine-based main ingredients, are great choices for food pairings. If you’ve got the perfect accompaniment for your chosen cocktail, please share that with us too!

Still, I managed to squeeze in a mild tweet before the original deadline a couple Mondays ago, for an old unpublished standby I enjoy on occasion:

The food pairing in this case was a quick herbaceous dinner of grilled seasoned chicken, leftover chicken & herb couscous and green beans, but the cocktail's also a delicious cold-months aperitif, especially as we roll into winter citrus season and blood oranges become available. So here's the follow-up recipe:

Made with a proper blood orange.
Twitter-shim #1
1 1/2 oz Cynar
juice of a small blood orange
1/2 oz brandy
dash or two aromatic bitters
1 1/2 oz seltzer
full spiral/horse's neck peel of same blood orange for garnish

Cut garnish and wrap around a cocktail ice sphere, place in rocks glass.

Stir Cynar, juice, brandy and optional bitters on light ice.

Add seltzer to rocks glass. Strain cocktail over top.


Simple, bitter-rich, light and frankly nourishing and energizing. With a festive ruby hue taken from the blood orange juice. Amari and citrus will simply put you right with the world.

Usually I'll take it without the added brandy, but as an original recipe it seemed way too close to a simple recipe a spirit company might post on its website, hence a little complication while still retaining shim-itude. The Masson VSOP I used trended a bit too sweet here, so if using a sweet brandy, a touch of non-potable bitters should balance (Boker's would work well the Masson).

Cheers to everyone who participated, here's the round-up post.