Monday, March 5, 2012

Everything's Coming Up Roses

In honor of the Customer Service folks at


Once upon a time, this one little muse was refining her pièce de résistance: The Rose.

2 oz Gran Centenario Rosangel reposado tequila

"Oh my, that's lovely," she thought. "But it could stand for some more acidity to enunciate the flavor. Yet I don't want to add lemon or other citrus juice.."

slightly more than 1/4 oz sweet vermouth

The muse then remembered how a few good dashes of orange bitters (Fee Bros., for those wondering) had enhanced the acidity of another cocktail just that week. "To the interwebs!" she cried. For, you see, this muse lived in a land where the spirits were not permitted to roam free at market, and the little bitters which had once frolicked under moonshine with the spirits and cordials, instead dashed away in fright. But, she knew where beyond the borderlands she could obtain them. A few clicks and a tacka-tacka-tacka later, the lemon bitters she so craved for her recipe, as well a host of other bitters to accompany, had mounted up and set off on a perilous quest to her doorstep.

slightly less than 1/4 oz dry vermouth

They made quick work - not even 4 whole days had passed when the muse found them squatting on her stairs. She eagerly took them in and helped remove their journey-wear, but as she did, she studied one's label. "I don't think I ordered you," the muse said.

one dash Grapefruit bitters, Fee Bros.

"Well, um, we had an incident along the way," drawled Old-Fashioned Aromatic.

"Yeah," piped Mint, "we were accosted by a rampaging Kumquat Beast. Y'know, the kind that eat bark and make weird faces?"

"It took Lemon!" exclaimed a glum Plum.

"But not to worry," said Gary Regan (a big No. 6 around his neck). "I sent word back and they've sent out a search party. Lemon's a good'un. Just you wait and see."

"Okay," nodded she. "But where'd you find this guy then?" setting Grapefruit down, who, up until this point, had been waiting patiently in her hand while broadly clenching his teeth in something resembling a smile, but now began to inch towards the liquor cabinet while muttering in a pirate-like accent.

"Facing off against another Kumquat Beast," offered Old-Fashioned Aromatic. "Was bruisin' it mighty fierce when we showed up." ["To win against the enemy, you must be-Kumquat the enemy! Arr..!"] "We figured we should keep the funky wild-bitter close after Lemon.."

"Arr, ye swabby dogs! Moisten the decks and.."

"Ooh-kay then..", said the muse. "We'll just hang tight until we find out about Lemon."

They did not, in fact, have to wait long at all, just a weekend (and a good thing too. Grapefruit had quickly picked a fight with Sailor Jerry then paired up with the bottle of vodka in the muse's cabinet Saturday night and was now asking her to get some cranberry juice in to "make it a Trio"). On noon of that Monday, a grizzled but quite intact bottle walked through the front door.

one dash Lemon bitters, Fee Bros.

Carrying the smiling head of the Kumquat Beast on a stick.

Everyone gasped. ["Ah thinka maya squirted a wee bit!" "You're a bottle of bitters, you're supposed to do that!" "Since when did you go Scottish, mate?" "Go wash up, you'll feel fresca."]

"Lemon! You made it! What happened?" said Mint.

"Well, after the beast got me, he dragged me back to his lair. I don't even want to think about his plans for me. When I awoke, he was in an argument with his mother-in-law. Apparently his name is Pietro. After she left, I zinged him good."

"But wait, you did this all by yourself? We sent the Bittermens after you!" cried Gary Regan.

"Oh, I met up with them after. I imagine they're off to the next big thing by now."

"And," said Lemon, turning towards the muse. "They say you should keep Grapefruit. Between the two of us, you'll never have to worry about Kumquat Beasts."

"You know," the muse said, proudly looking around at her new acquisitions.  "I think we can do something quite nice with all of you..."

Everything's Coming Up Roses
2 oz Gran Centenario Rosangel reposado tequila
slightly more than 1/4 oz sweet vermouth
slightly less than 1/4 oz dry vermouth
one dash Grapefruit bitters, Fee Bros.
one dash Lemon bitters, Fee Bros.

Shake on ice until quite cold.
Strain into chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish with the head of Pietro the Smiley-Faced Kumquat Beast on a pike.
Savor the bouquet.

(NOTE: Pietro, the Smiley-Faced Kumquat, isn't just a fun visual. The complex citrus and spice oils he imparts are a surprisingly good match for the resulting drink. No worries if you don't want to do his clove-eyes and cinnamon-stick mouth. You can still flame his head if you prefer.)

I can't start posting recipes on here without first properly thanking the crew at KegWorks for that small bit of generosity and their help with the order mix-up - call me naïve of business practices, but I was expecting to exchange the grapefruit bitters back rather than keep them. In light of that, I offer you this aromatic bouquet in thanks. As with the original order, it's not quite perfect, but I really like how it turned out in the end. Cheers!

Never underestimate what a good set of bitters can do!